Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Adieu to George

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017

Our dear friend George will be leaving the studio for brighter pastures (or to the “farm” in the country. In addition to excellent design work, George also was a Photoshop genius, a PhD in twitter, and cool guy. So – let’s celebrate by looking back on some of his best work, take it away George:

###

Severed / Last of Us 2 Crossover:

Neil Druckmann had just finished playing through Severed with his daughter and tweeted us to tell us about it. This was about the time that the trailer for Last of Us 2 came up, and this was one of the scenes in it. The severed hand laying there just screamed photoshop-time.

The tweet:
Severed complete! Thanks, @DrinkBoxStudios for one insane ride. My daughter and I loved it. Highly recommended

 

Shitty Spiderface paint drawing


This was actually by one of our programmers for a Severed Fan Art contest. It took an entire afternoon, and has since appeared on a shirt in the office. Considered to be the Mona Lisa of our time.

 

Alternate Universe Spiderface

This one was created in Google Drawings while an unnamed designer was supposed to be doing enemy design work. An imagined alternative plot where you’re actually playing as the 100th iteration of Sasha. Sasha refuses to believe her family is gone, and that she can fight to win them back, but denial is the most predictable of all human responses. Rest assured, this will be the 100th time the spiderface demons have destroyed her, and they have become exceedingly efficient at it.

Yeah this concept was struck down.

 

Flameface Fidget

This is Drinkbox Studios staying current and cool during the great fidget spinner craze of 2017. *dabs*

 

Graham in VR

This came about after Graham – one of our studio heads, tried to argue with me (with a straight face) that we’re at least more than a year away from all sitting in dark rooms with future suits on and headsets strapped to our faces. I tried to stay positive, looking towards the future, and imagining what Graham would look like if he would only just believe.

###

Thanks George!

Trophies: Part 2

Friday, September 8th, 2017

Warning: Some of the links in this post lead to some strong language! NSFW

The last blog post was about my pseudo-scientific look at analyzing trophies. This time around I want to share the best aspect of trophies: the pun-based names and amusing cultural references. That’s why for Trophies Part 2, I’ll look at the motivation behind some of my favourite trophies that we made.

 

Finally, monsieur, a wafer thin mint:  Absorb 1500 objects (Tales from Space : Mutant Blobs Attack)

Mutant Blobs Attack was all about eating the world around you, and becoming huge. Who else ate a lot? Well monsieur did. Monty Python might date a few people at the studio, but they certainly were an influence on humour of our games.

(timestamp @ 301s)

Graduation Dinner : Eat the valedictorian at the end of Chapter 1 (Tales from Space : Mutant Blobs Attack)

I especially loved this trophy, not just for the irony, but that it played out so well in game. The idea of Blob rolling through a graduation, eating everyone, especially that go-getter valedictorian is too much fun. Are we a bit salty? Maybe.

Want us to untie you?: Talk to a Goat (Guacamelee!)

When I first heard Adam Sandler’s What The Hell Happened To Me I thought it was the funniest thing I’d ever heard. Granted, re-listening to this comedy compilation again makes me realize it has not stood the test of time. Anyway, it only made sense to celebrate in Guacamelee! when first meet your mentor/best goat friend UayChivo by doing a callback to the best skit on that Sandler CD, hands down:

(timestamp @ 57s)

I AM ERROR: Complete the I AM ERROR quest (Guacamelee!)

As many of you know Guacamelee! is a game where you play as a meme. Wait, I mean, there might be a few memes in the game. Anyway, a villager in Guacamelee! is an homage to a classic Zelda 2 character (bug?). Check it out

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_am_Error

(I just noticed Guacamelee! is referenced in the article! Cool! …and no, we didn’t add that ourselves)

 

Boom-Shack-Calaca : Defeat Calaca (Guacamelee!)

Boom-Shack-Calaca is a bit more complicated. Let’s say, a LOT more complicated. It is based off “Boom Shakalaka”, which in itself is a hilarious pun on Calaca, the final boss in Guacamelee!. But depending who you ask, the reference to that originates from different sources. And if you grew up mid 90s like a lot of us, the term was rampant.

