Dev Blog

Dev Blog 249: Autumn Sale and the Weekend Stream!

11/23/2016

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Welcome back followers of the fearsome!

This week we have a quick update to share with everyone who hasn’t picked up everyone’s favorite lane-based Viking Brawler! It’s the Steam Autumn Sale and we’ll be discounting our game by 35% until November 29th. So if Viking Squad is on your wishlist be sure to pick it up during the sale and get your brawl on.

Click on the image to go straight to the Steam store:

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We are also doing a couple small updates to the game as well as working on some bigger ones. But over the weekend we did a “Play with the Dev” Stream with two very cool streamers Elspeth and HJ Tenchi. They are really cool people and did a great job playing Viking Squad so be sure to check out their streams.

We’ve been really happy we’ve managed to be this involved with the streaming community as developers. Streamers are very supportive and friendly and it was a real joy to play and interact with them in person and online.

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And as always, Viking Vednesday is happening! Come on by at 4pm-6pm PST right here! We’ll be doing some super cool art stuff and talking to our awesome community so we hope to see you there! Also for a bit we’ll be shifting our streams after this one to be on Tuesdays 4pm-6pm PST so keep an eye open for the change next week!

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And that’s it for this week!  Thanks so much for stopping by and until next time, keep those streams clean and fun!

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

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Dev Blog 248: Route those packets!

11/09/2016

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Welcome back, followers of the fearsome!

Over the past few weeks we’ve been working on making the game better, based on what was reported through crash logs, forum posts and emails coming in from helpful customers. We’ve fixed a few (rare) crash issues, and there are a few more fixes coming soon.

One of the more ‘interesting’ problems we heard of through emails were network connection issues on the Playstation 4.

Our game uses a peer-to-peer ‘mesh’ setup, which means every client needs to be able to talk to every other client. The mesh starts by one person starting in ‘host’ mode. Then up to two other players connect to this host, and to any other players already in the network.

Occasionally it turns out that while players can connect to the host, they cannot get any messages through to the other player in the game, even though the NAT negotiation library seems to indicate it can. I’m at a bit of a loss as to why exactly, since we have never seen this exact behavior in our test setups. It probably has something to do with firewalls/NAT traversal, but it’s hard to say exactly if we can’t reproduce this problem in-house. Interestingly enough, we’ve never had complaints from our Steam customers, but that is likely because Steam has their own routing-service that automatically sends messages through a ‘known’ steam server if it can’t send directly.

After a bit of investigation on what to do about this problem, I decided to send each client-client network packet directly to the remote client (if a connection is available) as well as through the host. The one sent to the host is marked as a ‘routing’ packet, meaning the host is expected to forward it to the other client. On the receiving client, because of the double message send, we now often see two of the same packets coming in at different times. This is not a problem because we automatically reject duplicate packets based on the packet ID.

There are two downsides to this approach: Double the latency, and double the network bandwidth. Luckily our game was designed to be very latency resistant. We almost always test with 250-350ms of lag in our test setups. Even with 350ms of lag, the lag is only really noticeable occasionally, and usually not really a problem.
The bandwidth of our game is quite low. The total host bandwidth with two connected clients is about 30kbps on average, which is quite low compared to most modern games. Because of the bitpacked network packets, and the use of the ‘data-blobs’ which use binary delta compression, the bandwidth is kept to a minimum. So doubling the bandwidth to around 60kbps is still well within the acceptable range.

For a minute I was thinking I should just not send client messages directly to other clients at all, and always route them through the host. This would increase latency, but the bandwidth would remain the same as before (30kbps). But because the bandwidth is already so low, I decided to always send two packets so we get lower latency for clients that are able to communicate.

I could probably improve it further by only sending messages through the host when it is detected that the client-client connection isn’t working, but that’d introduce a time frame where the game would feel ‘locked up’ until the messages were finally routed through the host, which would create a pretty bad user experience.

I might change it around for other games, depending on the requirements, but for now I think the current routing system will fix the issues with the PS4 networking. We’re submitting a patch soon, but we have lots of testing to be done to make sure it’s robust first!

Until next week, keep those packets routing!


As usual, today at 4pm there will be another Dev Stream with Jouste the Drawbarian. Don’t miss it!

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-Nick

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

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

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

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Dev Blog 247: Streamer Squad Cards!

11/02/2016

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Welcome back followers of the fearsome!

Hope you’ve all had a spooky Halloween, full of ghosts and ghouls and a few runs of Viking Squad! This week we’ll be taking a look at a creative way we’ve been trying to get some more visibility on our game. It’s pretty tough as a smaller company to get eyes on your project alongside the torrent of games and news that is constantly getting reported on and covered.

We are a big fan of streamers and you tube content creators here at Slick so we thought it would be a fun idea to create some custom “Viking-ized” fan art of them. We’ve packaged them into fun and goofy “Trading Cards” that we release every Thursday!

Growing up in the 90’s, I have a fond memory of the old Marvel and DC trading cards. Comics were a really big influence on my art style and the cards had awesome stats, power levels, and information alongside really cool artwork! I never really liked the “Masterpiece” collections because I found them to be way over rendered and much preferred the quick and lean comic artwork on the regular releases.

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So we decided to use some of our strengths to do something fun for all those streamers that stopped by our booth and who have also just made some great content that we are fans of. Luckily I’m a pretty quick artist and can keep up the pace of 6 streamer cards a week. It’s been a lot of fun trying to tie in little details and other things into these quick drawings and we hope the streamers and their fans alike enjoy them! We tweet them out every Tuesday but you guys can check out the ones on this Tumblr that we’ll be updating every week as well.


And be sure to stop by this Viking Vednesday at 4pm-6pm PST! We’ll be doing some more fun Art for Viking Squad and catching up with our crew. Hope to see you guys there!

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And another week fires by here at Slick! Thanks a bunch for stopping by and checking out what we are working on. The Halloween update was super fun to work on and gave players some new gear to play with and we are hoping the future holidays have even more interesting things for everyone that’s picked up Viking Squad. So until next time, keep those trading card collections coming out at regular intervals!

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 247: Streamer Squad Cards!

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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 […]