Summer Updates: Console Work and... Console Work.

Hey everyone! Back with another monthly update. The summer is finally getting warm up here in Montreal, and we're happy to have it.

Console work

We're still plugging away at the console version of Ultimate Chicken Horse and while the work is going well, it's slower than expected. There are a lot of things, as discussed in previous months, that have taken significantly longer than expected because of the complexity of the changes that had to be made to pass certification. We knew there would be changes to be made, and we knew that they might be rather large, and this is why we didn't promise a launch date before we're 100% sure we know everything that's involved for release.

The next step for us is pre-certification testing. Actually we've already done a first round, and they found a bunch of bugs and issues that needed fixing (which is good, because that's what they're supposed to do!) and we're working on those before starting a second round. This pre-certification test company basically tests the game in the same way that Sony (or other platform holders) might, and then tells us what things the game needs to do that it doesn't currently do.

Not going to shows

You might be curious as to why we haven't mentioned shows in a while, especially with PAX coming up, then Boston FIG, etc. Well, right now, we're still working on Ultimate Chicken Horse and we aren't showing our new content until the console launch happens, so we really don't have much to show! It's always fun to hang out with people and meet with fans, but we have too much work to justify going without new stuff to show.

Thinking of new game ideas

Although we've been busy, we've had a bit of time to discuss new game ideas. We have a ton to discuss, so we're going to do that before talking about anything to the public. We'd like to make sure we have a game that's at least good / interesting enough that we can get a good gauge of how people will react to it, so a mere idea isn't worth talking about yet. Once the console version is out, we'll be able to focus a bit more on the next project, and we might be able to talk about it depending on our PR plan. 


In other news, Ben was on vacation a couple of weeks ago, and Rich will be going on vacation soon for a couple of weeks. Despite being busy, it's always necessary to take the time off that you need / deserve to make sure that you're healthy and happen while at work as well. Good mental and physical health leads to productive work, and that's something we promote heavily at our company.

That's all for now! Tweet at us with any questions or comments or concerns :)

E3 Thoughts, and the Joys of Porting to Three Consoles at Once

E3 happened! E3, for those of you that don't know, is the Electronic Entertainment Expo. In other words, it's the time when all the bigwigs of the games industry flaunt their latest stuff and announce the launch dates of their biggest titles (all of which are in October and November it seems). It's not indie focused at all, which is why you see very few indies attend and even less indies get any stage time.

Nonetheless, there's still stuff to get excited about (and new dates to avoid launching indie games). A few highlights and trends stood out to us throughout the press conferences held by Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, Bethesda, Ubisoft, EA, Devolver, and more:

- It seems that every large company is doing what they've always done, and are tacking on another next version of their already known IP: Assassin's Creed, God of War, Forza, FIFA, Call of Duty, a bunch of zombie things, and more. This isn't surprising, but some of these games really did show promise despite being very safe bets as far as innovation goes.

- A remake of Shadow of the Colossus is coming out for PS4. Although this is a remake, it seems that it might drive people (like Rich, the one writing this) to play a game that they never had a chance to play when they were younger, but have always wanted to play. 

- Bioware's Anthem looks like an amazing and huge world ripe for exploration with friends or alone. I think it's slated to release in fall 2018, so there's still a while to wait, but it looks awesome. Here's hoping it's like Breath of the Wild (new Zelda game) in that it surprises you with the plethora of things you can do and interact with in the world.

- Beyond Good and Evil 2 was announced, which was extremely exciting for many fans of the classic first one for PS2 and Xbox. No release date is set, but I think it's safe to say that it will be big news when updates on this one come out.

- Insomniac's Spiderman for PS4 looked essentially like a movie with quick-time events, but we're hoping that the bit of combat that they did show will be expanded in the game and will make the game into more of a playable experience than a movie (à la Tomb Raider). 

