Console Updates, TwitchCon, and Community Stuff!

Hi everyone! Happy August!

Here in Montreal we’ve been having stellar weather, hot and sunny and wonderful with the exception of a few thunderstorms and 35°C weather with 100% humidity. But despite enjoying the summer sun, we’ve been working our butts off on Ultimate Chicken Horse, as you’ll read below.

2018-08-14 Montreal.jpg

Switch & Other Consoles

As usual, we have some Switch updates but we don’t have a ton of solid information for you. We sent the game to Nintendo again for another round of certification at the end of last week, and have received word that there's one issue that needs fixing. Once they finish the round of testing, we'll see what else needs to be fixed and how quickly we can get it back into certification.

We’ve also been testing the new features in the game on PC, PS4 and XboxOne so that we can submit for certification on those platforms as well before the big update comes out. The PlayStation 4 build is currently in the certification process, and XboxOne will go out soon. Regardless of when these pass cert, we're going to launch the update across all platforms at the same time unless something weird or crazy happens.

TwitchCon & Geneviève’s Adventures

We're often asked if we'll be at one event or another, and it seems that Eve has taken it upon herself to get us some news to announce on that front in the month of October.

The first event on the list is actually at the very end of September (29th-30th): it's the Queerness and Games Conference, which will be taking place right here in Montréal. As the name implies, this conference is all about exploring the intersection of LGBTQ issues and video games. You might not know it, but for a few years before she pivoted to the games industry, Eve studied gender and sexual identity at University. She's actually just a thesis short of being a Master of Sexology (yes, that's an actual title!), so attending QGCon really is a no-brainer for her.

2018-08-14 4C.jpg

Two days later, Eve will be jumping on a plane to Prague to speak at the 4C conference on October 5th-6th! She'll share her experience with balancing her professional and personal life as a Community Manager, i.e. someone who's always looking at social media for a living. It's harder than you'd think!

A few days after landing back on this continent, Eve will then head out to Worcester, MA for the Different Games Conference on October 12th-14th, where she'll give another version of that talk as a panel. Unfortunately, this means that she will not be able to participate in this year's GameLoop Montreal, another fantastic event held by friends of ours on October 13th. Rich and Kyler will be there though!

2018-08-14 Twitch.jpg

Last but not least, Eve is thrilled to be attending TwitchCon in San Jose, CA - both the Developer Day on October 25th, and the convention itself on the 26th-28th. TwitchCon is a conference revolving around Twitch, unsurprisingly. It’s a pretty huge thing, and last year it had 50,000 people at the Moscone center in San Francisco. This year’s event will be taking place at the San Jose Convention Center, and should be as big as last year if not even bigger. She has a lot of catching up to do with Twitch friends, streamers and community members alike. If you'll be there and would like to meet up, drop a line in our Twitter DMs or on our Discord server!

Fabio is a citizen!

Our artist Fabio Grisi is now officially a Canadian citizen! His facial expression shows how we all feel about this:

Fabio came to Canada from Brazil in November 2013, and after becoming a permanent resident, he’s now a full-fledged citizen! Time to ride some moose through the snow in the maple tree forest.

Back Boyfriend Dungeon on Kickstarter!

Our good friends over at Kitfox Games have launched their Kickstarter campaign for Boyfriend Dungeon! If you’ve ever seen our Twitter, you’ll know that Kitfox and Clever Endeavour are quite close, and we’re super psyched about this new project.

Romance your swords! Capture the hearts of weapons to level them up in this shack-and-slash dungeon-crawling video game.

Links

As usual, the team has found some interesting stuff we want to share with you! So, here goes:

Rich

Voice acting is always more work than it seems, and I'd like to share some behind the scenes voice acting in Batman: Arkham City.

Eve

We regularly poke fun at Kyler for making typos, but these stories of typos in game code and software really put things into perspective.

How One Line of Ancient Code Haunted a Major MMO For Six Months

2018-08-14 GenLink.jpeg

Kyler

A shallow deep dive into some math/programming concepts. One of my favorite programmers to watch and learn from. "Papers I Have Loved" by Casey Muratori

Ben

In somewhat usual Ben fashion, we've got some hype about some sort of mysterious materials that need to be investigated...

 

Alex

In very typical Alex fashion, here's a silly video. Enjoy.
 

Switch Update, Game Improvements and Project Management

Hello gamers and friends and gamerfriends! We’re back with another monthly update on Ultimate Chicken Horse and the Clever Endeavour studio.

So first, more Switch updates (because what would a newsletter be without Switch updates)! Last we talked about Switch progress, we thought we were really close to sending the game to certification again. Unfortunately, we ran into a few problems. We found that there were some edge cases where the game would load too many textures (images) and the Switch would run out of memory.

2018-07-19 Maze.png

To fix this we had to optimize how we organize many of our textures, which ended up requiring an automated tool to be written to make sure we didn't break anything. This tool really sped up the process, but it was still a very intensive process to figure out the best way to organize the textures in the game.

Once that problem was fixed, we ran into a new optimization issue with some levels on the Switch, where they would run extremely slowly depending on how many blocks were added to the level. The first system we optimized was the graphics renderer; we changed how our simple lighting system worked, which dramatically increased the efficiency of the rendering in many cases. Unfortunately this wasn't enough to make all user generated levels playable on the Switch.

