Dev Blog

Dev-Blog 241: Viking Squad’s Release Date! Oct. 4th!

09/30/2016

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Welcome back followers of the fearsome!

After 3 years of hard work, we are happy to announce that Viking Squad has a release date! And holy cow is it ever soon! 4 days! The price will be $15 USD, or the equivalent in your country.

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We’ve updated our game’s site with an awesome new trailer cut by our favorite trailer man Mr. Marlon Weibe!  Thanks so much Marlon, you did a super job! Here’s the newest trailer below!

If you are at TwitchCon per chance, we’re in the Indie District showing off the game RIGHT NOW! We’ll be in San Diego all weekend, flying back to Vancouver on Monday and releasing the game on Tuesday! It’ll be a hell of a ride.


We’s also like to announce that we’ll be doing our Dev-Stream every day during the week of our launch! Starting on the 4th of October all the way to the 8th on Friday! It’ll be a whole lot of fun so be sure to drop by our stream during that time for some fun launch drawing!

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And that’s our cool announcement! Thanks so much to everyone for your support all throughout our development. The indie community and all of our players made it possible to make a product we are all proud of here at Slick Entertainment. See you next week! OARBOYS!

Nick_avatar64 Jesse_avatar64 Caley_avatar64

Twitter: Nick: @nickwaanders Jesse: @jouste Caley: @caleycharchuk SlickEntertainment: @SlickEntInc

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SlickEntertainmentInc

Twitch: http://www.twitch.tv/slickentertainmentinc

Merch: https://shop.spreadshirt.com/slickentertainment

Posted by: Under: Art Work,Slick Entertainment,Vikingsquad Comments: Comments Off on Dev-Blog 241: Viking Squad’s Release Date! Oct. 4th!

Dev-Blog 240: Twitch Con and Something Awesome This Way Comes!

09/28/2016

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Welcome back followers of the fearsome!

This week we are getting everything ready for the very awesome Twitch Con! We’ll be repping Viking Squad at booth number 105 in the Indie District! If you are making it down to the convention this weekend be sure to drop by and meet up! Last year Kevin Regamey of Power Up Audio and I (Jesse) hit up Twitchcon for a few panels and really enjoyed our time there. It’s actually a very different crowd from the PAXes and PSX where we have shown our games before. The streaming culture is super cool and has really played an interesting part in our development so it’s really great that we can show off our game this time!

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Also we have a super cool announcement that’s happening REAL soon! So be sure to keep your eyes peeled and your ears to the ground because we’ll be hitting you guys with the news super soon!

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And a reminder that we’ll be Dev-Streaming today! It’s been a lot of fun keeping up with familiar faces and meeting new people as well so be sure to drop by and say hey to the crew at 4pm-6pm PST!

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And that’s it for this week! We are totally ready to rock out at Twitch Con so come see us on stream this afternoon if you can’t make it down to San Diego this weekend to see us! Until next time, keep an eye out for our announcement!

Jesse_avatar64-Jesse

Twitter: Nick: @nickwaanders Jesse: @jouste Caley: @caleycharchuk SlickEntertainment: @SlickEntInc

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SlickEntertainmentInc

Twitch: http://www.twitch.tv/slickentertainmentinc

Merch: https://shop.spreadshirt.com/slickentertainment

Posted by: Under: Art Work,Slick Entertainment,Vikingsquad Comments: Comments Off on Dev-Blog 240: Twitch Con and Something Awesome This Way Comes!

Dev-Blog 239: 4k, baby!

09/21/2016

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Welcome back, followers of the fearsome! Nick here, with a bit of info on the tech stuff going on behind the scenes here at Slick Entertainment.

This week I’ll be talking a bit about supporting 4k TV’s in Viking Squad. As you probably know, the regular PS4 supports up to 1080p, which is the resolution we initially designed our game for. 1080p should be enough for everybody, right? Recently 4k monitors and video cards have become more affordable, so naturally there is more of a demand to support 4k resolutions. So it was about time I started looking into what would be required to get our game to run at 4k, in a way that makes it ‘worth it’.

