Drinkbox’s Olympics Rio 2016

By chrism August 23rd, 2016, under News

With the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics, I figured why not share some of the office’s favorite moments:

 

Mayuran: “They used Mario as the mascot for the next Olympics! That’s a scandal! It should have been sonic, who actually runs, and doesn’t take performance enhancing drugs! Ban mushroom kingdom! Send a message”

Background: With athletes and viewers exhausted, the closing ceremony for Rio2016 was passing off as expected…
Until Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe popped out of a giant green pipe dressed up as video game character Mario from the Super Mario games, one of Japan’s best-known exports.

 

Graham: “I didn’t realize how openly corrupt Olympic Boxing was. Definitely an eye-opening moment“

Background:

Irish bantamweight Michael Conlan controversially crashed out of the Olympics to complete a dismal Games for Ireland’s eight-strong boxing team.

Conlan appeared to do the better work in the opening round but all three judges gave it on a 10-9 scoreline to 2013 world championship silver medallist Nikitin.

Conlan’s highly contentious defeat comes after a hugely controversial decision in Monday’s heavyweight boxing final when another Russian Evgeny Tishchenko was given the verdict over Kazakhstan’s Vassiliy Levit.

 

Alex: “My favorite part of olympics was our women’s soccer team. Nice that we won bronze, but mostly they represent a nice diversity of Canadian women.“

Background:

Deanne Rose and Christine Sinclair scored to give the Canadian women’s soccer team back-to-back Olympic bronze medals with Friday afternoon’s 2-1 victory over host Brazil.

The Canadians rushed the pitch to celebrate while the crowd, never wavering in its support, chanted for its team. Sinclair, for so long the face of Canadian soccer, was sobbing as organizers set up the podium for the medal presentation.

womansoccer

 

ChrisM: “Sometimes being a bully comes back to get ya“

Background:

France’s Aurelie Muller, wearing the white cap, has been stripped of her silver medal after she is seen grappling with Italy’s Rachele Bruni in what was an incredibly close finish to the Women’s 10km open-water swim…

The silver medallist of the women’s marathon 10km has been disqualified after she wrestled with another competitor who came third.

 

Team Tools

By chrism August 8th, 2016, under News

This week I thought it might be interesting for people to see what tools we use internally at the studio when working on a project. Over the years we’ve changed how we’ve communicated on a daily basis and track our work tasks. As Drinkbox grew, we adopted new practices – but as you’ll see, we also have stuck with some old school tools.

For daily communication we’ve recently started to use Slack – although Slack isn’t the perfect solution, we enjoy the ease at which we can break into teams and add media files. For me it provides an easy way to harass the art team, or pop over to the coders to see what are the newest memes. Also, my favorite channel is the #bookclub.

slack

When Drinkbox wants to coordinate tasks at a high level we prefer to use Trello. The tool provides a simple way to pass tasks around to each other. We usually are much more active on Trello earlier in a project where having microscopic control over tasks isn’t all that important. Some of our pros include the drag-and-dropness, comments & image sharing capabilities.

trello

 

As a project starts to enter final production / bug fixing we move over to the nitty gritty greatness of bugzilla. Although not the prettiest, bugzilla is a powerhouse in providing a multitude of ways for us to track bugs, asign bugs, and statistically evaluate how our bugs are being fixed.

Below is a list of bugs currently for the Severed project

bugzillaList

Here is a really cool graph of our Severed bugs tracked over time – a lot of information can be gained seeing the # of new bugs found (hopefully decreasing) and the rate at which we’re fixing assigned bugs. For example you usually see a big spike up when a big QA pass happens, and big drops during intensive periods of production as we knock down tasks.

bugzillaChart
Hope you enjoyed your dose of insight into Drinkbox game production.

Severed’s Initial Pitch Animation

By augustoq July 13th, 2016, under News

 

Hi, I’m Augusto (aka Cuxo) and once upon a time, I concepted a crazy game about loss, burden, sword fighting and a lot of purple.

 

We were wrapping up Guacamelee and a few ideas had begun to nag at me, like a stone in your shoe. Every game idea is different and has a different process, for Severed I was making thumbnails and notes on post its and loose paper, until one week I realized I had enough notes to make a short/crude video of this game.

And that’s what I want to share with you today! This is the very first version of Severed (called Slash, or rather “/”, back then) and this is what I e-mailed my colleagues at DrinkBox one Sunday midnight.

Actual e-mail:


(Dated, Jan 27, 2013)

Hi guys,

Over the last little while I’ve had some ideas stuck in my head from the game pitch meetings we had a while back. So there’s something about it that I couldn’t just ignore, so this week I made a little sort of video thing because it was bugging me.

 

Please forgive the crudeness and some of the unimaginative designs

 

I don’t know if it would be good or useful, but i couldn’t resist, for my own peace of mind

 

see attachment

—-

 

Fast forward to today and I couldn’t feel more proud about the game we made. Super challenging, unique and vibrant.

