content top

The importance of Playtesting

Hey All!

This week we will talk about something very cool we’ve been doing. PLAYTESTING!

This is by no means an comprehensive guide on how to do Playtesting, it’s all very much focused on Okhlos, but I think we ran into some interesting bits, that might help on different projects, so we wanted to share them.

Let’s begin!

What is Playtesting?

When  we started asking people to take part in the Playtesting, we found that most of the people didn’t know what “they had to do”, or even if they were prepared to do it. A huge amount of people believe that Playtesting and QA Testing (or Functional Testing) are the same thing. And, of course, they are not.

Playtesting is a kind of usability test, where you can see how players read and react to the game in an (ideally) relaxed context. The idea is to see the player interacting in the way she/he would normally play the game. But with us breathing over their shoulders and taking silly incomprensible notes.


This is particularly useful to, for example, polish a tutorial. We always try to get people that have never played the game, so that we can see if the tutorial is really effective at communicating the mechanics, or if we have to be more clear in some areas. Also it’s really useful to help set up a good difficulty curve, and to check how good the feedback the game gives to the players is .

We’ve showed the game at lots of events. And seeing new people play the game is always useful, but when you are at an expo, the players don’t usually pay too much attention to it, they just want to try it. While playtesting the game at expos can point out some design flaws, you really need to sit down and analize what’s going on, and what would happen if they played the game at home, instead of in a loud and flashy (and sometimes smelly) environment.

Why we do it

We did very small amounts of playtesting during the development of Okhlos. Mostly at events. Sometime we’d invite someone to try it, or send a build to a friend and ask for notes. We never did a huge playtesting session before.

We were getting close to the launch (and we still are!) and we were having some discussions  (friendly, of course) with Devolver regarding the difficulty of the game.

We had been playing the game for so long, that it was almost impossible for us to judge the difficulty of the game by ourselves. For us, it was always was too easy. Devolver pointed out that the difficulty curve at the first levels was too high. And it seemed that there was a large group of players having difficulties with the game.

Sending a game and asking for feedback is not very useful because games are difficult to put in words. When you see the playthrough is when you realize that someone is not getting the idea correctly, or even that you might be asking the wrong questions. You should pay attention to the user session, what you discuss with them afterwards is just for ratification, but you are the one that has to identify problems and solutions. If someone says “I don’t like this, maybe you should…” you can stop listening there. You know your game better and your playtester should only communicate the problems they had, not the solutions (also, this depends on your group. We had very few designers for this playtesting intentionally).

We decided to do a Playtesting session in order to see what was going on regarding difficulty. Any additional information we could gather (tutorial, mechanics and feedback) would not be the focus, but a very welcome bonus.

How we did the setup

We started by reaching out on Facebook to any people interested in trying out the game (through our personal Facebook, not the Studio page just to be sure that at least we knew the people coming to our offices).

Because of this misconception regarding playtesting and functional testing, we had to stress a few times that no knowledge was needed in order to take part in the Playtesting sessions. We looked for acquaintances that had  never tried the game before and could drop by our offices to play a little.

The playtesting sessions went out of hands pretty quickly, Too many people wanted to try the game and give us feedback, so we had to narrow the list to twenty something people.

The session took us literally all week and because of their jobs people, lots of them wanted to come on the weekend.

A cool thing we did from the start, was trying to set every session pretty far from each other. At first, we didn’t know how much each session would take, so we assumed a two-hour slot for each participant. We thought that each user would play around an hour, so rounding it to two hours would give us plenty of time to get everything ready for the next playtester.

As you will found out later, we were clearly wrong.

Another cool thing we did was to add each playtester to our calendar. This would help us a lot when we had to rearrange the timetable. We have a gmail account for the studio that we use only for this kind of things, we shared the calendar with our personal calendars and started adding events. Pretty handy and stupidly quick.


This image is pretty useless. We are just braggin’

The only problem with this was that for some random reason the timezone configuration was broken, so all our appointments were off by an hour when viewing from our personal calendars, and that created some awkward overlapping.

The sessions

For starters, we set up OBS to capture the player’s footage. Players would be sitting in front of the computer, and we would ask them how they usually played games at their homes, if they used a joystick or a keyboard and mouse configuration, and we would duplicate the screen to see the play session from another monitor. The videos recorded were at a very low resolution. Just enough to see what was going on. There is no need to have 20gb videos of hours of playtesting.


OBS in second monitor for the sneak peak

We also asked what language they usually play games in, and if they used headphones. We didn’t want to impose anything, and we wanted players to feel like at home. We even threw some snacks to improve the experience. If you have to play an incomplete and broken game, at least have some free food.

A little side note, we were surprised the amount of people that play games in English in Argentina. Probably half of the users wanted to have the game in English. This might be due to past experiences dealing with shitty translations, and trying to have the real deal, the true experience of the game. For me at least, even if Okhlos supports like 8 languages, and this blog entry is in English, the game’s main language is Spanish. There are some jokes that wouldn’t simply work in any other language. And we literally did whatever we wanted in the Spanish version. 99% of the game is the same in all languages, and the game should detect your system settings for language.

We had planned each session to last about an hour. In reality, most sessions took about two hours. And sometimes more. This is very positive from a game design standpoint. People just wanted to keep playing the game, but from a schedule point of view it was a problem. We tried never to say “Well, that’s enough, go home” but we had to a few times.

Because of the previous mentioned calendar bug, and the organic and always changing nature of people, we started to have people’s time slots overlapping. When this happened we had resort to setting up another computer with the game running, where we didn’t have the chance duplicate the screen.


Our friend (and often spellchecker) @pfque_ doing playtesting. Photo by @alejandropro

When the playtester were playing, we tried not to talk to them to avoid distracting them. We also told them not to ask us questions. If there was something that they couldn’t figure out, we would jump in only if it was absolutely necessary.

At the end of each session, we would ask the player how they felt the game, if it was too hard, too easy, what they loved and what they hated, and if there was something that they hadn’t understood. Most of the questions were pretty redundant, because when you know your game you can get most of this stuff by simply watching them, but very interesting stuff came up from these five minute interviews.