The nice part about our user interface (UI) system is that it is able to work with different screen aspect ratios and sizes, because the UI elements are not linked to exact pixels, but rather to more abstract coordinates. For some games pixel-precise UI is super important (for example RTS’s), but for our type of games with not-so-complicated UI it’s less important. The nice thing about linking UI to abstract window coordinates is that it’s quite easy to scale to different resolutions. So switching to 4k shouldn’t be too hard, right?

So, the first step was to actually get a 4k monitor. I bought an ASUS 4k monitor at NCIX, and connected it, but it turned out that monitor didn’t support HDMI 2.0. This, I found out the hard way, means it will only do 4k resolutions at 30fps. Unacceptable! So I checked Staples, and they had a 4k Samsung monitor for sale for $550 CAD, and it had HDMI 2.0 support. That’s more like it!

I set it all up, connected the monitor, ran the game, and boom 4k! It just worked. Well, sort of. There’s a few little gotcha’s that I solved to make it run smoothly at 60fps in 4k.

Render targets

4k screens, or 2160p as it really should be called, means you need to fill 3840×2160 pixels = 8,294,400 pixels. That’s a LOT of pixels. We’re using a 32 bit color buffer, which takes up just under 32Mb. That’s a LOT of GPU bandwidth. My old programmer brain thinks “this can’t possible be fast” every step along the way. Modern GPU’s have surprisingly little issues with it though! Of course, our game’s rendering complexity is not anywhere near a AAA type game, but it’s still pretty easy to miss frames at 4k because of the massive amounts of data flying around.

One frame in Viking Squad is rendered as follows:

Step 1: Background. All background elements are rendered to a render-target 2/3’s the size of the front buffer, which is then blurred vertically and horizontally, in two steps, requiring one more render target of 2/3s the size of the front buffer.

Step 2: Foreground. All foreground elements are rendered to a render-target 2/3’s the size of the front buffer, also blurred vertically and horizontally

Step 3: Game. The main view is rendered using a full size render target (same size as the front buffer). First the background texture from Step 1 is drawn, then all the gameplay elements are drawn over top of that, and last the texture from Step 2 is rendered over top of everything using alpha blending.

Step 4: Bloom. The texture from Step 3 is down-scaled and to a render target of 1/2 the size of the front buffer. This texture us blurred horizontally and vertically using one more render target of 1/2 the size of the front buffer.

Step 5: Combine. The texture from Step 3 is combined with the texture from Step 4, and in the same step the Color Gradingvignette, chromatic aberration and filmgrain are applied.

The texture coming out of Step 4 is now used in the UI system to render the game, and it then renders any UI over top of this.

So as you can see, there are quite a few render targets, which take up a lot of GPU bandwidth. The textures in Step 1, 2 and 4 are all blurred, so to speed up the 4k performance, I made those render targets max out at 1280×720 (which happens to be 2/3 of the front buffer at 1080p). Because of the blur, this reduction in size is hardly noticeable, except for the increased frames per second.

Polygons and Textures

I’ve written a little bit about how we polygonize our textures, and this came in really handy when rendering to 4k. The edges of our characters stay super crisp, and while we need MSAA at 1080p, at 4k resolutions the MSAA can be lowered a bit to save speed and bandwidth.

Inside the polygonized textures we still display the regular texture. I’ve also previously blogged about how I rescale all textures to 1080p resolution. Jesse usually draws all textures at a bit higher resolution than they appear in 1080p, so to get nice crisp textures in 4k, I just turned the re-scaling off.

 
And here is the result of all this:

 
Alright, that’s it for this week, keep those games rendering at 60fps!

 

-Nick

Twitter: Nick: @nickwaanders Jesse: @jouste Caley: @caleycharchuk SlickEntertainment: @SlickEntInc

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SlickEntertainmentInc

Twitch: http://www.twitch.tv/slickentertainmentinc

Posted by: Under: Slick Entertainment,Tech,Vikingsquad Comments: Comments Off on Dev-Blog 239: 4k, baby!

Dev-Blog 238: Working on that Background Game!

09/14/2016

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Welcome back followers of the fearsome!

Hope your week has been good! We’re here at Slick working towards wrapping up Viking Squad! It’s feeling really tight and we are really excited to get it out to you guys!

