Week 38

This is a weekly recap of the goings-on in my professional life – to keep track of what I’m doing and to give you a peek at what it’s like being an independent creative.

Woops, almost forgot to write a blogpost about last week, that’s how absorbed I’ve been in my work. That must be a good sign, right?

Since I’ve gone indie I’ve been looking for a project that could get me genuinely excited to work on it every day, and I think I finally found it. Not that I disliked what I did inbetween but I had to pass through a Valley Of The Shadows type deal I think where everything felt derivative or lacking zest. Sometimes I still feel a pang of worry about that but then I remind myself I don’t have time for that nonsense because game needs to be made, and I get back to work.

And so far I’m running on schedule very nicely. Instead of planning out the entire project in advance and potentially overwhelming myself I’ve taken to planning out just the month up ahead, setting milestones every friday and generally living from day to day, and it’s working out well. I have a folder with a fuckton of research into style, history, context, culture, mythology and whatnot, a bunch of concept art and an almost entirely fleshed-out story. And even a fancy parallax scrolling prototype. Once I’m done typing this I’m moving on to prototypting the dialogue system.

I’m not ready to share too much info about this project yet, that will happen soon, and I plan to blog more about the development here in the future, but if you run into me in real life feel free to ask and I’ll talk your ear off about it.

Twine

Got into Twine today to write and map out the story for the next game I’m working on and it’s been a delightful experience, very easy to write branching dialogue and test it right away, plus it’s similar to Playmaker, so implementation in Unity will be a breeze.

20140411-233958.jpg

Picnic

A quick sketch to wind down after a long day of drawing. I didn’t do any pose sketching for this one, sometimes a figure just comes gliding out of my pen with hardly any effort at all. I cherish those moments; they’re never there when I actually need them ha.

Week 37

This is a weekly recap of the goings-on in my professional life – to keep track of what I’m doing and to give you a peek at what it’s like being an independent creative.

When taking stock of my projects this past week I concluded that everything was trucking along nicely, but nothing was really getting done. It’s nice to have different stuff to turn to when you crave some work diversity, but focusing on one thing is ultimately better for productivity, so I decided to leave fawlty towers and off-stage and whatnot be for now and bear down on my detective game.

Preproduction on a detective story feels a bit like being a detective yourself. You start with a vague conception of the events and then you start to unravel all the clues until you have a sound theory. And much like an investigation, you start at the end and work backwards.

I’ve been writing the past few days, just a straight-up text file, hashing out the game flow from end to end, and I’m excited about what it’s becoming. This week will mostly be about scoping it appropriately and determining the mechanics and features.

I like to always incorporate something from the real world in my games, be it an event or a place or a folklore tale. And so during my research I found myself reading through an official Board of Inquiry report from a real murder investigation at one point. That’s about as close to feeling like a true detective as I think I’ll ever get.

Week 36

This is a weekly recap of the goings-on in my professional life – to keep track of what I’m doing and to give you a peek at what it’s like being an independent creative.

Week 35 was pretty quiet since I was mostly occupied with doing other stuff and hanging out with people.

Week 36 I spent working on my own project in Adventure Creator. It’s pretty cool to see that plugin taking shape and a community forming around it. A dedicated forum was finally opened to post bugs and feature requests and showcase projects. I have high hopes for this software turning into the perfect suite for me to make narrative-driven games in.

Initially I was on the fence about switching my project over, but I decided this week to leave practicalities aside and just dive into the software and get to know it, so I set up a local SVN repo and went to town. Some things are the same, some things are better, and some things are a bit more cumbersome, but overall I almost feel like this is the way to go. For years I’ve fantasized about having all of these pixels and cameras that I could zoom and pan on the fly, plus cross-platform compatibility makes this a shoe-in for my affection.

On tuesday I had dinner with old classmates and colleagues Bas (Sophisti), Tim (Ronimo) and Bojan (Game Oven) to catch up and to discuss some secret heat brewin in the Game Oven kitchen. On thursday I had dinner with fellow illustrator Ming to catch up and dive into Unity. If Ming would apply his unique art style to games I have no doubt something cool would come out of it. Something to think about. In the meantime go check out his work.

Week 34

This is a weekly recap of the goings-on in my professional life – to keep track of what I’m doing and to give you a peek at what it’s like being an independant creative.

This last week has been mostly been about flipping out.

Inherent to the life of the freelancer is not having a steady income, but I haven’t really been in that situation yet since I started to pick up steam a few months back. And so after a few days where I had to both pay some hefty incidental costs aswell as suffer cuts on income that was taken for granted, I saw the fictional line in my head where I feel comfortable with my bank balance approach. Which is nonsense because I have several thousands left in my buffer and a payday coming soon, but that immediate feedback of dipping below what I’ve marked as ‘doing well’, together with winding down some assignments caused me to get nervous.

What helped me was remembering the independant’s motto someone once imparted on me: ‘If these are my problems, I will take em’. Which is to say that worrying about getting paid for drawing, something I already like to do, and I think was made to do, is still infinitely better than worrying about long meetings, getting up at 7 AM, and deadlines on projects I don’t nescessarily like. It’s easy to forget that sometimes.

It also jolted me into looking for new opportunities. In my quest to ‘add legs under this table’ I started a webshop, wrote to a few potential clients, explored other avenues where I could use my talents, found that I could cut my healthcare costs considerably etcetera. And that, mostly, the feeling that things are happening, is what got me comfortable again.

So don’t be scared of being scared!

Anyway, that was like a day or two. The rest of the week I was working on the final designs for the second mascotte I was commissioned to draw, and got Unity to the point where it does all the things I want from it. Having my character walk around in the same space – properly scaled and interacting with the environment – in both engines was good to see. ‘Advanced scripting’ is the only thing left on my test checklist before I can seriously consider porting the whole project over to Unity. In the meantime there is a lot of background art and animation left to do which helps keep the project going outside of this engine stalemate.