50+ followers!

I just noticed this blog surpassed 50 subscribers!

Thank you so much for reading my words and liking my posts, that’s what I do it for, so I’m glad you are getting some enjoyment out of it. I always see the activity ticker ticking away in the upper right-hand corner of my dashboard, but it never occured to me to check how many of you there were in total. Rad!

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Week 66

This is a weekly recap of what has been going on in my professional life. It’s to keep track of what I’m up to and to give you a peek at what it’s like being an independent creator.

Last week was a bit disappointing. I did get the BlaFF storyline plotted out fully in Twine, which was great because it gave me an instant visual overview of which parts were too linear and which had too much going on at once. I added one location and everything feels better balanced now. The added bonus is that I now have an accurate count of all the clues you can collect during the game and where they are referenced. I was afraid I had planned for too many, but the total number came up short of the space I had reserved for it, so that’s good, I can pad some things out and add more info to find.

twine

But then, bad news. Indie Fund reviewed my submission and decided that it didn’t quite fit with what they were looking for in their portfolio. I hadn’t expected much but it was still disappointing. The next day I heard back from Double Fine too – they really liked the game, but with two guys manning their publishing department part-time and three projects on their hands already they didn’t have space on their docket, but it was still nice to hear. I’ve got a few more emails out, so we’ll see how that goes in the coming weeks.

Mostly it shook me awake to the fact that the core game needs work. I’ve been caught up in polishing what I essentially made in one month, but it needs new features. I’ve just been afraid to break the whole thing open again. But it has to be done. I got some good tips from people that played the demo, some of which I had already thought of myself, so it’s time to put stuff like that in and make the game match up with the promise.

The only problem is I don’t have much leeway to spend time on it right now. I’d love to, but life costs money, and making games is not exactly a quick return-of-investment. So I decided to pivot back to illustration for a while. I could do a Kickstarter for BlaFF, but setting that up would take me another month, and there’s no guarantee that it will work out, especially in the current sour climate in the games industry. I needed to step away from all that anxiety and get back to what I know I can do well: drawing. (I have more thoughts on this that I’ll put in a seperate blogpost.)

But for now I’m good doing illustration. I got two emails recently for interesting and substantial projects. They’re both international, so it’s also a new challenge in figuring out how to process that in my administration. And if you’re reading this and have a nice assignment for me: I’m available for hire!

next week: drawing drawing drawing.

Week 65

This is a weekly recap of what has been going on in my professional life. It’s to keep track of what I’m up to and to give you a peek at what it’s like being an independent creator.

Another week of battling the flu, though by the end of the week I conquered it and got back to work.

On wednesday I dragged myself out the door to have lunch with Richard Ram about him possibly doing the audio for Black Feather Forest. Richard is a cool guy and I think we were on the same page regarding what the soundtrack should be, and we were even wearing the same shirt, so clearly he is a man of taste. So I think we could work together well when the time comes to get started on the audio, somewhere around the end of the year. Richard is currently still working on the audio for Penarium, made by my friends over at Self Made Miracle.

Safely back in my quarantine zone I got to work on the proposal for the possible investor. Luckily I had a design document ready that I only needed to strip some irrelevant parts out of, and I had a solid demo, so all I needed was one bugfix and a rough estimation of the budget. I think I kept it pretty reasonable, so we’ll see how it goes once they get back to me.

Once I felt good enough to do some real work again I drew a few cartoons for dutch news site Fresh. They had an open call for illustrators and they liked my work so from now on I’ll be drawing some news-related spot illustration for them every week. You can check that out here (if you’re dutch).

I also tinkered with different materials for my sprites in BlaFF following a suggestion on the Adventure Creator forum. It allows me to tint my characters, which will be useful in later scenes where it’s dark or where there are hard shadows that the characters travel through. The effect is subtle but I like it. I might hit up SpriteLamp at a later stage to really make the lighting dynamic.

spriteshading

I’ve taken to the abbreviation BlaFF now, as BFF reminded me too much of, well, the term BFF, and having the ‘la’ in there makes it sound more like the full title – but maybe like you were slurring it ha. What do you think?

Inbetween I also made good progress in Alien Isolation, and I checked out A Golden Wake by Grundislav Games, a cool retro adventure game that pushes my 1920’s-loving button pretty hard.

Next week: plotting out the plot, one scene at a time, in Twine.

