2018 recap

2018 has been a funny one. Even though it’s technically been a quiet year for Hedgefield lots has happened still.

Intern

For starters, I had my first intern! Kim Leunen from the HKU asked if she could intern with me for a few months, so every week we sat down and spent the day making games.

It was really refreshing to work with someone from the game world again. And like me, Kim started from illustration and now wanted to tell interactive stories, so our design vision was very similar.

We wrote a new concept from the ashes of Black Feather Forest, and built a prototype for her girlscout forest adventure game (a recurring theme in my career by now). I look forward to seeing what she creates.

Read the rest »

2016 look-ahead

We looked back at 2015 earlier this month, now it’s time to look ahead at all the things coming for Hedgefield in 2016.

Finish developing Last Voyage Of The Orlova

I started this project last summer with the intention to finish it up in a month or two, but then I got caught up in other things eventually leading me to my current job at Yoast, so the development timetable for this project has been stretched out somewhat. But this year I’m definitely finishing it and putting it out in itch.io.

Work with some cool people on 7 Days Of Klement

I can’t tell you what it is yet, but this year I’m working on a game spearheaded by Sytze Schalk, though I’m keeping my role in it limited to some design and prototyping work, leaving the heavy lifting to contractors. But that’s a great opportunity to involve some people I’ve wanted to work with.

Write a new draft for Black Feather Forest

This again? Yes. I’ve done a lot of thinking about this game since I completed the vertical slice in 2014. It was way too ambitious, while still missing some crucial mechanics. So I’m slowly writing a new draft, and so far it’s looking pretty solid. 2017 here I come.

Draw more

It sounds weird considering my day job IS drawing, but I want to make more quick little drawings in my free time and learn new techniques. Just get better at it, basically.

I’ll be talking more in-depth about these things in my newsletter, so sign up for that.

 

2015 review

2015 was a great year. I moved to a new apartment, got a sweet job as an illustrator and celebrated being together for two years with my girlfriend.

Professionally it was also a great year, and I hit nearly all of the goals I had set for 2015.

[X] Earn more revenue than in 2014

I more than doubled my income from freelance activities last year compared to the year before, and had a good spread of work throughout the year.

[x] Diversify client base

I also succeeded in doing business with more new clients, some of which have become friends, and I had a great time working with them. I’m sad to see my main squeeze of 2015 Hubbub going into hibernation, but there is something poetic about it coinciding with me scaling back my own operation too now that I work for Yoast as an illustrator.

[x] Draw daily comics

I didn’t last all year, but I wanted to start doing dailies again in 2015 and I did. They were a fun extention of my weekly blog posts (which have now evolved into a newsletter).

I also intended to start up Off-Stage again and draw a page a week there, but I just couldn’t fit it into my schedule.

[x] Make a small (adventure) game and publish it on Itch.io

Reconquista was a small game idea I got from a dream, and it was my first 3D game and my first commercial game. I’ve always given away my games for free, but it’s a great feeling to earn money from one. It wasn’t much but it was a nice shot in the arm. I made another small (free) game too for the Idle Thumbs Wizard Jam, so technically this was a two-hit combo!

Itch.io is fast becoming my favorite indie game marketplace, and I contributed to the dutch translation of the desktop client that was just released.

And one of my definite highlights that I could not have foreseen at the start of 2015 was spending a week in the Torenkamer for a dutch radio show, making a game.

More exciting things happened in 2015 that will also carry over into 2016, so sign up for my newsletter to hear about that.

And 2016 is starting off well – I’m enjoying my new job, there’s a cool freelance gamedev project starting this month and lasting all throughout the year (more on that once the embargo is lifted) and it was just announced that Adriaan de Jongh is in Forbes’ 30 under 30 list of game designers. I’m proud to have worked with him on Fingle and Bounden, the innovative games that kicked off our careers.

So a happy new year to you all!

Week 120 – Change

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.

This is the last weeknotes blogpost.

Because I am changing the format. Like Ive said in previous posts, now that I have a fulltime job I won’t have something to write about my own projects every week.

So instead, like I mentioned before, I’m launching a newsletter.

I’ll be sending the first one soon, which has updates on all my current projects with some exclusive images. Sign up for it now so you don’t miss it! Follow this link and leave your email adress.

It’s been fun writing these posts for the past two years, and I look forward to browsing through some random ones to see what I was up to back then. I’ll miss having this moment with you guys every monday though, but instead I’ll use that time to draw off-stage again and work on some backburner game projects, and fill this blog with art again, like it was intended. And then I’ll let you know how things are going about once a month via the above newsletter. It’s better that way. And I can’t wait to talk to you guys over there. It’s gonna be fun.

Catch you on the flip side.

Week 119 – penultimate

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 I drew more artwork for Yoast. It’s a change of pace from game development where you’re focused on one project and draw lots of assets for it, while here each blogpost is a little project and has a turnaround time of a few days, so there’s lots of small moments of completion and release, which is nice.

I also drew some assets for Embodied Games and made a few mockups for some new interface elements in Vrije Vogels, the Hubbub museum game. It should be appearing in the App Store in the coming months so I can finally show you what we’ve been working on.

Doing the work was hampered by the fact that I don’t yet have internet in our new apartment, so I went down to the restaurant around the corner to mooch off of their free wifi. Staying connected proved to be a real challenge though, and when it was finally stable and I was doing a pull from a Git repo my laptop crashed with a BSOD. Sigh. Getting a photoshop file from the Creative Cloud account I use at Yoast proved to be an equally cumbersome process. But eventually I got everything done.

Then came Moving Day at the end of the week. It took the better part of the day but we managed to squeeze everything into our new apartment. Incredible how much stuff we had amassed. Now one more week until the girlfriend is done with her job and we can start putting everything together again.

