A mind of its own – How BoxFighter reminds us that it’s not done with us yet.

The biggest piece of news is too exciting to bury in the middle of a blog post.

Streamgrab courtesy of twitch.tv/contrapdx

Here is a link to BoxFighter’s Windows build. We did it!

Not only that, but we hit ALL our core goals, and one of the stretch goals as well. Here’s what we’ve done while working behind the scenes:

  • Overhauled the pipeline for how the game handles inputs. It’s an invisible change, but a great one.
  • Built Computer-controlled players. Surprisingly, they can take rounds off of the devs.
  • Added a new character: Pink, the grappler! Pink has throws on all of their normals, it’s balanced, we swear.
  • WINDOWS COMPATIBILITY! Finally, everyone can play BoxFighter.

Without the funding from our campaign to give room to focus full-time on our goals, it took a little over 2 years of hobby development to accomplish what we were hoping to knock out in months of full-time development. Many thanks to those who gave their support during this time. Your persistent interest and inquiry were the fuel we needed to keep the fire burning.

The end of BoxFighter’s failed Indiegogo campaign was a difficult moment for Timepiece Games. We were pulled quickly into other projects, and left BoxFighter simmering on a burner far in the back. Over the past two years, our team has gone through 7 moves, 4 new jobs, and 1 new game (under NDA, sorry). For a while, it seemed like the project was ended. As any game developer will tell you, creative projects like these take a lot of emotional investment, and we were tired.

Projects like BoxFighter have minds of their own, however, and they will come back to remind you that they aren’t done with you yet. We received a steady stream of questions about BoxFighter from fans, friends, family, and industry collaborators we met while promoting our game. We kept in contact, and took BoxFighter to the odd event for fun. Taking the time to step back from developing BoxFighter and connecting with our fans was hugely rewarding. Fresh, outside perspectives are always illuminating, especially when one has spent so long deeply embroiled inside something.

After things settled in our lives, we dipped our toes back in the water – tweaking mechanics, making balance changes, poking around with some new character designs. The characters we had slated out for our Indiegogo stretch goals are still halfway through development, and we’re looking forward to revealing them when they’re a little more fleshed out. A few months ago, the input pipeline fix was a big breakthrough. The engine handles inputs far more effectively now, and allows for computer-controlled input. As breakthroughs tend to do, this started building momentum on our development again.

Not long after we made it possible, the next of our Indiegogo goals were hit: Computer-controlled players.

We don’t have true AI playing our game. Yet. Currently running at 3600 APM with random Y/N toggles for each input on each frame, the quality of BoxFighter’s design has surprised us yet again by allowing random simulacrums to mash their way into being decent at the game. They have taken rounds off of everyone they’ve played, and make for entertaining matches. You can sometimes catch them streaming at twitch.tv/timepiecegames. Still, through these successes, we were quiet. Without hitting our core goal of a widely accessible version of the game, we felt that there simply wasn’t much to say.

A month after this breakthrough, our own excitement still high, we focused on fun development in a fervor. In the span of a week, a completely new character was built from the ground up: Pink, the _____ ______. (This character is so new, we haven’t applied all the traditional character design elements yet). We debuted Pink at a regional tournament: Bridge City Resurrection to the delight of those familiar with BoxFighter’s history.

Then, only a week after the debut, we did it. As you know, we managed Windows compatibility. This is not the “plays in your browser” version we were planning in our indiegogo last year, but the fundamental goal is still accomplished: BoxFighter is now universally accessible. We’re incredibly excited about this. We have already seen a huge growth of players on our discord, and have been hosted on streams that are not our own.

There are still some bugs to work out, as there always are, but the game works, and is fun as ever. Join us if you’d like to participate in the Windows beta by downloading BoxFighter through the link at the top of this post, and by joining our discord here.

In our next post, we’ll talk about developing an active gaming community, the development process of pink, and our plans for BoxFighter’s future.

Thank you for reading, it’s good to be back.

Round 2, Fight: the end of a mission, and a new beginning.

What happened

The BoxFighter Indiegogo came to a close last weekend at just over $3,000 – only 38% of our $8,000 target.

In financial terms, it simply was not a success. However, we learned a lot from the exercise, developed several new skills and connections, and pushed BoxFighter to new heights in the process.

