Welcome back, my friend. Today I will share some of my past and current projects.
If you’re a part of the game industry you probably know how hard it is to finish a project based on enthusiasm alone. There are a lot of factors where it might break and it happens to break often. In the end the thing you’re left with are bits and pieces of wannabe games. And when you look back and realize that you don’t have something great to show – it hurts, but it shouldn’t kill you or your passion. I remember Jonathan Blow talking in “Indie Game: The Movie” about that kind of experience, we are on the same boat.
I worked quite a lot past years, but little of those projects came to a final stage. Not to mention none of these projects feel anywhere good to me, it is a constant feeling “I can do a lot better, what is this B.S.”.
But I’m not afraid to show them to a friend, so here you go. 😉
New Year Game (end of 2009 – start of 2010)
In 2009 I found a guy on the webs who was making a game of his own, but he didn’t get far with it, so I asked if he would like to join the effort in making one together. So we did. We talked about the ideas a lot, we had a lot of arguments, but in the end we decided to make at least something, for experience, it was close to a New Year, so we sticked with the idea of “Mario” type of game.
That was the first semi-serious project that I wrote using C# programming language and XNA (great tool), I was programming as you’ve probably guessed, while the other guy did all the drawing, it was a 2-man project. It doesn’t have anything new and certainly resembles Mario games, yet it was a huge experience gain at that time, so I have no regrets I did this.
Everyone tells you these days “Start with small projects and build your way up”, while this is true in some sense, it is not exactly the only way to do it. I was sick of making a lot small projects that taught me little, so I aimed for something big and massive for me at that time. It was quite a lot to grasp, every bit of what I was doing was completely new to me. But in the end I learned a lot in a short period of time. Yes, I’ve made my mistakes along the way, yes, I failed at times, but overcoming this failures and mistakes helped me to learn. It helped me to develop skills of problem-solving, something a programmer utterly needs. I say Dare Big. Do something you think you can’t, something that isn’t that easy and you will see how much you gain in time. There is a caution though – don’t practice such things on commercial projects, that can lead you to a disaster – use this tactic sensibly.
Jesh (around 2010-2011)
Here comes the Jesh (another 2-man effort). After the first project I was looking to work on something new, I thought it would be cool to try developing for consoles and XNA gave me that opportunity. I’ve met another guy online, we worked together for some while on the Xbox 360 project, but then he suddenly disappeared. Soon enough I saw him doing KickStarter with the prototype I wrote in the course of several month, oh well. At first I was very disappointed, maybe even a little bit angry about it, so I commented on the prototype footage video telling he stole it. It was stupid of me to be honest, he did the right thing in the end, because I moved further a lot since then. And I didn’t really feel like making a game about an American guy who bashes people. So I thank him for doing so.
Some screenshots from early prototype:
From this experience I would say that you need to be aware that people come and go quite often, so be prepared. Choose projects and people you work with based on how you feel yourself with them. But don’t give up, if something like this comes in your way. You’ll have a whole lifetime to give up, so stand your ground, I believe in you.
There is a quote I found that resonates with me:
Be a plodder too, because sooner or later you will meet the right people and they will need you in the best shape possible, don’t let them down.
ShaoLeaf and Various tools (2011)
So here we are again – searching for a new artist to team up with. It took some time, but I found, at a first glance, a solid guy, that could draw pretty pictures and had experience developing projects before me. It was a great start. As it always happens we argued about the game idea and came to a conclusion to make a small game for iOS as a trial to our teamwork. We wanted to make something unique, something no one saw before with an aim to generate some funds out of it. As you probably guessed it – this is where it breaks. We were dreaming too much and we’ve set our goals in a wrong direction. But will get back to it.
That footage still makes me smile, it’s so professional, I love the carpet too, lol.