 

I’m so grateful for this adventure!

Check out the video here:

Thanks Indie Mega Booth & Devolver

By chrism June 29th, 2016, under News

Just got back from E3 showing off Severed on iOS devices and the WiiU/3DS so figured I should write something up.

 

Apparently what I was going to write about has already been scooped by Kotaku (dem scoops). In a nutshell, there is an interesting theory that E3 is trying to block out the Devolver “anti-E3” booth across the street. What I can add to this amusing story is that it must be incredibly hard to setup trailers in such an awkward manner – you really need a good reason to do it in such a way…
devolver area

But turf wars aside – just wanted to give a thanks to the Indie Mega Booth and Devolver for providing a great space to chat about Severed while simultaneously providing a break from the E3 floor. We had space in a very hip Airstream trailer – courtesy IMB & Devolver – and also at picnic benches situated within a beer garden (again, generously provided by Devolver). I must admit, it is very civil to sit down with a beer to chat about one’s game versus standing in the loud throngs of E3. Solid job Devolver.

megatrailer

Indie Mega Booth Airstream trailer available for developers to privately show off their game.

Devolver Tents

Beer garden provided by Devolver (/thumbsup)

Here are a few folks that covered us:

Engadget “PS Vita slasher ‘Severed’ is coming to iOS, 3DS and Wii U

Eurogamer “Severed is coming to Wii U, 3DS and iOS this summer

Nintendo Life “Hands On: Dealing Death by a Thousand Cuts with SEVERED

Oh, and be sure to check out some of the cool games Devolver is supporting.

Severed Reviews Round-Up

By chrism May 3rd, 2016, under News

Hi Hi! The reception for Severed has been fantastic, and everyone at the studio appreciates any and all reviews and articles.

Although there are many more reviews than the ones listed below – we figured why not make a mini list of just a few of them:

Destructoid – “DrinkBox Studios knocked it out of the park” 9.5/10

Polygon – “Severed is the strongest iteration of DrinkBox’s aesthetic to date” 9.0/10

Gaming Trend – “Severed is my favorite PlayStation Vita exclusive” 90/100

Pocket Gamer – “this is a fresh dungeon-crawling experience” 9/10

PlayStation Universe – “Severed masterfully combines touch screen combat” 9.5/10

If you haven’t had a chance head on over to your local PSVita online digital store to grab a copy: PlayStation Store

NEWS BONANZA – Release date, OST, Trailer

By chrism April 12th, 2016, under News

Alright folks. This blog post is not the usual long winded diatribe you’d come to expect from me. Instead we have glorious gifts of information, and a barrage of media to assault your senses.

Severed_ReleaseDateAccounce_Image03

SEVERED RELEASE DATE:

We’re excited to announce that Severed will be released April 26th, 2016 on PlayStation Vita on for $14.99 (or €14.99/£11.99). PS+ subscribers can also expect a 10% discount during the launch week. (/highfives)

NEW TRAILER:

I love the track that’s been made for this trailer!

 

SEVERED OST AVAILABLE RIGHT NOW

Composed by the Juno nominated YAMANTAKA // SONIC TITAN and special guests Pantayo
AVAILABLE HERE

Our GDC 2016 Picks

By chrism March 22nd, 2016, under News

Hi all! Augusto, Graham and me just got back from GDC 2016 and we’re here present some cool games we saw:


 

Graham:

LineWobblerBlogimage-color-edit

The best game at GDC this year was Line Wobbler.

For those unfamiliar with Line Wobbler (e.g. most people), it’s a physical installation made up of an ultrabright LED strip connected to a springy joystick. The game is described as a 1-D RPG. You play as a dot that’s climbing up the line, that has to deal with threats like enemies (red dots), lava (yellow blocks) and a bunch of other interesting hazards. You dot has a “wobble” attack that is invoked by releasing the springy joystick so that it wobbles around.

This video introduces the game nicely: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2h8AtDR85Y

Augusto:
ObraDinn Dek
A lot of games at GDC 2016 were noteworthy, but the one I’m most excited about is Lucas Pope’s Return of the Obra Dinn. Not only the 1-bit art direction is impeccable, the games he makes play like no other. Just like its aesthetics, the gameplay and narrative have depth in its simplicity. The game guides the player elegantly through its mysterious setting: an 1800 cargo ship with a missing crew. With the aid of an equally mysterious device, you can transport to the time of the crew member’s deadly fates.

Part detective story, part ghost ship, the somber atmosphere puts death at the center in a way not even shooters with 100 headshots a minute can do.

Check it out here: http://dukope.com/

ChrisM:
Handy
I don’t like heights. Standing on ledges makes my stomach fall onto the floor. I think that’s why I got such a kick out of the VR game The Climb. At first it started off fairly straight forward – players use the shoulder buttons on a controller to move their hands from one hand hold to another. The real shocker took place when I spent a moment to look over my shoulder to see that there was a LONG drop behind me. My heart started to race and I had to take a moment to remind myself it wasn’t real. I’ve become sold on VR because I keep on having little conversations like this in my head when playing such games. It feels really really fresh and unfortunately means I’ll be one of those (sucker?) early adopters.