For reference: Compare our indiegogo video, released May 15:

To the BoxFighter Beta trailer, released June 22nd.

The visuals are cleaner, our video editing improved significantly, and we added (several iterations of) expressive eyes!

Our hope was that people would be astounded by the incredible potential BoxFighter possesses, see our goal as reasonable, and hop on the train.

However, between overreaching in our initial goals, encountering several personal calamities within days after launching,we were stretched quite thin throughout the 42-day campaign, and our fundraising efforts obviously suffered for it.

Despite these setbacks, we were compelled to continue working on BoxFighter. We still attended every event and met every commitment we made throughout the campaign, and wanted to present the highest-quality piece we could at every stop on our campaign trail. We made improvements to visuals, UI, and game balance at every opportunity, and grew ever more proud of our accomplishments.

What we learned


People love the game, they thanked us for presenting it, and said they wanted to play at home. A few even wanted to buy it on the spot.

However, very little of that enthusiasm turned into real contributions. Something about our pitch simply wasn’t actionable, and as the campaign progressed, we began to figure out the pieces that were missing from our efforts.

  1. BoxFighter isn’t ready for sale.
  2. Porting a beta to a new platform isn’t a very marketable concept.
  3. BoxFighter in its current iteration is an excellent installation piece, rather than something for home sale.

From a gameplay perspective, BoxFighter is solid: Players like the game, and want to bring it home. Arcade owners like the game, and are enthusiastic about installing cabinets. Publishing platforms are interested in promoting the game. Unfortunately, everything that surrounds our finely honed gameplay engine is currently ill-suited for production or distribution.

BoxFighter is a well-tuned engine in a halfway-finished chassis. We have spent four years tuning the in-game visuals, improving gameplay and character balance, but we have not honed  the UI, created a single-player mode, nor addressed controller compatibility difficulties specific to our engine.

We rode a wave of enthusiasm into this campaign, and what we discovered was exactly as written above: People want to buy our game, but can’t. Upon making that discovery, the pitch to transport our game to a new format where they could play it was… murky. Some people picked it up right away, and most of those that did, contributed. Ultimately, though, our message wasn’t clear enough to reach the requisite number of people, and our campaign fell well short of its goals in the end.

While we don’t have a penny to show for it, the experience gained from this exercise was invaluable. One of the oldest lessons in entrepreneurship is that you must accept your failures, learn from them, and use that knowledge to better prepare for the next opportunity. Here are our takeaways from the process:

  1. However much time you think you need to prepare, do more.
  2. Feature creep is dangerous.
  3. Don’t rely on the quality of your product, nor its potential, to do your marketing for you.

Now that we’re on the other side of this experiment, we admit that these aren’t exactly revolutionary discoveries. However, nothing is more educational than first-hand experience. Most importantly, we know that we have the drive to accomplish something like this in the future, and are more excited than ever to keep working on our game.

Where we’re headed


Enthusiasm for the game has never been higher, and we truly believe that a BoxFighter community will have something unique to add to the gaming world. We want to bring this into being, and have learned that the road we will walk is the long, organic path, rather than something we can pull together with a quick fundraising campaign.

While dedicating our lives to the game and promotion of this campaign made for an exciting spring, the pace of our BoxFighter work is evening out to a calm and steady drive. We are working on compatibility, and have released our Linux-only beta into the wild, receiving some valuable input from its players.

One of the most powerful things about BoxFighter is the incredible flexibility of the character creation process. we are turning some of our newly freed-up resources focus back into character development, design and balance, meaning we have some exciting new boxes in the works, ready to play, fight, and win in their own special shades.
Last week, we debuted our work-in-progress, Orange, to a handful of eager BoxFighter players at our final campaign event at Quarterworld Arcade in Portland. In our next post, we will unveil this character to the world and talk in detail about the process of designing a BoxFighter character.

Throughout this all, we want to thank you for your continued support and interest in our art. We’re looking forward to what’s to come.

Elation and Elevation – Meeting an Idol in Colorado

At Northwest Majors, we met a prominent voice from the Colorado Fighting Game Community named @Ryyudo, who expressed incredible enthusiasm for BoxFighter, and was a big part of the surge of excitement that drove us to launch our Indiegogo campaign.

