posts tagged with: thoughts

2016: I Guess Part V

2016: I Guess Part V
I guess I've put this off long enough! Time to figure out my reflections on the year, and on life itself!! Yeah. This post actually turned out to be monstrous in size, so I'm going to ahead and hide almost all of it behind the good old "read more" link. So if you're interested in a whole bunch of my thoughts over the past year then go ahead and dive in!

2016: I Guess Part IV

2016: I Guess Part IV

October


Honestly from a lot of my posts it seemed like things were going well, but unfortunately a lot of my anxiety and depression issues were getting worse. Some things can temporarily bring me out of it, but what sucks is that my default state just seems to be being super anxious and or depressed.

I was able to make a fun little doodle though.

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My energy level dropped pretty significantly and work on Sky Sisters crawled. I wasn't able to muster up the productivity I had the month before, and the energy from PAX was worn off. One of the things I still wanted to add was a progress marker to the game so that players could see how far along they are until the next boss. This required me to dig into some internals of the game that I hadn't touched in a while so of course a bunch of stuff broke.

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Feeling severe burn out I decided to switch my focus for a little while. In the world of Pathfinder my party was using a PDF to track our character sheets. While this was working for us there was definitely space for improvement. Like one of our party members was always out of space for his items since he was carrying the bag of holding. I ran into the issue where my spell list out grew my sheet so I had to make a whole new one. It was just a pain to use most of the time so I decided to finally tackle a web based character sheet.

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It didn't take me long to get something up and running which felt nice. Working on something new can feel pretty refreshing, and also working on something that wasn't a game was actually relaxing. Web coding felt so easy compared to game coding.

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I still managed to get some doodles out too.

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November


One of the few Sky Sisters tasks I could muster this month was making some new palettes for the background. Yeah, really. I was still feeling so insanely burnt out.

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I spent a majority of this month on my Pathfinder character sheet web application. It was actually a lot of fun getting feedback from our game master and fellow players and improving it. I added an ultra compact view to get a quick glance at a character created with it.

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I also spent some time on a new Travel Pillow mock up if I ever get around to making such a game.

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And another random mock up for fun.

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I could still feel the heavy burn out. I'm not even sure if I'm out of it yet while writing this. I just kept working on the character sheet manager and doing some art stuff when I felt like it.

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December


Here we are at the end of the year already. I can't believe how fast it all flew by again. I had a little bit of energy to spare in Sky Sisters so I tried to kill off some last visual tasks.

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Some numbers for getting points, and some new effects for getting an upgrade.

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As an attempt to keep myself programming at least something I dove back into FNA stuff. By this point I was pretty much 100% done with my Pathfinder character sheet, and I already felt like I had spent more than enough time on it. On my trip back to FNA world I started to put together just a really simple platformer type thing with tiles and grid collision.

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The end of the month brought me back to Upstate New York to visit my family that I hadn't seen for some time. I skipped Christmas the year before, so it felt like I hadn't been home in forever.

When I got to New York I was convinced that I needed to take an actual break from everything. Except for doodling of course.

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Looking back at the year I can see why I would need a real break from all things work. I never actually take breaks, and being indie kind of means I'm always "at work." I'm never home from the office because home is the office, and the feeling of my career flying out the window when I'm not working is very real and crippling. I ended the year by just hanging out with my family and playing games. It was something I needed more than I knew, and when I returned to Denver I ended up extending the break even further.

There is advice that I hear a lot which is to take a break for as long as you need. Eventually you will feel the itch to get back to work, but sometimes it might be a while.

Okay this is becoming less and less of a recap so I better save it for the last part in which I offer profound reflections on the year passed. Maybe.

2016: I Guess Part III

2016: I Guess Part III

July


I started July with a small break in game development and decided to spend some time actually playing some games instead. I was absolutely hooked on Environmental Station Alpha and played it to almost 100% completion… or whatever the game calls 100%. I think it goes up to some absurd number that I forget. Whatever, I played a lot of it.

I jumped into grinding out some background art for Super Sky Sisters.

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I also took some time to do a quick mock up of a potential Travel Pillow game that I'll probably get around to making someday. I think to really pull off what I would want out of it I would need a team of some people working on it with me, and who knows if I could ever actually make that happen.

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In the wild world of my Pathfinder campaign my party ended up going back in time about 9300 years. My Samsaran Oracle, Ryn, got to meet one of his past lives face to face. A psychotic worshipper of Zon Kuthon. She was murdered by the party in front of Ryn as she was being held in his arms. It's probably the most traumatic things I've ever experienced in tabletop gaming and I'm still not sure how I feel about it. It was cool, I guess, but I would be lying if I said it didn't actually mess me up on a real level. Anyway here's a drawing of Ryn and his past life, The Seventh.

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On a lighter note I made some more cool effects in Sky Sisters using some shader magic.

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August


Time to buckle down and grind out a bunch of artwork for Super Sky Sisters! Of course because I added a secret boss to the game I now have to animate those secret bosses. What have I done.

