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.

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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.

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 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!

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 50

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 creative.

I know I said I would work on the Fawlty Towers game, but shortly after that I saw a call for submissions from INDIGO, a dutch games convention put on by the Dutch Game Garden, and it is in association with the Dutch Film Festival. So that put a revision on Black Feather Forest at number one on the todo list. Niels once described the script of BFF as being very filmic, so that makes this a good crossover venue to show the game.

Besides that I set up the new version of Trusted Soil, my graduation project with Anne Bras, in Adventure Game Studio. Having worked with Unity exclusively for a while now had made me forget how easy it is to get something basic up and running in AGS. With a bit of luck I can copy a lot of code from the original demo over to this version.

Anne and I decided a while ago to make the full version of Trusted Soil (read more about it here) and try to sell it on Steam. We’re doing it in Lucasarts pixel-art style now, and I’m concerning myself full with the programming side. For that reason we attracted Misja van Laatum (artist on Indiana Jones and The Fountain Of Youth) for the backgrounds, and Molly Carroll (recent HKU graduate) to do the animations.