We connected with Ryyudo over twitter, and we became fast friends, discussing fighting games, Burning Man, and several other shared interests. After telling him about our IndieGogo event series, he invited us to Colorado to feature BoxFighter at Hyper Battle 3, Colorado’s major summer tournament. We made travel arrangements, prepped BoxFighter for travel, and last weekend, we took off for Colorado.

We received glowing praise from the Colorado FGC. “This game looks awesome!” “It’s just hitboxes? That’s so cool, it looks really easy to learn.” “God dammit, I had fun! Now I have to go back your indiegogo.” (Thanks David, every contribution means a lot to us)

The moment that struck us the most profoundly was when Fighting Game world warrior KaneBlueRiver (KBR) sat down to play BoxFighter.

For those that don’t know him, KBR is a patient and skillful player. His dedication to his craft is awe-inspiring, and his victory at Evo 2015 was a testament to his perseverance. Self-described as “not that talented a player” KBR finds victory through the study of mechanics, match-up knowledge, and player psychology.

The opportunity to sit down one-on-one with KBR to share our work was a remarkable thrill. As a player whose advantage comes from the study of mechanics and frame data, he immediately picked up BoxFighter’s informational aesthetic, deciphering several systems before they were even explained.

He progressed quickly beyond the basic levels of the game, and delved quickly into the more subtle systems in BoxFighter’s design: Damage scaling, hitstun decay, and defensive mechanics.

The sharp, analytical mind of this skillful player became immediately apparent as he asked pointed questions about BoxFighter’s inner workings. When he first witnessed corner loops with Red, he asked how our combos aren’t infinites. Satisfied with our mechanisms of hitstun decay and increased pushback, he kept playing.

When he observed high-damage combos, he asked about one-touch kills. While present in BoxFighter, they only exist in incredibly specific (combo-video fodder) scenarios requiring full meter and specific setups. His follow-up question about damage scaling was equally poignant, and he was very impressed with our algorithmic improvement to the Guilty Gear “guts” system.

He responded to each explanation of BoxFighter’s defensive mechanics stoically. “Shield is a universal defensive option that blocks both high and low, and regains 5% of your missing life.” nod. “We have instant-blocking and parries to give players more options while receiving attacks.” nod. “We have built two different throws into the game: Instant ‘Guilty-Gear’ throws, and 5-frame throws with super armor and throw invulnerability.” “hmm.” “You can use shield in the air to slip out of blockstun and land in a knockdown, or spend additional meter to tech out of it and counterattack.” nod.

At this point, we were getting nervous that this professional player had sized up our game and found it lacking, his expression gave away nothing as we went through each of BoxFighter’s unique mechanics.

His final concern was that of the potential for “setplay,” a playstyle where the offensive player is able to force their opponent into a series difficult guesses which leave little room for player interaction or personal expression, often resulting in completely one-sided matches. Preventing this dynamic has been one of the chief goals in BoxFighter’s development, and building strong defensive mechanics to combat this outcome is a major focus in our design.

“Also, like in most Fighting Games, when you take damage, your life bar depletes and leaves a faded meter that slowly drains after you recover. In BoxFighter, Instant-Blocking lets you regain a portion of that life.”

“Wait, what?”

“In essence, if you get hit with a big combo, and your opponent uses the same offense you’ve seen before, you can instant-block the whole string and regain ALL that life, and a bunch of meter.”

“And every character has this mechanic?”

“Yes, we want to give players on the defensive the ability to make strong choices that can gain advantage in a match. Sometimes the best choice after landing a big combo is to back off and return to the neutral.”

“Okay. That’s pretty cool.”

Convinced that BoxFighter’s engine was up to to the demands of competitive play KBR asked to learn a few of the characters, starting with Red, and then moving on to Blue, observing opposite ends of the BoxFighter design spectrum.

As a player who wins through studying frame data and match-up knowledge, KBR found BoxFighter’s informational aesthetic immediately appealing, deciphering much of the game’s visual output without any need for explanation. With the ability to read frame data and attack information built into BoxFighter’s display, he quickly went from a BoxFighter novice to a competent competitive player

After our session, he was kind enough to share his feedback on the game. Here were his key points:

“You have built a very balanced and playable game.”

