biped Online Interview

Hello, everyone! My name is Sila. Last week was the first time "Aku" and I got to official meet with everyone.

Our guys in operations showed us the following messages: "The two little robots are so cute!"; "They're so adorable when they move, and they're so easy to control"; "We said let's go, but you used the wrong foot!"… Thank you everyone for your support! I hope you can find other like-minded individuals to group up with and laugh together at 1000Hz!

As you humans say, "Friendship goes both ways." In return, we would like to share some interesting stories from behind the scenes with you. Be nice though, I'm a bit shy (✿◡‿◡). I'm not used to speaking in public, so Aku suggested that I write a letter. You may ask, 'Why didn't Aku write it then?' Well, that's because he's too lazy… He's got another idea instead: he'll do the talkin' and I'll do the writin'! We sure make a great team!

Why Are We Here?

On one normal cosmic weekend, Aku and I were driving our planetary maintenance spacecraft "Onion" slowly between the Earth and the Moon. At that moment, Kenny Rogers blasted in our earphones. We looked out at the blue planet from our dimly lit cockpit in excitement. As usual, beams of light from starships shined all over the planet.

All of a sudden, an unknown vibration shook the ship violently, and the emergency warning lights began to flash red. Outside the window, a tornado-like magnetic storm made of countless small meteors covered the sky and blocked our view. When the storm was over, all the bright spots on Earth had disappeared, leaving only a dark blue.

Vacation mode deactivated! Now, Aku and I have to go all over the Earth, and turn on all the lighthouses put out by the nuclear magnetic storm.

Riding in cockpit

Learning to Walk

When we left the ship upon landing, we were just like babies unable to walk. The NPC told us to "just put one foot in front of the other." So, we learned to walk by pressing the corresponding left and right mouse buttons or the left and right joysticks! If we're too slow though, we can slide forward on the flat ground by holding down both buttons, or pushing both joysticks at the same time. But please take it easy, or you might just accidentally fall off a cliff o(╥﹏╥)o.

Falling off a cliff

After learning to walk, we shakily began our journey to light the lighthouses. When we ran into the color-changing switches that required us to alternate as we walk, I just about laughed myself silly. I followed Aku and lifted my feet to step on the blue board. Suddenly, the board went "whew" and disappeared, causing me to fall down below. After some trial and error, we finally figured out that I'm red and Aku is blue. Stepping on the board causes it to change colors, but we can only step on our corresponding color. Too bad knowing is only half the battle! We keep falling into the valley, and now we're too scared to move ( ╯□╰ )!

Board changing colors

We kept going, but Aku's curiosity always gets the best of him. He just has to stop at every carrot, cactus, barrel, and treasure chest… Aku loves picking up gold the most. Every time I remind Aku to hurry and finish the task at hand, he always says we've got time for a gold coin! That being said, I sure am happy with all the stuff I can by with the coins, not to mention Aku's crazy hair (*^_^*)! I can't resist a pair of cool glasses and a cowboy hat, but hey! Why can't I wear them together?  ̄へ ̄

Crazy hair

Sometimes, I swear a pig would be a better partner than Aku. He's so careless as to accidentally kicked me off a cliff! What's more, he always jokes around. As soon as I climbed up, he knocked me down again with a spin kick. I was so angry that I stopped talking to him! He finally realized what he did wrong and spun me around in affection. Considering that we depend on each other on Earth, we need to work together to complete our important missions. So, I'd better forgive him!

Don't be angry

Onward Together

As we continued to work and fight together, we gradually began to bond. We traveled through Earth's natural ecosystems, rare ancient ruins, dangerous glacial cliffs, endless canyon waterfalls, and lively sacred forests in spring… You can also experience it too in the 8 themes and more than 30 levels of the game!

Frightening snow level
Frightening snow level

The first step is easy, but the journey is hard. Our feet can do many things beyond our imagination, but if we want to do them well, we have to undergo many tests that will test our cooperation, reflexes, speed, and accuracy among others. For example, that seesaw level sure is troublesome. Aku and I always need to walk carefully on both sides of the seesaw to keep balance, but there are also various challenges surrounding the seesaw. For example, the layout is complex, which forces us to constantly switch places. It also moves along a path covered with obstacles, so we have to maintain balance while dodging them. Just listen to us when we're on the seesaw, and try not to laugh!

Seesaw

Where Do We Come From?

I heard you asking us "How were you created?" and "Have you always been this cute?" Silly, even we don't know ( ╯□╰ )! Hehe~

Original design

Once upon a time, when two of our guys Kidding and Jing, participated in an internal creative exercise, they suddenly came up with an experimental climbing project. They thought of a popular game at that time "Human: Fall Flat" and did a lot of research on the physics-based animation system. When the first version of the ragdoll system was put into the original game version, they found it difficult and unnatural to make a physics-driven character climb a mountain. After countless failed iterations, a thought came to mind: "What if we cut off the arms and just have legs?" And with that glimmer of inspiration, "biped robots" were born!

GIF of the two designers dancing

Where Will the Future Take Us?

