rComplex is a game from , originally released 31st December, 1969

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Slide To Play Q and A: rComplex

When we first saw rComplex, we thought it looked like a stylish auto-runner. Then we played it right when it came out, and the game’s performance left something to be desired. The development team heard players’ cries, and quickly pushed out an update that improved the experience quite a bit. But they’re not done with the game yet. We caught up with Igor Raffaele, the general manager of InterWave Studios, to talk about the future of this gorgeous running game.

STP: How did rComplex first come about?

Igor: rComplex was developed by some colleagues and friends over at Event Interactive. Those are the original makers of rComplex, Roger Hicks and Brian Terwilliger. They started a Kickstarter campaign to fund a remake of the game with all kinds of bells and whistles, and that failed. Before that, though, we’d contacted them privately and said we were interested in seeing the game come to light. I was a great fan of the original PC indie concept when it came out, and I thought it had tremendous potential in terms of gameplay and presentation. And so we picked it up from there.

What made you decide to port rComplex to iOS?

It’s a tried and tested gameplay mechanic. It’s basically an auto-runner, with jump, slide, and back-shooting. What it had on top of that was a really powerful story and atmosphere, which I thought added to the gameplay. Some auto-runners– which is still a popular genre and I think will remain so for a while yet– they get crazier and crazier with their power-ups and scenarios. Whereas rComplex is really beautiful in its simplicity and streamlined gameplay. As you play, you pick up the story and soak up the atmosphere, and you have the whole “run for your life” thing that, I think, was realized really well.

What was the immediate reaction from gamers when you released it on the App Store?

Less than positive. There were two severe issues with rComplex when it released. One was a performance issue that we didn’t pick up on in our testing. We have quite an extensive testing team for a studio of our size, and we made sure we had full representation of all supported devices. But we’d all been in the game for too long to pick up on how difficult it truly was. We had our reflexes first beaten into the ground, and then oiled by the game over several months. And when players first got in the game and were using the swipe controls, and they didn’t react as instantly as they were used to in most arcade games, there was an overwhelming negative reaction, which of course we fully understand.

The other was a slight technical hiccup, where the game would actually install on 3GS devices. We don’t support 3GS devices, and never intended to. We made that clear from the first day, but something went wrong during the submission process at Apple and the game would start as if it were compatible with 3GS devices. But there the game literally crawls, because it was not designed for that resolution or processor. So the cloud of comments around rComplex performing badly grew exponentially, not necessarily based on the slightly laggy swipe controls, but also because all the 3GS people who had installed it said, “this is a horrible framerate, what are you guys doing?” Now, we’re working to patch both, based on user feedback.

You’ve released at least one up date so far. What updates have you already released, and what are you working on in the future?

Well, based on initial user feedback and reviewer feedback, we put aside all of our plans for the future of the game. We were planning to release Game Center integration and a couple of other features, but that’s all been put aside for now in favor of tweaking gameplay. The game is already on the App Store as version 1.2. Changes in that version were mostly performance based, and we quickly put in some touch-based controls. So you have buttons to jump and slide, instead of having to swipe up and down. There has also been optimization to build-size and music compression and things like that, which make it generally perform better.

The next update has already been submitted, 1.3, which further improves it. We’ve pulled back the camera in a lot of scenes, like in the motorcycle section, where people just weren’t getting enough advanced warning for obstacles coming in. The camera will pull back quite a bit further on most levels. Also, the buttons have been rearranged so now they’re placed one on top of the other, which is more intuitive than how we had them placed before.

Next up, then, the update we’ll work on after that will be 1.4, and that will have Game Center integration, a bunch of cosmetic changes to make them less jaggy and make them prettier in general. After that, we have a couple more gameplay features in mind that I’m not going to talk about yet, because you never know in game development what’s going to come back.

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rComplex Review

Considering that a nearly constant stream of auto-runners have been appearing on the App Store for several years now, new ones have to offer something special to make themselves noteworthy. The main thing rComplex offers is a story. As the main character sprints ever forward, a dramatic voiceover lets us in on his thoughts as he tries to puzzle out why he’s being chased by a monster. Although it comes off as cheesy rather than serious, it might’ve been enough to make us keep playing, if only the game mechanics weren’t broken.

Like in most auto-runners, the name of the game here is momentum. To keep up a healthy sprinting pace, you swipe up to jump over obstacles and swipe down to slide under them. Miss one and you’ll stumble, letting the monster gain on you. You’re also sporting a gun with a scythe attachment, so when the creature gets too close you can shoot it to make it back off. If it catches you, you can speed-tap on the screen to slice off the tentacle holding you, but doing so breaks your scythe.

Hey, that tickles!

All of this is pretty standard stuff for the genre, and we’ve seen similar mechanics in Temple Run, Canabalt, Grim Joggers, and countless other titles. The main difference is the storyline, which involves amnesia and isn’t all that interesting. But the problem– the enormous, game-breaking problem– is that your character doesn’t react fast enough to your input. When you swipe up to jump, it takes him so much time to react that he’s usually already stumbled over the object you’re trying to jump over before his feet leave the ground. Other times your swipes do nothing, and you’re left to watch, shaking your head, as he gets clotheslined by a piece of furniture he should easily have avoided.

Making matters worse, when you die you have to wait nearly 30 seconds before you can try the level again. This game is a slow, unresponsive slog. If you really want to play rComplex, you’re probably better off playing the free PC version, which you can download here.

Auto-runners thrive on split-second decision making and snappy controls. rComplex is too broken to even play after the first few levels, when obstacles start to come at you so fast you don’t have a prayer of avoiding them. If the developer updates the game to address the control issue, it might be worth another look. But for now it’s just a shoddy, frustrating experience in an overdone genre. Unless you’re a masochist, there’s no reason to waste your time on a game like this.