It's hard to play #IDARB (It Draws A Red Box) without cracking a big, goofy smile. The crowd-sourced competitive platforming ball game is full of playful and irreverent humor and weird little social experiments. You can play as a character with an oversized mustache. You can play as an arcade cabinet. You can play as an array of breakfast foods. You can play as dead presidents. You can Rick Roll players via Twitch commands. You can pit seven players against one for a frantic point-scoring eSport set in an arena of platforms, goals and one ball.
At E3 this year #IDARB drew a constant crowd of interested players who all smiled from ear to ear as they bounced from the game's platforms onto other platforms and into each other. The game is being self-published by developer Other Ocean Interactive and will launch on Xbox One later this year, but there was a time when the game was nothing more than an experiment that developer Mike Mika expected would fail.
"Mike Mika was playing around in a game engine we built, and he drew a red box on a screen as placeholder art, took a screenshot of it and tweeted it," said Other Ocean's Frank Cifaldi. "He was just messing around. He tweeted, ‘Hey guys, I just started a new game, It Draws A Red Box, what does it do next?"
Mika's followers responded on Twitter, and he began putting their ideas into the game. If they worked, he kept them. If they didn't work, he took them out.
"Trying to crowd-design a game ... it kind of started as a social experiment," Cifaldi said. "We figured this was going to be awful. Let's just make the game that everyone thinks they want, and then it will be terrible. But then it became this really fun, eSport competitive thing."
Mika was the main engineer behind the game, but a small team within Other Ocean contributed design ideas to take the game from something potentially awful to something playful and fun.
The game supports up to eight players at a time and, when that many players are in the game, it's a chaotic match of people jumping on platforms Mario-style, grabbing the ball, shooting it into goals, and intentionally jumping into other people to knock the ball from their hands. The core game design is simple and solid, so the developers have added flourish to the game through social features. Players can create their own characters on the #IDARB website, download a QR code and import them into the game. They can also share their characters over Twitter and affect games being streamed over Twitch using certain commands.
#IDARB will launch on Xbox One in late summer. The studio plans to work on the game for other platforms shortly afterwards.