In the middle of the week, we did some A/B testing with basic stuff (I will get on details about that later), and it was really useful. Because we knew that there would be no further playtesting after this, if there was something controversial that we wanted to test, at the beginning of each day we would discuss it and make a new version.


We needed to emphasize that the mob was slowed down because nobody noticed it!

Saturday was chaos, with probably six or seven people at any time in our offices. They atmosphere was really relaxed and cool, but we couldn’t pay so much attention to each individual session like we did during the rest of the week.

The videos were incredible useful. When the week was over we started discussing what we saw and what we should change. Having the videos was a very quick reference to see what we were discussing. And my memory is pretty visual, so seeing the same thing might trigger what you were thinking when you saw the live performance.

If I have to draw a conclusion, is that doing playtesting is really important, is incredibly useful and even when you don’t want to burn off all your friends too often, you have to do it at least two or three times for project (obviously, this depends on the scope of the project).

It’s also a huge morale boost. We were very tired for the long and uninterrupted development cycle, and a little worried about Okhlos being too easy/hard/bad, but when we finished the sessions, the results were so good that it really injected us with the energies to keep working as hard as we were before. From a psychological point of view, it sounds very healthy for medium size projects. As long as you know very consciously not to go trigger happy with the changes.

That was pretty much our playtesting week, which was incredibly tiresome, but amazingly fruitful. If you came here to read only about Playtesting, good job! You are done here. Below, I will start talking about Okhlos particular results.

Okhlos Results

The response was overwhelmingly positive. Most of the people that came for the platytesting were even not acquaintances of us, who had found out about the playtesting through someone that shared our original post (which was not exactly what we planned, but we enjoyed the enthusiasm).

This made the tester brutally honest, but in fact, nobody said that they didn’t enjoy the game. However, we have the idea that one of the testers really didn’t like the game, he played a little less than an hour and didn’t want to keep playing. But statistically, it’s still a pretty cool outcome.

As we said, we thought that the game might have been be too hard. While balancing, tweaking the difficulty curve and through other changes, we think we found a sweet spot. Some players still found it kinda easy, so we are increasing the difficulty in some areas.

Some players pointed out something very interesting. They didn’t get enough feedback from the attack. When you press Defense, you immediately know that your mob is defending. They all stay still and defend. When you run or collapse the mob, you don’t have to focus your attention in any particular element, you simply see the mob and how it behaves even with your peripheral vision. When you are attacking, though, there is not much change visually. Yes, the mob moves slower, but not so much to be noticeable. The first tester who pointed this was our friend Juan from Heavy Boat.


This was one of the first changes we did during playtesting. We used the sprint sound in the attack, permanently. It was rough, but tremendously effective. Gord almost kill us for that. Players realized much more quick when they were attacking.

Besides this, we had another related issue with attack. Players that used Joystick where more inclined to understand to hold the attack trigger (maybe because it’s a trigger), but players that used the mouse,  would constantly smash the mouse button. That was something that we knew sometimes happened, but we were not sure how to approach it.

We did small animations in the tutorial boards, just to clearly state that you should hold the mouse button down. But maybe more interestingly, we decided that if players really want to smash their mouses, well, we should just let them! So Seba added a small delay when pressing the mouse, so if you let the mouse button off for a second, the mob will continue to attack. This helps in two ways, for starters, players realize that you can maintain the button pressed, but even if they keep doing it, there are more chances that the mob will attack. Before this, if you didn’t hold down the button, there were big chances that the mob wouldn’t start to attack, because they have to get near the target and there is some anticipation in the attack animation. So now it feels much better, and its still pretty responsive if you want to stop attacking immediately.



A small narrative change we did was regarding the procedural phrases Homer tells you each time the mob moves to a new city. They were generic and interchangeable. But @DavTMar suggested that in order to help the narrative, we should address specifically which city the mob was going. So we added the name to the city to the phrase (and we tweaked them a little), and now we maintain these procedurally generated, phrases but having the name of the city makes them more custom, and clear to the user.



There were tons of other stuff. We changed the items in the hud and we placed them directly on the mob, which is really cool and organic, and having less UI feels very good. We added tutorial texts, we revisited them, we scaled up buttons, we got ourselves very busy for the week following the playtesting. And that was pretty rad. We were able to address most of the changes in less than a week, which was very cool as well, as we weren’t hoping to finish so quickly with all the changes.


So, there you have it! Playtesting often is healthy, cool, incredibly useful and cheap. You don’t have many excuses for not doing it!

We wanted to close the entry with a HUGE THANKS to all the people who made the time to pass by our offices and helped making Okhlos better!

Drinking game: If you finished reading the article, then read it again but every time I said the word “playtesting” take a shot.

Read More

Kyoto BitSummit And Tecnopolis, here we go!

Hey all! It’s been a while!

Even while we are in the midst of going crazy with all the stuff we have to do in order to get Okhlos ready for release (and we still have some work to do in that regard!), we wanted to let you all know that Okhlos will be available to try in two huge expos!

We’ve disregarded the dev blog a little bit these last months because we had so much work that we really needed to focus all our energies into the game. Next week, however, we will be retaking our good old misadventures about development that you all hate to read, but you probably know us and had to anyway.


Weird introduction to subject matter, let’s now delve into what’s important!

Do you want to try Okhlos? It will be showcased at two different venues!


Kyoto BitSummit


The 4th installment of the Indie festival! So, if you are in Kyoto this weekend, you will be able to try the game! Note that the expo just lasts two days!

Also, players will be able to play the game in Japanese! Which was an interesting task (expect more about localization in future posts!).

For more info about the venue, check this!



Tecnopolis 2016


Tecnopolis is probably the biggest event in Argentina regarding science, technology, art and culture (culture basically encompasses the other three, but I wasn’t the one who came up with the slogan).

