Push the Lane! - A new kind of tactical strategy game
A turn-based strategy game about pushing lanes, and sacrificing your dreams for something way better.
In the year 2101, the world is at peace, and everyone is obsessed with a hit new action game show called "Push the Lane".Tennor, a young guitarist, has watched her band struggle, and now break apart. Feeling desperate, she joins the Push the Lane competition, in the hopes of finding her friends, her band, and her place in the world.
Push the Lane is turn based tactical strategy game that combines elements from DotA, Rogue-likes, and puzzle games into something totally new. Use your character's special abilities and construct networks of buildings to push waves of gems, overcome the odds, and emerge victorious!
In the early 22nd century, a new sport/game show hybrid has emerged as Earth's most popular pastime called Push the Lane! (Think Nickelodeon's GUTS or Legends of the Hidden Temple). Contestants fly out to a huge space station and compete in various circuits to make it into the top ranks of the league.
In the game, waves of gems crash into each other on three colored lanes. If a yellow gem crosses all the way across to the right and hits the opposing tower, the lane pushes one tile in that direction, like this:
If you push a gem across the lane while the lane is completely your color (yellow), you gain a point. First team to 30 points wins. But it's not that simple, because crashing a gem into a tower also powers up that tower, making it produce stronger gems in the future.
Using your character's special abilities, maneuver around the platform pushing and throwing the gems. Also, build a network of buildings that produce new gems, power them up, push them around, and other tactical maneuvers to help you eke out a victory.
Note: In-game art is a work in progress!
Want more detail on gameplay? Watch this YouTube video:
- 8 playable characters with their own unique abilities at launch, more later on. (More with stretch goals!)
- 12 buildings that do different things, like produce gems, move gems, power up gems, move the player, and more. Combine the buildings together for cool combo effects! (More buildings with stretch goals!)
- A single-player campaign that tells a story about challenges, chasing dreams, and friendship
- Novel "discovery" system which lets players find secret characters, buildings, and more
- Endlessly replayable with procedurally generating elements and a single-player Elo system
- Memorable characters and charming artwork by Fariza Dzatalin
- Deep, interesting and challenging gameplay that will be frequently updated to maintain and improve gameplay balance, add features, and more
- A full original thematic rock soundtrack, including songs from other indie composers
Push the Lane's single player campaign tells a story about of group of friends whose dreams don't turn out the way they thought they would. How they cope with that reality leads them to find something better than they could have previously imagined.
Push the Lane takes place in the year 2101. The growth of physical technology such as computers, AI and space travel has massively slowed over the last fifty years. In response, humans have shifted their focus to studying the arts and social sciences, and have made massive advancements in those areas. The world's nations have come together to reduce global inequality and improve the environment, and there hasn't been a large scale violent conflict for the last several decades.
Guitarist. In-game: All-Around
Tennor is a 21 year old guitar player who, since she was a little girl, wanted to go on tour with her band. For years, she worked so hard to get her band into the world's top rock band competition, but a few months ago, they tried out, and didn't make the cut. Band morale was extremely low since then. Soon, their keyboardist (and Tennor's best friend), Lemon, left the band to try out for the Push the Lane competitive game show that takes place on an orbiting space station.
(Learn more about Tennor here.)
After a few months of feeling completely lost without her band, as well as betrayed by her best friend, Tennor decides that she will also try out this Push the Lane thing. Maybe if she wins it, she can use that fame to propel her band to victory. And maybe she can show Lemon how mistaken she was for leaving the band.
Danza Practitioner. In-game: Healer/Caster type
When she gets to the Push the Lane competition, though, things quickly change. The tournament is huge -- the most popular show on Earth, whose population has risen to 12 billion. Tens of thousands of contestants train on multiple platforms to even have a chance of getting on the show itself.
Lemon is nowhere to be found, but Tennor meets many others from across the globe who challenge her and change her forever. Tennor also finds herself rising through the ranks surprisingly quickly. Seems like she has a knack for this Lane-pushin' stuff.
