Technically Leaking: Vessel’s Fantastic Fluids

By Adam Smith on April 19th, 2012 at 12:30 pm.

I don't think I'll ever get tired of this picture

From the first video I saw, Vessel occupied a special place in my thoughts. The area it resides in is a large theme park grafted onto my occipital lobe. All of the rides and attractions that have sprouted there are based on interesting use of technology in games. Some are impressive structures of light and fury, while others are more subtle. Vessel’s contribution is a cavernous chamber, lit by lava and fluorescent goo that drips, splashes and streams. There are log flumes within and water slides, everything liquid that can be imagined in fact. Now that Vessel has been released from the faucet, Strange Loop Games have deemed fit to share some early experiments and tech demos showing how their marvelous physics evolved.

Lesson number one: water isn’t water at all, it’s lots of tiny balls!

Wait, what’s that? Water in the real world is actually lots of tiny balls as well? Don’t be ridiculous; water is wet. Now, let’s move on to see rain and a humanoid, which is almost certainly the name of an achingly hip indie band.

The next video shows an early room design, which will be notable to anyone who has played the game. It’s a physics puzzle, just as in the finished game, but there are no Fluros to interact with, helping and hindering in almost equal measure.

Although the next video doesn’t contain a puzzle as such, it’s potentially a breakthrough moment in the design, marking the point when the liquid creatures became solutions in and of themselves. Here, a spidery Fluro forms a bridge.

Last but not least – although it would make sense to leave the worst ’til the end when most people have already wandered off – here’s a bit of lighting tech. I strongly suspect there’s a clustering algorithm in use here, being used to identify key points to put point-lights at. Those point-lights would then vary in brightness dependent on the density of the cluster. It’s a neat solution for lighting that has to work with sprayed liquids.

When I say I ‘strongly suspect’ I mean, of course that I ‘read on the development blog that’.

The game’s final application of all that playful technology is joyous and if you haven’t at least tried the demo you jolly well should.

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  1. Lemming says:

    @1:47 on the bucket playthrough, did he hold the button down too long and accidently throw a lung in there or something?

  2. Syra says:

    Mario pissing in a bucket tutorial.

    • baddie says:

      Kubiro-Shoe Mario is the best place holder character. You can make him jump with no animation at all and he still looks OK.

  3. Premium User Badge

    PoulWrist says:

    Hm, wonder if it’s available elsewhere than steam?

    • Adam Smith says:

      It’s available through the Humble Store. You’ll find the link at the game’s website, which is in my first paragraph! The demo is only on Steam though, as far as I’m aware.

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        PoulWrist says:

        Well, I’m at work so I shan’t sit and look at gaming websites, only read gaming news sites ;)

  4. hatseflats says:

    Game is available from the developers themselves ( You get both a DRM free and a Steam version (woot!). It’s a really cool game, after the demo I was wondering how much puzzles they could come up with given the water stuff but it doesn’t get repetitive at all, they have thought of some really cool things to do. Definitely worth the price.

  5. Somerled says:

    How did these devs keep their work flowing? I would have gotten to the stage of that first video, then spent half a year pissing around with it for fun. It takes some serious willpower to not get absorbed by a tech demo.

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      bear912 says:

      They couldn’t have been using the waterfall model, it would have been far too draining…

    • baddie says:

      Puns aside, pissing around with the physics simulation was pretty much exactly how the game was designed. We’d make a new feature then just mess around with it to see what kind of interesting things could be done with it, then build on top of that. It was an iterative approach, a large part due to discovery and I think that gave it a much more natural, connected feeling.

      Thanks for checking out our videos. Also as Adam mentioned you can buy it direct on our website here which will give you a DRM free version plus a Steam key, so it’s all around better.