After a discussion with Dan Menard from Double Stallion games, we realized that the slow down might actually be related to the sounds in the game. For some reason, turning the music and sound effects all the way down sped up the game... After some investigation, and many little settings tweaks, we were able to dramatically improve the efficiency of the sound engine on Switch, and large, complex levels are running much better than before.

2016-06-20 Soundtrack.gif

Another wrench that got thrown into our gears was that one day the game's cross platform capability (PC + Switch!) stopped working. We hadn't made any changes, so it was a very elusive problem that ended up being fixed by forcing all of the game's code to recompile from scratch. This is one of the most "robots are taking over without telling us" bugs we have ever run into.

After all of those changes, we did a whole bunch of testing and have now sent of the game to Nintendo for another round of certification. Fingers crossed that it passes.

We’ve also been doing a lot of little things to improve the user experience, and Rich spent a while making sure all of the text in all of the languages in every part of the game were properly aligned and didn’t cut off or wrap weirdly:

2018-07-19 Text Wrapping.JPG

We’re pretty excited to share all of the new content with you, as well as hopefully finishing up tackling this bug list that has been growing (and shrinking, on occasion) since 2016. Hopefully that announcement and release date is coming soon.

While the programmers have been busy touching up some final optimization stuff and bug fixes, a couple of us have had time to look into our project management software and see how we can improve our work flow. The way we’ve been doing things  is good but we feel that we’ve reached the limit of what it can do. Choosing a software to manage work for an entire company, even if the company is only six people, is challenging. Many programs are good with certain types of work flow (with progress boards for example), while others are good with other types of flow (bug tracking, work time estimation, etc.). We think we’ve chosen one and as we finish up Ultimate Chicken Horse work for now, we’ll try to move over to it. More to come on that front once we’ve actually made the move, don’t want to jinx anything!

 
 This is a Pokemon named Jinx, for those that don't know

This is a Pokemon named Jinx, for those that don't know

 

On the community side, we’ve got another new AskClevEndeav video where Alex and Ben talk about the pyramids in Egypt, cats vs dogs, and some video game stuff too:

And as usual, we’ve got some links that the team would like to share with you:

Rich would like to share the fantastic music from Donkey Kong Country on SNES:

Ben shares the transcript of a June 8th presentation by Dr. Hal Puthoff: "The DoD’s UAP Program: The Back Story, the Forward Story" (it's about UFOs!)

Gen points us to some super cool Nintendo Labo contest winners:

Kyler introduces us to a nice graph that represents the heart of the game engine that we use, Unity.

And Fabio tells us a story about his experience with River Raid:

When I was young I used to play River Raid a lot. It was one of my favourite games. I sucked playing it, but it was a great pleasure anyways. I used to dream about unreachable parts of the map and constantly imagined how it was at the end of the game. (I had different endings in my head every week). Now, years and years later someone created a bot that plays the perfect River Raid game (and even the poor bot died a few times). So now I know that the game ends with your plane exploding when you reach 999,999 points. This might be the greatest disappointment ever. Nevertheless the the end of River Raid is a reminder for all of us that our dreams and imaginations - intrinsic on our journeys in life - are usually more interesting and rewarding than the finish lines. Here is the mesmerizing, more than one hour long video with the entire River Raid game play. Enjoy!

Happy Stories Are For Sharing!

A little over two years ago (time really flies!), we shared the story of a boy who overcame serious social difficulties through playing Ultimate Chicken Horse. This remains one of our most treasured stories about the game. We are of course perpetually thrilled to know that many people out there enjoy this lighthearted creation that is so dear to us, but knowing that we have had a significant positive impact on someone’s life definitely makes us feel pride and joy on a whole other level.

Earlier this week, we received another email that made our hearts grow a few sizes, and we immediately knew we wanted to share that story too. Without further ado, here is the message we received from a lovely person in Germany named Jana:
 

"I just wanted to tell you about how we use your game in the residential home I work at. I created a really easy level with your level editor just to try if our elderly are able to solve it and they loved it! I even had to make a level more difficult for some of them. It is really awesome that I can switch to the building mode so easily and adjust the difficulty if it is too hard or too easy. Even residents with dementia could play the level and they really liked the animal characters."

 

Chickenhorse_elderly_playing.jpg

 

Jana also shared with us a (German) video report on how this retirement home introduces its residents to games like Ultimate Chicken Horse, as well as VR experiences. How cool is that?!

We’re so thankful for people like Jana who introduce games to under-targeted demographics, like the elderly, to enhance their quality of life. It’s an absolute honour that our own game is being used to that end. As Jana puts it:
 

"There are so little videogames for elderly people, especially for the ones with dementia, and we hope that we can spread more awareness that videogames can be used in such a fashion. And we hope maybe in the future there will be more videogames suitable for the elderly and their special needs."

 

Chickenhorse_easy_level_for_elderly.png
Chickenhorse_easy_level_for_elderly_2.png

 

Aside from sheer pride, a big takeaway for us is that making games more accessible to a variety of players and play styles does not have to be a hard task or detract from “normal” game development! We didn’t have this specific group of people in mind when we added rule customization options and the level editor – we were simply expanding the possibility space within the game because people asked for it and it could be done without changing anything in its core design. This is certainly something that we will keep in mind as we move forward in our creative endeavours.

 

---
If you'd like to know more about Caritas-Altenzentrum St. Maternus, you can find them on Facebook and on Instagram!