In the future, I believe all indie games will be based around the weird conventions of bad ’80s action films – for now though, we have Shove Pro. In development at Rad Dragon, this endless runner puts you in control of action hero Lars Speedwagon as he escapes the clutches of evil henchmen. But you don’t just run, you shove. You shove anyone who strays into your path. You shove until you’re caught and can shove no more. This is a game about shoving; a game that brilliantly critiques the role of the totally unnecessary shove in high concept action cinema. How has no one else done this? Why have we had to way this long? Shoving. I just had to write that again.
To publicise Shove Pro, Rad Dragon duo Teddy Diefenbach and Mike Sennott made this amazing and hilarious mockumentary imagining that their hero Lars was a real action star. It has great interviews with pretend film critics and lecturers, including ex-Uncharted designer Richard Lemarchand! Richard Lemarchand! Here it is.
And if you didn’t laugh out loud at the last shove into the exploding car, you are dead on the inside.
So, yes, how did Shove Pro come about? “The inspiration came from a trope I observed in the action movies I’d sit down to unwind with on Sundays,” says Diefenbach. “Someone along the way figured out that if your actors shove people over as they run, it makes the whole chase more exciting. It’s a fantastic trope, and is even more fun when it’s overdone, or done awkwardly, when an actor has to make an obvious course correction to land a good shove. I was sure I wasn’t the only one who noticed this, though I might be the only person who applauds when it happens.
“I and the other half of Rad Dragon – Mike Sennott – had been toying with a ragdoll physics prototype, trying to figure out if we could come up with a way to make ragdolls a core game mechanic. At some point, we put two and two together, and realised that shoving people and ragdolls make a beautiful couple.”
So the shove isn’t just a joke, it’s a gameplay mechanic. As you run through the endless streets, you shove pedestrians into the path of enemies. Actually, it’s more complicated than that. “You pick what body part of the person you want to shove, e.g. head, gut or knee,” says Diefenbach. “Then you aim your shove, and hold to charge up for a stronger shove. The shove launches a person over Lars’ shoulder and you try to hit the Goons. You can combo people into each other, and hit special roadside targets like fruit stands and pianos hanging from cranes!
“The physics for shoving are amped up beyond what a normal, non-Lars Speedwagon human could accomplish, but we are using a real physics engine – an even-more-optimised version of the Unity built-in physics. We use real ragdoll physics for everything, from the physics of shoving people to the way they hit things in the environment!”
Brilliantly, when you level up, you get a little procedurally generated ’80s movie, which you can rename and share with pals. Shoving amazing.
Shove Pro is thrusting itself onto iOS in November.