Week 89

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.

On monday I started out helping my friends unload containers at their warehouse again. It was a nice way to start off the week with some physical activity. Then I ran errands and updated the blog and such. There was a terrible storm that evening and I was glad to be inside.

On tuesday I worked my side job and then stopped by the Hubbub studio in the afternoon to kick off the new beta phase of Home Rule, the game for war museums. We came up with some rad ideas to start working on, and after that I stuck around to fiddle with my game a bit. I also thought of a concept for the Adventure game jam that starts next week.

On wednesday I sketched out some designs for the Home Rule beta and pushed a few fixes and features down the pipeline for my own game, and sent a beta version out that evening. I didn’t receive any bug reports, which is also an interesting contrast to the sort of games I usually make. 2D (adventure) games are strung together by interdependent logic and a specific flow of events, something which is ripe for things to break or execute in the wrong order, while this game lets you roam free and really only has two spots where it forces some rigid code on you, so essentially there are no bugs. That feels weird.

I think I’m going to call this game Reconquista, a suggestion by Alper. It communicates the theme and the setting nicely in one catchy word.

This game poses a dilemma though, because on the one hand the experience that I wanted to communicate with the game is there and I want to release it, but on the other hand my game developer instinct wants to add more actual gameplay and make it a real ‘game’ that I could charge for. I think I’ll have to trawl itch.io a bit to see how other people are handling this. If you have sage advice feel free to share in the comments.

On thursday I had a call with Kars and Alper to discuss the designs we had done for Home Rule so far, and on friday I called with Alper again to see what the next steps would be for the beta. He was going to work on that into next week while I went of a short Easter vacation with the girlfriend to the island of Texel, which turned out fun and relaxing. I tried to catch up on dailies before then but holy shit I was far behind. The backlog should go up today or tomorrow.

Next week: a return to civilization and a new assignment.

Week 83

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.

Working irregular schedule is fucked.

On monday I went by the Hubbub offices bright and early to figure out the new storyboards for KLM. After that I went to lunch with Niels ‘t Hooft, which I hadn’t seen in a criminally long time. We talked productivity, planning as freelancers, cool apps and how to create new reading experiences in the digital world. I look forward to seeing what he comes up with.

On tuesday I got asked for another short illustration assignment, and I again struggled with what I should set my hourly rate at. Or rather I have one but I tend to scale it down for friends and longer assignments. It’s hard putting a value on yourself.

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I knocked out the new storyboard sketches and then on thursday Skyped with Kars to review KLM’s feedback and set up the final tasks.

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The next morning I was back at the Hubbub office again to kick off the next project I’m doing with Hubbub, this time one that runs for several months where I’ll be involved in a more intensive manner, doing design and prototyping as well as art. It’s a cool project and I’m excite to get started on it.

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On saturday I spent all day in Amsterdam to watch Oscar-nominated movies with friends, and spent a quiet sunday with my parents and girlfriend.

Next week: new project kick-off.

Week 80

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 is a bit of a haze. I can feel that I’m doing too many things at once, and stuff is starting to fall through the cracks. Working on saturday has effectively wrecked any idea of what part of the week I am in, and so the plan in my head for what I’ve done and what I will be doing is a little jumbled. I don’t like it. Thankfully I draw daily comics! There’s a memory aid for ya.

On monday I finished the sketches for Kars. It was fun storyboarding again, I like to do it and I’m glad that people are starting to find me for jobs like that.

On tuesday I rushed to finish an Off-Stage comic. I wanted to do a full page but I just didn’t have the time, so I pushed it to next week (tomorrow – hopefully!). The new countdown widget on the site is definitely helpful in these case.

On thursday I visited Kars after work again to discuss the feedback KLM had given on the storyboards the day before. I was pleased to hear they pretty much liked everything, and Kars and I brainstormed some cool design ideas for a few instances. Now I was ready to move on to ‘production’. These won’t be the final assets, but rather more elaborate mockups of how the game could look. I’ve worked out a few so far, of which you can see a WIP version below.

I don’t often use such detailed rendering, and I’ve noticed that I quickly put too much effort into it. The idea was to paint fairly realistic scenes (just a bit of a Pixar slant) in quick brushstrokes. I find that I blend too much; still gotta practice throwing down gradients with just sharp opaque strokes, like the style reference I used:

I closed the day out with a concert and continued working on the mockups on friday and saturday. Then I spent some time with friends together with the girlfriend.

Next week: anxiety and deadlines.

Week 79

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 largely uneventful in terms of business. I drew Off-Stage and added a timer to the website so you can see when the next update is due. Then I caught up with the daily comics, and on friday I visited the Hubbub offices to talk with Kars Alfrink about a new collaboration.

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I was inducted into their Slack team chat and saw some familiar faces there. It was really nice to suddenly have a new little community to talk about anything related to our industry.

Over the weekend we spent time with friends that are leaving for a year in Australia next week.

Next week: More of the same thing I bet.