Week 100 – milestones for all

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 marked the end of a few running tasks, which thankfully cleared the board a little bit.

On monday we submitted the grant application for our literary game idea. Somewhere next month we’ll receive word on whether the judges think it’s cool enough (and thus receive the first batch of funding for a prototype), so for now we sit tight and await the result. It was weird to submit something based on an idea without any kind of prototype or concept art, but I think even in this form it already sounds pretty cool.

The rest of the week was mostly spent on the last bits of art for the current sprint of the Hubbub game. We had some trouble contacting the client because of changes in their management etc, so we didn’t quite end up where we wanted to be, but we still made huge progress and have a version you can play through from beginning to end. Next week we’ll probably kick off one more polishing sprint and then get ready to deploy it in the first museum. I’m looking forward to sharing what we’ve been working on.

Halfway through the week I also got the input I needed to start working on a few illustrations for returning client Hoog+Diep. I only had until today to work on them, but the scope was exactly right for me to work on comfortably, and I delivered the final bits this morning pending any final feedback. Little assignments like that are great to fill up the empty space in your planning, easy and fun to work on and done quickly, allowing me to enjoy the great weather on friday.

Over the weekend I did some work on Deck 5, a small scifi game I’ve had lying around for a while – you may remember it from weeknotes past. I went back and forth on its design a lot, going from 2D adventure game to firstperson exploration game to isometric 2.5D puzzle game. I think I finally hit the look and feel that I envisioned when I drew the first mockup back in 2010, and I’m excited to start making content for it once I finish Home Rule and Reconquista.

Below you can see the progression of the game since 2010. I’m particularly excited by the billboarding-shadowcasting-sprites in the latest prototype.

Bonus: the doors from the 2014 early early Unity prototype.

Next week: Home Rule polish sprint kickoff.

sWeek 16

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 independant creative.

Week 15 I can be brief on, it was mostly spent messing with Unity and doing other tidbits not worth chronicling.

Last week I spent two days trying out visual styles for an unannounced game I’m collaborating on. We tried a bunch of things and we’re nowhere near the final look but we made exciting strides, and it’s fun to have everyone together so we can prototype things quickly.

Wednesday I spent doing business stuff and talking art and inspiration with Lowen over dinner. THURSDAY was wordpress day. Jesus. There is something addicting about tinkering with WordPress, but when something breaks it is hell to fix. My backend was very slow so I tried a few things then decided to pull the trigger and upgrade the entire system from old Comicpress to new Comic Easel. Transferring the content was surprisingly easy, but then I loaded up my site and, well, it was in shambles. I wish I had taken a screenshot – the comic was aloft in the middle of the page, no background, the menu was transparent and the sidebar was under the comic. I knew this would happen when upgrading themes but fixing all the little CSS bits in my custom theme took forever. But I made it through! It all works fine now, and all the user might notice is that the sidebar is now slightly wider. But man Comic Easel works pretty smoothly, I are not regret.

On friday I made strides with the design for Deck 5. Here is a bit of concept art I did in week 15:

Leave a comment below with your favorite design!

Over the weekend I caught up with some old classmates to talk shop. It’s nice to see how we’ve all found our place in the games business.

Week 14

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 independant creative.

I can keep this one short. Monday I did my Off-stage thing. Tuesday I worked at Game Oven again, and played a solid run of DayZ with a friend. Wednesday I got well sick. Thursday I got to see a beautiful part of Amsterdam and worked from the dining room table in Adriaan’s house because he was also sick. We also played the Stanley Parable together, which is GOOD though ironically I think the demo is even better (which I played afterwards). And friday was spent under the covers until ‘sushi+drawing’ night with some good friends, where we painted crazy things on household objects.

It’s fun to break out of established methods sometimes, I hardly ever draw anything on paper anymore, so taking a marker to a wooden box felt refreshingly visceral.

I’ve been thinking more about my scifi game idea this week – tentatively named “Deck 5” – after reading this killer article about narrative design which anyone interested in game storytelling should read. It made a few things click together and finally gave me the outline for the plot. I’m doing early concept art for it now, more on that soon.

Week one

Week one has been a quiet one, as I expect some weeks to follow will be too. Although the first gig is a fact: I’m working on a series of cartoons to accompany the thesis of a friend of a friend. They’re fun to draw and don’t take a lot of time, so it’s a good way to start.

After watching Star Trek First Contact again an idea for a scifi story popped into my head, tentatively named ‘Deck 5. I’m not sure yet whether it should be a game or a comic, but I like where it is headed. I will continue to explore it further with my bro Ralph who has a penchant for these kinds of stories.

On tuesday I met with Niels ‘t Hooft (ka-pow, pingback) to chat about narrative games and the craft of being a freelancer. After that we visited Digital Dreams to take a look at Metrico, a very intruiging game that uses inforgraphics as platforming puzzles, really smart and cool. It also gave me a chance to wonder what the hell Sony was thinking with that PS Vita UI…

After that I drew some things here and there which you can see below this post. On Friday I visited the Human Adventure expo by NASA with my family and witnessed all facets of the museum experience at once, as my dad and his friend are super knowledgeable about this stuff and the rest is not really, right down to my cousin who just wanted to press some buttons. Had a good conversation with my uncle about the absence of an engaging narrative in most museums.

Other than that I’ve mostly been surrounding myself with media to extract inspiration from. I’ve watched more movies this week than the past 3 months I think, a lot of them scifi, and I dove into Fallout New Vegas, which I was initially not too excited to look at or play with, but some great mods helped me get past that so I could get to the masterful Bethesda/Obsidian storytelling which has engrossed me once again.
Funny enough the best quest so far was one that was unmarked, so it had no tell-tale markers to tell me exactly what’s what. It was the story of Vault 11, a shining example of environmental storytelling without any real reward other than knowing what had happened in the depths of that Vault, which turned out more satisfying than any old XP boost or weapon upgrade. Something to remember.

As the week wraps up I’m staring at my Trello board with the page scripts for Off-stage. I want to get back into the swing of releasing at least one new page a week again.