What will it be like when she meets Lemon? Will they still be friends? Will they get the band back together? And how far can Tennor go with this Push the Lane tournament thing, anyway?
Push the Lane is a tactical strategy game that revolves around the idea of, as the name suggests, "pushing lanes". There are three horizontal lanes that gems travel across. If a gem reaches all the way across, the colored tiles "push" one tile in that direction. If a gem reaches all the way across when the tiles are pushed all the way, that team (either you, or "The House", an AI run by the show) gets a point. First team to 30 points wins!
Sounds simple, except The House is cranking up the power of their gems over time, producing horrifying BIG GEMS and going into Red Alert Mode. Whereas, your gems stay small and weak, unless you can do something about it.
So what can you do to counteract the powerful gems of The House?
First, you'll need to use your chosen character's unique abilities to move deftly around the board and make tactical decisions. Collect crystals and head back to the shop to buy some Buildings (see more on those below). Deploy buildings to the stage in smart ways that provide long-term benefits. Some buildings produce gems, some power them up, some push them around; by combining these in the right way, you create a smart little machine that does lane-pushing work for you, passively!
Overall, you'll need to constantly be making smart tactical and strategic decisions about where to go next, which building to buy, and where to deploy them. Read more about buildings and characters in their sections below.
By the way - if we reach a certain stretch goal, we'll also be able to implement multiplayer mode and online play. This will allow two players to go head-to-head, both creating their own little competing networks of buildings and trying to push lanes. I'm really excited by this prospect, and I think it would be something that would really help a community form around Push the Lane.
For Push the Lane's art, I had a rough idea of what I was looking for, but I also wanted to find something that challenged me. I didn’t want something that looked like the kinds of stuff I was used to. I searched around for awhile before I found my artist, an Indonesian woman named Fariza Dzatalin. I was really moved by a couple of her pieces in particular. They feel strangely non-misanthropic to me, and they also feel like something that someone with my background couldn’t, or perhaps wouldn’t make.
We worked together on the character designs, and it has been a really great process so far. I've hired Fariza do art for about a dozen characters, as well as a few paintings throughout the game and promotional pieces, and I have more planned too—if I can get the funding.
As to the in-game art, most of that is in an early, unfinished stage currently. On release, we'll have a crisp, solid color stylish look, as well as cool, dynamic animations for every character's special abilities.
Push the Lane will ship with 8 characters (I have more designed, and with stretch goals we can launch with them, too), each of which has their own unique set of abilities, and a unique look designed by our artist, Fariza. Some are good at throwing gems around the board. Some are good at maneuvering quickly. Some are good at using Buildings, which we'll talk about later. Their abilities reflect their personalities and abilities as people - the fashion designer can change their appearance on the fly, the programmer can modify buildings, and so on. Each character has a distinct, unique identity and offers its own tactical possibilities.
Here's a few examples!
Space Researcher. In-game: Highly mobile, gem-manipulator
Ish is a 20 year old woman who was a huge fan of Minuette, and she often listens to them while she's studying the environments and geology of Earth's moon — or various asteroids, when she gets the chance. Her dream is to explore the moons of Mars and start her own research station there. In the Push the Lane tournament, she can change the composition of gems making them behave in totally new ways, and she can also use her space gear to rocket quickly around the board.
Visual Artist. In-Game: Building-master, Gem-manipulator
Tay is a 32 year old artist who uses a special paintbrush that can paint in midair. She's paints large paint-structures that people can go inside and be completely immersed in. In the Push The Lane competition, her powers allow her to change the color of gems or lane tiles on the fly, and also to paint her own Buildings out of nothing.
Fencer. In-Game: Gem-destroyer/mover
Roc is a 21 year old fencer who wants to travel the world in fencing tournaments while studying different forms of fencing practiced in different regions. In the Push the Lane, Roc uses an array of fencing moves on the gems to push them, stun them, and keep them where he wants them. He can also break gems outright with his artful Gemcutter fencing maneuvers.