Anyway, we finished the game and released it to the public. Here’s a, I want to cry, promo made by me in one day, it is terrible. (I was drained at the time and didn’t want to invest much in it)
I’ve posted about it on 5 forums with something like “check out our project, here are free keys”. And then we waited, nothing happened. No one cared. Our expectations to become so called “millionaires” broke.
And that fuelled our misunderstandings, our negative thoughts. I spent a lot on equipment, I’ve bought Mac Mini, iPod Touch 4 gen and Apple developer’s license for iOS. And I didn’t get a cent back, it was hard.
The problem was – we aimed for profit, we aimed for money. That’s why you get nothing most of the time and it’s not really about money anyway, it doesn’t bring happiness, its just a freaking coloured paper. It is a tool, but nothing more. Wish I would realise it earlier. Anything you do must have a soul in it, otherwise resulting game feels like a rape. And who wants to be raped? Not me, thanks.
And if its not art why would anyone really appreciate it? If you do something with passion, without ever thinking about getting anything – that is where it starts to be a beautiful thing.
Going back to the promo video, did you notice “company” name “GODS”? That’s pretty tough statement right there. Well, yeah, I feel like its wrong too, but I didn’t have a choice. My companion was forceful about that, so I gave in, it’s the only way we could continue working. We tried to make new projects together and I developed various tools for them, but nothing really happened since then, we’ve parted our ways in big sadness. It hit me hard at the time.
Morale of the story: don’t aim for low things, try to put the best of you into your work. Because in the end your work speaks of who you are and it better be good. Aim for something higher, probably not something material. Trying to change a world around you for better is an option. And don’t expect anything, for it to bring nothing but sadness if not realized.
Stealer (end of 2012 – start of 2013)
Search? Yeah, exactly. In time I found a brilliant guy – Stanislav (also known as a bunch of numbers), who pushes pixels like a boss, love him. I offered him my help with games and it was a great start once again, you already know where this is going don’t you? Here’s is a cool trailer made by the artist.
I think the main problem was misunderstanding and different views on some critical things, as I see it. For me game development is a cooperative process, if its a good one. It didn’t felt like one though, it felt more like we are separate people that just work to get things done, that is all. Like as if a boss gave you a list of tasks and you need to make them by the morning. Maybe I was wrong all along, guess I’ll never know.
It was a 4 man project, mainly me programming, Stanislav being the artist behind it and 2 great guys working on sound and music – Daniel Swearengin and Brian Crawford. It could just been the best team setup if we’d not parted our ways, leaving a prototype in the early stages:
While there was a barrier with teaming up, I will say it again – no regrets, it was a great experience. And certainly check Stanislav’s current projects, especially if you like old-style (read “retro”) pixel games.
I think that if you happen to stumble on a great guy, but it doesn’t work out – don’t force yourself into working. Otherwise it might turn out awkward for you two – when people wait for something that might never happen. I still hope that Stealer will see the day though, Stanislav, *wink-wink*. (with or without me that is)
The Journey of Iesir (2013 – 2014+, still alive and kicking)
Thanks to Daniel Swearengin – my search was short this time, he showed me a great team of talented people who experienced problems with programmers. So I joined the team and since then I can’t be happy enough to be a part of what we are doing. 🙂 I’m trying to help with porting the game from AGS engine that has a lot of limitations to our custom one, while providing a rich toolset for efficient workflow. I wish I had more time though, but still trying to give out as much as I can.
Here are some of the screenshots of the demo version of the game:
Currently we are working on finishing the first chapter, but that’s something I’ll share in my future blog posts, so stay tuned.
The X project (2014+ pre-production stage)
This one is a secret, it is a personal project of my own which you will hear about soon enough. I work alone at this point, writing, drawing, programming everything myself. It is a project I want see released no matter what.
So I try to experiment here and put this statement to the test, doing most of the work myself. We will see how it goes. 😉
But anyway hope you got something from my experience. The future of this story will keep unfolding in this blog, if you find it interesting or educational join me, you’re always a welcomed guest. And as always have a good day and we’ll meet again. 🙂