Getting to Know Soda Drinker Pro's Will Brierly

The man behind Soda Drinker Pro breaks down his life. What I discovered is he has a lot of passions and is incredibly interesting.

Me (right with tan backpack) with Will Brierly (left with controller) checking out Vivian Clark, a game reminiscent of WarioWare and is a fully realized game hidden within Soda Drinker Pro.

I met Will Brierly, the man behind Soda Drinker Pro, at PAX East. We spoke a lot about his amazing Soda Drinking Simulator. He tags it as “the most advance soda drinking simulator in the world”. He also showed me Vivian Clark, a full game hidden in Soda Drinker Pro. This game is WarioWare in the nature of changing gameplay mechanics about every 30 seconds. During our conversation, I had to ask about the soda drinking itself. Brierly told me the drinking audio was recorded six years ago out of a Taco Bell cup. He thought it was a Coke, but Taco Bell serves Pepsi products. This is a mystery that may never be solved. It wasn’t long after that we started having discussions on the nuts and bolts of developer life at PAX. Brierly said between the booth, banner, promotional items, and random stuff he spent about $2,000 out of pocket to set up at PAX. “Some people spend more, some spend less. That’s a ballpark for me”, he said. When asked about how he justifies spending all this time an money he told me, "Some people like to save up and go on vacations. This is that for me."

Things got real weird interesting when Brierly emailed me about a behind-the-scenes story on his promotional post cards, “I was originally going to order them online, 2000 double sided full color and the whole thing with shipping came out to around $200, but I spoke with the person on the online customer service chat and asked him if I told him a joke if he would give me a discount, he said yes. So I said, why don't ants get sick? Because they have little anti-bodies! He then gave me 5000 double sided full color with overnight shipping for $120! Ultra deal!”

That's amazing business. I love it! To get the most out of this interview, the objective being getting to know Will Brierly, I suggest you watch some of the videos found in the links. Now to the interview:

Steve: Tell me about yourself!

The incredible postcards Brierly got a deal on.

Brierly: I live in Somerville MA, but I'm moving to Cambridge MA in a couple days. I'm 31 years old my fiancee's name is Ali and I have two cats named Decaf and Polly. I love canoeing, animation, Thai food, video games, and making video games.

Steve: Where you from, are you in school, are your game development skills self-taught? Give me your professional and personal backstory.

Brierly: I'm originally from Rehoboth MA (near RI) but I've lived up in the Boston area for the past 4 or 5 years. I went Umass Lowell for college and majored in Music Business and classical guitar performance. When I finished school I went on tour playing music professionally for a couple of years (you can see me in a music video here, I'm the one in the yellow shirt and nunchucks, here's another band I've toured with here's a link to my solo music that I toured on for a while too here) eventually I got tired of non stop travel so I moved back to the area and started running my own business and I've been doing that ever since. What we do is a combination of marketing and development for a wide range of clients, we started doing work just in the music industry, but now work with small businesses, artists, universities, tv shows, all sorts of neat stuff. They are all really different but I love them all.

As far as where I got my game making skills, mostly from my brother Raymond (he's a pretty amazing programmer he made this too, he's helped with porting SDP to Unity too) as well as some other friends who are programmers, and reading and watching tutorials online. Also playing and studying video games constantly. Growing up I would buy every copy of EGM, GamePro, Video Games and Computer Entertainment, PC World, and every other possible magazine that talked about video games. I even had my own little zine I made with my friends that we would bring to the local arcade to sell. I have always super loved games. I started off with learning Blender (the original Soda Drinker was made about 6 years ago using just Blender and Python we didn't port it to Unity until this Dec for it's re-release)

Steve: Outside of making soda drinking simulators, what do you do for a living?

Brierly: Running Snowrunner is my main gig, we are a small company but not trying to grow. More focused on just having nice clients and doing great work. From time to time I'll do a string of music shows or take some time off and just develop games. I really really really love making games. Sometimes we get to make games or interactive pieces for clients too, that's always a ton of fun.

Brierly's indie arcade game, Get Outta My Face.

Steve: It's my understanding you woke up randomly late at night craving a soda. So instead of going out to get a refreshing beverage you sat down at 4am and made a game? How long ago was this and have you made anything interactive before this?

Brierly: Yup Soda Drinker Pro was made about 6 years ago but it was re-released in Dec of 2012 for a Soda festival in Providence RI. As for other games, here's a few.

Get Outta My Face - This was an arcade game (in actual arcades) that had a small release but was featured at SXSW Here's an article about it from Joystiq here's some game footage

Living 2 Die Vs Dying 2 Live - here's a video this was a music video game I made for the band Wheat the idea behind this is you play the game while the song goes on and when the song is over the game ends. Depending on what you do in the world as you play everything changes in it. You play as a ball who gives air to different things in the world.

