The first, best, and probably only resource for playing Chris Hecker and Austin Grossman's HopperQuest

For starters, you can download HopperQuest at the official Indie Game Jam website.

What is HopperQuest?

HopperQuest is the greatest game known to mankind. Okay, that's a lie. But I was absolutely floored when I saw it at the IGJ 2 presentation in March.

The premise is so simple that there isn't even a premise, really. Hell, it's not even a game, but closer to what you might call a "sandbox." You control the hopper, which is this self-balancing spring-loaded stick. If you can imagine a kangaroo on a Segway, you are not only possessed of an extraordinarily good imagination, but you'll have a pretty decent idea of what our protagonist is able to do.

In a nutshell, you can lean and hop. Hopping is accomplished by extending the hopper's bluish leg, which propels you in whatever direction you are leaning. This doesn't sound so fun until you realize that this is all taking place in a world with a pretty neat 2D physics engine running in the background. There's friction and gravity, so not only can you hop, but with practice you can walk, grab onto ledges, and even walljump to higher elevations.

Also, your environment, which consists of rectangles, circles, and even springs, is completely physically responsive to your actions. This is the "sandbox" element of the game, and you get some nifty emergent behavior.

New Levels

I will be continuously releasing the levels I've been working on. You can make your own levels by pressing "L". This is a little confusing, as almost every other Indie Game Jam game has the "E" key bound to the level editor. Yes, it literally took me three days to figure out that the key binding is different in HopperQuest.


Once you've downloaded the *.physdb file, put it in your "/austin_hopper/content" directory. To play the level, start up HopperQuest and click on the "Globals" window. Choose "LevelFileName" and change the name to "foo.physdb" where that is the name of the new level. Then press "L" and immediately close the editing window. Now you're playing the new level.

Completed Levels

(right-click, "Save Target As" to download)
This first level is quite simple: you start in a shaft and you're forced to wall-hop your way up to the top. Once you've mastered wall-hopping, you can have some fun by zooming out (use the mouse wheel) and pushing the heavy block over the cliff edge, casuing the catapult at the bottom to shoot a ball high in the air. It's marginally fun! Design considerations. First of all, I had to make the wall-hopping walls high friction. I found that a friction coefficient of 3 or 4 made the walls climbable without being laughably easy to climb. Next, I had to test different shapes for the catapult. It took me an hour of testing before I found a shape I liked. I also discovered that very dense objects tend to fall through other objects, even through objects of infinite mass/inertia. Crazy.

(right-click, "Save Target As" to download)
I wanted to do a level with a sequence inspired by Indiana Jones. This level teaches you to do the "walking" described below in the techniques section. As the level begins, a big rectangle is about to fall on you; you have to outrun it and try to slide under the barrier at the end. Just remember to pick up your hat. (Hint: zoom out by using your mouse scroll wheel. Also, make sure to have a mouse with a scroll wheel.) Design considerations. This level was mostly about playing with a big, dense, about-to-fall object and just getting the timing right. I also had to prevent the rectangle from bouncing too much when it hit the ground, so I actually had to make it smaller (less mass). A pretty quick level to design, all in all.

(right-click, "Save Target As" to download)
This level only works when you set gravity to 0. You can do this in the secondary console window that appears when you launch HopperQuest. This was really just me playing with zero gravity, but you might notice that when gravity is set to 0, the balls behave very much like billiard balls on a table from an overhead view. Who says this has to be a side-scroller, right? It's a nice change to locomote around a zero gravity environment filled with balls, I think.

Other levels I'm playing with include: hopper basketball, fun with sticky chains, and catapult. If for some reason you, too, are making HopperQuest levels, then contact me and I will post your levels right after I regain my composure.


In this section I go over some of the cool tricks you can pull off to help you locomote around your environment with greater ease.


This is the most important technique. Fortunately, it's really easy. Tap the jump button to get a little bit of air. Then swing your retracted leg forward. Let it hit the ground, and then swing the leg behind you. You'll be propelled forward with a little air; while you are in the air, swing the leg back in front. Repeat, but be certain to keep your leg retracted the whole time. This will "coerce your environment to exert forces on you," as my high school physics teacher used to say (hi, Dr. Dell!).

Ledge Grab

If an object has a high enough coefficient of friction, mass, and inertia (and most big rectangles do), you can perform a ledge grab (by "mass" I really mean density and size, as the physics engine assigns objects density; the mass is a function of size and density). This technique is helpful when you mean to land on an object but have overshot your jump. If you're fast enough, you can swing your blue "leg" such that it rests on top of the ledge you tried to reach. Then just remain still. What happens is the friction drags you to a stop, and now you can un-lean to an upright position: voila! You're back on the ledge.

Of course, if the object is too 'slippery' you will just slide off the ledge. And if the object is not massive enough, you'll end up on top of the ledge, but you will have knocked the object over (which isn't always useful for reaching a high place).

Wall Hop

Wall-hopping is a lot of fun to pull off, and involves starting at the bottom of a vertical corridor, jumping, hopping off one wall, then the wall on the other side, then back to the first, until you've scaled the entire vertical corridor. I learned that you have to make sure that your "walls" have a high enough coefficient of friction to allow for the back-and-forth jumping--you have to be able to counteract gravity pulling you down. If the wall is too "slippery," then of course your wall-hopping will fail.

Ledge Slide

This technique was submitted by Austin Grossman himself: "This is a trick that works because the upper leg (the green segment of the hopper) has its friction set to zero. You hold the button down to leave the leg extended, then you land on a thin ledge so it slides into the gap between the upper leg and the lower leg (the red section). You can just skate along on the zero-friction upper leg, or retract the leg to stop yourself. It's not really that useful, but it's, um, l33t." Slick.


Rectangle K*I*C*K - The only HopperQuest clan that I know of.

About Me

My name is Darius Kazemi, and I am a hobbyist game designer. From 2003 to 2004 I ran the Game Development Club at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. School let out this year, and I found myself with some free time. Why not make a HopperQuest fan page? I have attended both the 2003 and 2004 Experimental Gameplay Workshop at the Game Developers Conference. You can email me at "darius.kazemi 'at' gmail.com".

You can also see a picture of me enthralled at the 2004 EGW.