Monday, March 25, 2013

Post-PAX 2013

Yeah so, it is late March and I am still stuck in Boston for one more day. My workstation is 3000 miles away and in order to remain productive that means I will post in my nearly mothballed blog for a change.

 I arrived in Boston a few days ago for PAX (also Passover is tonight, it's my yearly visit to the family.. why doesn't this stuff happen in the summer?) Spoiled by the eternal sunshine and warmth of the beautiful west coast, I anticipated freezing temperatures and miserable precipitation, although it looks like I've been fortunate to avoid both so far which really seems like a miracle. Just gotta hold out for one more day!

 PAX was a great time. To be honest I've never really been a fan of any such event I have attended for various reasons, I am there usually to promote or make connections or what have you. This show was notable in that I met with my current programmer for the 1st time (in person) after nearly a year of collaborating on a few projects; that's always unusual but it went off well and it was good to hang out in reality for a change! We'd come off of a long stretch of seriously crunching hardcore on our current project, I feel like we are both extremely proud of the state it is in and it feels great to see that the finish long is within sight. It's a painful thing to dwell on how long it's been since last Headcase Games has released a new project (I really don't wanna think on it!) so this is long overdue; there's a fair amount of work to get through yet, but the game looks great, it's very fun to play, and very importantly our production pipeline is very well-situated which is no small feat. It is still difficult to say when to project for a release owing to various reasons, but I'd like to think we can be approaching a candidate inside of 1 month's time so long as we can continue on with this rhythm; on the contrary, I can honestly count on two hands how many times I've said similar things in this very journal about X amount of productions, so I will officially hold my tongue regarding the matter, any further.

 However, the call for beta testers has been put out and though we've got a decent pool, I'd like a few more and if you can really dedicate to trying to beat the bejeezus out of our game, please don't hesitate to contact me. We're close to a releasable Android beta, and I don't think an iOS version is more than a few weeks out potentially? As for the game, it's called "Blast Rover" and I currently describe it as "Moon Patrol meets Super Meat Boy, with a dash of Blaster Master tossed in.."

 Other projects! Let's mention them while we are at it.. well, I joined the "'I got drunk and lost my iPhone' Club" several months ago, and with that my ability to play any iOS games was kaput. This was secretly a good thing, as it forced me to quit my years-long Drop7 hardcore addiction cold turkey; and thankful for that as I was still playing it for hours each day, and haven't reinstalled it on anything since. I miss that game but I hope to high heaven that I never lay eyes or fingers on it again. This also means that I haven't touched any of my WIP iOS projects in such a manner either (specifically Trapdoor and GunHead) although both also exist in other forms on other platforms: the GunHead build, although stalled for many months, was still in a good place and a constant reminder of what I wanted to push forward with. Fast forward to now, my Trapdoor programmer had recently hooked me up with a 3GS and I've finally JB'd it and got my old .IPAs running again. So it is a nice refresher to pick up with the old WIP and get my head back to where things were at. Although that game had a long way to go, there was a lot of nice work done and the build felt really good to play with. It's a nice jostling reminder that this is still waiting for me to continue on with, someday. Meanwhile, Pat and I are mindful of what's been going on between Kickstarter and the larger "retro-revival scene" and it feels very appropriate to launch a KS to pickup development with GunHead once Blast Rover wraps. I've mentioned it before, we have a strong amount of material already to assemble a decent video promo for the project. I'm tired of talking about it and just really want to move on with it, although the downtime has allowed our tech to progress considerably so it's been far from a wasted opportunity.

 Immediately following BR I'd also like to attempt a quick production and release for the 180 "sequel," or side-story, whatever you want to call it. I look at it not so much as a money-making proposition, but rejiggering of the assets and attaching some new gameplay rules to deliver a fresh experience. If we can output it in a manner similar to iFist on Android (very low-impact) than it will be a worthwhile venture, and I suspect some of the thousands of current 180 players will at least appreciate the effort.

 Trapdoor is kind of my shame at this point, the game is very fun and it's sad that the game has just stayed put in stasis for so long. I feel awful that the programmers who've given me the time of day to bring it to such a state have seen me just leave it lingering in the wind for so long; the brutal truth is that life has just been kicking my ass and there's been no room to pick it up. I was planning to make some decent progress with the game in time for PAX, but obviously it's not happened. And I still would rather let it sit unfinished for however long it's gonna take, as opposed to packing it up and pooping it out in a half-baked state. E3 is the next blip on the radar so I guess I will say that's my next date to be hopeful for some progress; now that my iOS device is back in action that should spur on some development on my end as well, but..

 ...the brutal truth (as mentioned above) is that I am pretty miserably destitute and my main focus right now is on finding some kinda steady income. I was fortunate to be employed with a good gig for the last quarter, but my income and output are pretty 1:1 so it's fairly impossible to work professionally, save up, and then fall back with an eye on using downtime to catch up on too many of these side-projects. I am working as diligently as possible to turn my indie business profitable enough to spark it into such a state that I can do more than merely tread water with it, but until I release something that can actually make money, or get a legit Kickstarter campaign finished and funded (no small task for sure!), then my professional life is just a constant ping-pong of DO A BUNCH OF PAID WORK and TRY TO SQUEEZE IN SOME INDIE STUFF IN THE MEANTIME. I wanna stress that this is how it goes "when one pursues the independent game developer life" however, and I know what I have signed up for; likewise just trying to make a living following one's passion. The verdict, as far as I am concerned, even with all the heartache and stress and soul-crushing neurosis, aggravation and general tsuris brought on by such decisions is that it is all worth it. I have worked too long and too hard, but also I really stand by the quality of what I've worked on, and the people I've been involved with, across the board. If it all ends tomorrow and nothing further gets done, well that is a shame but at least I've been trying and can look at the body of work we've produced (complete or otherwise) and feel satisfied that some excellent, passionately-produced effort has been put out, across the board.

 And don't worry, I am not going anywhere. It may be a protracted period, but Headcase Games will always trickle out, so long as I am still here :) Thanks for reading, and thank YOU for playing!