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."




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."




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!

Switch Update, New Team Member, Fan Art and more!

Hi friends!

We’re back this month for another update about what’s going on at Clever Endeavour Games. There are a few things to update about, so we’ll talk about the Switch, our new addition to the team (Geneviève!), fan art, and some links from the team.

But first, the Steam Summer Sale is officially on! Now would be a good time to grab that copy for a friend! :)

Switch Update

We’re still working on it! I know that you know that, and probably want more details. Well, we’re in the home stretch now and we’re waiting on a couple of content updates to be finalized before sending the game off to Nintendo for certification again. We think we’re close, and hopefully our next certification round will pass, but of course we never know what could go wrong or what could be dug up.

We do feel, however, that the changes we’ve made to the game regardless of the Switch port are going to be important in providing new fun to players, and expanding the possibilities of what can be done in our game on all platforms. Stay tuned, I promise that we’re working on it and getting things done as quickly as possible.

New Addition to the Team

Around a month and a half ago, our old community manager Kate Gray left to work full-time in narrative design, to pursue her dreams in the field she truly loves. Around a month ago, we hired a new employee full-time who’s going to take care of community management as well as QA, and she’s awesome.

If you’ve been hanging around in our Discord or following us on Twitter, you’ve surely interacted with her. She’s also been helping with making community videos, like this #AskClevEndeav video:

Along with the community management, we mentioned that she was responsible for QA. It’s the first time we’ve ever had someone in-house, and the amount of bugs found and feedback gathered is pretty monumental. Not only do we know most of the things that we have to fix, but we’re getting a better understanding of what the community actually thinks are the greatest strengths and weaknesses of the game.

Fan Art

We’ve received some lovely new fan art that we wanted to feature here. It’s always amazing for us to see people dedicated enough to our game to take the time to create wonderful art, so check it out. This time we have a comic strip made by a dedicated Kickstarter backer and his son:

2018-06-21 Don Van Der Ahe2.jpg

If you want to submit your own fan art, send it to community@clevendeav.com and we’ll feature it on our website here. You can also share it on our Discord or Tweet at us and let us know if you want it featured!

Links from the Team

As we’ve done the last couple of months, we’ve got some fun links that have been shared by the team:

Kyler would like to share an amazing quadruped animation system:

While Alex has a slightly different animal video...

Fabio shares with us a showcase on how the internet is an ever-growing monster.

Genevieve reports on the fascinating interplay of art style, game audiences, genre literacy, and gameplay accessibility. "How could Gowland ensure the game was fun for the hardcore players that enjoy the genre, while still satisfying the sort of people that might be caught by the art style as they browse a digital store?"

2018-06-21 Access.jpg

From Ben: Linda Moulton Howe may be the world's foremost expert on animal mutilations attributed to the UFO phenomenon. Here's a good introductory talk on her life's work:

Lastly, Rich suggests that you watch a video that you haven't seen in a while. If you haven't seen it ever, your life has been lacking meaning and needs improving. Also, consider Narwhals and Kenya.