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Endless Runner Game

By Sparkfun Electronics

Courtesy of SparkFun

Introduction

Popularized by mobile games like Temple Run, the endless running type of game is an extremely simplistic spin on the larger “platform” genre where a player has limited control over a character that is constantly moving forward. Flappy bird, while generally not considered a “running” game, was another popular infinite platform game with limited control over the character: users could only tap the screen to make the bird fly upward in order to navigate through obstacles while constantly moving to the right.

We’re going to make our own endless runner game using an Arduino, button and character LCD. While not as visually appealing as Temple Run or Flappy Bird, it’s almost as addicting.

The code for this game comes from Joshua Brooks on Instructables. The original project can be found here.

Completed game

Required Materials

You can complete this project with parts from the SparkFun Inventor’s Kit v4.0. Specifically, you will need:

Note: If you purchase the parts separately, you will need to solder headers onto the LCD.

Suggested Reading

If you aren’t familiar with the following concepts, we recommend checking out these tutorials before continuing:

Hardware Assembly

Using jumper wires, connect the components as shown in the diagram below.

Having a hard time seeing the circuit?

Programming

Note: This example assumes you are using the latest version of the Arduino IDE on your desktop. If this is your first time using Arduino, please review our tutorial on installing the Arduino IDE.

Copy and paste the following code in the Arduino IDE. Click Upload to send your compiled code to the Arduino.

Copy Code
/**
* Endless Runner
* Date: August 18, 2017
* Author: Joshua Brooks (http://www.instructables.com/member/joshua.brooks/)
* Modified by: Shawn Hymel (SparkFun Electronics)
*
* Adjust LCD contrast with the potentiometer. Press the button
* to start the game. During gameplay, press the button to jump
* and avoid obstacles. Running into an object will result in
* restarting. Points are awarded based on distance.
*/

#include <LiquidCrystal.h>

// Constants
#define BTN_PIN 7

#define SPRITE_RUN1 1
#define SPRITE_RUN2 2
#define SPRITE_JUMP 3
#define SPRITE_JUMP_UPPER '.' // Use the '.' character for the head
#define SPRITE_JUMP_LOWER 4
#define SPRITE_TERRAIN_EMPTY ' ' // User the ' ' character
#define SPRITE_TERRAIN_SOLID 5
#define SPRITE_TERRAIN_SOLID_RIGHT 6
#define SPRITE_TERRAIN_SOLID_LEFT 7

#define HERO_HORIZONTAL_POSITION 1 // Horizontal position of hero on screen

#define TERRAIN_WIDTH 16
#define TERRAIN_EMPTY 0
#define TERRAIN_LOWER_BLOCK 1
#define TERRAIN_UPPER_BLOCK 2

#define HERO_POSITION_OFF 0 // Hero is invisible
#define HERO_POSITION_RUN_LOWER_1 1 // Hero is running on lower row (pose 1)
#define HERO_POSITION_RUN_LOWER_2 2 // (pose 2)

#define HERO_POSITION_JUMP_1 3 // Starting a jump
#define HERO_POSITION_JUMP_2 4 // Half-way up
#define HERO_POSITION_JUMP_3 5 // Jump is on upper row
#define HERO_POSITION_JUMP_4 6 // Jump is on upper row
#define HERO_POSITION_JUMP_5 7 // Jump is on upper row
#define HERO_POSITION_JUMP_6 8 // Jump is on upper row
#define HERO_POSITION_JUMP_7 9 // Half-way down
#define HERO_POSITION_JUMP_8 10 // About to land

#define HERO_POSITION_RUN_UPPER_1 11 // Hero is running on upper row (pose 1)
#define HERO_POSITION_RUN_UPPER_2 12

// Globals
LiquidCrystal lcd(13, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8);
static char terrainUpper[TERRAIN_WIDTH + 1];
static char terrainLower[TERRAIN_WIDTH + 1];
static bool buttonPushed = false;

void setup() {
initializeGraphics();
lcd.begin(16, 2);
pinMode(BTN_PIN, INPUT_PULLUP);
}

void loop() {

static byte heroPos = HERO_POSITION_RUN_LOWER_1;
static byte newTerrainType = TERRAIN_EMPTY;
static byte newTerrainDuration = 1;
static bool playing = false;
static bool blink = false;
static unsigned int distance = 0;

// Check if button is pressed
if ( digitalRead(BTN_PIN) == LOW ) {
buttonPushed = true;
}

// Show start screen if not currently playing game
if (!playing) {
drawHero((blink) ? HERO_POSITION_OFF : heroPos, terrainUpper, terrainLower, distance >> 3);
if (blink) {
lcd.setCursor(0, 0);
lcd.print("Press Start");
}
delay(250);
blink = !blink;
if (buttonPushed) {
initializeGraphics();
heroPos = HERO_POSITION_RUN_LOWER_1;
playing = true;
buttonPushed = false;
distance = 0;
}
return;
}