For many, it is a throw back to embarrassing your opponent in NBA Jam:

While for others, it brings back memories of MuchMusic Dance video parties in the early 90s.

But, the 90s apparently was all over the term, because you also could lovingly remember it from Fresh Prince or House of Pain:

 

Interesting enough though, it seems to have originated with the great Sly & The Family Stone song “I Wanna Take you Higher”. Today has been a real learning moment.

https://youtu.be/am04NZL8pA4

(timestamp @ 280s)

Hope you enjoyed! Tweet us your own favourite!

 

Trophies : Part 1

Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

Sometimes I like to poke around the trophy statistics at tracking sites like PSN Profiles for our games, to see if any meaningful data can be pulled out. Now – this is a dangerous proposition as there are a lot of caveats associated with any insights you might gather this way; for example, only self-reporters appear in PSN Profiles, so one is not getting a true distributions of all players. But hey, who cares!

I of course like to compare our two versions of Guacamelee!: the original that was released on PS3/PSVita vs. that of Guacamelee!: STCE released on PS4 (among many other platforms). By looking at the completion %’s of different trophies throughout the game, one can get a rough picture of player drop off throughout (again the caveats here are numerous, but let’s go with it).

Below is a chart showing the % of players attaining trophies within the game that are linearly encountered through a full standard play through:

Become a Luchador

Kill the Alebrije

X’tabay-Bye

Defeat Flame Face

Licking his Wounds

Defeat Calaca

 

Now, immediately one can notice an overall decrease in completion for Guac:STCE – again many factors are involved here (e.g., Guac:STCE had more content inserted into the game) – but interesting never the less.

 

Of interest to me is that two significant difficulty changes were implemented between Guac & Guac:STCE :

  1. Making the platforming in the Tule Tree more clear
  2. Making the Jaguar Javier boss fight slightly easier

If I compare the ratio of completion fractions (below) at each trophy between Guac & Guac:STCE I can notice that there seems to be an improvement in completion between the two games after the Tule Tree; so perhaps the Tule Tree improvements worked!

Although the same cannot be said for the Jaguar Javier improvements; I did go back through our support emails and calculated we received 140% less “Jaguar Javier” hate emails for Guac:STCE, so I consider that a win.

To be honest with everyone, this little blog post has really just resulted in me having way more questions than when I started. For example:

Q: Guac:STCE received less hate mail than original Guac, did the emergence of YouTube video “how-to’s” reduce some of this gamer rage?

Q: Was the bigger drop off between Guac and Guac:STCE a result of the additional content, and what we’re seeing is just a normal % user drop off over time?

Q: Guac:STCE was free on PS+, so does this mean there is a larger group of “less hardcore” players (versus those who would seek out a Metroidvania in the form of the original Guac), and this explains the drop off?

NOBODY KNOWS. Either way, browsing Trophy data can be a very interesting exercise.

Love you all xoxo.

Canada Day at the Office

Thursday, July 6th, 2017

Howdy all, this week I asked around the office for anyone to share what they got up to on Canada Day. I mean, sure, people might or might not of watched fireworks. But what else do DrinkBoxers do on Canada’s 150th birthday? (which, honestly, is pretty young as far as countries go). Let me share:

 

Graham:  “I spent Canada Day back-country camping with my wife and dog at the amazing Bruce Peninsula National Park.”

 

 

Michael “I got the platinum trophy for The Last Guardian, yet again, on my girlfriend’s account, thanks Meghan!”

 

Steph: “I went antiquing and found creepy clowns.”

 

 

Ryan: “We found fish-ladies at Nathan Philips square while the Cuban-Canadian Jazz Collective was playing on Saturday.  They didn’t speak, but still managed to convince a train of kids (including mine) to follow them around.”

 

In conclusion quite a mix of everything for Canada Day. And, although this wasn’t a competition, I think we can all agree fish-ladies was the winner. Oh, and if you would like to see the actual Parliament fireworks, here you go:

 

 

Michelle Obama gave us an Apple Design Award!