“It’s a great introduction to airdasher mechanics, I’ve never seen a game that was so intuitive.”

“It’s very fun, and a good game, I hope to see it in a tournament some day.”

This was the first time such a prominent player has ever given BoxFighter such dedicated attention, and it was incredibly inspiring to receive such glowing praise. The day following the tournament, I had the opportunity to have breakfast with KBR, and talk to him about his experiences traveling the world to engage with the FGC. Join us next week for a conclusion of our Colorado trip, and a reflection of what we’ve learned over the past month of trying to turn our love of fighting games into a career.

Arcades and Effigies, a BoxFighter weekend.

The BoxFighter summer tour is in full swing, and Memorial Day weekend was absolutely packed.

We kicked off with Indie Game night at Ground Kontrol last Thursday, and followed it up with a weekend-long setup at SOAK, a Burning Man festival.

Indie Game Night – Ground Kontrol

First of all, congratulations to Mimic Arena on their release on Steam. We first encountered this great game at Portland Design week, and we’re delighted to see it on the market. If you’re looking for a fun, platform-based shooter for 2-4 players, Mimic Arena has a lot to offer, and we highly recommend you check it out.

We had a blast presenting BoxFighter alongside Mimic Arena at Ground Kontrol. We had a great reception, and the crowd threw $71 into a jar to further the Indiegogo campaign.

We met a lot of cool people, and got to hang out with the crew of Indie Arcade “Killer Queen” stars: Piping Hot Gatorade.

Showing BoxFighter at Ground Kontrol was phenomenal. Our ties to arcade culture run deep – between this event, and building The FightBox, we’re looking into making a BoxFighter arcade cabinet.

Immediately after Ground Kontrol, we went to SOAK, Oregon’s Regional Burn.

We were absolutely blown away by the event, and left our cameras in our tents. We’ll be on the lookout for pictures, and post them as they roll in.

For the unfamiliar, SOAK is Oregon’s regional Burning Man event. Held in Tygh Valley, SOAK is a five-day experiment in creative expression. SOAK hosts installations of art, “Theme Camps,” independently-organized groups of people that construct social spaces for everyone at the event to enjoy.

We set up the FightBox with a projector next to Black Rock Gladiators, a theme camp based around “consensual combat.” They had a 5-ft tall platform where participants donned armor and did battle with foam sticks, knocking each other down onto a pile of mattresses and wrestling mats.

Alex and Caedmon both joined in as Gladiators “Blood Sugar” and “Tiger Millionaire.” Their victories were sound and numerous.

SOAK had never hosted a video game as an art installation before this year, and we were completely unsure of how a technical fighter would be received by a community of non-gamer creatives/artists. Here is some of what people told us:

“You’re changing the world with this”

“My Boyfriend and I love BoxFighter, is there any way we can buy it?”

“We love what you’re doing with BoxFighter. Keep it up!!!”

“I don’t usually like video games, but this is BEAUTIFUL! Thank you for bringing this gift.”

We have been putting a lot of effort towards our IndieGogo campaign, and have been focusing on raising money to further our efforts towards making BoxFighter run in Google Chrome.

Sharing BoxFighter as an art exhibit also gave us some valuable perspective. While we hope to one day turn game development into a self-sustaining arts career, we have spent years developing BoxFighter solely for the joy of making something new.

Receiving such love for our game from a community so far removed from gaming circles was overwhelming. It has reaffirmed our resolve to continue working on BoxFighter no matter the outcome of our campaign.

BoxFighter as a fighting game is a unique integration of mechanics and design that presents fast-paced, technical gameplay. BoxFighter possesses a currently un-touched skill ceiling, and we can only imagine what gameplay looks like at the highest echelons of competitive play.

As an art installation, BoxFighter is a panopoly of shapes and color. A wholly unique experience that evokes nostalgia the nostalgia of arcades in the ‘90s while displaying the incredible power of modern game design as a unique artistic medium. BoxFighter is truly a unique game, and we’re excited to see how the changes we made to better suit the game for SOAK will go over in the fighting game community over the coming weeks.

