Week 105 & 106 – Downtime, wireframing and job prospecting

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.

Week 105 was mostly used to decompress after my adventure in De Torenkamer (see the week 104 blog). I caught up on sleep, saw my family, wrote some words, updated my portfolio and then re-aquainted myself with The Witcher 3.

On thursday I met up with Niels ‘t Hooft and Saskia Freeke to discuss the next steps in Niels’ Geometry Girl / Hybrid Writer’s Toolkit project. The day after that I did something completely different and went into an abandoned hospital with some street art friends. I’m glad I went along; you see this kind of thing a lot in games and other stories, but to do it yourself is an exciting experience.

Last week was more of the same. On Monday Niels stopped by to catch up and talk through the Geometry Girl wireframes. During the week I made a prototype with the Marvel app, and built the same thing in Invision to compare (Marvel still came out on top for me even though Invision has a bunch more cool features). It’s a great way to get a feel for your (app) design on the target device really quickly.

I also started slowly looking around for a new job, something with more hours as my current side job, and where I’m actually doing something with my creative skills and mental capacity. So if you or someone you know could use a great 2D artist/animator/designer/writer/developer, I’m over here.

Week 96 – lights, camera, UX

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 tuesday we started the third Home Rule sprint at the Hubbub studio. New addition this sprint is Niels ‘t Hooft, who is taking care of the story content. On friday we had another meeting to discuss our progress. Alper and I mostly worked on designing new features this week and setting everything up so we can get going once the full storyline is ready this week.

Inbetween I worked on Reconquista some more, getting it ready for release. I added some extra props to the level, optimized the performance a bit and experimented with gamma color space vs linear color space + tone mapping, and I’m still not sure I understand it exactly but the colors look much better now at least.

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I also spent an inordinate amount of time researching a new laptop powerful enough to play The Witcher 3 on, which comes out this week. Not since my days as a young gamer with a desktop PC had I compared graphics cards so thoroughly, or thought about clock speeds, teraflops and heatsinks. It was awful, but I found a good one that I might buy sometime soon.

I closed the week out by celebrating my birthday in Amsterdam at a small festival. Seeing how happy and kind everyone there was, and the artists having fun, and supporting each other from the crowd, it felt like such a far cry from the worries and the vitriol in the games industry lately. It definitely lifted my spirits, and I hope we can all be a little more like those people.

Week 86

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 was pretty productive. I finished a final drawing for Niels on monday morning in time for his presentation on tuesday (which went well). After that I spent some time tinkering with my own game until Kars was back in the studio late in the afternoon, and I went by to dicuss the progress of the museum game and determine what we would polish in the final sprint week.

Tuesday after work the girlfriend and I went to look at a new apartment here in the area, but size-wise it wasn’t exactly an upgrade while it costed more than we pay in rent right now, so we returned home unanimously convinced that we were doing pretty good right now actually. And we were hoping to pick up our new cat that afternoon, but his final checkup was proving to be a bit of an ordeal, so instead I tinkered away at my own game.

I started wednesday by knocking out some of the new tasks in the Hubbub sprint backlog. I like having small tasks with clear courses of action, like fixing bugs or implementing a design into the game, because you can sort of chain those together in a burst of productivity. Designing things or drawing always takes a little more time and thought, which isn’t to say I don’t enjoy that as well, but I’d rather have a huge to-do list filled with those small tasks you can do quickly than spend a day conceptualizing over three ethereal design tasks.

On thursday after work I stopped by the Hubbub studio to implement some of the final tasks in the museum game sprint. Inbetween I went to finally pick up the cat with my girlfriend, and we spent some time on an adventure in the forest of Zeist looking for an ATM. That area is pretty insane, nature-wise. We brought the cat home and watched him explore his new surroundings, then I went back to the studio and finished up most of my open tasks. The museum game prototype is looking pretty solid. More on that in Hubbub’s weeknotes.

I also got an offer to do illustrations for a design agency working with another dutch airline. They had seen my work for KLM and wanted to know if I was available.

On friday I did a few remaining non-essential tasks and got aquainted with our cat Poekie.

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He is pretty mellow, which I am thankful for because that means I can continue working from home in peace. Although at night he tends to get up and around, so I guess I’d rather see that reversed.