Dinerdate 2.0

Long ago I did a webcomic called Dinerdate, about a weird bunch of people hanging out in a diner. I ended it because it was sort of going nowhere, but I always liked the idea and for two years off and on I worked on a reboot. I wrote about 50 strips, a complete first chapter, but some things didn’t quite click yet (even though I think the arc is strong) so I shelved it indefinitely. A big focus of the new version was Amsterdam, which, along with some other elements and characters, I rolled into Off-Stage after that. But Dinerdate 2.0 continues to occupy a folder in my Dropbox, to maybe be revisited someday (I have some nice ideas to tie it into the Off-Stage universe).

Here are the first two strips.


A former drug addict, a priest and an investor walk into a games expo…

Stop me if you’ve heard this one.

INDIGO, the games expo put on by the Dutch Game Garden, was pretty intense this year. 32 local devs gathered on the spaceous ninth floor of music palace TivoliVredenburg for two days to showcase their games in development. I was there too with Black Feather Forest.

I saw some familiar faces, some fresh new ones, and talked to a ton of people. Seeing visitors take the time to play through the entire demo and most of them raving about it afterwards was a really great experience, and a much needed refreshment after the past few weeks. Thank you to everyone who came out and stopped by! My parents, uncle and some good friends included. Also dinner with my Game Oven friends was a good time, and my booth neighbours from Wolfdog Interactive kept me going through the long hours. And a special shout-out to Benjamin who came to help me out on friday evening after work when my legs had turned to jelly. You rock dude!

It’s hard to describe all the moments and conversations from those two days, but I wanted to highlight a few that really stood out.

As a kid I used to read Power Unlimited, the biggest games magazine in the Netherlands. Of course like any publication it’s run by normal people, but having looked up at these guys in my teens it felt pretty special to have them stand in front of my booth checking out my game and following me on twitter now. Check that off my bucket list.

Speaking of nostalgia, the memories left behind by the game Broken Sword are what compelled me to start making my own games, and then all of a sudden I run into a programmer from Revolution Software, and a dutch one at that, on the show floor. It was really cool to meet Joost and exchange adventure gaming stories.

Near the end of the VIP night on thursday an older man came up to me. He started on the demo as I explained what the game was about, then he turned to me and asked me why I cared so much about this particular true story. From there we got caught up in a passionate exchange of ideas, where he revealed that he was a recovered stock-broker-turned-drug-addict who just started learning about computers three days ago. After getting clean he had set out on a quest to learn about himself, and had become a very joie-de-vivre carpe-diem kind of guy. He wasn’t even on the guest list that night, he had just wandered in and was having a blast talking to people. We spoke for about half an hour and at the end shook each other’s hand with a well-meaning I haven’t experienced in a long time. Like we were both genuinely excited to see the other enjoying life, and wishing eachother well.

The second day of the expo was also punctuated by an unexpected meeting. 5 minutes before the end of the show a man dressed in a priest’s garb came up to me. I recognized him as Roderick Vonhögen, also known as the podcast priest. He hadn’t played the demo yet but had read all about the project on my website before coming here and went on to tell me how incredibly cool he thought it was. He was even familiar with The Walking Dead games, which was perhaps even more of a surprise. It was super cool to have had a chance to talk with him before packing up and heading off, and I took his encouragement to do a Kickstarter and get on Steam to heart.

I’d been on the fence about Kickstarter for a while, but after I left the hubbub of INDIGO behind that night and checked my email on the bus home I saw that perhaps a Kickstarter was not even going to be necessary…knock on wood. More info on that very exciting email soon.

All in all INDIGO was a great succes and I want to thank the Dutch Game Garden for letting me be a part of it.

Week 64

This is a weekly recap of what has been going on in my professional life. It’s to keep track of what I’m up to and to give you a peek at what it’s like being an independent creator.

Heyy! It’s been a while. Doing something is kinda hard when you’re in bed with the flu.

But two weeks ago I did do something! Mostly recovering from INDIGO. Interviews I had given popped up here and there and there were some emails to answer.
The Gamebites podcast dicussed Black Feather Forest in episode 302, Youtuber Julie Sunfield has an INDIGO compilation video up, and both Gamer.nl and Gamecloud wrote a bit about the game. I’m pretty happy with the coverage.

I also worked on a pitch for a serious game project (finally received the RFP though it didn’t give me much more info than I already had). It had been a while since I flexed my pitch writing muscles, and with the limited info available I think I did alright.

Inbetween I played The Vanishing Of Ethan Carter, which is a great and gorgeous little interactive story. And I read The book Dead Mountain about the Dyatlov Pass incident, a mystery I could easily see an adventure game being made about.

Then, last week, I was sick as a dog. And I heard the pitch had been awarded to another company. I couldn’t be too bummed about it though. Plus I had more pressing issues to worry about – like my pharyngitis and waking up in cold sweats every three hours.

Next week: feeling better! and dipping into political cartooning.