// Shift the terrain to the left
advanceTerrain(terrainLower, newTerrainType == TERRAIN_LOWER_BLOCK ? SPRITE_TERRAIN_SOLID : SPRITE_TERRAIN_EMPTY);
advanceTerrain(terrainUpper, newTerrainType == TERRAIN_UPPER_BLOCK ? SPRITE_TERRAIN_SOLID : SPRITE_TERRAIN_EMPTY);

// Make new terrain to enter on the right
if (--newTerrainDuration == 0) {
if (newTerrainType == TERRAIN_EMPTY) {
newTerrainType = (random(3) == 0) ? TERRAIN_UPPER_BLOCK : TERRAIN_LOWER_BLOCK;
newTerrainDuration = 2 + random(10);
} else {
newTerrainType = TERRAIN_EMPTY;
newTerrainDuration = 10 + random(10);
}
}

// Jump if button is pressed
if (buttonPushed) {
if (heroPos <= HERO_POSITION_RUN_LOWER_2) heroPos = HERO_POSITION_JUMP_1;
buttonPushed = false;
}

// Draw hero on screen and check for collisions
if (drawHero(heroPos, terrainUpper, terrainLower, distance >> 3)) {
playing = false; // The hero collided with something. Too bad.
} else {
if (heroPos == HERO_POSITION_RUN_LOWER_2 || heroPos == HERO_POSITION_JUMP_8) {
heroPos = HERO_POSITION_RUN_LOWER_1;
} else if ((heroPos >= HERO_POSITION_JUMP_3 && heroPos <= HERO_POSITION_JUMP_5) && terrainLower[HERO_HORIZONTAL_POSITION] != SPRITE_TERRAIN_EMPTY) {
heroPos = HERO_POSITION_RUN_UPPER_1;
} else if (heroPos >= HERO_POSITION_RUN_UPPER_1 && terrainLower[HERO_HORIZONTAL_POSITION] == SPRITE_TERRAIN_EMPTY) {
heroPos = HERO_POSITION_JUMP_5;
} else if (heroPos == HERO_POSITION_RUN_UPPER_2) {
heroPos = HERO_POSITION_RUN_UPPER_1;
} else {
++heroPos;
}
++distance;
}

delay(100);
}

// Create custom character LCD graphics
void initializeGraphics() {

static byte graphics[] = {

// Run position 1
B01100,
B01100,
B00000,
B01110,
B11100,
B01100,
B11010,
B10011,

// Run position 2
B01100,
B01100,
B00000,
B01100,
B01100,
B01100,
B01100,
B01110,

// Jump
B01100,
B01100,
B00000,
B11110,
B01101,
B11111,
B10000,
B00000,

// Jump lower
B11110,
B01101,
B11111,
B10000,
B00000,
B00000,
B00000,
B00000,

// Ground
B11111,
B11111,
B11111,
B11111,
B11111,
B11111,
B11111,
B11111,

// Ground right
B00011,
B00011,
B00011,
B00011,
B00011,
B00011,
B00011,
B00011,

// Ground left
B11000,
B11000,
B11000,
B11000,
B11000,
B11000,
B11000,
B11000,
};
int i;

// Skip using character 0, this allows lcd.print() to be used
// to quickly draw multiple characters
for (i = 0; i < 7; ++i) {
lcd.createChar(i + 1, &graphics[i * 8]);
}

// Fill screen with empty terrain
for (i = 0; i < TERRAIN_WIDTH; ++i) {
terrainUpper[i] = SPRITE_TERRAIN_EMPTY;
terrainLower[i] = SPRITE_TERRAIN_EMPTY;
}
}

// Slide the terrain to the left in half-character increments
void advanceTerrain(char* terrain, byte newTerrain) {
for (int i = 0; i < TERRAIN_WIDTH; ++i) {
char current = terrain[i];
char next = (i == TERRAIN_WIDTH - 1) ? newTerrain : terrain[i + 1];
switch (current) {
case SPRITE_TERRAIN_EMPTY:
terrain[i] = (next == SPRITE_TERRAIN_SOLID) ? SPRITE_TERRAIN_SOLID_RIGHT : SPRITE_TERRAIN_EMPTY;
break;
case SPRITE_TERRAIN_SOLID:
terrain[i] = (next == SPRITE_TERRAIN_EMPTY) ? SPRITE_TERRAIN_SOLID_LEFT : SPRITE_TERRAIN_SOLID;
break;
case SPRITE_TERRAIN_SOLID_RIGHT:
terrain[i] = SPRITE_TERRAIN_SOLID;
break;
case SPRITE_TERRAIN_SOLID_LEFT:
terrain[i] = SPRITE_TERRAIN_EMPTY;
break;
}
}
}