Whatever the future holds for BoxFighter, we are not stopping. We have made something truly unique, and we are watching it take on a life of its own.

There is so much more to say about this weekend, but time is growing short, and we still have a carload of camping gear and costumes to unpack before we get back to our regularly scheduled programming tomorrow.

To those who have played BoxFighter, thank you for participating in this grand experiment. To those who have yet to play, thank you for reading. We look forward to sharing more with you in the future.

Power of Play, where good things get better

And they love it!
Caedmon introduces a father and son to BoxFighter.

We just got back from Washington Interactive Network’s #PowerofPlay2016 event, and WOW did we have a great time.

Here’s a quick list of what happened at Power of Play:

  1. BoxFighter got some excellent attention. Boxes were fought, fights were boxed. Kids loved it, and we got some great feedback on how to further improve the informational aesthetic.
  2. We met a bunch of awesome developers, all with great, unique games.
  3. Our Indiegogo brought in another $386 in donations, pushing us to 34% funding, a great sign for a campaign less than a week old!
  4. We met representatives from solidstatepros.com and rootsoft.com and discussed ways we might partner up to spread the word about BoxFighter.

Thanks SO MUCH to Washington Interactive Network for organizing such a wonderful event. We only wish we had taken more pictures!

Today, we took a break from promoting our funding campaign to further tune up BoxFighter’s aesthetic. Here’s a list of updates:

  • Character colors have been tweaked to give them a more natural, polished appeal (purple stayed the same).
  • Background hexagons have been made larger, and their hitpause rotations have been slowed.
  • Background “Hit Rings” have been turned into circles, displaying attack damage as opacity.
  • Background “Block Rings” have been turned into equilateral polygons and stars with 8 sides and points. We call them “Blocktagons.”

Here’s a video of our latest playtest:

We’ll be on the road a lot in the coming weeks. On Wednesday, we’ll be setting up at SOAK, the Oregon Burning Man regional event where we will run 4 straight days of BoxFighter action along fire art, music, and other fantastic creative works. We’re honored and humbled by the outpouring of support we’ve received, and looking eagerly towards the weeks to come.

Thank you for reading. We couldn’t be doing this without you.


Timepiece Games

Indiegogo update: 5.18.2016 8% already!

8% in two days? A good start.

To everyone who has visited our campaign so far, we appreciate your feedback, your contributions, and your efforts in helping spread the word. This would be impossible without you.

If you haven’t been there yet, here’s a link: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/port-boxfighter-to-chrome/

In just two days, we’ve reached 8% of our goal. The road is still long, but we’ve still plenty of time to cover the rest of the ground. We’ll certainly get there with your continued support.

To address responses of confusion about the campaign, we’ve put some significant work into cleaning up the story and clarifying the language.

We’ve also updated our website to better feature the explanations of system mechanics Alex has been rolling out. We hope you like them!

Special thanks to our backers so far:

Zach Mallon – Our First Backer!
William Kelly
Orangecow Connor
Felix “Baddietrash” – “Blue is the greatest thing I’ve ever experienced in a fighting game!”
GreenHaus Analytical Labs
David Sullivan

Susannah Becket – Mastermind behind the Kawaiifu fighter BoxFighter fanart.
Brian Mock
Talik Eichinger – With whom we hope to arrange the feature of BoxFighter at

What a day! – Indiegogo, and a spruced-up site.

We launched our Indiegogo last night, and we’ve already reached 5%!


We spent all weekend putting the finishing touches on our campaign, and we’re pretty happy with how it turned out!

We’re beyond ecstatic with this first day’s progress.

We’ve also tuned up the website to give better access to the excellent content Alex has been rolling out describing BoxFighter’s system mechanics. Please, take a minute to explore the new layout, comment with your thoughts, and go check out our Indiegogo campaign.

We’re looking forward to the days to come! Stay tuned here and follow us on twitter @timepiecegames to keep up with the progress.

If you haven’t been to the campaign page yet, here’s the link again


Check it out, and spread the word: BoxFighter is coming to chrome!

The origin of the aesthetic – When “Incomplete” became “Proof-of-Concept”

In reflecting on the progress we made between NorthWest Majors 7 and 8, It’s really incredible to think how far BoxFighter has come in just a year. For reference: Here’s footage from our first tournament, held in March 2015.