From what we know, Tecnopolis will be open from July 14 till October 15, so you have LOTS of time to try Okhlos! The game, obviously, will be in Spanish! :D


Tecnopolis will take place in Buenos Aires, Argentina. More info here


Well, that’s all for now! We promise to come back with mildly interesting bits of information about game development and whatnot.

Because you happen to reach the end of the article, here is a gratuitous gif! <3


Read More

They Just Won’t Leave! Persistent Heroes for Okhlos

Another week passes by in our endless Okhlos development cycle, and that means another devblog update with a few insights into our process. Mostly with examples about how NOT to do something.

This week, we bring you a subject that is still changing a lot. That is Persistent Heroes.

Types of persistent heroes

In Okhlos, you have two types of persistent heroes: Philosopher heroes and Basic persistent heroes. The basic persistent heroes will behave as regular heroes (that means that if they die, they will revive at the next world), except that, once you’ve unlocked them, you can choose to start each session with them.  The philosopher heroes are the ones you control directly, and they replace your current mob leader.

Why we put them?

Okhlos is a roguelike-like game, so each time you lose, you have to start over from the first world. We liked that feeling, but we wanted also to have a feeling of progress, besides how good you get with any particular mechanics. In this fashion, we wanted to have some bonuses you can get at the start of each run. Persistent heroes accomplish this, but they are also proving to be very difficult to balance.

Also, we wanted some type of mob management. We always felt that adding too much management to the mob would be counterintuitive, because the mob should be more of an organic thing. The good thing about this, is that you only have to do it when you start the game, not in-game.

This is the main reason we created the Agora, which is a hub where you select these heroes (and also where you can do a few more things ;P).

agora2 agora1

The Agora always felt right as a pre-game phase. The camera is zoomed in during this part because we wanted to make a clear distinction between the action phase and this section. (Also, I wanted to show off the character sprites). Additionally, we had to remove some hud elements that had no use at that moment.

The Agora is a very small section, and that’s intentional, because we felt the movement between options should be as quick as possible!


Why add persistent philosophers?

That’s a good question! Thanks!

Originally, we had lots of cool philosophers in the game. That was always the idea. You start playing, and suddenly find Aristotle. So, Aristotle will join your mob, and he will give you a particular bonus. If the philosopher you were using is killed, you will start using Aristotle. Because of that, we had to make tons of new animations for all of this special philosopher heroes.

Each unit has a common set of animations, but the units you control, have a lot more, like running AND commanding to attack. Or commanding to disperse. So each philosopher we add to the game, turns out to be very time consuming.


Lets continue with the previous example. Suppose you are still controlling Aristotle, and you find/buy Plato. Now you have two philosopher heroes in your mob, each one with their particular bonus. And if Aristotle dies, you will start controlling Plato, but Aristotle will revive in the next world. So you can have a lot of philosopher heroes in your mob.

We changed all of that, and we made that you can only have one philosopher hero on your mob. And you select it at the start. I particularly liked the idea of choosing your avatar in the game (a decision that can last seconds). It made sense that you could choose which type of bonuses (sometimes with a trade off) you’d want to start with.


We are still tweaking lots of things in order to achieve that each philosopher encourages a different play style. We currently have 20 philosophers in game.


How many can you take to a new run?

For starters, we wanted to have a lot of persistent heroes, so we set up like fifteen of them. The cool thing about having a bunch of them is that it adds lots of replayability to the game. Each hero has a unique unlock condition, so unlocking them all is a huge achievement.

The problem that comes with that is that if you’ve unlocked every persistent hero, and you take all of them to a new run, the game will be stupidly easy. Also, because of the management side of things, why wouldn’t you grab all the heroes you have at your disposal? If you’ve unlocked ten, you would want to take the ten of them to the game.

So we designed a few rules for the persistent heroes window. When you start the game, you will have no persistent heroes. Once you start unlocking them you will be able to take up to three to a new run.

The more persistent heroes you unlocked, the amount of heroes you will be able to take to a new run will increase. Currently, we have seventeen heroes and if you unlocked them all, you will be able to take up to five to a new run.




Unlock conditions

We set up the unlock conditions so that the player would spend some time unlocking the characters. We think that we might’ve put things a little to easy. We find that we unlock a lot of them in the testing runs, so we might tweak the numbers a little more.

We have weird conditions, like finishing the game without Socrates dying once (you may guess what are you unlocking with that) and more traditional unlocks, like defeating a certain amount of gods.


We found that it was difficult to communicate the player that they had unlocked something. Should we interrupt the gameplay session to let them know? Wait till the end of the session? We decided to communicate it via an unlock window that shows up after you died or won the game. It would not interrupt the session, but it had some problems.

Suppose you meet the unlock criteria, but you quit the game before losing or wining? When will you be notified of the unlock? If you continue your run, no problem, because it will show up when you lose or win, but if you select New Game, you will lose your last session’s progress.


We decided that we would just unlock the heroes when the unlock condition is met, and we would notify the unlock next time the user loses. If players do something weird like quitting the current game and starting a new one, they will miss the screen, but they will have the heroes unlocked nonetheless.


Also, we decided that instead of placing the unlocks in the win/lose screen, we would just place a new window on top of that.


We are still working the balance issues. Like getting too powerful too soon, or some of the unlock conditions being too easy. We ran a test with a company that works with Devolver for playtesting, and we were able to secure some ideas, but it’s clear that we still have a lot of work to do. However, all of these issues might be connected to some overall and ability changes we are planning for all heroes, not just persistent ones, so it might be more complicated than just adjusting the unlock conditions.

Interesting times…

Read More

A tour through Lemnos

It’s been a while since I did one of these. This week, we’ll talk a little about Lemnos, one of the later worlds in Okhlos!


Lemnos is a Greek island, and the mythical Lemnos was sacred to Hephaestus, god of metallurgy, so from there, we imagined a city inside a volcano. Magma rivers, blacksmiths, forges, and there is a law that requires every videogame to have a fire level. Thanks Mario and Megaman!