// Draw hero on screen and check for collisions
bool drawHero(byte position, char* terrainUpper, char* terrainLower, unsigned int score) {

bool collide = false;
char upperSave = terrainUpper[HERO_HORIZONTAL_POSITION];
char lowerSave = terrainLower[HERO_HORIZONTAL_POSITION];
byte upper, lower;

// Draw the appropriate sprite for the hero (run or jump)
switch (position) {
case HERO_POSITION_OFF:
upper = lower = SPRITE_TERRAIN_EMPTY;
break;
case HERO_POSITION_RUN_LOWER_1:
upper = SPRITE_TERRAIN_EMPTY;
lower = SPRITE_RUN1;
break;
case HERO_POSITION_RUN_LOWER_2:
upper = SPRITE_TERRAIN_EMPTY;
lower = SPRITE_RUN2;
break;
case HERO_POSITION_JUMP_1:
case HERO_POSITION_JUMP_8:
upper = SPRITE_TERRAIN_EMPTY;
lower = SPRITE_JUMP;
break;
case HERO_POSITION_JUMP_2:
case HERO_POSITION_JUMP_7:
upper = SPRITE_JUMP_UPPER;
lower = SPRITE_JUMP_LOWER;
break;
case HERO_POSITION_JUMP_3:
case HERO_POSITION_JUMP_4:
case HERO_POSITION_JUMP_5:
case HERO_POSITION_JUMP_6:
upper = SPRITE_JUMP;
lower = SPRITE_TERRAIN_EMPTY;
break;
case HERO_POSITION_RUN_UPPER_1:
upper = SPRITE_RUN1;
lower = SPRITE_TERRAIN_EMPTY;
break;
case HERO_POSITION_RUN_UPPER_2:
upper = SPRITE_RUN2;
lower = SPRITE_TERRAIN_EMPTY;
break;
}

// Detect collisions with terrain
if (upper != ' ') {
terrainUpper[HERO_HORIZONTAL_POSITION] = upper;
collide = (upperSave == SPRITE_TERRAIN_EMPTY) ? false : true;
}
if (lower != ' ') {
terrainLower[HERO_HORIZONTAL_POSITION] = lower;
collide |= (lowerSave == SPRITE_TERRAIN_EMPTY) ? false : true;
}

// Calculate number of digits needed to draw the score
byte digits = (score > 9999) ? 5 : (score > 999) ? 4 : (score > 99) ? 3 : (score > 9) ? 2 : 1;

// Draw the scene
terrainUpper[TERRAIN_WIDTH] = '\0';
terrainLower[TERRAIN_WIDTH] = '\0';
char temp = terrainUpper[16 - digits];
terrainUpper[16 - digits] = '\0';
lcd.setCursor(0, 0);
lcd.print(terrainUpper);
terrainUpper[16 - digits] = temp;
lcd.setCursor(0, 1);
lcd.print(terrainLower);

// Draw score in upper right of screen
lcd.setCursor(16 - digits, 0);
lcd.print(score);

terrainUpper[HERO_HORIZONTAL_POSITION] = upperSave;
terrainLower[HERO_HORIZONTAL_POSITION] = lowerSave;

return collide;
}

What You Should See

When the code finishes uploading, you should be presented with a flashing “Press Start” notification. If you do not see anything on the LCD, try turning the potentiometer to adjust the contrast.

presented with a flashing “Press Start” notification

Press the button (the only button available) to begin the game. Once the game starts, you need to press the button again to jump in order to avoid the obstacles that zoom by. If you hit an obstacle, you must start over. The farther you run, the higher your score (as shown by the number in the upper right corner).

The farther you run, the higher your score

Resources and Going Further

The code and circuit diagram for the Endless Runner Game project can be found on GitHub.

Challenges

  • Add a difficulty modifier to the game: for every 20 points earned, the terrain moves slightly faster.
  • Add a second button and remove the “gravity” effect (the part that causes the hero to move back to the first row after jumping). One button causes the hero to move up, and the other causes the hero to move down. This creates more of an “endless flying” game rather than “endless running.” Feel free to change the hero graphic to a plane, spaceship, bird, mosquito, etc.
  • Use an ultrasonic sensor to control the hero rather than one or more buttons. Set a threshold so that when an object (e.g., a hand) is more than 5 inches from the sensor, the hero is on the top row, and when the object is less than 5 inches from the sensor, the hero is on the bottom row.

Key Parts and Components

Add all Digi-Key Parts to Cart
  • 1568-1754-ND
  • 1568-1642-ND
  • 1568-1552-ND
  • 1568-1616-ND
  • 1568-1757-ND
  • 377-2094-ND
  • 1568-1768-ND