(Who let us pick Papyrus as the game’s font? Oh, to be young and foolish.)

As we began to to share BoxFighter with people, we bombarded with designs, aesthetics, sketches, and ideas for how the game could look. For a long time, the most common response to the game was that it was hard to see what was going on, and that we “needed art” in order for the game to be playable. Early in development, we would tell people “we’re not artists, and we are simply incapable of accomplishing that task. Our focus is perfecting the gameplay. When an artist comes to us with the aesthetic, and the desire to put in the work necessary, we’ll run with it.”

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However, concept sketches are a far cry from animated sprites, and we were driven to improve the playability of the game wherever we could within the scope of our capabilities.

Our first step down this path came in late 2013, adding a floating box behind each character to address complaints that players could not discern character facing. People still said”I can’t tell what’s happening!” but the complaints about facing went away.

Later that year, learning that new players had no clear way to determine when their character could act, we turned the floating box into a status bar that grew as characters suffered attacks, and shrank as they recovered from the hits.

Still players complained “I don’t understand what’s going on!” but combos and accurate reversal timings became commonplace in our testing sessions.

To address concerns that people couldn’t tell what their character was doing while suffering attacks, we added a horizontal bar to indicate the “Blocking” state, which can be seen in our live-stream tournament debut over @khaos_gaming’s setup at Rose City Rumble 5:

(There’s some great discussion of the game’s mechanics and early design concepts here.)
We had our next big breakthrough in late Autumn of the same year 2015 when we realized we could put different visual cues to indicate attack properties. While our players said “I’m not going to understand what’s going on until you add art,” they were blocking and applying difficult mixups as well or better than they did playing the popular games present at our sessions.
As we focused on increasing the function of the game’s display, we discovered that animated sprites are merely a convention in fighting games, one that often gets in the way of executing strategic gameplay. While the design proved effective, it still looked “placeholder-y,” no matter how much information we conveyed through the game’s visuals.
Then, much like Archimedes in the bath, a stroke of true inspiration struck Alex while hot-tubbing one December evening. The idea was brilliant in its simplicity: Circles.

In a brilliant frenzy late one night, circles and triangles were added to BoxFighter’s previously rectangular design, and we realized that we could divorce BoxFighter from the idea of a traditional aesthetic and implement beautiful visuals based based entirely on the functions of the game.

(Playtest session between Alex and Caedmon, recorded May 7th, 2016)

The status indicator became a floating circle that explodes into rings, nautiloids, and stars as characters were struck with attacks. Parries fire a brilliant ray across the entire screen. The background was changed from a grey grid to a procedurally generated array of shapes that transform in time with game actions. In days, BoxFighter went from a collection of rudimentary rectangles to a shining array of mathematical splendor, and we set out with a new goal: to communicate every piece of system information to players using abstract, but comprehensible abstract visuals.

With our aesthetic now set as a matter of function over form, we began to approach game design as a completely technical process.

Each BoxFighter character starts out as a collection of core gameplay concepts in mind, which can be seen in our character bios. Our current character creation project, Yellow, is an aerial-based character with unique movement options and an energy-meter based teleport mechanic. Designed to be intuitive for new players to use successfully, Yellow’s freedom of movement and powerful attacks will keep them  competitive with the rest of BoxFighter’s cast even at the highest levels of play.

Our adherence to abstract aesthetics, we have the freedom to create BoxFighter characters efficiently, and without restriction in design. It also lets us  rapidly respond to the emergent issues that develop as skilled players begin to master the game, patching BoxFighter with frequency closer to that of DotA or League of Legends than traditional fighting games are updated.

BoxFighter’s design is one of pragmatic elegance, and we’re very proud of what we’ve done using only colors and math. However, there is one core function of the game’s development that we cannot convey with mere geometry. In the past year of refining BoxFighter’s presentation, we’ve learned that no matter how elegant our equations, our boxes simply cannot meet the human need to empathize with their characters in the way that traditional art so aptly accomplishes. To keep in line with our form-follows-function philosophy, we have been forced to adapt.

