Week 119 – penultimate

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 I drew more artwork for Yoast. It’s a change of pace from game development where you’re focused on one project and draw lots of assets for it, while here each blogpost is a little project and has a turnaround time of a few days, so there’s lots of small moments of completion and release, which is nice.

I also drew some assets for Embodied Games and made a few mockups for some new interface elements in Vrije Vogels, the Hubbub museum game. It should be appearing in the App Store in the coming months so I can finally show you what we’ve been working on.

Doing the work was hampered by the fact that I don’t yet have internet in our new apartment, so I went down to the restaurant around the corner to mooch off of their free wifi. Staying connected proved to be a real challenge though, and when it was finally stable and I was doing a pull from a Git repo my laptop crashed with a BSOD. Sigh. Getting a photoshop file from the Creative Cloud account I use at Yoast proved to be an equally cumbersome process. But eventually I got everything done.

Then came Moving Day at the end of the week. It took the better part of the day but we managed to squeeze everything into our new apartment. Incredible how much stuff we had amassed. Now one more week until the girlfriend is done with her job and we can start putting everything together again.

Next week: home improvement and the launch of the newsletter.

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.

indigo2015

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 113 – Snap back to reality

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 I returned from vacation to find a bunch of things I had to do had accumulated. Eventually I spent most of my time on the final sprint for the Vrije Vogels game, culminating in me going to the Hubbub office at 5 pm on a friday to work out the last few bugs before the deadline. It was fun though, having everyone in the (virtual) office and punching out the last few things, improving things for a few hours and seeing it all come together. Especially marking off everything on the todo list was a satisfying way to start the weekend.

Inbetween I did some logo sketches for a client in the UK I had worked with previously, and I added a few things to the lighthouse keeper game, with the intent of showing it off at friday night’s PlayDev meetup. Eventually┬áI couldn’t attend due to the aforementioned crunchtime, but working on it was nice, it’s been on the backburner for too long.

Over the weekend I finally finished The Witcher 3 with over 100 hours on the clock, and immediately moved on to MGS V, which I expect will eat my free time in a similar amount.

Next week: more interviews and working at the university.

Week 103 – Released a new game

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 hard. Not because I had a lot to do but because it was so damn warm. We measured the highest temperature and the hottest night so far in the history of this country – even though compared to places like Italy or Indonesia it’s not that big a deal. But it makes sitting down and doing this hard enough.

Regardless, I started the week off helping out at the warehouse of a friend. It ate up most of the day, and I liked it better than my side job, which by comparison is very monotone and boring. After that I had a Skype call with Hubbub to plan out the tasks we’d like to tackle in the last batch of work on the museum game.

On tuesday I decided that if I was going to start on a new game (which I will next week in De Torenkamer), I should really finish one of my open projects. Finishing Black Feather Forest was impossible, and the astronaut game was nothing more than a tech demo yet, so of course the choice was clear: Reconquista.

Reconquista had been in limbo for a few weeks because the last few tasks were too vague or I couldn’t decide on exactly how I wanted to tackle them, but I decided to just sit down and figure it out. In the end it was easier than I expected to fill in the blanks and deliver a game that felt fairly done. It had a good starting and ending point, and the stuff inbetween seemed bug-free and cool.

So! You can download the game off itch.io for free right now!

After that I mostly just surrendered to the heat and made a plan for my time in De Torenkamer next week. A plan that changed near the end of the week after the announcement of De Pont, an open call for game devs or filmmakers to make a short game/film set on the ferry that runs between Amsterdam Central Station and Amsterdam North. That could be a very interesting idea to run with.

I also played through Her Story, which is an incredible game and I finished it in one sitting. On saturday I went to a concert and on sunday I helped out my girlfriend sell her illustrations at a local market, while the Tour De France ravaged the very same city we were in.

Next week: gamedev in the Vondelpark in Amsterdam.

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.