My Girl the Video Game - This is a game I made as a joke based on the movie "My Girl" the objective is to get stung by bees to death to stay true to the movie. It was originally just for PC but I recently ported it so it runs in a browser, pretty silly stuff - http://mygirlthegame.com/

Pixel Clicker - My first flash game - I apologize for what this will do to everyone's eyes who plays this http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/533240

Vivian Clark - The game inside Soda Drinker Pro - I've been working on this non-stop for about a year now, hopefully someone will figure out how to unlock it inside SDP, I keep adding in new things so I want this world to be gigantic. This is a game I'm super super psyched about (as well as making new levels for SDP).

Other than those games from time to time I'll make some really silly games as tests to see if something is fun, but most stuff I don't put out there.

Here's a game that I didn't actually make but I made a video of it as a joke, pretty silly, I made this right when the Wii launched here

Steve: Your music seems pretty awesome! Is the music in some of your videogame videos your own?

Brierly: As for the video game music, I wrote all of that (except the music in vivian clark, the Wheat game and the My Girl game, those games other people wrote)

Steve: And you said had your own game magazine!?

Brierly: Yeah it was really really little, we used Microsoft publisher to lay it out and a copying machine to duplicate it, and it was about 20 pages, we only did 4 or 5 issues. My friends and I wrote it, we were in either 5th or 4th grade, I forget. We would do game reviews and tips, and news, our content would come from downloading FAQs from

BBS's

(this was before the internet was a big thing so you had to use BBS's), I would also call the Nintendo hotline and ask for news bits, as well as all the other companies. Basically if a video game company advertised in any video game magazine had their phone number in the ad, I would call it and ask them for news. It was pretty neat a lot of them would send me promo materials about the games.

I remember at one point I took my magazine to the local video game store(I think it was Electronics Boutique) and I asked if they could sell it in their store, I remember the person behind the counter telling me I should sell ads in it. I never thought about that, I just thought magazines made money from selling magazines. That sounded like a neat idea so I called all the arcades, and video rental stores in the area. I called this one store and picture this, a little 4th or 5th grader calling up a video store in a high pitched scratchy voice saying "Hi I was wondering um.. would you want to advertise in my video game magazine...?" The person on the other line said "umm.. how old are you? ... this is an adult video store..." Me being a little kid, I had no idea what the difference between that and a regular video store, I thought maybe they were movies that were EXTRA violent or scary hehe, I'll never forget that one.There was a little video store called EBI that was family run and super nice, they sold my magazine too. My guess is we sold about 10 copies of each issue. But it was a ton of fun.

Vivian Clark is as weird as it looks.

Steve: Is there a grand idea you have with games or is it just some side-hobby while you do your music business job?

Brierly: I think with games you can really do some amazing things. I love the combination of sound, and visual arts with the interaction with the player. I also really love writing AI because you are trying to create something that feels alive. I would love to keep making games, I don't plan on stopping anytime soon. I think with Vivian Clark it was really neat to see people playing it at Pax the reaction was really positive so I'm hoping someone will find the secrete passage soon so everyone will have a chance to play it. Currently there are 40 levels in the game, but I've been thinking of maybe building a Kickstarter to raise the funds to get it up to 500 levels. I'm pretty sure we'll end up doing the Kickstarter. If that happened and I could work on it full time too I would absolutely love that. I love making Soda Drinker levels too, I'll definitely have more of those on the way as well.

Steve: Well thank you for your time, Will. Got any closing remarks about your time at PAX?

Brierly: PAX was super fun, it's one thing seeing all the people download Soda Drinker Pro online and getting neat messages in the little form on the site (I read all of them and they are incredibly hilarious), but it's a whole other neat thing actually seeing the reactions of people playing the game in person. It was amazing.I've been to a lot of trade shows, conferences, and events over the years and there was something truly special about the crowd at the event. People were really nice, funny, fun, and rad. There was nothing pretentious about it, people were excited for AAA and Indie games, Tabletop, and everything else. I loved every minute of it. I'd say 99% of them got what drinking simulated soda is really about and that was really cool. It was also amazing to see the reaction to Vivian Clark too! This is a game that I've been secretly working on for a very long time now and to show people the game and see how they reacted to it was really cool. Most importantly though I'd like to mention is how grateful and thankful I am for everyone downloading and supporting the game, also for the reception from so many great sites and press covering it, and fun people downloading it, literally every night since I've put the game out I go to bed smiling. More than anything I want to say thank you.

You can find Will Breirly on Twitter and download Soda Drinker Pro for free here.

@stevenbeynon

4 Comments
5 Comments
Edited by MrSpaceMan

that was weirdly insightful. you should get this in front of patrick.

Posted by Sparklehorse

Great interview. Keep it up!

Edited by GaspoweR

*beep beep*

Edited by audioBusting

Nice interview! That dude has a really weirdly interesting background.