So, for starters, we have the basic layout. It’s all cavernous, red and yellow. Exactly like inside a volcano. These are the first level boundaries that go above the horizontal line. We had some problems with these, because the bottom ones were between the user and the camera. Luckily, we usually use a script for buildings that fades into alpha everything that is between the camera and the player. We had to tweak it a little bit but it is working fine now.


Another unique addition we have in this world, is that all boundaries have these magma rivers flowing down. We used the same script we use for the fire hazards, we added a collider with a trigger, and it worked immediately. We could do a test in minutes. All very cool.


It really adds some difficulty when you are navigating the environment. Right now we are tweaking and balancing numbers to see how much damage it should deal, and all those sort of details. Another thing we are still debating is whether  it should damage enemies or not. Right now, it does. And it seems like a very natural and consistent behaviour, but we know that in some instances you might abuse it.

And because we are talking about hazards, another thing that we have in Lemnos, are fumaroles. Fumaroles don’t hurt you or the mob, but they cover your field of view, so it can get very annoying.


We have a few more hazards that we don’t want to disclose right now, you will have to reach Lemnos to find out ;)

In the enemies department, we have the well-known Automatas, which are present in other worlds as well. In this level, they have a particular reason to be in here, Hephaestus is the one building them! But besides these awful self-destructing robotos, we have a few new additions:

For starters, we have the blazing cyclops. These cyclops throw fire boulders to the mob. Pretty rude.

They have some changes compared to the classic rock thrower cyclops, besides the boulder that spreads the fire, their behaviour is a little different. In terms of HP and attack, they are more powerful than they fire-free counterparts.


Another new addition (that we might use in other worlds in the future) is the blazing Lamia. We have the poisonous Lamia in Atlantis, which spits poison to the mob. Her counter part here spits fire boulders (similar to the blazing cyclops), and eats pedestrians and people from your mob!



Finally, we decided to give Lemnos a special touch, so in the camera we added a distortion effect. Basically, what we did was to add a plane with the distortion material with a shader we found online, that distorts in the parameters we want what’s behind the plane. We are still tweaking some values for it to be cool but not nauseating.


Funny side note. I still don’t know what happened, but last time we checked, the plane inverted the Y axis, and everything went upside down. Weirdest bug of the week.



Well, that’s everything for this week! We love comments and critics, so feel free to write us to let us know what you think!


Read More

[Spanish]Guia del rata en GDC

[English speakers: Due to the nature of the update (basically a guide to spend less for Argentinians at GDC), this update will be available in Spanish only. Sorry!  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯  

Next week we’ll have a cool dev blog update in English, as we usually do!]


Hace un par de semanas, terminamos nuestra primer GDC, y queríamos compartir la experiencia. Descubrimos que para sorpresa de nadie, viajar a San Francisco no es barato, pero encontramos algunos trucos para economizar.



Los pasajes, paradójicamente no fueron lo más caro. En Okhlos somos dos. Sebastian Gioseffi y yo, Roque Rey. El primer pasaje fue subsidiado por el fondo de movilidad del Ministerio de cultura. El segundo, lo tuvimos que pagar nosotros. Lo sacamos en octubre, y nos debe haber costado $12.000 (pesos Arg.) y lo pudimos sacar en cuotas. Lo sacamos ni bien nos enteramos que el fondo pagaba uno de los pasajes, eso ayudó a que sea más barato.

Este proyecto cuenta con el apoyo del Fondo Argentino de Desarrollo Cultural – Ministerio de Cultura de la Nación

Captura de pantalla 2016-04-04 19.35.00

El segundo truco que descubrió Seba fue que los pasajes eran más baratos a Los Angeles, así que el segundo pasaje lo sacamos a Los Angeles y pagábamos un micro que salió USD$60 que iba de Los Angeles a San Francisco. El problema con ésto es que el viaje se hace estúpidamente más largo.

Una vez llegado al aeropuerto de SF (si no entramos por LA), una opción económica es la contratación de charters. Uber y Lift son más baratos que un taxi, pero los charters rondan los usd$15, menos que la tercera parte del costo de un taxi. Si bien en teoría hay terminales en los aeropuertos, yo no las pude encontrar, pero había contratado el servicio con antelación, y en la zona de charters cuando me apersoné simplemente dije mi nombre y no tuve más problemas. También estaba pago de antemano, así que ni siquiera tuve que manejar efectivo.

Costo del pasaje: $12000 + usd$60 + usd$15


Las entradas a GDC son casi prohibitivas para la economía local. Las grosas salen usd$2000, habiendo pases mucho más económicos pero mucho más restringidos en cuanto acceso.

No puedo decir si realmente hubieses disfrutado la convención con uno de los pases baratos. Simplemente donde me mandaba me dejaban pasar. El expo pass creo que solo te deja pasar al expo floor, y eso es bastante limitado. Distintas charlas tienen distintos requerimientos de pases. Había un pass que era exclusivamente para VR, y si tenías un pass más barato no podes acceder a esas charlas.

Nosotros conseguimos dos pases All Access. Uno fue cedido muy amablemente por la Game work jam, aprovechamos este medio para agradecerlo, y el segundo pudimos conseguirlo por diferentes e-mails, y hablar con bastante gente.


A lo largo de éste artículo, van a surgir todos los costos del viaje, así que como van a ver, no es barato. En lo particular, no sugeriría ratonear en el pase. No tengo la experiencia de un pase más barato, pero hay una tranquilidad brutal en el saber que si te surge una reunión o un evento de imprevisto tenés acceso a la GDC Vault, cosa que te lo da únicamente el All Access.

Básicamente, la GDC Vault te permite ver todas las charlas al mes y pico de terminar la GDC. Todavía no lo probé, pero me aseguran que funciona. Si no hubiese sido por esto, hubiese tenido un montón de decisiones difíciles como perderme un evento por ir a una charla que me interesa.

Lo que estuvimos viendo hace unos meses, es que hay muchas alternativas para conseguir entradas de arriba. GWJ es una. Ellos consiguen las entradas y las reparten. Uno de los requisitos, por lo que tengo entendido, es que el beneficiario no haya sido beneficiado el año anterior.