Thursday, June 15th, 2017

Alright – well – I might be exaggerating a bit with the Michelle Obama thing, but let me present you the facts and you can decide for yourself:

1) We received an Apple Developer Design Awards for Severed (WHAT?! Awesome!!)
2) Michelle Obama was at WWDC
3) We received the award at WWDC

Ergo, Michelle Obama gave us an Apple Developer Design Award. QED. (It’s basic science, really)

While you may or may not believe this exactly, let me at least PROVE that we were at WWDC.

I lined up early on Monday morning to pick up my badge before the Apple Keynote.

This was my first time attending WWDC, and I was really surprised by the size and enthusiasm of the Keynote crowd.

Even with my early arrival, the only seating left was in a back corner of the room. Experiencing an Apple Keynote in person was pretty cool!

A few hours after the Keynote, I met up with my Apple contact and went to the Platforms State of the Union.

Immediately after the State of the Union, I was shepherded into a curtained-off area of the conference building. There were a number of other developers in this area, including a few game developer friends. We were all lined up single file side-by-side, and told (under embargo) that we had won an Apple Design Award!

We spent the next hour talking with some of the top Apple executives about our games / apps, as well as the upcoming Apple features we were most excited about. We were told “no photos” but I managed to snap one quick one of our award 😉

On Tuesday morning, WWDC attendees were treated to a “Fireside Chat with Michelle Obama”. She spoke about her time at the White House, the programs she ran while there, and gave tips on how to stay focused and not become overwhelmed in today’s political climate.

Shortly after Michelle’s talk, we met up again at the same secret area to talk with journalists from around the world. Here’s a photo of John Geleynese giving the journalists a quick rundown of what they were about to see while the developers waited patiently.

Overall it was a really fun couple of days with a chance to catch up with old friends, as well as make some new ones.

Thanks so much to Apple for the Award, and for all their support both before and after the launch of Severed!

 

Zoomorphism

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

Are we going to E3? Are we not going to E3? Back and forth! Well. Turns out we’re not going to E3, which is a bit disappointing – because one always needs their dose of spectacle once a year. That got me thinking, if I had to zoomorphise the different conventions, what would they all be? Let’s try:

E3 – Liocock

If I had to choose what animal pair represents E3 – it would be a lion and a peacock. A Liocock. First, a lot of big industry mover + shakers show up to E3 – the business folks, the “suits”. The top of the games kingdom so to speak (to some). Now, a peacock – because E3 is OVER THE TOP loud noises, bright lights, and sometimes not a lot of substance…

Gamescom – Wildeherd

There are so many people at Gamescom. SO MANY PEOPLE. I almost ran my first time looking out at the throngs of gamers. It reminds me of the huge Wildebeest migration that takes part in the Serengeti every year, it is truly amazing. (check out a video about it, or even better, see it in person!) I would cross a Wildebeest with a German Shepherd, because, I think of a German Shepherd when I think of Germany – where Gamescom takes place. This would be a Wildeherd.

 

PaxPrime – Sqotl

PaxPrime is a Sqotl. A Squirrel and an Axolotl. First – PaxPrime was the first convention to be “off the people”, a convention for gamers by gamers. And a squirrel to me is the most down to earth animal. Squirrels just seem to hang out with you whenever I’m outside. Camping – squirrel. Sitting in the park – squirrel. Pumping gas – squirrel pops out of the garbage to say hello.  Second is the Axolotl, because, PaxPrime can really get freaky, and, what is freakier than an Axolotl?

 

GDC – Eleer

Finally GDC. There are a lot of wise people at GDC, some real creative legends. So a wise animal like an elephant seems fitting. Second is a deer, for all those young and innocent looking aspiring game makers wandering around, a bit stunned in the lights surrounding them. I will call this animal an Eleer.

 

Thanks for playing!

DrinkBox Fav YouTube Sites Part 1:

Thursday, April 20th, 2017

A lot of YouTube watching gets done at the DrinkBox offices. And I mean A LOT. Sheesh. I decided to take action – and see what folks at DrinkBox are subscribed to and watching these days. So, in no particular order:


George says:
Geek & Sundry
The go-to channel for geek culture. Weekly shows with Felicia Day, Wil Wheaton, and host of Critical Role – a game of D&D played by voice actors (DM’d by Matt Mercer).

