Week 93/94 – Unwinding and maintenance

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 93 had a late start due to Kingsday, a dutch national holiday. On wednesday I had a call with Hubbub to plan out all the features we want to put in the next Home Rule beta (including a better name for the project), and on thursday I had a call with a potential new client, an illustration rushjob.

I spent the rest of the week doing administration and updating my portfolio. Google’s new policy is to give priority in their search results to sites that are mobile-friendly, so I dove into the world of responsive design and media queries to make my portfolio site adapt to all kinds of resolutions. It was a nightmare of weird glitches and quirks but it works now!

Last week also started out mellow because of the national war remembrance days. I made a little character animation for the folks at mindbreaker games who are working hard on their demo. It was nice to open After Effects after a long time and animate a little something using the latest version of the DUIK plugin, which is UHH-MAZING. Highly recommended if you do a lot of character animation.

Later in the week I finally sat down and upgraded Black Feather Forest to the latest version of the game engine. Miraculously nothing broke! There were a few weird thinhgs in transitioning from Unity 4 to 5 while simultaneously updating two plugins, but I managed to solve 90% of them in an afternoon.

I’m itching to continue developing Black Feather Forest. I realized a few weeks ago that it’s been a year since I started working on it. And I think almost half a year since I stopped development to rethink a few aspects. That stung, so I’m determined to carry on with it in the next few months. A Kickstarter may be inevitable.

But first Reconquista! I started that project up at the end of the week to add a few features and get it ready to launch. I expect that will happen in the next few weeks. The game is practically done, I just need to figure out one thing and then I can push it out the door. It makes no sense to leave it lying around for much longer.

Next week: new dailies and the kickoff of the third phase of Home Rule.

Week 74

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.

Week 73 wasn’t that notheworthy. I mostly worked at my parttime job and caught up on games and tv shows.

Last week I drew a new Off-Stage page of course, and I spent some time re-wwriting the plot for Black Feather Forest. I believe I’ve told you that I came up with s handful of new angles, and I’ve been trying to write those out into full summaries. Coincidentally the podcast Stuff You Should Know did an episode on the phenomenon one of the new storylines is based on, so that added some motivation to the process.

Other than that I’ve been emailing some more, trying to score new leads. And I engaged in a game of Subterfuge with the guys at Game Oven. It’s a really nice take on Neptune’s Pride.

Next week: Christmas.

Week 72

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 started off well with getting hired for a part-time job. It’s enough to cover the rent each month and it only takes three mornings a week, so by noon I can be back behind Photoshop. I’d like to do more but for now this is okay, it’s not a well-off market out there it seems.

The rest of the day and into tuesday I worked on a new Off-Stage page as usual.

In the meantime I emailed another potential Black Feather Forest publisher on the recommendation of a friend, and this at least was the first one that wasn’t full/unavailable yet. I’ve been brainstorming story ideas for them and I managed to come up with five or six alternate angles to the second half of the game that are exciting me more than the original story draft, so I’m looking forward to writing those out.

On wednesday I went by the Dutch Game Garden networking lunch and caught up with some industry friend. I should really hang out with them more.

Thursday was filled up with Sinterklaas crafts, making cardboard constructions, a nice change of pace from the digital world.

On friday I booted up the Trusted Soil adventure game project again and implemented and linked up all the rooms that we had in the previous version, so you can walk around all the locations again. It’s a bit of a mechanical task, porting old code and going through the same motions again and again, but the result is fun to click around in.

On saturday I returned to an old favorite of mine, audio production. I was overdue to do a voiceover for a friend’s game trailer, and while I was at it I recorded the first episode of a new podcast I’m thinking of starting. Due to the traffic noise outside my window (even when it is closed), I had to set up my recording studio in the bathroom (and leave the light off otherwise the air purification fan would kick in…)

On sunday we celebrated the Sinterklaas holiday with my family. It was very gezellig. (check out my construction below)

Next week: getting up at dawn to do a job!

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.