Nintendo had some weird things and interesting things to announce, and we've heard a few people saying that Nintendo was the most exciting of E3. They announced that they're working on a Pokemon RPG for Switch (without a release date), a Mario + Rabbids (this is a combination of those weird rabbit things that Ubisoft made with Mario characters) game which involves tactical combat... actually wait let's stop here for a second. What? No idea how this game will make sense or what audience it's targeting with its advanced mechanics and art style geared toward kids, but I guess we'll find out. They also announced Super Mario Odyssey, which has raised lots of questions about mind-control, the origin of Mario and hat ethics. See below (skip to 23:08 if it doesn't do so automatically):

One might conclude from this that the hat itself is really the soul of "Mario", and that the plumber body which it inhabits and mind-controls is just a medium for the hat to do its bidding. Maybe there never even really was a Mario, and this hat just moves from body to body trying to do its dirty work? We can let you speculate from here.

Personal excitement note (from Rich, the guy writing this): Ori and the Will of the Wisps was announced, and although Ori and the Blind Forest had some gameplay issues which made it not as good as it may have been, the art and music is still impressive enough that it'll be an instant buy for me (as soon as it's on PC).

And now, some updates on our own work. It's been a challenge working on all three at once but we're glad we're doing it.

As a quick reminder, the way launching on console works is basically as follows:

  1. Get development kits
  2. Make the game function on the development kits
  3. Get approval to launch the game on the platforms
  4. Fix all the things needed to pass certification on each console
  5. Send for certification (most games take 2-3 tries before passing)

This is obviously quite simplified, but we're at number 4 now. Each console has an exhaustive list of requirements that range from the very obvious to the incredibly unlikely; this can be something like making sure that the game doesn't show a static screen for more than X seconds (and appears to be frozen). It can also be something more complicated and specific like making sure that the game responds well if you unplug the internet connection, switch to Netflix, disconnect a controller, re-plug in the internet, and reconnect a different controller. Each console has hundreds of such requirements and we're making sure that (to the best of our knowledge) we fulfill all of them.

From there, we're moving on to sending the game to pre-certification testing, where another company who knows the details of the certification procedure and has the setup to test all of the requirements will take a look. They'll get back to us telling us why we passed or failed the requirements on the list, and explain what needs to be changed to fulfill the requirements and pass cert. This is to ensure that we can pass the real certification (that is, sending the builds to Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo) without needing to submit several times. Each time you send to cert, it takes a while before they get back to you and that can delay launch significantly. It also helps our relationship with the platform holders if we pass quickly, as it shows confidence and professionalism which will be highly regarded in future discussions with these companies.

That's all for now, let us know what you think by tweeting at us @ClevEndeavGames.

Gameplay Award Nomination and Continued Console Work

We've been nominated for Best Gameplay at the Brazil Indie Games Festival! You can find out more about the nominees here. The BIG festival is the largest international indie game festival in Latin America, and it's quite an honour to be nominated! Even coming from Canada, we know how important the indie game industry is to Brazil as we've seen a large representation of Brazilians at trade shows, conferences, and even met with trade commissioners from Brazil on several occasions.

What about console development? As you may know, we're working on console ports for PS4, XboxOne and Nintendo Switch at the same time, which isn't a simple task. Next month I'll include some information about what's involved in porting the game to these consoles, but for now I'll just update you on where we're at. 

Right now, the game is functional on all platforms but still missing some things. I'm not sure what we're allowed to say or not say, but basically we're working on some known issues / improvements that involve player displays, links to accounts like PSN or XboxLive, and we're waiting on some third-parties to update their software so that it works with the newest version of Unity (our game engine).

The next steps, once these things are sorted out, is to send to a company for pre-certification testing. What they'll do is look at all of the requirements that the platforms have (Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo) and make sure to test our game with those specific things in mind. They'll work closely with us to tell us what we need to fix to pass certification, and then we'll send to cert with the hopes of passing on the first try (most games take a few tries to pass).

As you might also know, we're working on new content which we'll announce when we announce our launch date but we need to pass certification first so that we don't end up in trouble with not enough time to do what we need to do. This is actually something that's important to note here... often times teams will get in trouble having promised launch dates and then they need to either delay their launch (which messed up their PR and press coverage) or they work 16 hour days for 2 weeks and burn out and quit games and hate their lives. We'd like to avoid either of those things, so this is why we're making sure not to announce too much too early.

More updates coming soon!