Ransack networks and snag loot with Node.Hack, a free Windows Phone game

Infiltrate computer systems, nab your payload, destroy the enemy AI and escape before the network self-destructs. It’s Node.Hack, and it’s what would happen if Pac-Man met Metal Gear Solid. This free, single-player, Windows Phone game by Charles Cox will be released Nov. 15.

In arcade-style play, the player faces progressively tougher levels — waves — and is scored based on the money that is collected in each level. The player uses taps and auto-pathfinding to navigate across nodes and bridges in a retro-styled maze. Players must steal a target amount of money in order to progress to the next wave; once the target its met, an exit opens and the clock starts ticking while the map self-destructs from the outside in. The player must reach the exit before the time runs out.

But pillaging isn’t that easy for a hacker. Enemy AI units drop in and scour the map as the player hunts for the spoils. One enemy touch means death. The player can avoid these enemies, or, even better, use weapons against them. The weapons, embedded in the map, deploy when the player passes over them, so conserving these resources becomes a tactical challenge.

Like any good thieving scheme, it takes more time to steal more money. The nodes with loot have to be cracked, and cracking takes longer depending on how much loot is in the node. It’s up to the hacker to decide if the time is worth it. Each wave gets progressively harder — game actions speed up: movement, hacking, enemies, weapons, and the self-destruct timer; enemies multiply; loot concentrates and is harder to crack; and maps are bigger and denser.

Death — whether by AI attack or being caught in the imploding network — resets the hacker’s career and stops progression through the waves. High scores and top waves are recorded locally. The player wins after beating all 10 waves.

The waves are dynamically generated — a set of criteria is used to bound the world, then the geometry and layout of the nodes, bridges, loot, enemies and weapons are assembled using a unique randomly seeded algorithm.

The Windows Phone game is powered with ads by the Microsoft AD SDK, and is compatible with OS 7.0 and 7.5. Further plans include a level pack and new weapons, as well as a Mango-specific update including support for more regions.

The game will be available on November 15th.

Charles Cox is a Program Manager in the Advanced Technology Group at Microsoft. He has worked at Sierra Studios and Zipper Interactive as developer and technical designer on professional games. He designs and develops educational programs for game developers on Xbox, PC, and Windows Phone platforms.

Browse: www.nodehackgame.com
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Take a look: www.charlesncox.com/nodehack/2011/11/screenshots