Z-Run tricks you into thinking that it's easy!
It's a common thing to think that the best way to get success is to make something that stands out. However, sometimes its the things we're already used to, the things we're familiar with, that help people relate to your idea.
Daniel Wu, the founder of Dreamscape 168, made a game where he did just that. He played on the idea of taking an already existing theme, and gave it a new gameplay. Once you see his game, Z-Run, it's easy to tell that Crossy Road had a big influence. Here's why.
When putting a game together, you sometimes need to play on the ideas people may have about it. Like getting them to believe that the gameplay will be simple, just by looking at the graphic design. On the outside, Z-Run is all sunshine and roses, but once you get playing, it's living hell. For Daniel's game, this use of comfortable, warm and fuzzy graphics was to make the thought of being chased by zombies into a fun experience, but also make it seem like playing the game would be easy.
Every time you fail a level in Z-Run, it feels like you should beat yourself up more. Since it looks so easy, when you fail, it feels like you couldn't put together a simple chair from IKEA. It leaves you with a feeling of, "Come on, you can do better than that!" making you want to prove yourself more, play more, and show that you can win.
That's what I found fun about this game. On Twitter, rather than showing how hard you could win, he showed how hard you could lose. How you could come a long way, but still not get anywhere. Somehow, he's beaten all six levels, and plans on making more.
Daniel makes games full-time. In addition to developing and supporting Z-Run, he plans to release a second, more humorous game, Runnie Grannie, another endless runner. It's gameplay follows the story of a feisty granny who has to overcome obstacles and challenges. He has a few more games he plans to make, and if they're anything like Z-Run, he'll do just fine.
You can download Z-Run on Google Play and the iTunes Store, so you can fail hard, and then fail harder.
An interview with Daniel Wu, Creator of Z-Run: Zombie Endless Runner
Tell us in your words, what Z-Run is about.
The concept of Z-Run is simple, run as fast and as far as you can away from a group of unpredictable and relentless zombies. In order to survive players must run along a narrow ever-changing pathway, that increases in speed the longer you play. Adding to the challenge, the only way to run faster than the annoying cartoon zombies is to keep picking up super-charged lightning bolts. Agility and speed are key. Players must be able to time their turns just right to escape the zombies, stay on the pathway and pick up super-chargers.
You began working on Z-Run a year ago. What inspired you to start it?
At the time I was going through a very challenging personal experience. It felt like I was being chased by zombies every day. I decided to channel this feeling into a game, in an effort to transform a terrifying experience into something that was entertaining and fun.
After trying to play Z-Run, I failed miserably, and I mean miserably for 3 days straight. How long did it take you to get through all of the levels?
Better put, have you made it through all of the levels?
Yes, of course, I’ve made it through all 6 levels! I had to in order to make sure they were all working smoothly. It took me roughly 2-3 months to get through all of the levels.
Z-Run is known for its steep learning curve. In fact, most people will get frustrated and leave. Some will stay to prove they can get better. For me, it just left me with short bouts of screaming profanities, but I kept playing. What drove you want to have this frustrating gameplay?
Things which are frustrating can also be thrilling, challenging, exciting. For players that are willing to commit, Z-Run is a wild thrill ride, full of heart-pounding competition. This is the experience I hope to give to players.
What did you do for marketing when you first released it?
Pretty typical things, I did a press-release, contacted quite a few gaming review websites, as well a spread the word through social media.
The design of your game is a sort of Crossy Road-esque style. It’s a style that has actually been seen across a lot of games, and has proven quite successful among these mobile games, according to lifewire.com. Games like “Smashy Road”, a driving based game, gained traction in 2015-16, being released as a sort of mockery of Crossy Road, but blending it with Grand Theft Auto. However, it has this feeling of comfort, that is familiar, like you’re just playing Crossy Road all over again. Why was it that you decided to choose this style for Z-Run?
A number of reasons, one I liked the contrast of having a game that was visually simple, yet really challenges a player’s skill and determination. Just because something appears simple, doesn’t mean that it is. Also, I wanted to find a way to make the experience of being chased by zombies more comical and entertaining rather than completely terrifying. From a technical standpoint, with a fast-moving mobile game like Z-Run, it is just good strategic design to keep things simple. Beyond this, I find this style of graphics to be quite appealing.
What keeps you excited and focused on continuing to work on Z-Run?
I enjoy looking for new ways to create challenge and keep players engaged. I intended to create an intense experience for players with Z-Run, and improving the game means continuing to think of new ways to enhance and expand this experience.
Keep posted for Daniel's Runnie Grannie!