Join us tomorrow for a special installment of our DevBlog where we will discuss the future of the BoxFighter aesthetic, and reveal some of the rewards we have prepared for the Indiegogo supporters who will help us share our game with the world.

A Year of Reflection and a Week of Excitement – BoxFighter Indiegogo launches May 15!

Ryuudo with Alex and Heather of TimepieceGames
Ryyudo with Alex and Heather of TimepieceGames

The plan this week was to conclude our series about how we decided to make a game about fighting boxes. The origins of the BoxFighter aesthetic are an interesting story, which we are excited to share. However, after debriefing from sharing our game at NorthWest Majors 8 last week, and discussing a calendar of upcoming events as a team, we’re dedicating this week’s post to talk about just how suddenly life can change when you’re chasing your dreams. 

Playing Fighting games is an endless practice. Every player approaches the game with a different perspective, and every new challenger can teach something new even to the most seasoned veteran. We attend tournaments to expose ourselves new perspectives in an environment that demands we give our best. Each tournament only has one victor, everyone who gains knowledge and deeper connections to the community is a winner.

One year ago, we took BoxFighter to NorthWest Majors 7 with the vague realization that public exposure was important. It was our first exhibition outside of local meetups, and we had NO idea what we were doing regarding how to engage with social media or run an effective demo.

Throughout the 2015 tournament, about eight people played the game, and we picked up two twitter followers (shoutouts to http://www.keeponrock.in/ for seeing our potential and being our FIRST adopter). Despite the low turnout, we felt pretty good about the whole thing. We came, we did our best, and we learned a lot about how we needed to improve.

And improve we did.

NorthWest Majors 8 was a major milestone for us. In the past year we’ve made several major overhauls to the game’s visual effects, further refined our systems to promote intuitive, balanced gameplay, and with the recent addition of Marketing Director Heather Fulton our team, we have an excellent online presence. The past year of intensive training definitely paid off.

For those interested in statistics, Heather joined our team when we demo’d our game at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry’s event “Game Masters.” Previously mute on social media, we had no website and 8 twitter followers when we walked into that event mid-february. By the end of the night, we had 80.

By the time BoxFighter returned to NWM 8, we had nearly 600 followers with over 34,000 engagements/month on twitter, a website with character bios and tournament footage on Twitch and youtube. It’s amazing what happens when you hit the perfect combo of “Right person, right place, right time.” Thanks Heather!

Timepiece game’s presentation was on-point. The game’s heightened visuals backed up by Heather and Alex’s excellent engagement with the tournament attendees garnered excellent attention for BoxFighter all weekend. There was a constant stream of players, which included several prominent personalities in the Fighting Game community. Not only did the community play our game, they *liked* it.

Here is some of the feedback we received:

“… solid game, I look forward to seeing what you do with it.”
– @gcyoshi13

“[BoxFighter] is the future of Fighting Games!”
-Team Koga Cola

“Excellent presentation, we’re interested in collaborating with you at future events.”
– @khaos_gaming

"I love this game" -@Raptor_IIRC
“I love this game”

A huge part of our training regimen over the past year has been to demo BoxFighter wherever possible and respond to community feedback. We started with events hosted by PIGSquad, and our local fighting game meetups. The momentum of these beginnings propelled us to pursue larger events like OMSI: After Dark, and Portland Design Week. We even received an art grant to present our game at SOAK, a four-day outdoor arts festival organized by the Oregon Burning Man community.

We were thrilled by the warm welcome we received at NWM 8, and with SUCH a huge difference between our reception over our 2015 debut, we realized that it is time for us to take the next step in the development process and take the plunge into true indie game development.

Throughout the entire history of developing BoxFighter, we encountered a single intractable issue: people want to play our game at home, and can’t.

For those unfamiliar with our lead developer Alex (@DigitalWatches) is a bit of a mad genius. A staunch supporter of open-source computing, Alex wrote the whole game to run in Unix, and built the engine himself before even starting development of BoxFighter. This gives us the benefit of absolute control and flexibility in our design in a game that unfortunately only runs on Linux platforms. This hindrance has complicated BoxFighter’s continued development, as we are unable to share our game beyond the face-to-face interaction of events.

