Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Drinkbox Press Mentionings – Week 1 Wrapup

Saturday, February 5th, 2011

Hi all, Graham here.

With the game being released to PlayStation Plus members on Tuesday, reviews have started to come in for the game and they are pretty positive overall!

PSN Stores 5/5

That Gamer Hub 4/5


PS3 Attitude

GameRant 4/5

Gamercast 4/5


PS3 Center 8.3/10

ScrawlFx 8/10

1UP or Poison

PSNation scores the game “A-” in their latest podcast (Episode 201) at around the 2h 7m mark (but listen to the whole thing!)

Also, Ryan’s appearance on Electric Playground has appeared online here, and Mayuran had a cameo on Reviews on the Run talking a bit about Red Dead Redemption.

Growing Pains : The challenges of a 2D platformer with a dynamically growing character

Friday, February 4th, 2011

In this post I’d like to give a high level overview of how we dealt with the Blob’s scale change within a level.

Most designers will immediately predict the problems inherent with changing the character’s size in a 2D platformer (Note: I didn’t immediately predict this…). How does the Blob’s movement and abilities change with growth? Will the Blob jump higher with growth, and by how much? Will players that tend to absorb a few objects (little growth) be punished by not being able to make certain jumps? How does one even position platforms to accommodate for the various sizes the Blob could be?

After much iteration we came up with 2 main solutions:

1) The “goop” factor”
Work with your strengths. The Blob is a Blob, and that means being able to goop all over the place. We required a buffer of height on platforms since players would be reaching these at varying sizes. One option could be to have dynamically changing platform heights (*shudder*). An alternatively that we came up with was to allow for an intrinsic platforming forgiveness with the Blob, what I lovingly call the “goop” factor.

Whereas a traditional 2D character might hit the lip of a platform, and begin an untimely plummet (to death perhaps?), the Blob can goop on the edge. If a player reaches platform “A” at the smallest size, they should be able to goop over, whereas if the player reaches platform “A” at the largest size, they should easily be able to make the jump.

2) Size targets
In our ideal Blob world, the player would gloriously increase in jump ability and speed directly in proportion to the amount of the world they ate. Unfortunately this resulted in players becoming too uber-powerful with regards to jumping, and would break our levels to itsy bitsy pieces. We decided to section the levels up with size targets – so within a size target the player’s abilities did not scale directly with their size, but increased with a weighted factor. Players could not grow larger than the size target within a section, and only after hitting the target size would the jump height catch up to be directly proportional to the current Blob size.

This basically achieved two main objectives:

i) Players were still rewarded for having absorbed tons of objects with an increase in the jump ability. Wicked.

ii) The jump limits of the player at various points in the game became a bit more predictable for the designers – we didn’t have to accommodate every platform for an unrealistic range of jump heights from the Blob.

So that is a brief synopsis of dealing with a growing character in a 2D platformer.

Game out in North America today! European Release Date Confirmed!

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

Hi all, Graham here.

Just wanted remind everyone that the game is out today in North America for PlayStation Plus members. If you’re a PS+ member, make sure to at least check out the game’s demo. Have a friend over and play some co-op! For the non-PlayStation Plus members in North America, the game will be made widely available one week from today, on Feb 8th.

Additionally, we’ve just put out a Press Release to announce the release of the game in Europe. The general European release will happen on Feb 9th, one day after the general North American release.

Hope you all enjoy the game!

Release date confirmed!

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

It’s official: We have a release date!  Tales from Space: About a Blob is scheduled to hit PlayStation Plus in North America on February 1st, with a more general PSN release to follow a week later on February 8th.  Check out our brand new PlayStation Blog post here.

Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 24th, 2010

Happy Holidays from DrinkBox Studios!  Steph even made a card this year.. enjoy!

Mustachioed Game Developers

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

For the month of November, a some of the Drinkbox crew thought it might be fun to experiment with their facial hair in support of the Movember effort.

We didn’t strictly follow the Movember rules, as some of us were forbidden by significant others from growing just a mustache.

Chris McQuinn stuck closest with the official rules, going with a traditional mustache. By the end of the month he had made it all the way through the “creepy sexual predator” stage, and looked quite suave and sophisticated.

Chris Stewart grew a full beard, and ended the month looking somewhat like a lumberjack.

My beard was mostly red for some reason, and went from being a complete mess, to looking quite tidy in the end.

On the way off, my beard made a brief stop at the handlebar mustache stage. I think I could actually pull this look off!

Ryan, as usual, sports a beard to be envious of

Hot Co-op Blob Multiplayer or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Blobs

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

Graham here again, to talk a little about co-op multi-player in Tales from Space: About a Blob.

Co-op platforming games are not too common, however it does seem to be becoming more popular in recent years. Some newer games such as N+, and Little Big Planet show that there is alot of potential for fun co-op in platforming games, and it was something we were always keeping in mind for Tales from Space: About a Blob.

"I'll just be over here eating this corn"

Other than the initial few days of Blob prototyping, the only other time I had any space cycles available to code on the project was when we began experimenting with local multi-player. Getting the initial code in for local multi-player was pretty easy (much of the foundation was already in the engine when I started), but it raised a lot of new questions and problems, some of which the team spent months experimenting with different solutions. How many players should there be? How should checkpoints, death, and re-spawning work? How should the game camera behave? Should we try to keep all players on-screen? Should players collide with or pass through each other? Can players hurt each other? How can we inspire competition between the players? Some of these questions do not have simple or obvious answers.

