A Game Took This Hype Video to the Next Level

Creating the Lightbike Game

[Before you read this, check out the Case Study describing the video Brendan is discussing!]

When developing the game behind the Level Up hype video , I first researched to see if anyone had created Lightbike before. To my surprise, someone had uploaded an entire tutorial here . Pictured right is what the resulting tutorial game looks like:

Development & Challenges

This project gave me a good starting point to add more, such as enemy AI, glow effects, and dynamic speed changing of the bike. Next, I researched and studied the original Tron and its remake to see how they handled the Lightbike game and what they did to make it seem exciting.

I noticed how in each video, the bikes would get incredibly close to each other’s light beams to elicit tension from the viewers. I wanted to mimic that by having the enemy make tight turns that the player must dodge and avoid. Something different about the movies and our game was how there were two teams of people, versus the battle royale of our game. For this factor, I got inspiration from LightBike 2 by Pankaku Inc. In this game, the player must defeat 3 other racers while avoiding each other’s light bike trails.

Another thing I noticed from the Tron video was that each bike could fluctuate its speed, so I wanted a system to increase and decrease the bike’s speed in real-time. Coins increase the speed of the bike and oil slicks greatly decrease the speed. I then placed these coins and oil slicks in strategic areas to fluctuate the enemies’ and player’s speeds to create a high-speed, action-filled video using only pixelated bikes.

Another big challenge was ensuring the enemies took the correct paths at the correct time, similar to choreographing a dance between three enemies and one player. At first I used signals in the timeline to say “turn here at this second”, but this was extremely difficult to get anywhere as I had to guess and check the time I wanted the bike to turn. Add speed variation into the mix, and I would be trying to path simple movements for hours with little to no visual help. This gave me the idea to create a gizmo to help me visualize where each bike was going to turn and in what direction. The result looks like a Dance Dance Revolution game, but it helped speed up how I pathed the enemies.

The Final Result

I wanted to make it seem like a physical player was controlling the bike and not a computer, so a degree of error needed to be in place. This can be seen when the pink bike almost collides with the player and they go over an oil spill, slowing down their speed. I also wanted the player to win in the end, but not be the aggressive one. Hence, the two enemy bikes gang up on the player in the finale, only to crash into each other.

The look of the game was achieved by having a custom glow sprite shader and adjusting its values for each light bike color and trail. A parallax script emulated a feeling of movement by having the background follow the camera at a slower speed than the player, communicating that it was still far away.

I had a blast making this game and working with the rest of the team to create the final video . If you’re ever looking for choreographed gameplay, drop us a note !


— Brendan Hutchins, Developer

Blog Post

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