While characters offer the player short-term tactical options for how to move around and directly manipulate things, buildings allow the player to set up long term strategies. Here's some example buildings (not final).
- Reactor - Powers up gems that are adjacent to it
- Gem Factory - Produces new 1-value gems
- Vacuum - Pulls gems above it downward until they hit a new lane
- Grinder - Grinds gems into Crystals (money)
- Fan - Speeds up gems nearby
- Wall - Slows gems down and then powers up a gem
- Launcher - Bounces gems to another lane
- Shop - Allows you to buy items from the shop while you're adjacent to it (rather than having to go back to the base)
I plan on launching with 12 building types. Each building on its own has a somewhat small effect (although there are some expensive buildings like a Super Gem Factory that produces lots of gems), but the real effects come when you combine buildings. Design a little "system" where a Gem factory creates a gem, the gem gets pulled downward to a fan which speeds it up and then a launched which bounces it to a lane you're working on, and it lands next to a Reactor, becoming more powerful, as an example.
Throughout the match, you can collect crystals left behind from crashed Gems and use the crystals to buy Buildings at the Shop.
Each game, the buildings that are available are randomized. As you buy buildings, new ones become available (the building on the bottom right is not available for purchase; it shows you the "next" building which will be added to the pool when you buy one). This gives each match a distinct identity, since you can't always just rely on the same formulas (or, in RTS parlance, "build orders") every match. Prices of buildings are also slightly randomized (but in a way that is guaranteed to be uniform over a match).
The strategic question is: which buildings should you buy, and where you should you deploy them?
I'm an experienced indie game designer - I co-founded Dinofarm Games, and most of my work in the past has been with that studio (PTL is my first "Keith Burgun Game"). I also write a lot about game design, and I've worked over the years to contribute to the discipline and discourse of game design. I've written two books on the subject, I moderate the gamedesign subreddit, and I recently launched a new website dedicated to highlighting other game design writers. I also run a podcast on game design where I interview other game designers, and I do videos on game design such as my 3 Minute Game Design series. I also occasionally do talks on game design at universities and game design conferences.
In short, I'm really serious about ruleset design. I'm a systems designer at heart, and I believe that games can be great by virtue of their interactive merit. But I also think that the best ruleset in the world doesn't mean a thing if people don't have a meaningful way to connect with that ruleset. So with Push the Lane, I'm trying to do something more personal and more thematic than things I've done before. But you can rest assured that Push the Lane will be both as novel and as strategically deep as any single player game you've played.
I've written a lot about what I think is important in strategy game design. Here is an article I wrote that lays out some of what I value. If you value these things too, or if you're generally interested in game design theory, you'll certainly at least appreciate Push the Lane, I think.
I've been streaming some Push the Lane development over on my Twitch channel, and I'll continue to do that throughout the process. This has been a really great way for me to stay in contact with my community. I encourage you to come by and watch!
Even though Push the Lane is not a Dinofarm Games game, a lot of the PTL discussion happens over at the Dinofarm Games forum and discord - come by sometime!
As a game designer, I've been wondering for awhile how I could make a deep, interesting and replayable "single-player sport" for a long time - something that is single player, but competitive and totally skill-based. It's something I tried to do with my past games (Auro, 100 Rogues, and Empire). Push the Lane is the latest in my quest to fulfill that dream.
I've also been wanting to make a game that told a story that's both personal and, hopefully, relevant. There are many stories about success and achievement, but I wanted to tell a story about failure and disappointment. Like the main character, I myself grew up wanting to be a "rock star", and have had to grapple with events throughout my own life that have challenged that dream, and made me question what it is I want out of life and why I want it. I think that maybe a lot of people have had similar paths in their lives.