"Tasty Humans are Tasty"

Another consideration was game performance. The simulation of Blobs interacting with each other can be pretty computationally intensive, and the more Blobs we had the more expensive this would be. We found that just making it so that the players pass through each other was an easy but unsatisfying solution. It’s a lot of fun to interact with the other players, allowing a friend to jump off you to reach a higher ledge, or even “accidentally” pushing your “friends” into a pit of toxic waste. Chris spent some time working through these issues using various different techniques to try to simplify the complexity of how our Blobs were interacting with each other.

"There are Blobs in my backyard!"

With colliding Blobs in and working well, we finally settled on 2 players as the sweet spot for the game. With 3 or 4 people in the game, players were constantly interfering with each other causing death, which was often more frustrating than fun. The recent New Super Mario Bros Wii suffers from the same kind of issues, where players can inadvertently kill each other very easily.

"Wait up Bro"

We experimented with trying to keep all players on-screen by making the edges of the screen “hard” and not allowing players to leave the screen. This created a bunch of interesting side effects, like players not being able to fall off the bottom of the screen (the bottom of the screen would hold them in the air), or players getting themselves trapped as would sometimes happen in the classic game Gauntlet. After playing with this for some time, we finally settled on an approach similar to how Little Big Planet solves the problem. We now allow players to go off screen, starting a countdown timer when they do. If the timer expires before the player can get back on to the screen, the player dies. We try to prevent this from happening as much as possible by zooming and positioning of the camera.

Green Blob about to Die! T-minus 2 seconds

I’m happy to say that after a lot of trial and error, co-op with a friend is one of the most fun ways to play the game now. I’m really looking forward to playing with friends at home when the game is released (you’re going DOWN McQuinn).

Indie Games Games Champs 2010 = Drinkbox Studios;

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

You heard right, the 82nd annual Indie Games Games was won by our fearless athletes last Saturday down by the beaches in Toronto. Faced with fierce competition from other local indie game companies, Drinkbox championed all. Who says video games doesn’t produce athletes? (ok, I say that)

zorb inspection

Led by our grizzly veteran Graham “Take a fews licks, and stop tickin”, Drinkbox annihilated the competition to take home the trophy. Just add it to the case.

Events included Zorb rolling (you don’t have one? *everybody* owns a Zorb) and fricket (some have claimed, the ultimate drinking sport…) where the Drinkbox staff demonstrated why we’re the best at pointless stupid activities.

But wait – 82nd annual Indie Games Games? It’s true – a little known fact: Toronto invented indie games, AND computers, in 1928. Check the annals people – you can’t just google that shit.

Mathew rolling uncontrollably into Lake Ontario

Oh no.

Congrats guys!

All in all, let’s just say the office has become a little bit more glamorous in the last few days.

Updates and Shout-outs

Friday, October 8th, 2010

Hey everyone,

We’ve announced our participation in the SCEA Pub Fund program!  The official Press Release is available here.  We’re pretty happy to be a part of the program.

Also, we’ve received some great media coverage lately.  Highlights include:

  • Chris “Harveytime” Harvey’s recent PlayStation Blog post.  “Hello delicious humans!”.
  • An Electric Playground TV segment about our studio and the game (airing this weekend on G4, Monday on CityTV!)
  • New articles on Joystiq, DIYGamer and Co-Optimus

I also wanted to send a shout-out to Fire Hose Games.  We met up with the Fire Hose guys at both PAX and E3, and a few of us had a chance to try their game Slam Bolt Scrappers at PAX.  It was a fun, hectic experience .. a fast-paced puzzle game that mixes building and brawling (check it out here).  Like us, Fire Hose will be releasing their game as a PSN exclusive early next year.

.. and that’s it for now!  More to come soon.

Hello, Do I Know You?

Friday, October 1st, 2010

Following on Graham’s post, I thought it might be interesting to show various screenshots and images from Tales from Space: About a Blob over the game’s development. We’ve been working on the game in some form or another for quite a while, so looking at these pictures is like a stroll down memory lane for me.

The Concept

Early Concept Image for "About a Blob"

The image above is an early concept drawing for the game. The origin of the game’s art style is on display quite clearly, and I still really like the dangly-bits on the blob. This image reminds me of working in Graham’s apartment and watching the Colbert Report at lunch on his PVR.

Blob Art!

Early Implementation of the Blob

This one is a screenshot from an early tech demo video. The blob had no eyes and absorbed objects really slowly. He was able to climb up most obstacles with ease, but was really hard to control. By this time we had graduated to working in a dark basement office.


The Game Takes Shape

This screenshot is from one of the many sample levels we built before entering full production of the game. The look isn’t too far from where we are now, although there are still a lot of differences. The blob’s eyes at this time were very different, the blob was very bouncy, and style of the people was much simpler. We were still in the basement office at this time.


Close To Complete?

This is a very recent screenshot. One blob is using a special power, and the people are much more detailed. The final game will probably look a little different from this, but not too much. Now we’ve moved to an upstairs office with giant windows that let the sun bake us in the afternoon… how far we’ve come!