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.

Week 99 – clients coming out of the woodwork

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 started off with a promising meeting with Sytze Schalk, a writer/designer who is working on a grant application for a multi-year transmedia experience including theatre, graphic novels and games. He was looking for someone to develop his adventure game idea and ended up on my portfolio, so we met to discuss ideas and possibilities and decided to go ahead with the application together. He wrote it during the week and I checked it from a game designer point of view. We’re submitting it today.

Besides that I kept working on Home Rule for Hubbub, filling in the various placeholders with final artwork. It was a lot to slog through and it went slower than I anticipated, but the game is starting to look really good. On friday I was in the Hubbub studio to work on some things, but man it was hot. I hope we don’t get a tropical summer like that or productivity is going to suffer.

Halfway through the week I also got a call from Hoog+Diep, for whom I did some artwork a while back. They had a new project that needed some illustrations. And a friend of mine wanted to schedule a meeting about some artwork for her new project, so all of a sudden assignments are coming in from all over the place. The question will be which ones actually end up going through, but I feel a lot better about the next few months now.

Inbetween all that I spent a morning writing out the rest of the storyline for Offstage chapter 2, and I hope to start drawing it in a few weeks time.

Over the weekend I enjoyed the sunny weather, meeting family and friends, and some Witcher 3.

Next week: finishing up the third Home Rule sprint and more gamedev.

Week 92 – Three deadlines and a playtest

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.

It’s been a busy week!

Hubbub was finishing up the first beta for Home Rule on monday and tuesday, and at the same time I was drawing hard for the Suitkees project, as that soft deadline turned into a hard deadline for the end of the week. And in the meantime I had to finish up my #wizardjam entry. Luckily I had been smart and done most of the work on that over the weekend, so all I had to do was make some promo art and write a description for the itch.io page. I did that on wednesday morning and launched the game before heading to the war museum in Oosterbeek with the Hubbub guys to playtest Home Rule.

Tim and Alper

It’s been a while since I did an actual in-person live playtest on location. The target audience is kids 8-12, and they are always fun to work with. And to our surprise they really picked up on what we were trying to do and had fun playing the game. It was nice seeing them contemplate aloud the moral dilemmas people in a warzone have to face. We came away with a bunch of good feedback and happily dug into some pizza at the end of a succesful day.

On thursday I finished up the Suitkees drawings, sent them out and then went to the housewarming for the Dutch Game Garden in their new home next to Central Station. I ran into some old friends and made a few new ones, and generally felt glad to be part of this industry. It was nice to be among peers again and I considered one day getting an office there when business gets good enough.

Once that was all behind me it was time to unwind. I spent most of Friday making my portfolio website responsive and mobile-friendly, and I got pretty far with it. And over the weekend I fired up Shadow of Mordor with the intent of finally finishing it. When you’re purely interacting with its mechanics and ignoring the story, that game is so good.

Next week: A late start after Kingsday and planning new ventures.

Week 91

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.

Being your own boss is no field trip. One week it feels like the business is on fire, the other like I’m living on borrowed time. Especially around tax time when I can hand 21% of what I’ve earned back to the government. But one of the big improvements to my business I’m instituting this year is time tracking. I used to track my time with just a txt file for client projects where I had billable hours, but I never tracked all the hours I spend on my own games, comics etc. And those are far and away most of the hours I put in. So I’ve started using Toggl. It’s free and perfect for what I need. I worked with it before at Paladin, and I saw Kars using it at Hubbub recently and thought oh yeah that’s smart.

Speaking of Hubbub, we’ve been whittling away at the beta for Home Rule. It might have been kind of ambitious to try and recreate the iMessage interface in Unity, but Alper got pretty far with it. This week is more tweaking and improvements to get everything ship-shape for the playtest tomorrow.

I figured I’d have more work of Home Rule this phase, with the concept redesign following the alpha and all that, but Kars did a great job doing the heavy lifting on the game design. This freed up some time to work on the Transavia illustrations for Hoog+Diep. I sent out a test illustration previously which was liked, so I sketched out all the illustrations in greater detail. On friday Transavia and Neckermann looked at it again and they were very positive.

Inbetween I found some time to start on my #wizardjam entry, a gamejam held on the Idle Thumbs forums. I had wanted to participate in #adventurejam but the timing didn’t work out, so this was a nice way to still get jammin’, and the Idle Thumbs episode titles proved ripe ground for ideas. I’m working on a small topgun-jetfighter-switches-flipping game called MaydayMayday Cockpit Freakout, which I plan to be releasing tomorrow.

It feels like I’m jumping from project to project, but since MaydayMayday is tiny and has a definite deadline it takes precedence over Reconquista, which I’ll also be releasing soon. Reconquista just has a few loose ends in the design which make it hard to finish.

On top of that I also got an interesting call from Menno at Mindbreaker Games. They’re working on a P&C adventure game and are crunching out a demo for a grant proposal, and if that goes through they might want to work together, as our interests and goals are similar. So more on that in the future perhaps.

Next week: bustin’ to get all these projects done on time.

Week 90

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.

This workweek had a late start because I only got back from my much-needed Easter break on tuesday. With a fresh mind I jumped back into it on wednesday with a status update call with the guys at Hubbub, and after that a call with Pieter at Hoog+Diep, a design agency that contacted me to do the promotional art for their new app. They found me through the work I did for KLM and their app also has to do with air travel. That afternoon I finally caught up with my backlog of daily comics.

On thursday I worked my side job and stopped by the Hubbub studio afterwards. Kars presented me his new ideas for the flow of the home rule beta, and I went home to mull them over. Then I made an art test for Hoog+Diep, and I’ll hear more about that next week.

On friday I made the last few missing daily comics and made some mockups to go with Kars’ new ideas. Afterwards I went for a bbq at the park with friends, which knocked me (but mostly my stomach) out for most of the weekend. Woof.

Next week: Like I didn’t have enough to do, I dabble in the Idle Thumbs game jam.