Saturdaymorning I went in to work again, then ran some errands and eventually visited my girlfriend’s mother for her birthday. And on sunday we ran more errands, looked for new apartments and generally took a break from an eventful week.

Next week: an attempt to get my own game into a beta-testing state.

Week 85

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. I realized at the end I didn’t make any notes for the daily comics, so I’ve decided to skip those and resume this week.

On Monday I had a call with Kars at Hubbub to review the current prototype of the Museum game and plan the next steps. I spent the day exploring the art style a little further, and I checked in on the Unity 5 release.

All throughout the week I was also chipping away at my own little game. I upgraded to Unity 5 on tuesday and spent some time playing around with the new features, and most importantly the previously-Pro-only features that are now free. The Profiler has been most useful to me, as it shows me in realtime exactly which things are causing a load on the CPU/GPU. Before, I had no way of knowing. But within minutes I could determine that it wasn’t the amount of trees and foliage I had placed down, but the ocean shader. I swapped it out for Unity’s own Water shader (now also free).

This project is becoming almost entirely filled with stuff from the Unity Asset Store. It’s amazing what you can do when you have Unity skills and about 60 dollars worth of pre-made assets.

On wednesday afternoon I went by the Hubbub studio again to work on things that were missing/lacking in the game flow, and we ended up with a pretty robust build at the end of the day. Then we marvelled at the swirling birds above the building.

It was also my first day working behind a standing desk, and I quite liked it.

On thursday I worked my part-time job, and then my girlfriend and I went in search of a cat. We found a nice one at a local pound, so get ready for cat pictures sometime next week. After that I worked some more on character designs for Niels ‘t Hooft’s novel/presentation.

On friday I was recruited by the girlfriend to sit in a nerve-wracking virtual queueu for concert tickets while she was at work, and in the meantime I called with the Hubbub guys to review the prototype. Not a lot was needed to get it feature-complete, and this was promptly executed. Thus, work on my own game continued.

Saturday was kind of a black hole of gaming, and on sunday, after finishing the drawings for Niels, I spent the day relaxing out in nature with the girlfriend.

Next week: spit-and-polish on the Hubbub museum prototype and more.

Week 84

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 was a busy one. It started off bad – on monday morning the power went out! Luckily by the time I was about to relocate to a cafe it got fixed.

On tuesday I worked my part-time job and finished the second round of KLM mockups before doing tech support for my grandpa. In an instant I realized the depth of the knowledge I have accrued about spyware and what you shouldn’t click on on the internet.

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On wednesday I went to the Hubbub office to kick off our new project. It’s an interactive experience on iOS for select museums in Holland. Aside from the art I’m also doing design work on this one. We had a productive day and built a working proof-of-concept.

On thursday I went by the home of Niels ‘t Hooft to discuss his character design assignment and do some initial sketches, and ofcourse to catch up. Ran into Roderick Vonhögen‘s film crew there as well, whom you may remember as the geek priest that was excited for my game Black Feather Forest. Later in the week I also found out he mentioned me on the Gamecowboys podcast (~1h25m), and we made plans to brainstorm someday about making a ‘Bible Mysteries’ adventure game.

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On friday I was back in the Hubbub office to continue on the museum project. Alper and I made good progress on the prototype, despite having to solve a bunch of nonsensical Github merge conflicts. We then decided to upgrade our Unity version to the latest, but this introduced a bug that blocked building to iOS for a bit. And then we found a huge bug in the location-based code, which was also fixed. It was a technically-challenged afternoon, but the prototype has improved greatly.

We closed out the week with drinks at De Klub, and I went home with a warm feeling, only to realize I had to get up early the next morning to do the boring part-time job before my weekend would start. What a bummer. Back when the only work I did was at home, I relished having a job to go to three mornings a week, but compared to the satisfaction of working in your chosen industry with fun colleagues it suddenly seems quite bland.

Luckily I was done quickly and could get back to working on my own game the rest of saturday afternoon. I finally fixed the occlusion culling code that I broke by adding a proper 3d model to my enemy prefab, and built a little pause menu with a brightness slider.

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I decided to upgrade to Github for version control and backup of my personal projects too, instead of zipping up the project folder each evening and uploading that to dropbox.

Hours spent watching progress bars this week: 3