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 59

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 right: I got a job offer the friday before (for a freelance project), and we went to have lunch and talk it over. It went well I think, we’ll see what comes of it when everything is sorted out.

On wednesday I showed Black Feather Forest at the Dutch Game Garden networking lunch, to positive reactions. The people that played loved how it looked and played the demo to the end, so that’s good. I also met the good people from Wispfire who are working on a cool narrative adventure game too.

2014-09-03 11.58.49

Following the lunch I fixed a few bugs I noticed (a restart button isn’t very useful if it doesn’t reset your progress on the map), and refined the cursor system based on an interesting observation made by Game Oven‘s Adriaan. Now I just need to hack Adventure Creator a bit so it actually works too.

On thursday I pulled out my ol’ Yeti mic to do a voiceacting test for the game a friend of mine on the AC forums is making. It was fun to do, especially because it’s a kind of Monkey Island comedy game so the voices can be very expressive.

I am planning to make a trailer for Black Feather Forest soon so this was a nice reminder that I could probably do the voiceover for that myself. Besides that I also did some illustrations for a calendar that’s coming out in a few months.

Then the week closed out with some good news: Black Feather Forest was selected to be part of the INDIGO showcase put on by the Dutch Game Garden during the Dutch Film Festival. It sounds like a complicated construction, but what it boils down to is that I’ll be showing the demo at the top floor of the new TivoliVredenburg music venue in the center of Utrecht at the end of this month. Exciting times! Another things I can cross off my bucket list. I’ve exhibited at game shows before but never with my own game.

Next week: how to cut a trailer for a game that’s only about 15% done.

Week 56

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.

A strange week in indie land.

At the start of last week I was moved by Dom2D’s post about the state of his life. I admire Dominique‘s artistry and optimism, so it’s not great to see he struggles with things. I can identify with a good number of his sentiments from various periods in my life, about making ends meet and feeling like an imposter sometimes, which I wrote about before. But it was heartwarming to see all the nice responses he got. I hope he’ll feel better at the new studio he’s working at now.

Further good vibes were obtained at the Idle Forums, were responses to Black Feather Forest were positive, and some great constructive feedback was given in terms of writing and character development. I was stuck in a rut a little bit, because once you have a project that shows promise it’s sometimes hard to decide in which way to proceed with it. Especially in games there are so many variables, and everyone has a preference for a different thing. But discussing the narrative got me going again.

During the week I edited some dialogue, converted each existing scene to a new workflow method that solved a few strange bugs, and I reworked the interaction icons. I’m ashamed to admit it but I completely overlooked those when polishing up the demo, I was so focused on other things I forgot they were still using the low-res default icons supplied by Adventure Creator.

gui

I was quite pleased, then over the weekend a shitstorm broke out. It was like everyone had to get their bad vibes out at the same time. Zoe Quinn, Phil Fish, Rami Ismail, they all got mangled on the social media. A delegation also decided to hate on me for even trying to tell a story a subject more grounded in reality than your average videogame, which shook me up pretty bad on Sunday. I wish people wouldn’t make assumptions based on a headline and a cursory glance at my blog, I’ve done my research.

Anyway, new week, fresh vibes.

Next week: fresh vibes.

Week 55

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 creator.

Last week I took some time to decompress after the deadline. I pulled up my Steam backlog and finished The Wolf Among Us (so good), caught up with Team Fortress 2 and played the shit out of State of Decay Breakdown. I loved State of Decay but the story in the main campaign had me beat at some point. My main dude kept dying and critical missions failed. Breakdown lets go of all that and just lets you build a home base somewhere and then survive infinitely. Unlike for instance DayZ, they’re very good at creating narrative around these random characters, by generating missions where they get lost or spot a special zombie. It’s really fun to play, even though the AI is sometimes absurd.

I also binged on The Killing’s final season. That show has also been an inspiration in how Black Feather Forest came to be, and I’m glad to have more of it, even if it is just 6 more episodes.

Somewhere along the week I took a look at the intro of my game, where you are introduced to the main characters, and went to rewrite it. I realized it was the only conversation free of player choices, so I made it a bit more engaging and flavorful.

On twitter I saw Fork Parker tweet an image of someone who had reimagined a scene from True Detective as a Lucasarts adventure game. It looked awesome, and I hope the people who crave that to be real can find some satisfaction in my game when it comes out. The creator, Lazerhorse aka Arthur Doyle, was even Canadian himself, a nice coincidence.

Next week: some actual work???