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Marathong Runner

"Save Your Skivvies! It's Endless Lake meets Super Mario Brothers on Facebook Instant Games."

PROJECT OVERVIEW

Marathong is an endless platformer in which the player “runs” along a “track” and jumps to avoid obstacles. The player has two hit points to survive. Along the way, the runner can collect Beach Balls (in game currency) to purchase new bikini skins. Once the player “dies”, their final score is based on the amount of time they survived.

The Team

Creative Direction: Jet Carman | Concept Artist: Hyoni Yim | UI Design: Yu Lu | Game Designer: Anna Huerta

My Role

In my role as Creative Lead for Zynga's Growth Initiative, I established the new guidelines by creating both our concept and UI/UX pillars thus drafting the graphical direction for our suite of 20 games that launched on several networks including iMessage, Facebook, and other social platforms.

My main responsibilities included creative direction for the various projects, driving the progress of a small 3 person in-house art/design team, as well as an offsite art outsource agency to maintain art pipeline and cadence.

I also delivered the basic core loop UX flow and UI visuals for our suite of games in collaboration with our Product and Design team. I designed rough wires, paper to clickable prototypes, to fully-fleshed high fidelity product.

CONCEPT DESIGN PHASE

We were inspired by several existing games, particularly Alto's Run, Endless Lake, Super Mario Brothers, and Subway Surfer's in the design and concept phase of this game. We wanted to combine different elements of each game to create a fun, fresh, and whimsical approach to a whole new socially captivating game.

Above: Brainstorm references


Our concept artist beautifully executed several art styles and concepts before we decided to take a risk and make a jump to extreme borderline inappropriate concept of runners running in their skivvies. We scoured through existing themes and genres on both the FB Instant Games platform as well as Google Play and Apple Stores and found that there was an innate need to fill the void with this theme.

ENVIRONMENT & CHARACTER DESIGN

We opted for the game to scroll vertically and for game play to commence top to bottom to optimally display and show-off all of the art. Below is the final environment and character style of Marathong Runner.

Above: Final environment and character design


We elected to go with the beach theme as it perfectly fits our bikini runner theme. Character brainstorming was sensationally an enjoyable task for this project. We created different buckets/themes; Political, Celebrities, Fictional, Animals, People, and Superheroes to organize how we roll out the character avatar to players.

Obstacles were also part of the design. We designed off the wall obstacles to construct a whimsical and eccentric experience for players to revel in.

ANIMATION & VFX

Animation and VFX were core and immensely important components of the design of this game. We needed to stay within sizing limits of the FB Game Platform as well as our goal to remain as performant as possible. Since the design called for over 30 avatar skins, we needed a simple animation process. We opted to design a single (arm and leg) skeleton in which we dynamically 'colorized' and matched with each unique avatar 'body' to. This way we only needed one set of sprite animation cell for all of our avatars.

Above: Cell animation design for characters


THE CORE LOOP & UX

The main goal of the game is to run for as long as possible and to avoid obstacles. A meta loop of collecting in-game pick-ups such as coins and power-ups to help player level up and unlock new skins is in place for player progression.

Above: Core and meta loop of Marathong Runner


Client: Zynga