Terror to be seen here: http://www.theclimbgame.com/

Finger Training

By chrism March 9th, 2016, under News

Hi everyone, Jason here, and I’m really excited for everyone to play Severed.

Severed will be ready for you soon… but more importantly, we want to know if you will be ready for Severed!

Severed is a game that puts players in the role of a young warrior travelling through a fantasy world, exploring dungeons and fighting strange and deadly creatures.  The combat in Severed requires a keen eye, sharp reflexes and quick thinking. Enemies are varied and their attacks can be misleading. You’ll need your wits, but you’ll also need fast fingers. Combat in Severed is done with touch controls, so if you’re going to survive, you’ll need to make sure your fingers are tough and ready!

fingerVSstrongarm

If you want to survive in Severed’s world, your fingers are going to have to be in tip-top fighting shape! Luckily, the internet is your friend, and there are many resources to help you strengthen your fingers and prepare yourself.

 

wikihow_fingerexcercises_link

The benefits of strengthening your fingers will provide you with many benefits, such as the ability to climb small to large mountains.

 

finger_strength_2

In conclusion, mountain climbing may (or may not) help you play Severed, and playing Severed may (or may not) help you climb mountains!

DrinkBox PlayTesting

By chrism February 24th, 2016, under News

This week we just finished up our 20th playtest for Severed! As a studio one of the most important practices we’ve learned is: playtest your game early, and often. As a designer, you are constantly making assumptions about how people will play your game, and you quickly learn how wrong these assumptions usually are. For example, what may seem like an obvious path within a game can be vastly missed by the majority of players – It’s very easy to make a poor judgement call about how people view a scenario I’ve created.

 

Subsequently, we’ve also learned that it is difficult to create a natural playtesting environment if your entire studio is standing over a playtester’s shoulder like a bunch of weirdos… This can affect the playtester (positively or negatively) by changing the way they would “normally” play the game. For example, a skilled video game player might feel self conscious, resulting in them struggling during a demo, thereby giving us the impression we’ve made the game too difficult.

pressure

credit: koen deetman

One solution is to record the playtest for review at a later time. A drawback to this method is we don’t have the opportunity to ask the playtester about certain moments of their play session. “Did the trapdoor puzzle feel rewarding, or was it too easy?” Asking questions much later after a playtest sometimes leads to a playtester having trouble recollecting their experience.

 

Our solution is to record the playtest AND stream video of it across the office to the design team. This allows the team to have a live discussion during the playtest, pointing out possible improvements, or observing unforeseen challenges the player is experiencing.

 

Here is the setup:

 

final_flow

First, Severed is recorded with an over the shoulder video camera with an HDMI out that contains the screen data. We lead this signal to the input of our Game Capture HD60 from Elgato. The HD60 is an affordable and versatile little capture device. The supplied software is simple to use and we’ve been happy with the quality of recorded video, even up to 1080p 60fps.

severed_HD60_sm

Now we get sneaky. The HD60 is connected by USB to a computer that records the playtest, but also simultaneously streams the computer’s desktop video via VLC Media Player to our local LAN via HTTP. We have tried a few different software solutions and currently use the powerful (and free!) VLC.

vlc_showing_severed

The way we setup VLC can be found in the below post, found here. Anyone in our office can easily pick up the HTTP stream feed by using their own copy of VLC on their respective computers. There is a slight lag since transcoding is taking place on the hosting computer, but we’ve had up to 6 computers watching without a problem. To improve performance one can reduce the desktop resolution of the hosting computer and also reduce the fps of the stream from within VLC.

 

There ya go! A little insight into our playtest sessions.

PlayTesting Supplement

By chrism February 24th, 2016, under News

Hey all, here are the details to how we setup our playtesting. This How-To is going to be a bit brief on detail, but should give you a general idea.

======Host Side========

Start the Stream

vlc01

Select your Desktop as the Capture Device

vlc02

Not sure about this page, just click Next

vlc03

You want to select HTTP, then click “Add”

vlc04

Select your preferred coding, H.264 is pretty good

vlc05

Change frame rate to what will be required, we go with 30fps or 15fps.

vlc06

Select port, the default is 8080 which works for our purposes.

vlc07

Click Next

vlc08

Last find the local IP of the Host computer. An easy way is to go to your Windows Start button, put “cmd” in the search parameter. Then in the console window that pops up type “ipconfig” and the IP address will be listed there. It’ll usually be 192.168.1.?, but, depends on how your network is setup. In the example below it is 192.168.1.124

vlc11

============ Client Side=========

Click “Open Network Stream”

vlc09

Enter the IP address of the Host computer with the port. In this case the hosting computer’s IP is 192.168.1.149, port 8080. Click “Play” and you should be good to go.

vlc12