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!

Week 69

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.

The week started off with the classic inking of a new Off-Stage page. It took a little longer than I anticipated so I had to finish up on tuesday. Time to get a buffer reinstated again! I’m starting on the next one as soon as I finish this post.

On tuesday I did a lot of holiday shopping with the girlfriend. Being away from the internet for a day feels quite regenerative. All the energy spent fussing over this or that on social media can be put to much better use. Interestingly, similar thoughts were also explored on the latest Surviving Creativity, a podcast I recommend you listen to if you’re a creator, and the season 3 pilot episode of The Newsroom.

On wednesday I ported some bits of code from the old version of Trusted Soil we made in college to the new version currently in development. Progress has mostly been going on outside of my purview, the artists and designer setting up the new project and determining the art style. I’m waiting in the wings for tech support on the more difficult features. I quite like being on this end of the gamedev spectrum for this project.

Last week also saw the version 2.0 update for Mischief, a vector drawing program I really like. No real new features yet, but the interface is much cleaner, and interestingly, there is now also a free version! If you’ve ever had to do something in print or with varying resolutions, you’ll understand how magnificent this tool is.

The only thing I’m not crazy about is the new icon. I have a dock on my desktop with flat Windows 8 icons, so it didn’t really fit. So I decided to make my own. If you want to use it too, grab it below!

And finally, I woke up this past Saturday and read through the week’s webcomic updates in Comic Chameleon when I was struck with the idea “what if I get Off-Stage into this app?!”. You may have seen me post about it, and if you’re interested in helping me achieve this, read about it here (only takes a minute).

Next week: I expect more flailing in search of new opportunities.

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.

Week 11

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 indie.

This is the first week where I felt like I am no longer incapable of sitting alone for days to just work. Right after I quit my office job I had a hard time sitting still and not going places and seeing people. It made me kind of homesick for being able to work comfortably in solitude. I think I’ve struck a good balance now where my days do not become monotonous, yet I can turn off my phone for a day or two and get down into it.

Last saturday I swung by the INDIGO dutch games expo to meet up with some old friends and check out what everybody was up to. Every year they have some really cool indie games on the show floor, and talking and having beers with all the people afterwards reinvigorated my passion for game development. We also celebrated that my pals at Game Oven were awarded a sizeable grant by Gamefonds towards developing their next game.

On Monday my friend Adriaan from Game Oven called me up and asked me to do the art for a small game based on Miley Cyrus. We talked before about doing some small, news-relevant games, and Adriaan found some guys who were thinking the same thing and had some money to throw at it to boot. It’s a very silly project but it had a very gamejam-y feeling which I liked, just coming up with things on the fly and polishing it later. We’re finishing the game up this week so I’ll be able to link to it soon.

On tuesday I went to help some friends move. I had to be there at 8 AM, which meant getting up at 6:30. Crawling out of bed and jumping in the shower while it was still dark outside and then heading out into the cold gave me flashbacks of having an office job, and I felt so thankful that I don’t have to go through that every morning anymore. The knowledge that it was a one-off thing eventually made it quite enjoyable and I didn’t feel tired at all. My friends and I talked previously about how nice it would be to have one day a week for doing some manual labor in the open air. It puts you back in touch with the world.

On wednesday I inked the Off-stage page that I couldn’t complete due to other projects on Monday.

Thursdaymorning I met up with Anne Bras and Misja van Laatum (and Hessel van Hoorn in spirit) to discuss the revival of our graduation project Trusted Soil. We had built a demo and had big plans for the story and tech, but we never got around to it. Now that we all have some time to spare we decided to try and make it a full commerial game. Expect to hear more about that in the coming months.
We met at The Park Plaza restaurant in Amsterdam, which is in the Victoria Hotel across from Central Station and a great place to sit quietly and work, so I stayed behind to do some writing for a bit. I considered going to the Unity meetup that evening but decided to hang out at home with friends.

On friday I trekked down to The Hague to pay a visit to my old buddies at Paladin Studios. I distracted them from work for a few hours to see what they were up to and exchanged indie experiences with a freelance programmer who was also visiting. It’s cool to see their games all having a recognizeable unified style now. There are interesting things coming out of that studio real soon, keep an eye out.

On saturday I did some more polishing for the Miley game, and made a few mockups for an interactive ebook app that Niels ‘t Hooft is developing.

Trusted Soil

I recently graduated from the HKU school of game design (thank you, thank you), so I thought it was a good time to point you in the direction of my graduation work.

I’ve been working on an adventure game the past few months with a few people that we’re really excited about called Trusted Soil. You can read all about it on the official webpage or the freshly erected devblog, I won’t reiterate all that here. What I am here for is to give you something to look at.

For Trusted Soil I did all the background art, character designs and animations (and some scripting/design). It was a challenge for me to work in a slightly more realistic style than I am used to. While the lineart is still fairly distinctively my style, the lighting and color is much more detailed than what I am used to doing. I drew a lot of inspiration from Wormworld Saga, and initially I wanted to approach that style even more closely, but we decided it would not have been time-efficient as we wanted a completely functional end product, not just something that looked good.

Below is a sampling of backgrounds I created for Trusted Soil.

In addition to that I also developed a custom dialogue system, about which you can read much more on this page.

We are working now to polish up the build we submitted for our exams, and will soon release the first episode.