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Talofa Games has launched Run Legends, a mobile game that turns walking or running into a game as you engage in cooperative fitness battles with friends around the world.
“Run Legends is available now on both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store,” Jenny Xu, founder and CEO of Cupertino, Calif.-based Talofa, said in an interview with GamesBeat.
Run Legends is a movement game where you unleash attacks and special abilities while walking or running. You can use these abilities to defeat the evil pioneers that are draining humanity’s energy. Upgrade your gear, make new friends, and learn more about the world of Run Legends while improving your real-life fitness.
“Fitness and gaming don’t have to be mutually exclusive and we take great pride in creating a game that allows players to improve their health while having fun and playing with friends. We look forward to working with our players to scale this new social fitness experience and create a happier, healthier world,” said Xu.
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However, what sets Run Legends apart from other fitness games is that you can play with your friends in a real-time co-op mode, no matter where they are in the world. Whether you’re running around your neighborhood or strolling along the beach, you can control your character’s movements and unleash powerful attacks by moving faster or slower.
“The goal of the game is to run and walk outside to fight Pioneers, which are enemies that represent real fears,” Xu said. “This is how players strengthen their mental and physical health by upgrading their equipment. As this is a cooperative game, they can make friends but also learn more about the backstories of the player characters.”
You can play with different character classes to take on different types of enemies. Each session lasts about five to 15 minutes.
“It’s short, but it’s meant to move people,” Xu said. “You can run or walk to play. What we do differently is that we set the game difficulty to how the player calibrates it. So you can actually play no matter what skill level you are in the real world. Someone who is an Olympic athlete can play with someone who just got off the couch and not feel worse about their performance because what we reward is consistency and not physical ability.”
Run Legends takes a unique approach to promoting mental and physical health using a storyline about combating and overcoming symbolic representations of fear and anxiety, such as the Critical Granny.
During the game’s open beta, friendships were formed between players from South Korea, Ukraine, the United States and dozens of other countries, who regularly collaborated to defeat enemies by participating in the same missions, Xu said.
The most active players have racked up hundreds of miles playing an early version of the game. It’s easy as the Virtual Announcer, the operator, announces your team’s actions and achievements so you can jump right into the middle of epic battles.
“Players have already told us how Run Legends has made them lose five pounds, rediscover parts of their former selves, and spend more time with their dogs,” Xu said.
The game features unlockable missions and rewards, events with leaderboards and prizes, invite codes you can send to your teammates for co-op battles, collectable resources to craft new gear that support a variety of movement styles and tactical roles, and customizable pacing settings for the players Any player of any skill level can be their team’s MVP.
You can buy virtual currency in the game and in the future there will be Battle Passes, cosmetics and power-ups. But for now, the company will try to attract as many users as possible. Xu said the game is aimed at GenZ audiences as well as anyone who wants to play sports.
I first met Xu when her team won the grand prize of the Niantic Beyond Reality contest in 2019. For this competition, Xu and her family created Run to My Heart. Then, under the name of JC Soft, the company developed a social running game based on the Niantic Real World Platform, in which one had to run to certain locations in the real world in order to achieve goals in the game.
“This is the spiritual evolution of the game we won the competition,” said Xu. “It’s come a long way.”
As a concept, the game has been in the works for four years. In the middle of this period, Xu decided to restart the whole project and start all over again.
“We had this whole game story world that just had to be thrown away,” Xu said. “That was probably the hardest reset. We had to downsize the team and hire new people. So it was a really tough time.”
As the company made the switch, it switched to using the Unity game engine.
Around the same time in 2021, the company transitioned from a bootstrapping studio to raising VC funding. The company currently consists of a team of seven employees and six contractors.
“It also changed our way of thinking. We want to make this a much bigger thing now and with a much bigger team,” said Xu.
The company also went through Apple’s Entrepreneur Camp, which made it easier to integrate the game into the iOS platform.
The Talofa team consists of game veterans from Riot Games, EA and thatgamecompany. Xu has developed mobile games with over 10 million downloads. The company did not disclose how much money it raised.
“This is just a dream project for me as I’ve been making indie games for over 13 years. I started when I was 12. I was a runner and a college athlete,” said Xu. “The combination of those two things and my interest in mental health has manifested itself in this one product. And I think the authenticity of that love is one of the special things that our players have learned. It’s like, wow, the developers really love this game. And I think that will help us get started.”
A new audio feature called “Run Legends” has been in the works since 2019.
Apple welcomed Xu’s company into the camp because it used audio in novel ways.
“They liked the fact that we’re using spatial audio, which is a relatively new feature,” she said. “If you have Air Pods and you turn your head, you can actually move around in virtual space. The game uses interactive audio and immersive audio. And we rely on it because we don’t want anyone looking at their screen while we’re running outside. You really only rely on the audio experience. And when they turn their heads, they hear like the enemy in front of them. And then they turn around and now it’s on the left side of their head. Just like in the real world, immersiveness is very important to make the gaming experience enjoyable and feel very different than what’s out there.”
The company has conducted tests in the US, Ukraine, Russia and South Korea. The company found users through Discord and Twitter, and more than 20,000 people have played it. More than 25,000 people have pre-registered to play on Google.
“The community is very interested in it,” she said.
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