A parte de eso, estuve viendo algunos ofrecimientos algo más grises, como asociarse a X, que conlleva un costo, y  que consiguen entradas de cortesía, como la GWJ, y las reparten (la diferencia con la GWJ es que ellos NO cobran. Los beneficiarios simplemente aplican a la “beca” sin necesidad de crear ninguna relación con la misma). Por lo que, con suficiente tiempo, no es imposible conseguir entradas para la GDC.

Costo de las entradas (esta vez al menos): $0


San Francisco es caro [cita requerida] . Nosotros conseguimos lo que en la comunidad de desarrollo de Argentina es ya Vox Populi, que es el Hi San Francisco City Center.

Las primeras impresiones del Hostel pueden ser un poco duras, pero después te vas dando cuenta que el ambiente es super sano, y está lleno de estudiantes y adolescentes.

El Hostel está en Ellis St. 685, en el barrio de Tenderloin. Muchas amistades internacionales, no acostumbradas a los trajines que los porteños vivimos en la city me advirtieron sobre el barrio. La realidad es que particularmente la calle Ellis es bastante jodida, pero caminás un par de cuadras por las paralelas y listo. Definitivamente no es turístico, pero es peligroso para el primer mundo. Nosotros estamos curtidos de eso, no hay mucho que nosotros no hayamos visto acá (con un par de particularidades).

El hostel sale alrededor de us$45 la noche en una habitación de 4 a 6 camas. Para nosotros es carísimo, pero para los precios que manejan allá, es estúpidamente barato. Nosotros pudimos hacer la reservación hace varios meses. Como uno de los pasajes estaba pagado por el fondo de movilidad, y no sabíamos los detalles del viaje,  la última noche que me quedé en SF me quedé sin cuarto. Afortunadamente pude conseguir una habitación single, que estaba USD$150, el triple que la normal. Increíblemente, después de dormir en una habitación con cuatro personas, tener una habitación para uno borda casi el lujo, así que no fue un gasto que no pagase con gusto. La habitación la compartí con Seba, @crihnoss y un canadiense simpático que también iba a la GDC.


Hostel Indie, en SF está lleno de escaleras de incendio.

La oferta hotelera en la zona rondaba los 200-300 dolares la noche. De vuelta, estúpidamente caro. Sobre todo porque la GDC dura una semana. El hostel incluía desayuno, bastante básico, pero cumplía.

El costo de mas o menos de Hostel fue aproximadamente USD $400 dolares para mí, y usd$250 por Seba.


El costo de la comida es, nuevamente, prohibitivo para la mayoría de nosotros.

Lo que descubrimos desde el primer día es que en las fiestas importantes dan comida grátis. Estando en SF habré comprado comida 3 veces únicamente. Siempre conviene ir a las fiestas lujosas de empresas grandes que suelen dar comida, comer y tomar como si no hubiese mañana, y después ir a las fiestas más copadas que es donde está la escena independiente.

En comida en SF habré gastado menos de usd$40. Pero realmente fui rata. No es una referencia para todos, salvo para los que estén dispuestos a skipearse algún almuerzo cada tanto.

Costo en comida aprox: USD $100


Anexo: Media Indie Exchange

Ya que íbamos a la GDC, nos invitaron a participar del Media Indie Exchange, que se realiza en las oficinas de IGN. Participar sale usd $25. Y si quedás, te sale usd$250. Ellos te dan un monitor y un lugar. Nada más. Tenés que llevar tu computadora, control, etc.

A nosotros nos eligieron, y la experiencia fue bastante buena. Además de participar el lunes (primer día de GDC) en el evento, nos seleccionaron junto con 8 juegos más del MIX para participar en unos streamings que estaba organizando Gamespot.

Así que al mediodía estuvimos en Gamespot mostrando el juego, y a la noche, a partir de las 6 hasta las 11pm, estuvimos mostrando el juego en IGN (no hace falta decir que en ambos hubo morfi gratis, y en IGN, del bueno, junto con alcohol).

Si bien la experiencia fue positiva, el primer día casi no estuvimos en GDC, y la idea del MIX es presentar desarrolladores independientes con prensa, y el evento de la noche brilló por la ausencia de prensa en general. No había mucha prensa especializada, pero sí desarrolladores y algunas figuras de la industria.


El lugar de Okhlos en la previa del MIX. Estaba muy dormido para sacar fotos durante el evento

El costo que tuvimos fue de usd $275 . Y ojo al piojo que podes pagar usd$25 y no quedar.


Costos extras:


Si no tenés visa o ciudadanía europea, vas a tener que agregarle usd$160 para poder entrar a Estados Unidos. Lo malo de estos 160, es que pueden bocharte y no te devuelven la plata. Así que mientras sigan pidiendo visa, este es un costo para agregar. Y nosotros, fuck logic, ya levantamos la tasa de reciprocidad.


Más obvio aún que la visa, en esto se te van $400 más o menos.

Lo bueno es que ambos extras son un pago de una sola vez. Después ya quedan. (Idealmente hablando).

Aproximadamente el costo de ir a la GDC fue: Aproximadamente USD $2000

Esto cubre dos personas, siendo bastante rata, con entradas de arriba, y uno de los pasajes subsidiados por el fondo de cultura. De no haber tenido subsidio, hubiese salido aproximadamente USD $3000.


Como pensamiento final, la primer GDC siempre es caótica. Hay un montón de sutilezas que aprendés estando ahí que son intransferibles y hay que vivirlas. Entiendo que la segunda GDC tendría que ser mucho menos caótica y más productiva que la primera.



Read More

Okhlos’ Changelog: version 0.7.1


Hi, everyone! It’s been a while since the last update but, as a testament of all the work we’ve been putting into the game, we bring you a new changelog! Yes, another list of amazing features and the like that are now in the current build.  The bad news are that, although I know how much everyone loves endless lists and walls of text,  I will have to keep this one short because we are already deep into the following version.  So, without further ado here is the list of changes in version 0.7.1!