Large art changes to the game definitely aren’t happening as we submit it and get it all ready to go. So I’ve been tackling some of the store art and other things that could use a bit of a visual upgrade. This is great for me because it helps me get better at a weaker element of my art skills and that’s backgrounds! Here’s just a small amount of what I’ve been getting up too.

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I’ve started to get the hang of clouds which has always been tricky. Clouds are wispy and still have a lot of volume and I typically rely on my lines to visually describe all my stuff. This always made clouds that “fit” into my art a bit of a challenge, but as with most challenges, if you hammer your head at it for long enough you eventually have a breakthrough! Or at least beat yourself into a delusion of marginal success.

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Above there’s a quick step by step of how I approach the clouds now. I think the most important thing is to start with a direction and use that to build your clouds. eventually, after a few passes of shading and some line color shifts you have yourself a cartoon cloud to match your bright, 1990’s style characters!


And remember to stop by our Dev-Stream today at 4pm-6pm PST! We’ll be having a great time as usual with all our regulars and new viewers! Be sure to tell your pals to stop by if they are after some Drawbarian art slams!

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And that’s it for this week! The game is so close you guys! Hope your week is a good one and remember to always be perfecting your skills!

-JesseJesse_avatar64

Twitter: Nick: @nickwaanders Jesse: @jouste Caley: @caleycharchuk SlickEntertainment: @SlickEntInc

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SlickEntertainmentInc

Twitch: http://www.twitch.tv/slickentertainmentinc

Merch: https://shop.spreadshirt.com/slickentertainment

 

Posted by: Under: Art Work,Slick Entertainment,Vikingsquad Comments: Comments Off on Dev-Blog 238: Working on that Background Game!

Dev-Blog 237: Back from the PAX! Lets do this!

09/07/2016

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Welcome back followers of the fearsome!

We are back from our show at PAX West!  It was an absolute blast! 3 stations, 4 days, and a pile of great people! With the help of all the great people at Indie MEGABOOTH and the Enforcers it was an absolutely awesome show! Big Shout outs to Kay!

We were beside the great folks at Funomena with their game “Luna“, Our Ontario pals of Vagabond Dog with “Sometimes Always Monsters”,  great guys from the Netherlands from Two Tribes with “Rive”, and Phillip, Matt and the rest of his cool team at Midboss with “Read Only Memories”. Great to meet new folks and reconnect with all the other awesome devs!

We were equipped with a very awesome corner booth and had a very awesome support group in the form of our  pals over at Power Up Audio that were helping to represent 12 other games at PAX!

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pictured above are the “Marines” Nedivar and JP they are the West Coast versions of our Scouts, fans that took a shine to the Squad and helped us out at the booth 2 years in a row! You can’t imagine how helpful it is when fans happily grab the controllers and help new players through  your PAX demo. It lets us talk to even more people about the project, or sometimes just lets us take a quick breather.

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We are just recovering from an amazing show and getting our game certified. It’s super close to being done guys and we are getting super excited! So thank you everybody that came by the booth and made our PAX absolutely out of control and super rewarding!


And be sure to hop into our Dev-Stream today where my voice will be absolutely shot and I try to find out if I can still draw! it’ll be at 4pm-6pm PST so we’ll be seeing you there!

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So that’s it for this week! Sorry it’s such a quick one but after a huge show like PAX West we are a little frazzled and zonked out but really close to shipping! After we collect our thoughts we will be mentioning a few specifics of the show but until them, thanks for stopping by!

So until next time, keep those PAX days full of fun and energy!

Jesse_avatar64-Jesse

Twitter: Nick: @nickwaanders Jesse: @jouste Caley: @caleycharchuk SlickEntertainment: @SlickEntInc

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SlickEntertainmentInc

Twitch: http://www.twitch.tv/slickentertainmentinc

Merch: https://shop.spreadshirt.com/slickentertainment

 

Posted by: Under: Pax,Slick Entertainment,Vikingsquad Comments: Comments Off on Dev-Blog 237: Back from the PAX! Lets do this!

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Dev Blog

January 20 2017

I almost can’t believe it: Slick Entertainment is a decade old! In the last 10 years we’ve made a bunch of great games, and I am super proud of what we’ve achieved with our small team: 4 fun games, custom C++ engine on 6 different platforms, 3 games feature online multiplayer, all hand-drawn art for […]