As non-nutritionally correct as it might be sometimes all you want to is a nice cold soda. But, as in the case of the Will Brierly, the creator of Soda Drinker Pro and presenter of the Nerd Nite talk, “The Art and Science of Simulated Soda,” sometimes wanting a soda doesn’t mean you’re going to be able to have one.
Fortunately through adversity comes invention, and it was through Brierlys failed early morning quest for a refreshing, thirst quenching soda that the idea to create a first person soda drinking simulator was born.
“It was Friday morning. I was really really thirsty, and there were no sodas in the house,” said Brierly in a soft staccato, “I didn’t know how to make a soda. Taco Bell was closed. I couldn’t drive and get a soda. So, what did I do?… I woke up in the middle of the night thinking, o.k… first person shooter… first person… I’m just going to get up and make a first person soda. So from around 3am that day to around 11pm that night I started making Soda Drinker Pro.
It all sounded sort of like a fever dream, to me, but ultimately it gave birth to the first five levels of what would become a 100 level video game.
The game is simple, with bright coloured graphics that look to combine crisp computer generated imagery and a sketchy hand drawn aesthetic. Combined with a rolling pace it gives the game a hypnotic appeal that is counter intuitive to many of games today, which bank on hyper realistic graphics and epic missions to keep players engaged. In Soda Drinker Pro there are no monsters to fight or planets to save. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to finish your soda. “There are no enemies in the game so you can’t die. You can fall off of things slowly into an infinite void,” said Brierly smiling slightly, “just like in real life, and that’s about it.”
Although a first person soda drinking simulator Soda Drinker Pro keeps it pretty basic, “It’s just like any other soda simulation. There’s a soda meter in the upper left hand corner. If you place the left mouse button down, it lifts the soda. If you place the right mouse button down, you sip the soda. So you place the mouth to the soda and then you sip the soda,” Said Brierly, “It’s a two button mechanic which is very important because before that it was just a one button mechanic.”
His talk was exciting, funny, a little tongue in cheek and full of the kind of personal touches that make a talk special. There were a lot of surprises. From Brierly’s raw, possibly soda fueled, energy to his encyclopedic knowledge of the history of soda in video games, to the fact that he had previously conceived of both a Golden Girls based video game (which sounds awesome) and a game based on the movie My Girl, that was scrapped because the heartbreaking goal of the game would be to die by bee stings.
But perhaps the most amazing surprise of the evening, was the game-within-a-game, Vivian Clark. It was, in a word, amazing. Beautiful, inspired, incredibly creative and kind of trippy it would have made Dali proud and oddly enough, it reminded me of The Point and the Beatles Yellow Submarine. “So, we actually hid an entire other game inside of it called, “Vivian Clark.” It’s a game inspired by a Harry Nilsson song and also the TV show Mr. Show and all that fun stuff,” said Brierly, “But we actually built a whole game inside of it (Soda Drinker Pro) and you can only access it through a secret passage.”
Kind of like soda, the game is a little addictive. Since it’s release, Soda Drinker Pro has been embraced by 100’s of thousands of people around the world. Downloaded onto various PC’s, Mac’s, smartphones and other electronic devices including the X-Box One, and now with support for Oculus Rift, which was announced at PAX 2014, the Soda Drinker Pro community continues to grow in number and zeal. “People have made lots of games and sculptures,” said Brierly, “there is all this fan art and fiction and all these wonderful things that people make and it brings people together in a fun and funny way.”