Archive for February, 2011

D-BOX CAMEOS!?

Friday, February 25th, 2011

Yes you read right! Everyone knows about the awesome puzzles, cool art style and internet meme references across the game, but only a few people know that the DrinkBox team is also scattered across the levels!

Ryan MacLean A.K.A "The Dude"

Alex Smithers - The 'Goop' Factor

Graham Smith, Gaming Virtuoso

Chris "HarveyTime" Harvey

with Chris Stewart as the Lumberjack

Mayuran Thurairatnam is the "Sri Lankan Stud"

Chris "What are you guys up to?" McQuinn

(Blue)Shel-don Laframboise

Steph "Omelet" Goulet

and yours truly, Augusto Quijano

I had soooo much fun doing art for this game (the art style rocks!), especially when the art department is 2 people (Steph and me) because you get to do a lot of (stressful) exhilirating things. One of such tasks was designing odd-looking characters to populate the levels, and I didn’t need to look far for those…
The characters are built and animated in Flash. First I did a couple of generic templates with the animations and then started to do variations on that design (mainly color and face shape) so a couple of pulls & pushes to the vectors and boom! you get a DrinkBox Dev… or a random hill billy (it’s a fine line).

Tales From Space: About a Blob Launch Party

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

Hey all, Graham here. On Friday Feb 11, we held a launch party in my building’s party room.

Despite the building losing power for about an hour, and eventually getting kicked out by an angry security guard, the party was quite a success! Or maybe it was a success because of these things?

Thanks to Fiona for Organizing everything! Also thanks to Sam who provided the Tunes and the Blob Cake, and most of these photos!

Drinkbox Press Mentionings – Week Ending Feb 13, 2011

Sunday, February 13th, 2011

The game launched in America, Europe, and Australia this week, and there’s been a lot of press!

Game Informer (8.5/10)
Smashpad (8.5/10)
Joystiq (3/5)
IGN (8/10)
vandal.net (8.5/10)
Eurogamer (8/10)
And finally, we got a brief spot in the Electric Playground’s Sonar
Overall, we’re very happy with the reception of the game. Thanks to everyone for playing!

How the Heck Did They Do It? (Art Edition)

Friday, February 11th, 2011

Greetings, tasty earthlings.

Today’s bloggitty blog will focus on the delicious eye candy that is our game’s art. (written in a completely UNBIASED point of view by me, the Art Director / texture artist / level artist / UI designer / graphic designer / ladies man)

We’ve already blogged about the progression of the art style, but how about how it’s actually all slapped together and ends up in the final game? No, contrary to popular belief, we don’t employ and army of well trained macaques to assemble the levels by hand out of cardboard, banana skins, and feces. The art is actually created using the wizardry of the Photoshops, the sorcery of 3D Studio Max, and the devil witchcraft of the DrinkBox Engine.

So here’s an example of how a level looks in 3DS Max before it gets art-ified. To you it may look like just a jumble of nonsensical lines and shapes, but to ME it’s a mess of illogical edges and forms.

Export of level from Game Editor viewed in 3DS Max

After coming out from hiding under my desk for several hours, petrified of the daunting level in front of me, I get to work. Like a masterful painter, the 1st step is to lay down broad strokes. In this case; it’s figuring out what will be made of ground, or grassy outcrops, or buildings and other structures, and then creating and applying broad textures to large polygon shapes to cover as much space as possible.

Level filled in with "Broad Strokes"

After countless back and forth play testing and adjusting, and play testing and adjusting, and play testing and adjusting, the art is locked down for the final spit polish. This is where all the purdy little details get added. In this case, it’s all the fun little bits like the windows, fire escapes, trim details, tufts of grass , and hilarious billboards and signs.

Level filled in with more details

Even though the game is essentially a 2D side scroller, it’s actually built in 3D in order to get that slick n’ flashy sense of depth and parallax. Think of it like tediously stacking and sorting thousands and thousands of cut-out paper shapes till your eyeballs bleed and your brain explodes……..I know that’s how *I* saw it 😛

Level split into 3D layers

And here is the final art imported into the DrinkBox engine with all of the final in-game objects, enemies, characters, point pick-ups, lights, and pixie dust added. No, you haven’t died and gone to heaven; it just LOOKS that way.

Final level viewed in the Drinkbox Game Editor

Game is Launched!

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Hey all, Graham here.

Just a quick note to say that the game went wide release in the Americas last night, and should be showing up in the European stores sometime today. Try it out and let us know what you think!

Also, be sure to follow the Blob on twitter @AboutABlob. He’s had a lot to say lately.

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

Desconsolados

PS3 Attitude

GameRant 4/5

Gamercast 4/5

DIYGamer

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!