Heart of an Action Hero!

This is Jack. He’s the protagonist. Inside of him beats the heart of an Action Hero! That’s you! The heart, that is, not the Action Hero.

  • Press the space bar to beat Jack’s heart to help him find the treasure and escape the jungle!
  • Don’t beat too fast or too slow!
  • Beat faster to help him outrun danger or beat slower to help him sneak past threats!

[WP_UnityObject src=”http://robertcigna.com/unity/actionheart.unity3d” width=”900″ height=”600″/]

Heart of an Action Hero is a game prototype produced for the 2013 Global Game Jam between January 25 and 27, 2013. I worked alone on this project, since I came late to the party and teams had already formed, but I am quite proud of the result and of the compliments I received, even if the graphics are a little eye-bleeding. Although, I’ve been told Jack’s waddle is adorable.

It is an auto-runner with one primary mechanic: the player taps the space bar to beat the character’s heart. The faster they beat his heart, the faster Jack runs. On top of this foundation are several secondary mechanics: beating his heart too fast or too slow (for too long) kills Jack, jump zones where Jack will jump higher if his heart is beating faster, tigers that wake up if Jack moves too quickly nearby, and boulders and spikes that simply kill Jack if he touches them.

Together, these mechanics require just enough skill, reflex and judgement to be fun. It was extremely gratifying to watch people play the game, react emotionally when they failed to overcome an obstacle, and immediately try again. It was also gratifying — after wandering away to try others’ games — to walk back to find people learning to play the game on their own and still enjoying themselves.

After you’ve played it once or twice, try pressing F6 to bring up the debug indicator showing exactly how close the character is to dying and get a feel for some of the math controlling the primary mechanic.


  • Unity 3.5 — the machines in the labs at RIT had an old version of Unity installed, and I didn’t feel like re-installing every time I moved computers.
  • sfxr — for creating sound effects.
  • TortoiseSVN — for version control. Revisions: 15.

This project includes the song “HHavok-main” by Eric Skiff, which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license.