New Heroes

I don’t want to spoil much but we’ve added 24 new heroes to the game, and some I dare say are pretty cool like Circe (who turns enemies into pigs) or Tithonus (cursed with eternal life but not eternal youth) and they also include a few cameos from some our favorite games.
Hero Unlock System

This has been the largest change in the version. You can no longer buy persistent heroes or philosopher heroes. Instead, each of them now has an associated condition that you have to meet in order to unlock them (kill 50 harpies, reach Sparta without buying kings, get your defense modifier to 300%, etc). Once you do, you can recruit them in the Agora, selecting them via a new menu, but you will only be able to bring a limited number of them each run. So far it seems, it seems quite a lot of fun! Gotta unlock em all!

Captura de pantalla 2016-02-23 14.13.38
Bosses Revamp

We’ve reviewing and working on all the god’s battles. Some of them have improved significantly (like Hephaestus), others may still need a little tweaking, but I think we’ve made progress with all of them. The next step will be doing the same for the rest of the enemies (which is kind of what we are doing right now), but I am getting ahead of myself.

A Unique Theme in every World

Gordon has finished the tracks for each of the different levels and they are all in the game! Music lovers rejoice! Next up: tons of new sfx!
Visual fxs in Lemnos

We’ve added a special visual filter and revamped the lava texture. Lemnos looks now better than ever!

Special levels

Once again, we are treading into spoiler territory here, but let me just say that for a while now we’ve been working on special levels that trigger very rarely and add have something different about them that changes the pace of a regular run. We already some of them working but they were almost an easter egg, now we’ve made official.  A new bunch of them have been added (which, again, I don’t want to spoil), and now when you do find one you will have Homer to guide you and hint you about what is going on.


And that’s about it for version 0.7.1. Lots of minor additions, tweaking and improvements, but as I said, there is no time for that now. However,  besides all the wonders and amazement of the changelog, we have some very exciting piece of news to share: Next month, we will be showing Okhlos at the 5th edition of the Media Indie Exchange!


The showcase will be on March 14, at the IGN Headquarters, in San Francisco, where attendees will have the chance to play some Okhlos, as well as fine selection of other independent games. So if you are in the area, be sure to drop by! And if not, don’t worry because there may some streams going on that night too! Do you want any more info?  Go right  here:

And with that I say adieu! Until next time!

Read More

PAX South, STEAM page and more!


Oh man! What a week! We have so many things going on that I don’t even know where to start!

Let’s see…

First of all, this weekend we will be at PAX South!


Our friends at Devolver Digital are going to take us to the lovely San Antonio, Texas. Sebastian already was on PAX prime, so now it’s my turn to travel! But that’s not all!

As one of the most amazing and bizarre-yet-on-topic promos ever, Devolver will be giving away their ENTIRE digital library of games on Steam to anyone demoing the game at PAX  while wearing a toga!

As the fine gents of Devolver Digital put it:

Okhlos will be playable at the upcoming PAX South inside the Devolver Digital booth [12059] and any attendee that demos the game while wearing a toga or tunic will receive the entire Devolver Digital library of games on Steam.

You would have to be out of your mind if you don’t steal your mother’s drapes and run to PAX to play OKHLOS!

Remember, we will be at booth 12059, if anyone reading this is going to PAX, please come and say hi! I’d love to meet all of the people out there reading our mumbling!

And wear a TOGA!


The second order of business,


Now you can go to Steam an add Okhlos to your wishlist. Spam it to your friends and family!

Okhlos on Steam

Link to the store to an amazing game on Steam

There are a few things that we’ve added to the page but they are not being shown. For instance, we have Full Controller Support, yet the web page refuses to accept our update. Same thing with Trading Cards. But you get the idea!

Also, keep in mind that the art displayed in the store page is not final. I have yet to do lots of promo art …

And along with the new Steam page, we have NEW TRAILER!


The trailer was done by the amazing Kert Gartner, who makes most of Devolver’s trailers. Working with him was an incredibly cool experience. Some interesting facts:

-In order for Kert to have enough clips, I captured 163GB of video.

-The reason they were so large was because all the videos were running at 60fps, 1080p.

-There were 217 individual clips.

-It took me an entire day to capture all the footage for the first iteration of the trailer. After that we had to capture a few more particular shots, which expanded the capture time over two more days.

-We had to heavy compress the videos using H264 in order to send the clips to Kert.

-We spent an entire weekend uploading videos to Box and Dropbox.

-We uploaded about 20gb worth of videos.


Because this is a devblog (sort of), a word of advice: As you can see, the most important part when you are working on your trailer, is having TONS of footage. You want to show different moments of the game, different aspects, features, etc. So you need footage. Maybe a 5 minutes clip of a boss fight ends being used only for 2 seconds, but when you are editing, you are working for the video as a whole, and you are gonna discard a lot. So don’t be afraid of using the scissors!

I ranted a long time ago about the peculiarities of doing an indie trailer here. After working with Kert, I can tell you that most of the things that I wrote back then are still useful.

If you can’t literally spend a week or two doing the trailer, just hire Kert (don’t know if he is taking contract work, though!).


Finally, on a more personal note, this week we bought our first font.

For all of my games and design work, I’ve always used free fonts, but for Okhlos we are using Dalek, which can be used free for non commercial projects. We were planning on buying the font a few weeks before the game was out, but we decided to do it now, mostly because the trailer uses it.

It feels weird to buy a font, mainly because you are buying the license. Is the kind of thing that people don’t put money into. On a high note, it also makes you think that you are a professional. It kinda resembles the first time I bought a digital game*.

On a tremendously cooler note, the Dalek was designed  by Keith Bates, which was Eccleston’s (ninth Doctor) art teacher! How cool is that?!

And look at the hidden glyph!



And finally, (for realsies now) this week we had two major milestones! First, it was the second anniversary that we started working with Gordon for the sound and music of Okhlos! Give him a shout out to congratulate him about the awesome work he is doing! And secondly, this post is now the 101 post we did in our page! Cool! Right!? It would’ve been amazing if we noticed that last week, for the Hephaestus update, but we missed it and now we can’t celebrate our 100th post :(


Well, I think those are all the news we have for now! Remember to add the game to your wishlist and come to say hi if you are going to PAX!


