Week 105 & 106 – Downtime, wireframing and job prospecting

Freelancing

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. For illustrated depictions of these events, visit my daily comics page.

Week 105 was mostly used to decompress after my adventure in De Torenkamer (see the week 104 blog). I caught up on sleep, saw my family, wrote some words, updated my portfolio and then re-aquainted myself with The Witcher 3.

On thursday I met up with Niels ‘t Hooft and Saskia Freeke to discuss the next steps in Niels’ Geometry Girl / Hybrid Writer’s Toolkit project. The day after that I did something completely different and went into an abandoned hospital with some street art friends. I’m glad I went along; you see this kind of thing a lot in games and other stories, but to do it yourself is an exciting experience.

Last week was more of the same. On Monday Niels stopped by to catch up and talk through the Geometry Girl wireframes. During the week I made a prototype with the Marvel app, and built the same thing in Invision to compare (Marvel still came out on top for me even though Invision has a bunch more cool features). It’s a great way to get a feel for your (app) design on the target device really quickly.

I also started slowly looking around for a new job, something with more hours as my current side job, and where I’m actually doing something with my creative skills and mental capacity. So if you or someone you know could use a great 2D artist/animator/designer/writer/developer, I’m over here.

Week 104 – One man game jam

Freelancing

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. For illustrated depictions of these events, visit my daily comics page.

Last week was a little different from my usual weeks, as I spent a week in a little room in the Vondelpark in Amsterdam to work on a new personal game project, courtesy of dutch radio. Come to think of it, it was also the two-year anniversary of me going independent, so I guess that was a fitting way to celebrate it!

You can read the details about the game here. The week was organised by dutch late-night radio show Opium op 4, which lets a creator use their office each week to build a passion project. This week was my turn, and I had a really good time.


Also just realized I posed like the caricature on my businesscard here. Weird!

I basically started from scratch on monday. I had an interesting backstory, and a vision in my mind of what the game would look like. So I started by researching the backstory: in 2013 the Lyubov Orlova, a decommissioned cruiseship, breaks off its towline in a storm and disappears onto the ocean. In 2014 its radio pings off the coast of the UK, but it is never found. I figured I’d make a game about that. The news articles about it have been in my Pocket for a while now, so this was a good opportunity to do something with it.

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I researched the timeline, all the owners and places it’s been, and more specific stuff like what the deck layout looks like and how cruise ship engines work.

After that I started on the prototype. I had something working pretty quickly, courtesy of Unity and its many prefabs. After that I struggled for a while to get an interaction system working. I started off coding it all myself, but quickly realized I’d better use something pre-made. I fiddled with Pixelcrusher’s Dialogue System for a good while before deciding to just import Adventure Creator. At that point it felt like I changed from Tony Stark banging on some metal in a cave to Tony Stark jumping into the Mark 45 Iron Man armor. Everything was at my fingertips.

To my surprise AC also integrated pretty well with Unity’s 2D Controller, which was essential, otherwise the character couldn’t walk up slopes anymore. Now I was ready to start on the narrative content. It was early thursday by then, and I was getting nervous, but I managed to put together a pretty cool vertical slice in the end, even though it sort of stops short of the actual gameplay, which is exploring the ship’s interior with your map and axe. But for a week of work it was pretty cool.

On friday I presented the demo on the air, and everyone loved it. The main guest of the show called me a singer-songwriter gamedesigner, which is exactly how I like to think of myself, telling interactive stories and focusing on the delivery and the experience.

At any rate, I had a great time, and you can read a more detailed (dutch) blog and listen to the show segments on their website.

Announcing The Last Voyage Of The Orlova

Game Design

Today I’d like you to meet my next game, The Last Voyage Of The Orlova.

Orlova, for short, is a 2D sidescrolling exploration game about an Irish lighthouse keeper that comes across the ghost ship Lyubov Orlova. The MV Lyubov Orlova is a real (decommissioned) cruiseship that was lost in a storm in 2013, when it was being towed to a scrap yard. Since then, nobody has succesfully rediscovered the ship. In 2014 its radio blipped off the coast of the UK/Ireland, and later disappeared again. This game is an exploration of what could have happened if someone on the coast encountered the ship during that time.

In the game you control the lighthouse keeper as he discovers the ship off the coast of his island, and goes to explore it. Ultimately, he wants to get the ship away from the coast and from the shipping lanes he oversees with his lighthouse. Armed with a map and an axe, you can walk up and down all the decks of the ship in search of clues about the history of this ship. On the way you will encounter obstacles that need to be overcome, such as barricades to be chopped down, flooded compartments, and droves of rats blocking your progress.

The game will come out for PC/Mac/Linux somewhere this year. More info coming soon.

Week 103 – Released a new game

Freelancing

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 hard. Not because I had a lot to do but because it was so damn warm. We measured the highest temperature and the hottest night so far in the history of this country – even though compared to places like Italy or Indonesia it’s not that big a deal. But it makes sitting down and doing this hard enough.

Regardless, I started the week off helping out at the warehouse of a friend. It ate up most of the day, and I liked it better than my side job, which by comparison is very monotone and boring. After that I had a Skype call with Hubbub to plan out the tasks we’d like to tackle in the last batch of work on the museum game.

On tuesday I decided that if I was going to start on a new game (which I will next week in De Torenkamer), I should really finish one of my open projects. Finishing Black Feather Forest was impossible, and the astronaut game was nothing more than a tech demo yet, so of course the choice was clear: Reconquista.

Reconquista had been in limbo for a few weeks because the last few tasks were too vague or I couldn’t decide on exactly how I wanted to tackle them, but I decided to just sit down and figure it out. In the end it was easier than I expected to fill in the blanks and deliver a game that felt fairly done. It had a good starting and ending point, and the stuff inbetween seemed bug-free and cool.

So! You can download the game off itch.io for free right now!

After that I mostly just surrendered to the heat and made a plan for my time in De Torenkamer next week. A plan that changed near the end of the week after the announcement of De Pont, an open call for game devs or filmmakers to make a short game/film set on the ferry that runs between Amsterdam Central Station and Amsterdam North. That could be a very interesting idea to run with.

I also played through Her Story, which is an incredible game and I finished it in one sitting. On saturday I went to a concert and on sunday I helped out my girlfriend sell her illustrations at a local market, while the Tour De France ravaged the very same city we were in.

Next week: gamedev in the Vondelpark in Amsterdam.

Week 101 + 102 – Throttle down

Other

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. For illustrated depictions of these events, visit my daily comics page.

Welp looks like I forgot to write a blogpost last week, so here’s a combo platter for you.

Two weeks ago we started polishing up the latest Home Rule beta so we could playtest with it last wednesday. I wasn’t present myself because I had an aquisition meeting with another client but I hear it went really well! Just a few things to work on now before we have a version of the game that can launch in the museum. And two more museums have expressed interest to join the pilot program, so good times.

After that my slate was pretty much clean for a week or two so I mostly spent that time setting up my new laptop which finally arrived and subsequently playing the Witcher 3 on it. It was a glorious time.

I also confirmed my appearance on the dutch radio show Opium in two weeks, so today I’ve been brainstorming ideas for the game I will be making during that week. It’s gonna be exciting!

Next week: probably not a lot going on seeing as it will be above 30 degrees celsius all week…