Next week: home improvement and the launch of the newsletter.

Week 118 – orchestrated chaos

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.

As M-Day (moving day) draws nearer, it occupies more and more of my thoughtspace. I didn’t really accomplish much between working my last two days at my side job (hooray!) working two days at my new job, and cleaning the new apartment. We received the key on thursday and I slept there overnight. Going to work and especially coming back from work to this new place definitely feels good. All the shops are closeby, so it’s easy to grab whatever I need and forgot at home (which is a lot, turns out).

I completed my first illustration at my new job this week, which was published over here. Hooray!

As for the poll from last week, the results so far are unanimously telling me I should go for the newsletter idea, so I will. More on that soon.

Next week: Free birds, alien foods and wifi woes.

Week 117 – new apartment, newsletter?

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 quite eventful. We went to look at a new apartment on monday, claimed it, signed the lease on thursday, and rented out our old apartment to someone new on sunday! Finding a new place is kind of a pain, but sometimes you get lucky and things move really quickly. Now I get to focus on the slew of things to take care of for the move, like internet, parking permits, etc. Fun! It would be nice if moving became more like restoring an iCloud backup.

Other things happened last week too. I did some tweaks to the food icons I made for the Radboud game last week, and I worked another two days at Yoast, getting around to doing some actual artwork. On thursday the staff went for drinks and I got to know them a bit more. They’re very diverse in terms of backgrounds and expertise, but somehow it all works well together.

On a personal level I thought about the future of these weekly work updates. When I start working at Yoast four days a week there won’t be that much to report on probably, so I considered starting a newsletter to keep you guys in the loop on personal projects, once a month or so, whenever there is something to say. Would that be interesting, or should I keep doing round-ups like that on the blog here? Let me know.

[polldaddy poll=9122467]

I also did some groundwork on the Off-Stage website. I plan to (finally) continue updating that strip once I’ve settled into my new work routine.

Next week: Last week at my old side job, finishing up my freelance projects, and moving my ass to a new city.

Week 115 & 116 – Track of time

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.

So I see I forgot to blog in week 115, oops. That week contained my first workday at Yoast, where I settled in quickly and mostly just spent the time setting up my workstation, adobe creative cloud, checking out the publications backlog and getting a feel for the style I’ll be working in. Compared to getting up at 5:45 for my side job, walking into the office at 9 felt very comfortable (even though it takes me 1h45 to get there), and I had one of those moments where you really feel like an adult.

At the end of the week I looked at a place that was a 5-minute walk away from the office (we’ll be moving too, see aforementioned commute time), but it didn’t really meet our standards so unfortunately I had to pass on it.

This past week was more of the same for that matter. Though on tuesday night I went to INDIGO, the annual dutch games industry expo. I had a great time there, if mostly because of catching up with friends and setting appointments to have drinks with them. It was weird to think that last year I had a booth there myself, but I didn’t envy the exhibitors’ aching feet.

indigo2015

On friday I stopped by the Vechtclub here in Utrecht to have a quick drink with Kars from Hubbub, to kind of cap off our project together. Though it seems it will get a small tail this week. It feels like a weird moment in time, because the project ended perfectly timed with me moving away and starting a new job, and he is moving all the way to Asia! (for half a year). We only worked together on a freelance basis, but I feel more of a connection with Hubbub than any of my other freelance clients. I’ll miss this point in time.

View this post on Instagram

Soaking up the last of the summer rays at #bierklub

A post shared by Kars Alfrink (@karsalfrink) on

Inbetween it all I lit up Photoshop to finish drawing assets for the game I’m helping out with at Radboud. They were all food items, drawn in a fairly realistic way. I did it that way to match the style of the game without really thinking that much about it, but it was oddly satisfying, and the assets turned out real good.

On saturday I stopped by the birthday party of John Gottschalk, designer on Westerado, and felt invigorated by our shared passion of narrative games. On sunday I saw The Martian, and it was everything I ever asked for in a sci-fi movie. I loved it.

Next week: inktober and a new apartment.

Week 114 – A new job

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.

After finishing the crunch for Vrije Vogels last week, I spent the first few days of last week embroiled in Metal Gear Solid V. It’s a wonderful and weird game, I dig it.

On wednesday I visited the Yoast offices again for my second interview, and I was practically hired on the spot! So starting soon I’ll be illustrating their blogposts and ebooks four days a week. It’s fun that I’ve been using their wordpress SEO plugin on the Off-Stage site for a while before I even knew they were dutch.

The next day, after my (soon to be ex-)side job in the morning and a sprint retrospective at Hubbub, I went by Radboud again, where I spent most of the afternoon in a meeting to sort out the work I have to do. The deadline for it is the day I start working at Yoast, so that schedules together really nicely.

Next week: First day on the job.

Week 113 – Snap back to reality

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 I returned from vacation to find a bunch of things I had to do had accumulated. Eventually I spent most of my time on the final sprint for the Vrije Vogels game, culminating in me going to the Hubbub office at 5 pm on a friday to work out the last few bugs before the deadline. It was fun though, having everyone in the (virtual) office and punching out the last few things, improving things for a few hours and seeing it all come together. Especially marking off everything on the todo list was a satisfying way to start the weekend.

Inbetween I did some logo sketches for a client in the UK I had worked with previously, and I added a few things to the lighthouse keeper game, with the intent of showing it off at friday night’s PlayDev meetup. Eventually I couldn’t attend due to the aforementioned crunchtime, but working on it was nice, it’s been on the backburner for too long.

Over the weekend I finally finished The Witcher 3 with over 100 hours on the clock, and immediately moved on to MGS V, which I expect will eat my free time in a similar amount.

Next week: more interviews and working at the university.