*  I had a hard time trying to recall which was the first digital game I ever bought. I think that was Scott Pilgrim vs The world. The game itself is fine, but the art by Paul Robertson is amazing. All my games before that had been physical.

Read More

The many versions of Hephaestus


Hi there and welcome back to the best blog ever*!

Among the many things we have working on these last weeks, we made a full review of all the boss battles in Okhlos. We playtested them, took notes and then discussed what was working about them, what wasn’t and what we could do to improve them. It’s a lengthy process but a rewarding one. So we want to show you how we do this. And as a example, we chose to tell you about all the changes that one of those bosses has undergone: Hephaestus.

Remember him? We introduced him back in one of our very first posts about the game, where we showed you the main antagonist in Okhlos, the hateful twelve Olympian gods. Hephaestus is Hera’s son, Aphrodite’s husband, and the god of blacksmiths, artisans, craftsmen, fire and volcanoes. He made all the cool weapons and gadgets the other gods and some heroes would wield, and he even made living machines, like the bronze giant Talos. All in all, a impressive chap. But back to the game.

Hephaestus Version 1.0

By the time of that post about the Olympian gods, we had already sketched out how Hephaestus was going to look and what he was going to do. It was very simple. He would have an area melee attack, which was smashing everyone around him with his hammer, also a ranged attack, throwing a lava boulder, and finally he would summon automatons, because he made them and lots of them lying around.

Ye Olde Hephaestus

Ye Olde Hephaestus

But things couldn’t be so simple. After implementing a first version a playing a bit we found out that the battle against Hephaestus wasn’t as fun as it could be. One problem was that the combat ended up being too static. Asides from the melee attack, which you could block, there was really no reason to move the mob. The best strategy was to swarm the god and keep pounding on him, ignoring any of the enemies he summoned and never getting far enough for him to use his ranged attack. Not that much fun indeed. Hence, a new version of Hephaestus was born.

Hephaestus Version 2.0

So we had a boss battle that was too static, and a god with two thirds of his attacks rendered useless by the most simple of the player’s tactics. What’s the first thing to try if a battle against a boss is to static? Making him move! Right? Hephaestus already did move around the level, slowly, but he moved. So, make him faster? For one part that didn’t fit the theme, Hephaestus was supposed to be a crippled god, strong but not particularly nimble or agile. We even made him with a cane! But asides from that, if we made him faster the player would simply spend more time running around him, which was not particularly fun either.


Concept vs final Pixel Art

The solution we came up then was to set up a safe zone inside his arena, where he would go to summon his automatons. The area would be outside the mob’s reach so he could spend all the time he wanted invoking minion or preparing devastating ranged attacks. A classic villainous move! Leave the battlefield for a while, let your underlings entertain the heroes and then came back for a new round of evilness. Perfect!

Or not. Even though this solution did work, and fixed the main issue while Hephaestus was in his safe area, the rest of the combat still felt pretty much the same. It now had a nice change of pace when Hephaestus went away to summon minions, but we set out to improve it even further. A new version was on the way.

Hephaestus Version 3.0

Around the time we were working on that version of Hephaestus as I was playing Titan Souls, an amazing game, as are all game published by the wonderful folks of Devolver Digital (blatant cross promotion – blatant cross promotion – blatant cross promotion). One of the bosses in Titan Souls is Vinethesis, plant-like creature that sits at the center of the level and spins around its spiked vines around. This boss seemed to have a problem similar to the one we faced with Hephaestus. The optimal way to beat him was to stand still and way for the right moment to shoot. However, the devs had came up with a way to make the player move. Vinethesis summons a cloud of poisonous spores that follows the player, and kills him if he stands still inside it.

The battle against Vinethesis in Titan Souls

The battle against Vinethesis in Titan Souls

It was a great idea! So let’s rip it off I said … err… I mean, let’s pay homage to the great game by implementing this great solution to our problem instead of resorting to other boss fight’s tropes. And so we did. We made a cloud of flames and smoke that slowly moves toward the mob, damaging any person (or animals) that comes in contact with it. If the mob spends too much time swarming around Hephaestus, the cloud will move over him, providing him with the cover he needs to bring some minions or use his ranged attack. Sweet!

And so everything was fine and we retired to an isolated Caribbean beach where we spent the rest of our days sipping cocktails and playing cards with an old fellow named Chachingo, right? Nope, we kept on playtesting Hephaestus battle and came up with a couple of things to improve. A new version was on the way.

Hephaestus Version 4.0

You remember that Hephaestus had a ranged attack, right? Throwing lava boulders at the mob? Well, up until now, Hephaestus wasn’t really able to use it that much, so that attack never got the chance to shine. Once Hephaestus started using it we realized that the attack had some issues of its own. No shining for you.

First there was the problem of where to get those lava boulders. When we planned it we thought that since he was in a volcano level, he could just grab it from anywhere, but digging up some lava from the spot he was standing didn’t really look very well. Neither was a good idea going all the way to lava rivers at the edge of the scenario each time he wanted to make ranged attack. After a few tests we decided to go in a different direction: Hephaestus wouldn’t dig up chunks of lava to throw any more, he would now invoke a meteor shower to rain upon the unsuspecting mob. Same as effective, twice as shiny and godly.

Captura de pantalla 2016-01-20 14.38.50

The other thing we changed in this version was how and when the smoke cloud appeared. At first it was almost an autonomous entity that was there in the level, it spawned when the battle began and stayed there until you defeated Hephaestus. What we did now was integrating into Hephaestus attacks. The cloud has finite lifespan but Hephaestus can summon another one whenever he needs it. Not a huge change but something that makes things more interesting.

And, unless I am forgetting something else (which is entirely possible), those were all the changes that Hephaestus has been through until today.


Is this the end of the story? Probably no. We’ve just started the closed beta and started getting feedback from players so we will probably do a fifth version, perhaps even a sixth version! But we wanted to show you a little about the iterative process of designing the bosses in Okhlos. They have always been one of the biggest challenges in the development of the game so we want to make them as best as possible.