However, we have prepared a solution to the growing request for BoxFighter distribution: we will port the game to Google’s “Native Client” API, which will allow BoxFighter to run within the Chrome Browser. To this end, we are launching an Indiegogo campaign to execute this crucial stage of BoxFighter’s development.

Surprised by the sudden coalescence of planning and community support, it’s been a bit of a scramble to formalize all of our plans so quickly. Kicking this campaign into gear has been a thrilling exercise, and we are taking great care to avoid the trap of over-promising on rewards. We always knew that we would need to take this step eventually, and have been quietly preparing for some time: writing a budget, reaching out to talented makers for funding rewards, and coordinating with local events to present our game.

As thanks for supporting our efforts, contributors to our campaign will receive both physical rewards and exclusive in-game content, which will be shared across a closed beta to which our funders will have access. We will be showing off our prototypes as they come in, and our event calendar is already booked throughout the course of our campaign, and even still we’re looking out for more.

Here’s a peek at what we have lined up:


Events Calendar:

  1. 5.15: Campaign launches
  2. 5.17: BoxFighter at Woosday
  3. 5.19-5.20: Power of Play Expo (Seattle)
  4. 5.26: Indie Game night at Ground Kontrol
  5. 5.26-5.30: SOAK
  6. 5.31: BoxFighter at Woosday
  7. 6.14: BoxFighter at Woosday
  8. 6.18: IndieGogo invitational tournament
  9. 6.26: Indie Game night at Ground Kontrol
  10. 6.27: Campaign ends

We have huge plans for this game, including several characters, dramatic improvements to the game’s visuals, customization options, procedureally generated audio, and a host of other projects that we’re keeping under our hat for now. (Hint: we’re in talks with local arcades about installing cabinets, but it doesn’t stop there.) Right now, we need your help to get moving.

We are thrilled for this opportunity to share our game with the world, and to join the ranks of game developers whose enterprises are built on the support of their communities. Stay tuned here or follow our twitter @timepiecegames for updates on our progress, and look out for our Indiegogo campaign to launch on May 15th.

Next week we will return to our regularly scheduled programming to discuss how the BoxFighter aesthetic evolved and cover some of the details of our campaign. 

Thank you so much for your continued interest in BoxFighter. Are you excited yet? We are.

Chained to a Golden Anchor: The Impact of Art on Mechanical Design

Morrigan Aensland: 1995 - 2004
Morrigan Aensland: 1995 – 2004

Last week, we discussed traditional fighting game art and the logistical burden it puts on Fighting Game development. Animation is incredibly expensive and time-intensive, and can strain even the deepest coffers. This expense turns art into a “golden anchor” – as studios develop art assets, they are beholden to their investments. The reuse and recycling of character art has been integral to fighting game development since Capcom put a blonde wig and red gi on ryu.

and they didn’t stop there.

The time and labor required in art develpment puts an unnatural constraint on the mechanical aspects of character design. As assets are recycled, character design grows stale, and the once wide-open pastures of character design space are rapidly fenced off.

Not only does this pose a difficulty to character creation, it also poses a restrictive challenge for continued development. While changing the size, shape, and movement of attacks during early testing is simple, the expensive coat of paint is applied to a character’s mechanics effectively cements the shape of their attacks. If a character or technique proves game-breaking after release, those responsible for modifying the issue are beholden to the character’s animations. While the advent of 3-d models in 2-d fighters has reduced the expense of this conundrum, the high cost of art assets is still a driving force behind modern fighting game design.

The function-follows-form method has produced some truly fantastic fighting games. However, it is not the quality of these games we question, but the quality of the method itself. Costly assets encourage the recycling of concepts. Animation expenses hinders experimental development. Arbitrarily leashing development to the burden of expensive aesthetics is conceptually antithetical to the creation of a quality strategy game.

With BoxFighter, we are taking the opposite approach to character design: completely shedding the burden of a traditional aesthetic and using abstract playstyle concepts and mechanics to develop incredibly singular characters. Adhering only to a few universal mechanics for clarity, BoxFighter character design is unfettered by animation or concept art, giving us as developers the ability to create and balance without artificial restrictions to design space.

While this design choice was absolutely the correct one, it was not without difficulty. Next week, we will discuss the challenges we faced at BoxFighter’s inception, and the steps we took to overcome them.