Finally, I have found that there's a lot of benefits to looking outside the normal violence-based verbs that most videogames rely on - attacking, defending, killing, and so on. I wanted to create a game that felt inviting to everyone, that felt humanizing and compassionate, while still being totally competitive and skill-based. I think you can make serious competitive strategy games without any violence, and Push the Lane is my attempt to prove that theory.
I'm an experienced indie game developer. I've run a successful Kickstarter before, for Dinofarm Games' Auro: A Monster Bumping Adventure. With Dinofarm Games I also made 100 Rogues, and with Crazy Monkey Studios I made Empire: The Deck-Building Strategy Game.
Other than Fariza's incredible portrait artwork and a few other paintings she'll be doing, I am making this game all on my own. Most of the art, all of the music, sounds, game design, graphic design, writing, and programming will all be done by me.
It's a game I want to make, and as a passion project, I hope that I could eventually find time to finish it, whether I get funding or not. But if I can get funding, not only can I finish it soon (as in, in the next year or so) but I can also give it the treatment that it really needs. Game development takes a lot of time.
I've been working on the prototype of this game since late 2015. It has gone through numerous stages already, and I've finally come upon something that strikes a really good balance of being really different from other things I've played, while still feeling really accessible and down to earth. I'm ready to bring it to Kickstarter now because the idea feels really solid now, and because I've gotten the prototype to a playable point.
I've been streaming Push the Lane development a lot already over at my Twitch channel, and I will continue doing so during the process. I'm very much into community interaction - not only do I moderate the /r/gamedesign subreddit on reddit, but I also have active communities on Discord and the Dinofarm Games forums.
In short, if you back this game, I will keep in good contact with you about what's going on in development. Probably *too* good contact!
Thanks for reading, and feel free to message me if you have any questions.
At $12,500, I can make this game a reality. If we do better than that, here's what I can do. (More detail below.)
Here's the stretch goals in more detail, if you're curious about what that stuff above means.
- $20,000 - Two additional characters (for a total of 10) will be in the game at launch. Also, two new buildings, for a total of 14.
- $25,000 - Campaign Mode is added to the game. In this mode, you have a series of randomly generated nodes that you're exploring on a larger map, collecting items, doing quests, and playing matches of Push the Lane to resolve encounters, as well as fun little mini-games.
- $30,000 - Chaos Mode is added to the game. Chaos Mode is a fun, silly mode where the randomness is completely wild. Sometimes it's totally unfair and silly, but there are neat things that can only happen in this mode!
- $50,000 - Multiplayer mode becomes available at this level, with matchmaking and leagues.
- $75,000 - At this level, we can spend some money upgrading the visuals across the board, especially on animations and spell effects.
- $100,000 - At this level, we can give the online play hub a lot more functionality, like chatrooms, events, clubs, and more.
- $150,000 - If we make this much, we will commission a Push the Lane narrative comic series with professional-quality art that tells the story of the Push the Lane characters and world. More info on this later!
Thank you for reading, and please contact me if you have any other questions.
Risks and challenges
I'm not new to game development. This will be the fourth game I have shipped (the first three being 100 Rogues, Empire: The Deck-Building Strategy Game, and Auro: A Monster-Bumping Adventure). I know full well just how hard it is to get a game over the finish line, but I've accomplished it several times and I know the path forward here.
If this project is funded, I'm aiming to get it finished and released on PC/Mac/Linux by late 2017. Game development tends to go a bit over-schedule, but if it does I will keep you guys in constant contact about the status and why it is delayed.
As of this writing, the project is currently being voted on on Steam Greenlight. While I have gotten two games approved on Greenlight before, its approval there is ultimately out of my personal control, so I cannot guarantee the game will be available on Steam specifically. However, I can guarantee that it will be available on several other similar stores.
In general, I have past experience doing Kickstarters (I've done three of them) and I know how to keep in contact with supporters, so while I don't foresee any major hiccups in the development, you can rest assured that I will keep in touch with you.
Thanks again for reading!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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