Until next time!


*about the development of a ancient-Greek-mob game

Read More

Okhlos’ Closed Beta is now live!


Good news everyone!

If you are one the lucky and wise ones to have pre-ordered Okhlos, you now have the chance to enter the closed beta and try the game before everyone else! You will have the opportunity to gaze upon unfinished marvels, buggy bosses and misspelled hero names but at the same time you will be able to give feedback on your favorite/least favorite aspects of the game, chip in ideas and help make the game even better!

How will I be able to do that, you say? If you pre-ordered the game, check your mail! All the instructions about how to get your key are there! If you DIDN’T receive the mail, let us know. Then, all of the beta participants will have access to a super secret forum where they can share all their thoughts, info and comments about the game! How cool is that?!

If you do join the beta, a little disclaimer. Please, keep in mind that the game is not finished yet. So expect to find bugs, lots of things to polish and a few missing content we have yet to add. Also, we are starting the beta with a Steam PC version. Our plan is to soon support Mac/Linux version too, but is being a little more challenging than expected so it may take us a few more days to launch those version.

Finally, if you haven’t pre-ordered the game, do not despair.  Pre-orders are currently close, and it is very unlikely that we will open any new slots for the time being, but hang on a few more months. We are really close to announcing a launch date! Also the beta will definitely help us improve Okhlos in many ways so it will be worth the wait!



Now, to celebrate, here is a HUGE screen, showing over 200 units on screen (pure Chaos)!



And some GIF magic about this magic moment.


Keep in mind that this is a particularly big .Gif! It may take a while to load.


And here is the 1bit / Obra Dinn style render of the gif (I wanted to share the gif on twitter, and removing the color information really helps the compression!)


So, that’s all! If you pre-ordered the game, and want to try the game, check your mail!

Read More

The New Heroes of Okhlos Part IV: A New Hope

First draft by @roketronz, final draft and editing by @pfque_ .

First of all, vote for Okhlos!

2015 Indie of the Year Awards via Indie DB
Hi gang!

After a short break we’re back to close of our Spotlight on Okhlos’ New Heroes! This will be the final installment of our four part series. (If you missed out on the first three parts, you can catch them here, here, and… here!)

It’s been a fun few posts. We learned a bit about history and Greek myth, and just how silly Hero abilities can be! We’ll probably do another post on new Heroes further on down the line, but it won’t be for quite some time.

Well, without further ado, here are today’s new Heroes!



The name’s a placeholder, but this dude totally isn’t. He doesn’t have much to do with ancient Greece – at least not until we find some way to shoehorn him in – but we really like his special ability: he briefly freezes enemies in places!




We were able to implement his ability pretty quickly as we used a little work around we had set up when we made King Midas. Midas turns enemies into gold, so in order to make that work we had to create states that discarded the enemy sprite’s color information and tinted them gold.




Since we had this workaround already set up, it hardly took any work to create a frozen state that turned them blue!



Epizelus is an obscure historical reference… as obscure as it gets, really. (Hint: He’s from a little founding work of Western history… The Histories.) His may be the first recorded case of a conversion disorder or PTSD – he went blind in the middle of battle for no apparent reason.




We don’t really love the character’s look right, so we’ll probably improve it or change it rather radically as soon as we have the time. His ability is a bit silly, but it’s one we really like having in the mix:

Every time one of your units lands a critical hit, everyone in the mob heals up a little! Neat!


Queen Gerana

Gerana, also sometimes known as Oenoe, was the queen of the Pygmy folk in Greek Mythology. She bragged she was even more beautiful than Hera herself, and, well, guess what happened to her? That’s right, the same thing that happens to most prideful and insolent mortals who mess with the Greek gods – she was turned into animal.

In Gerana’s case, she was turned into a crane. (And then for some strange reason the Pygmies started waging an eternal war on cranes? Greek mythology is so weird!)




Like other royalty in Okhlos, Gerana will improve the capacity of your mob, allowing you to take more units with you! So far she’s the only Queen with this mechanic. (Queen Hyppolita does something a little different.)


King Pyrrhus

It is common in Spanish (and a little less so in English) to refer to battles won through great sacrifice as Pyrrhic victories. That expression comes from this guy, Pyrrhus, who lost almost all his men defeating the Romans in battle. :/

Like other royalty, Pyrrhus will increase the capacity of your mob, but this time, at a high and costly price…




…We’re trying to be mysterious here, but the truth is we’re still not sure exactly what the tradeoff is going to be. :/



If you saw the movie, 300: Rise of an Empire (that’s the second 300 flick, the sequel) you know this guy already! (Also, just like us, you saw one of the absolute worst movies about ancient Greece ever made! You have our deepest sympathies, you poor sod.)

If you haven’t seen the movie (and we very much envy you that!) and you’re not up and up on your Greek history, you should know that Themistocles, despite his funny name, was an extraordinary Athenian general and politician. Also he probably had one of the silliest hats in all of Greece!




In Okhlos his special ability will highly increase your chance to score critical hits! Try having both Epizelus and Themistocles in your mob to combo up for some crazy effects!



Narcissus was already in the game, but we didn’t feel his ability was cool enough, and it didn’t really work very well after all the changes we’d made to the gameplay.

So now this handsome hunk has a brand new ability – with his mirror he’s not only able to reflect his own beautiful face, but also enemy attacks!




…Perhaps we made him too cool.



Well, that’s it! That wraps up our Four Part Spotlight on Okhlos’ New Heroes™!

We actually have a lot more Heroes than the ones we’ve shown you over these past few weeks. I mean, just have a look at the Hero Counter:




That’s a lot of Heroes! We didn’t want to show you all of them because, well, we wanted to keep some surprises for when you actually play the game! ;D

Look forward to Kings such as Ptolemy I and Priam, and legends such as Ajax and Andromarche!

Also, if you have any suggestions for new Heroes, please feel free to drop us a line or comment below!

Read More
content top