With new ideas brings infinite possibilities. Our development team has tried countless ideas, ranging from different shapes, sizes, and weights with corresponding physics; single player story mode; multiplayer arenas; Sonic-esque speedrunning; to even "dark dungeons" (where one must raise a foot to light the surrounding area). We have even considered straying away from cooperation by developing a PvP mode: the area would be designed on top of four buildings connected by a glass bridge. Robots were divided into two teams and would half to seize "strongholds" that randomly appeared on each roof. The team with the highest score would win.

PvP Mode

However, after doing internal testing, everyone said, "These aren't the biped we know and love."

biped is most fun when it is the interaction of physics-based controls and cooperation. As such, the development team set distractions aside and returned to the original mindset to gradually determine the design foundation of the whole game. That is, let the players experience the pure fun brought by their feet at their own pace. They would overcome hardship and obtain a sense of achievement by completing common goals through cooperation.

As our lead designer said, you have seen too many indestructible protagonists in games where you unlock all kinds of godlike superpowers. Who doesn't love this experience? However, Aku and I hope to bring to you two imperfect protagonists and how they interact with the world. What's more, how two imperfect people grow together and work hand-in-hand.

30+ Transformations

Our artists really racked their brains over just the design of Aku and me alone. I really liked having skinny legs in the beginning, and so did everyone else. However, there wasn't enough time to implement it into this version. My head was too big and my legs were too thin, so you may not notice my "feet" when you play.

Going from one big and one small one, to both being the same size; from creature to robot; from a no-legged structure, to multi-colored with thick calves. After more than 30 transformations, we finally became what you see now: a big and full head, two curious eyes, and thick-soled feet; along with the back of the head, legs and eyes all having their own iconic colors.

Evolution of Main Character

We also paid more attention to the Earth environments we explore as well as interactive objects. In order maintain fidelity on the PS4, the artists didn't just stay with simplistic graphics, but rather explored how to make the game as gorgeous as possible with the limited manpower and time. Originally, we were leaning towards natural environments, but after testing, we discovered that mechanisms couldn't be effectively recognized by players. So, we configured the story and more than 80 interactive objects were refitted into a science fiction theme.

When making trade-offs, sometimes it isn't about getting rid of what you don't like, but rather letting go of what you do like in exchange for something more appropriate.

One Hundred Instruments

During our travels this time, Aku and I really opened our eyes to instruments from around the world. There are bamboo flutes from China, tin flutes from Ireland, bansuri from India, fujara from Slovenia, and many others b( ̄▽ ̄)d!

Picture of instruments

In fact, the mechanism used for dual joystick controls has never been seen on the market. So, much like the design, there is no particularly capable system for editing and applying sound, which made it very challenging. After exploring many different musical styles, our audio designer decided on the standard and direction of the music: surprise, fun, and style each with their own language. Through close cooperation with composers, the music integrates various elements such as electronic music, fusion jazz, world music, etc. and seems to blend in almost every instrument known to man. We hope you enjoy the musical feast for the ears as you play and continue on your journey.

A Dozen Plus Controllers

You may have noticed that our feet can walk, slide, spin, stretch, grab coins, chop wood, and high-five. Our systems and control designers worked tirelessly on countless optimizations to better improve responsiveness and dexterity. Consequently, in just testing along, over a dozen controllers lost their lives on the battlefield ( ╯□╰ ). Considering each controller alone could buy 8 or so games, by my calculations 10 controllers could buy… Oh no! We'd better go grab some more gold coins!

Picture of broken controllers

Super Producer

Did you by chance notice Mr. Dong, the guy who teaches tree cutting? Hehe, he is actually our producer and the one who gave us our names. They come from ancient Northern Europe and they're simple, very easy to remember. Our names are really special!

Mr. Dong also said he 3D printed and hand painted a limited version of figurines modeled after us.

Manual-Figurines

We invited real people to take part in the game ads, while he also personally cut continuity sketches and filmed the whole process. Swimming, hurdles, skateboarding, balloon blowing, bowling—combining real life with game elements. From lens, angles, and location selection, as well as shooting to editing, it took one and a half months of preparation and three days of shooting. At that time, it was December in Guangzhou and the weather was freezing, but the father and daughter who took photos swimming went into the water several times without any complaints. They scored full marks for their dedication! The actor who filmed the climbing portion was full of confidence at first, but when he saw that the rock wall was more than ten meters high, he couldn't help feeling apprehensive. As for the actors shooting indoors, the situation was completely different. On set, the TV screen that broadcasts the game is a piece of cardboard, but the picture was re-matched later during editing.

Storyboard of live videos
Storyboard of live videos
Storyboard of live videos
Storyboard of live videos
Storyboard of live videos

Our Little Achievement

In March 2019, at the Pax East game exhibition in Boston (US), the development team nervously made their debut with me and Aku. They were fortunate enough to win over the love of players. In March 2020, we were nominated by SXSW for the Gamer's Voice Awards and invited to show in the creative game area of Seattle's Pop Culture Museum.

Exhibition moment
Exhibition moment
Exhibition moment
Exhibition moment
Exhibition moment

We are full of even more joy today, as "biped" makes its official debut on PS4! Ok folks, this about wraps up my letter, Aku and I need to go on more adventures!

Love,
Sila (& Aku)

2020/04/08 

A letter from "Sila" (& Aku)
By Love from biped
April 8, 2020
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