BONUS: [George watches a lot of YouTube]

Adam Savage’s Tested
Adam Savage (of Mythbusters) and co. talk tech, model and prop building, makerspaces, cosplay, and a tonne of other cool geeky stuff, with a few new videos every day.

https://www.youtube.com/user/testedcom/

[And if you for some reason you’ve never watch Felicia Day’s beginnings, watched The Guild . It’s great. Well, ok, it’s only great if you played a lot of MMOs]


Graham says:

My pick for the Blog post is Youtube channel “Beyond the Guitar

This guy, who is INSANELY talented, picks music from games / TV / movies and transcribes it for Classical Guitar.

One of my favorites is his Castle Theme from Super Mario World:

He only has 10k followers. That makes me very sad

[Everyone, don’t let Graham be sad and make it 10001 followers]


Michael says:

My pick for the Blog post is the Youtube channel “noclip”

Danny O’Dwyer, known from his host and producer work at GameSpot.com, has created a crowdfunded video game documentary channel called “noclip”.

These are lovingly crafted features telling the stories behind great video game titles old and new. They have a wonderfully timeless feel to them.

This documentary on the development of Spelunky was very interesting to me:

There’s bound to be at least one story you’ll be interested in!

[Everybody, Michael is really enthusiast so you should probably listen to him]


Me says (Chris M)

Alright – well, I felt why not mix it up and have a channel not games related, but one I hold dear to my heart. Global Cycling Network is a funny group of “blokes”, who have videos on every aspect of competitive cycling. If you have a question they’ve probably answered it.

I mean, ever wonder how to ride and look like a Belgian professional bike racer? They got you covered:

[I don’t troll my own entries, c’mon]


Stay tuned for Part 2 which will appear, sometime in the future – or potentially never. xoxo DrinkBox

 

 

Random Quasi Game Development Tips

Friday, March 31st, 2017

A little off beat post – I decided to ask a few people around the studio some of their top tips for whatever they were working on at the EXACT moment I asked them.

Graham is going to start us off with this little gem:

[Graham]

My favorite trick that I use pretty regularly is the use of “$” to flag rows or columns as absolute references in MS Excel / Google Sheets

By default, when you reference a cell as part of a formula by clicking on that cell, spreadsheet programs will treat the reference as a “relative reference”. This means if you copy and paste that cell, your referenced cell will change in the pasted cell. For example, if you copy the formula “=A1*B1” from row 1 to row 2, the formula will become “=A2*B2”.

 

This is great in many cases, but sometimes you don’t want the spreadsheet to change your referenced cell when you copy/paste. In our example, if you wanted to multiply cell A1 by each item in column B, you’d want the formula on row 2 to be “=A1*B2”, and on row 3 to be “=A1*B3”, etc.

 

To have your spreadsheet behave like this, you simply have to change the reference from a relative reference to an absolute reference by adding the “$” character in front of the row/column that you don’t want to change when the formula is pasted. In our example, “=$A$1*B1” would cause the B1 to change when pasted, but the A1 reference to always remain the same.

 

 

Some more complex examples can be found here: 

 

 

To be honest, I thought everyone knew that trick. Graham doesn’t get out much. Alright, let’s move on to Augusto – Augusto, what do you have for us?

 

[Augusto]
Paste Special in Toonboom allows a variety of settings. I like this because I can duplicate the art, but retain individual animation on each. So this is flexible for the animation team, and our Editor just reads the 1 drawing instead of quadruple-ying (?) it.
It’s great to make adjustments to the art later in the project and not go crazy

If I edit one drawing (I extend one vertix)…

 

…it updates in the other copies of the drawing.


Whoah, nerd alert amiright? George, good old George, what say you?

[George]
Hiding the damn canvas in the scene view of Unity:
If you’ve got a canvas in your seen set to camera/screen fit, you’ll be happy to know you can hide that giant monstrosity in the scene view via the “Layers” dropdown in the top right corner of the editor. You can use this to hide the UI, or any other Layers within the scene view!
 

