Monday, May 13, 2013

Mid Spring Development Update

Hey folks, I just wanted to put out a little update since things have been quite on The Official Front (TM) for some time now. First and foremost, work has been continuing in earnest on our new game "Blast Rover" - I was hoping to get it wrapped by E3 (one month away); this looks to be impossible, but I don't mind as the project is in very good shape. I'm planning to release a couple of screens at some point soon - my impetus has been to push this game really, really heavy graphically, I feel there is no way to get an indie game out there nowadays without having a strong production quality to the artwork. As such, it's been taking a very long time to create all the art assets, but the payoff will be huge. I just gawk and gape at what I am creating, it looks really slick and I am proud of it (oh, just let me have my moment)

Gameplay-wise, the experience is really tight and lends itself so well to the touchscreen. I think I prefer playing it on-screen than with a keyboard (haven't tried controller yet but I do believe we've got the hookups in place by now). Pat has done an exceptional job with his design work on the game and I feel like we have a very fun, addicting (yeah, I said the A-word) game which will keep people glues to their devices.

One thing which I spend an inordinate time agonizing over is the pricing model. This is were it all gets really sticky. At this point I feel that we just have to give the game away for free, and expect that we can make some money with IAP. Like many I am profoundly anti-IAP but the indie market is so ridiculously crowded right now that I feel there's no way we'll make enough $ on this thing to justify it's development (been going since last October or so!) if we go for straight sales. We could flop hugely with IAP of course, but I do think we have a decent scheme worked out which will be generous enough to provide the average player with plenty of free-experience, without forcing them to feel crappy and "that they have to pay to get an enjoyable game."  The caveat being that of you DO pay up in some way or other, you will get a very different experience with this game. It sounds funky but I have seen it done well in the past. The only way it could really fail is if we simply don't get a strong volume of downloads, and that's why I am working so damn hard to make sure the artwork is compelling!

* * *

GunHead has been out of my mind for some time now (it's halted development while we concentrate on Blast Rover) but I still intend to pick it up later this year. Occasionally I load up the prototype on my phone and tool around with the simple 1 level I'd built for the game. There's a good 50% of work left to do on this thing (at LEAST) but even the little prototype is just fun for what it is. I feel like it's got some horrible issues (the control is slick but not very intuitive in it's current incarnation) but even as-is I just wish there was more actual game in there to play. It just feels good and satisfies the desires I had for such a game when I went out to begin creating it. We'll see how things go in the meantime, but rest assured, it will get released at some point!

* * *

I've been busy as hell during the days, I've been doing design work at daqri for the past couple of weeks (and a couple more are ahead of me). We're cranking on a bunch of things and it's a bit exhilarating.  Working in Downtown LA is really nice!  We are right across the way from all those huge financial towers, it's pretty fascinating to be in the middle of all of that. I wish it didn't smell so uriney however.  As for daqri, augmented reality is certainly an interesting premise and I do feel that they are going to be making some interesting waves with this stuff as the tech progresses.  I have definitely had a couple of thoughts influenced by the culture over there, and making some AR experiences could be compelling. At any rate, my gig should end just before E3 and then it's off to look for more work. The never-ending hustle continues.


On a more personal note, there's definitely been a lot of huge changes in my life as of late. I'm recently single, and it's been a long time since I've been in this position (almost a decade!) Considering that the majority of my 20s and 30s were spent in (longer-term) relationships, it's definitely an adjustment period for me in many ways. As I am staring down the barrel at 39, the last thing I wanna do right now is go back out and "do it all again..." The thought of it is just very exhausting, and honestly it's such a huge fight right now with keeping my career on track, continuing with my independent development, never mind trying not to be crushed by all of the financial issues which we all know and love. It just doesn't seem that there's room for anything else in my life, but we will see. At this point I never have a clue what the hell will be going on in any capacity of my life 6 months down the road..  In spite of my tone, I am happy to have several positive things going on. Like I said, it's very tough financially but I don't regret the fact that I've done a ton of work getting my name/projects out there and with so much passion and excitement for the things that are currently being done. Rather a tough time managing it all, than to be middle-aged, hating my job, disinterested in my career, just consuming the factory-formula drivel that passes for entertainment in the modern age (no offense to those of you dedicated fanboys who just can't get enough of sequel this and predictable that, but I just have no interest in so much of it anymore!)  If things aren't new, different, and exciting, then it's up to those of us with the creative spark and powerful tools to make them, ourselves...