Category Archives: News

Time keeps on slipping

I often,  have written about the passage of time, in my blog posts. With good reason too, as we have a very limited amount of time to exist, as we are, on this planet. We are here and gone in a blink of an eye. I personally believe this is important to remember every day, to try and make sure that a sense of urgency stays present, so that thought can become realized action.

In that light, deadlines are starting to creep in, and  I can feel the fires beneath my feet begin to burn hotter as time moves on. One such deadline , that I have given the current project, is an igf submission this year. (If you’re saying to yourself, what’s an igf, follow this link Independent Games Festival)

The submission deadline is four months from today. I feel like the project is ,in no way a ready state, right now; and four months seems like a real short time to get things up to snuff, when I struggle to get time in on the project every week. Again though, it is motivating. It also looks like they changed their rules, so even if the game doesn’t do well in it’s submitted state, I can always resubmit the same game next year, as long as it wasn’t a finalist, which is encouraging.

My main hurdles to progress this year have been trying to be a lone wolf doing a 3d game. By lone wolf, I mean completely a lone. No outside contractors at all. This is very challenging. I had a friend who had signed on to do the music for the game, but at the end of the year last year, decided to up and move to Oregon on a whim, and didn’t take any of his equipment with him, so that fell through. And of course back in 2014 when the current project iteration started, my artist didn’t work out.

So, this has left some challenges.  My skill set, while versed in graphic design, and having experiemented with 3d modeling, has been lacking.

I ended up buying zbrush last year, so have been learning sculpting, and skinning and animation in blender. I am still working to really nail this part of my pipeline down. This is getting closer, but there is still a great need for assets in this area.

In addition, the audio assets now fall on me as well. I have played music guitar, piano, and bass, sang semi-professionally. <tangent>Before I tore my uvula from PT shouting when I was 17, and altered my throat, my uvula now is stretched out and sits on my tongue at rest, and I can no longer sing like I used to be able to .</tangent> So I can write music, have since I was 11, however drums have always been a challenge for me, and I never really had much exposure to them. So that is another skill I’ve been working to develop the last four months. I bought a digital drum kit in February. I’ve made pretty decent progress, but this is also still a struggle for me.

Coding wise, I have created a lot of really cool systems, but there are still many processes/systems that need to be coded, and then hooked up to content.  The narrative content itself is fleshed out completely for the entire game for the main story beats, however dialogue, and filler content still need to be written.

In addition to a narrative/story mode, the game is also slated to have 3 other modes. These modes are designed to be test beds for the story mode, but also have some interesting rule sets and content that the story mode won’t have.

The saving grace of this project, is the age that we are in right now. Never have there been such a collection of tools that are available to everyone to create games like this. Software like blender, Unity3d, and zbrush empower one person to make a 3d game in their spare time. There are so many other tools out there too! These just happen to be the ones I’m currently using.

It is the sweet and sour of this day and age, there are so many options and so much  cool stuff out there, that there is no way anyone person can experience and do all the cool shit that is available in this day and age, but one can try!

In addition, I also need to make the games website, which I’ve set up back in 2014 but haven’t had time/motivation to create yet.There are a lot of business tasks to complete as well, but not by October so that is a relief.

I am going to be aiming to blog at least once a week from here on in as well, simply to share some of the stuff that I’m doing with the game, and to get back to it, I’ve been pretty spares about it the last couple of years. Thanks for reading, back to work.

Episode One

The last few years have been trying for various reasons, and it seems that other things in life have demanded my attention more and more. This is fine as life is known to do, it changes, but when we cease to change with it, we become stagnant and static, which eventually leads to lack of progress, standing still, or death.

As my roles have continued to change and I have had more responsibilities, one thing I have failed at, is changing my approach to my current project. I have been able to make large leaps in development at certain times, but the rest of the time I have found myself lacking, to move forward, for one reason or another.

This next year will mark the thirty third year of me being measurably alive on this crazy orbiting rock we call home . Since I was 26, 33 has been the target to be completely self reliant on income. Game development, while a very enjoyable and interesting hobby, I have always had in mind to fuel other interests. 33 is the age I wanted to have a completely sustainable business, so that I could concentrate on a studio, and eventually branch out into other technology areas, such as energy conservation, and solar tech.

I still have the same goals, however I realize that with the other obligations in my life, and a lack of time, I am going to need to restructure my development plans into something that is realistic and attainable. The bottom line, in order to have a successful business, I need to have  a product.

Since it’s first inception, I have played with the idea of doing an episodic release of the game. This model isn’t one you see very often, a few games have done it, and done it well. Most notably the folks at Telltale Games seem to have this model nailed down. As well as other titles like Kentucky Route Zero.  It’s something I’ve thought of doing , and with the current level of resources, lack of help, and time it seems to make the most amount of sense for continuing development and to attempt to get a product out.

I still work full time to support my family and right now, it isn’t viable to leave my current employment until other revenue is secured. I did the freelance thing for a couple of years, but in Iowa, game development contracts are hard to come by, especially if you can not travel and hit the cons and festivals to meet contacts. Web development is another story, but the cost/benefit to being employed full time vs contracting completely out weighs contracting, except for the area of time, but with contracting, you spend a lot of time looking for work, a double edged sword there.

One point of conjecture that I have, is that I am currently attempting to do everything myself. For a guy who only has part time availability to work on a big project, this is definitely a down fall. I am not actively seeking help, simply because I can’t afford to pay anyone right now, and don’t know of anyone who is interested.

So, I am going to do an experiment in 2016. I am going to attempt to build a platform for episodic releases. My development plan has been structured for this type of release from day one in case it made since to move like this. I think where the challenge is going to come is in producing decent believable and unique models and animations. I have been experimenting working on developing those skills over the last few months, but it has been slow at best.

I suppose the real experiment is going to be, can I do episodic, alpha type releases, enough to generate enough interest to have the revenue to focus on the project full time? Can a single person with time constraints, and in a development vacuum succeed? Can I keep sanity and push myself to get this done without compromising too much of my original vision?

If I fall short of my mark in 2016, I will continue to work towards my end goals, and at least I’ll be able to say I released something. Good or bad,maybe it will lead me out of the rut that I have been in development wise, and perhaps open up other areas and opportunities.

New Hosting and More Updates coming soon.

Wow, last year flew by. A lot has changed in the last year. The website moved, same domain, new host to actually have bandwidth as I’d been running the site off my development server for the last six years. I will be redoing the layout soon, adding some additional sections and will be updating information more regularly again.

I will also be making some additional announcements in the coming month or so, check back, more to come!