 

Thanks George. Now trusty David, take us home with a major whallop of a tip:

[David]
It’s pretty trivial but seems not widely known: Gmail ignores any dots in your name, so coolmcguy@gmail.com  and cool.mc.guy and c.o.o.l.m.c.g.u.y are all equivalent

 


 

Well if tips were like baseball, that’d be a sure home run David.
Hope you learned something, and if you have your own tip, tweet us @DrinkBoxStudios or email us at contact at drinkboxstudios.com.

 

Drinkbox @ GDC 2017

Sunday, March 5th, 2017

Hi all, Graham here. Just got back from GDC and thought I’d share a little bit of the experience with those who were not able to make it out this year.

San Francisco is a beautiful city, and we were lucky to have great weather for the whole week.

This year we spent most of our days meeting with potential partners to talk about our upcoming [secret] game. The walls in Humble’s offices are covered in characters from bundles they’ve published. Took us awhile to find Juan.

We were not nominated in the IGF, but we were in the IMGAs. Unfortunately we didn’t win anything, but were still happy to be nominated 🙂

The meetings kept me pretty busy, but even though I was not able to make it to any talks this year, during the after hours and between meetings I had a great time meeting up with old friends, and seeing some of the cool things they’re working on. Riverbond by Cococucumber is looking really awesome.

Also got a chance to play Embers of Mirrim for the first time at the Ontario Social. The game is incredibly fun and left me wanting more.

As usual, the IGF area was full of really cool games.

Our favorite section of the show by far was alt.ctrl.GDC, a section of the show floor reserved for games that use custom hardware.

In the first game I tried, you move an LED around a ring by rotating a small knob. There are 2 concentric LED rings, and pressing a button jumps you between them. You need to avoid moving hazards and try to reach a goal position. Simple but surprisingly fun.

 

The second one I tried with Chris Harvey was a 2-player co-op Bank Heist game where one person wears a VR headset, and describes visual puzzles that need to be solved by the other player by manipulating a series of switches, wires, and buttons.

This record-scratching game used the record needle to detect the direction and speed the record was moving. The game world was projected on to the record. This game was kind of like asteroids, where time only moved when the record was moving. The ship moved with the outer edge of the record, and “scratching” the record caused the ship to fire bullets.

There were many other cool examples that I didn’t get to play. Super creative stuff here.

We also spent a bit of time wandering around the retro arcade. The nostalgia was flowing.

San Francisco is a great city for food, and we had a few really good meals on the trip. Chris McQuinn and I found Garaje last year, and we definitely had to stop by there again.

All in all, a great GDC. Now, back to making games!

 

New York VideoGame Critics Circle Awards 2017

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

Hi all, Chris McQuinn here.

Recently Severed was nominated for the Battery Park Award for Best Handheld Game at the New York Videogame Critics Circle (fancy sounding) and WON!

What makes this awards ceremony extra special is that Augusto flew down to NYC to attend – lucky guy – and he decided to make a mini photo-mentary. No need to ever wonder what it’s like to be a nominee for a game award, we have all the pics right here. Below are his pictures with his comments, and then maybe my comments on top of that.

 

I started to hum Alicia Keys in ‘Empire State of Mind’ as I flew into NYC” (Augusto is actually a part time pilot and was flying the plane at this moment)

 

The awards ceremony was at the Abrons Art Center in Lower East Manhattan” (There was a cool test to get in, and obviously Augusto passed)

 

This was on the stage, and pretty sure it stood for Neil Young” (pretty sure it stands for New York)

 

Legend Award winner Lord British himself, Richard Garriott!” (Ultima X please)

 

 

I don’t have a pic of me accepting the award, but maybe you can get a screenshot from twitch?” (Oh, don’t you worry, I stalk you real good)

 

Best Handheld Game winners!” (I guess that’s proof)

 

Central Park with Canadian Geese pretending to not be their usual psychopathic selves” (True dat)

 

I’m at the MoMA in a cool art exhibit” (turns out he stumbled into the emergency exit)

 

Thanks Augusto for representing Drinkbox! And thanks again to the amazing show put on by everyone at the NY VG CC and we encourage everyone to support them however they can…or buy something nice from one of their sponsors.