Inbound PS4 platformer Axiom Verge gets a Speedrun Mode

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Inbound PS4 platformer Axiom Verge gets a Speedrun Mode

Developer Tom Happ on how he’s tailored the game for the speedrun community

Hey everyone – this is Tom Happ, the sole developer of Axiom Verge. I did all of the art, music, design, animation and programming as a labour of love. After five years of working on Axiom Verge in isolation, I’m finally getting close to launch. I can’t wait for everyone to get their hands on it. I’m pretty proud of what I’ve been able to make as a team of one, but the ultimate judges will be you, the players.

One of the newest features I’ve added is a Speedrun Mode. For years I’ve loved watching ridiculously skilled players 100%-ing great games like Super Metroid, Shovel Knight, Guacamelee, and more. The recent AGDQ festival also made me think deeply about creating features specifically for the speedrunning community.

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To understand how Speedrun Mode works, it’s important to understand a little about Axiom Verge. In Axiom Verge, you play as Trace, a scientist who wakes up after a lab accident in a strange, alien world. Similar to classic games like Super Metroid, Master Blaster, Bionic Commando, and Contra, the game involves a mix of exploration, new weapons and power-ups, new enemies to battle, and epic boss fights.

As you make your way through the world, you also encounter a number of secret areas that are randomly generated each game – both the location of these secret areas and the actual layout are procedurally generated so no two playthroughs will be entirely the same. In addition, some creatures in the world behave erratically and randomly.

When people play normally, a big part of the fun of the game comes from exploration and discovering all of the secrets. Speedrunners, though, want to know that everything is where it’s supposed to be. It’s important that random elements are minimised so that every playthrough is comparing apples-to-apples.

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Originally, I considered just making the game the same for everyone on every playthrough, but I decided that that would take away some of the challenge and replayability. So instead I created a separate mode for speedrunners where all of the random elements are based off of the same seed number every time you play. So when you’re playing through in speedrun mode, every enemy is in its place, and there are no secret areas to serve as a distraction from the main game.

Another feature that is important for speedrunners is being able to bypass dialogue quickly. For regular players, there is an interesting storyline that falls into place as Trace makes his way through the alien world. Not everything is always as it seems, and I don’t want to spoil anything beyond that.

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But speedrunners will have seen all of that already. They don’t want to keep tapping the X button repeatedly just to skip past the dialogue – they just want to keep going, so I’ve set it up so Speedrun Mode works that way.

The ability for speedrunners to track how they’re doing at certain points in the game is also really important. Fortunately, the boss fights serve well as landmarks along the way. So in addition to having a timer (which is based on elapsed frames rather than real time in case there are subtle differences between the speed at which the game runs) always going in the upper-left hand side of the screen, players will also be able to see how long it took them to reach each of these milestones.

For players who don’t necessarily want to compete with the best of the best to squeeze out as much time as possible, this feature also lets people set more modest goals for themselves. Try to beat your time to reach and defeat the first boss, the second boss, and so on.

Last but not least is the Share button functionality. I cannot wait to watch players streaming their runs on Twitch and ultimately having them displayed on sites like speedrunslive.com or speeddemosarchive.com.

Speedrun Mode is just one of the features I’m adding to Axiom Verge to make it the ideal game for diehard fans of the genre. Axiom Verge has been a passion project of mine for a really long time, so it will be very exciting to experience it with people who share my love for those classic games.

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22 Comments

  • Can’t wait to play this on Vita, game looks incredible.

  • Psst, hey guys. Did you know that this game is also supposed to come out on the vita? Because your post sure forgot to include that.

  • This looks soooo cool!!! Cant want to play it :)

  • Does the game support local multiplayer ?

  • Day 1 for me the game looks amazing.
    All the best Tom I hope it does well for you!

  • So Tom, how about a release window too, eh? :)

    I mean…nothing that I’ll hold against you just a realistic estimate would be great, because this game needs to be played on my Vita/PS4.

  • Just looking at those pictures makes me want to go back to original Zelda again.

  • Looks great! Looking forward to playing it. But yes, I agree with people above, don’t forget the Vita version, that’s the version I’ll be playing.

  • You bviously took inspiration from super metroid buy did you mean to make it look near identical? I have been put off playing this because it looks like a copy and paste affair tbh.

  • I’d love to know when it’s coming out.

  • I’m so hyped for this game that I can’t find the words to describe it. I’m so incredibly mega super freaking ridiculously unbeliebably indescribably hyped for this game? No, still doesn’t express it enough… Tom Happ, you sir, are a genius and I love you.

  • Firstly, this game looks superb – it clearly knows what it’s aiming for and appears to be achieving it. I can’t wait to play the finished product.

    Secondly, as a fan of speedruns and speedrunners, what a fantastic idea for a speedrun mode. I really hope the game is adopted by the speedrunning community.

    Day 1.

  • Will the speedrun mode also be in the Vita version?

  • I will speedrun the S##t out of this….and i’ll suck and Die a lot :D

  • I am sick of graphics being made to look 8-bit
    Retro gameplay? Sure, whatever floats your boat.
    Retro graphics? Release the game on a retro console then.

    One of my favourite games on my ps4 is strider, precisely because it’s an old school game with new school graphics.

    But from how these things sell/the comments on this page I seem to be in the minority here.

    • When smaller developers starts to have 50+ employees instead of a handful I’ll probably still don’t care no.
      I just want a great game outside of the norms of AAA. Sure graphics would be swell and a great plus but design, gameplay and story wins it for me :)

      But remember that taste is like a butt, divided :D

    • Didn’t strider come out for ps3 as well? Making it a last gen game and thus, by your logic, should not be allowed on ps4!

      This is really simple, don’t like it, don’t buy it. Just because you don’t like retro graphics doesn’t mean other people doesn’t either. And this game looks a lot better than strider imo, don’t get me wrong strider was alright, but it was not that good.

      Now if retro games, or more to the point indie games, blocked the releases of “modern” games, then it would be a problem. The way we have it now, with choice (even between indie games with or without retro graphics) there is NO reason to hate on indie games.
      Why should we have less choices of games, just because some people hate retro graphics? I really don’t understand this concept, at all.

  • People spend loads of money on powerful PC’s, yet these games are still available to them as well. Why should the PS4 be any different? If you don’t like them, don’t buy them. No point moaning about it.

    Personally, I absolutely love the style. Can’t wait to play this :)

  • HURR DUURR PS4-EXCLUSIVE GUYS.

    Get stuffed, PS Blog. Tired of the Vita constantly, purposely being left out of article headings. What kind of bizarre business sense is it to NOT tell consumers what platforms a game is coming to?

  • Yeah this one looks like it could be golden

  • Does anyone know the release date for this game? Can’t wait to play it.

  • alot saying they love it lets see how many put there money where there mouth is should be a vita exclusive cant see it getting much of a look in on the PS4
    and if anyone dont like my comment tough you have your opinion i have mine people learn more from bad comments as well has good

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