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I also thought "gosh wouldn't it be cool if the game had an actual story?" So I got to work grinding out over twenty huge illustrations for the story in the game.

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I think all of that grinding on artwork boosted my art skills for this month because I was able to jam out some really cool illustrations of Ryn.

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Including one of a bunch of his past lives which I still really like looking at it now.

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I think I still felt pretty discouraged about it though because I posted these on tumblr and got no notes! Oh well, nobody really follows me on tumblr anyway.

At this point in the month I knew that I would be heading to PAX, so I dug into some more things on Sky Sisters that needed polish like all of the menus.

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September


Through the generosity of one of my best buddies in the world I was able to show Super Sky Sisters at PAX. I had just a little corner of a booth to give demos of people and sometimes I even talked to them if I wasn't feeling so socially anxious that I tried to hide behind near by furniture.

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The amazing and talented Chevy Ray gave me FAN ART of Sky Sisters which made me so so so happy. It is the first and possibly only fan art of the game!!

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Back in the wild world of Pathfinder one of our core party members died. It made sense for her character, but I still kind of wish it could have worked out differently. She went out in a blaze of glory, so I made some tribute art for her. She didn't really like Ryn that much, so I tried to convey that in my art of her.

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After PAX I was feeling pretty inspired to add some few things to the game. I was still trying to figure out things to add that make both players feel engaged at all times. I tried bullet reflectors first which I think I still like, maybe?

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One of the coolest things I added though is player specific enemy shields. Later in the game enemies can spawn with shields that can only be destroyed by a specific player. This forces both players to engage with the enemies. Maybe.

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And the final new addition which I am still playing around with in present time is the idea that upgrades are not automatic, but instead driven by a task that the two players can do involving moving the orb around a shape.

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This month was a blast productivity wise. I was feeling a huge boost from PAX, but unfortunately I would soon feel the burn out that comes after a huge amount of productivity.

2016: I Guess Part II

2016: I Guess Part II

April


Looking back at this I'm actually pretty impressed with the pace of my work on Super Sky Sisters. The game went from having just a little bit of content to having a boatload more in just a few short months. I spent some time coming up with a whole new secret quest in the game involving unlocking seven mysterious runes that appear under different conditions.

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And of course unlocking all of these runes brings you to a super cool and tough boss fight.

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Of course my Pathfinder campaign kept rolling forward and we made it to the second season of our story. A lot of stuff happened that I'm trying to keep track of in a journal but it's actually pretty dang difficult. Ryn continued to evolve, and one of his past lives came into the story more.

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On top of all that the Super Meat Boy site ended up dying in a horrible server catastrophe, so I was tasked with coming up with a new one for the modern age. Team Meat decided to forego the blog style of their old site and just opt for a more promotional page for Super Meat Boy.

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Back in the world of Super Sky Sisters another thing I added was an idea of an item that appears in the game that boosts your sister's power. I wanted to add things that made it so both players can be actively contributing in some way especially when both players just can't shoot things.

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I also dipped into making some cool shader effects for bigger enemy attacks.

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And as always I kept up with my doodles.

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May


At this point in the year I was pretty solidly into working on Super Sky Sisters and maintaining my development stream on Twitch. Next up on my list of new features was damage numbers from enemies and other objects in the game.

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This month I also took my first look into pivoting to XNA or probably FNA for my future game projects. I'd been using and maintaining Otter, my game making framework, which is based on SFML for the past few years, and some frustrations were piling up from using it. Of course there's always the possibility that I'm suffering from the grass is always greener syndrome. I didn't end up getting that serious about XNA yet since I didn't want to get totally side tracked.

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In the wild world of Pathfinder I ended up making some new art for Ryn for the third season of the campaign. I ended up using this artwork for a makeshift pawn for our battle grid.

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It's actually really tough to find a figurine for a Samsaran Oracle… who would've thought? Samsarans basically make up 0.001% of the population in our campaign, so Ryn's a pretty rare sight.

I finished out the month by publishing Otter on Nuget, although I'm not sure if I like this option in retrospect. I much prefer people have the source code in front of them and are able to compile it themselves in debug or release mode when necessary as the nuget version only gives you the release built dll file.

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June


Summer was in full swing in Denver and I was actually spending a lot of time outside believe it or not. I was trying to experience the first summer in years where I wasn't living in a desert that gets to be 120F.

I ducked back into some FNA experiments for the first part of this month. I knew going into FNA that the two most difficult things are going to be text rendering, and primitive rendering. I dove right into those first.

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It's pretty basic, but it was working!

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This month Comicon was in town, and the local game development community of Denver held a special event showing off local games. I got to show Sky Sisters for the first time in forever to a crowd of real people that could play co-op.

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The game showed a lot better than it previously had. I think a lot of the updates I gave it over the past few months really made a big difference. Two brothers played the game and did really well, and they were talking about strategies and how to get the highest score, and listening to them talk about it so excitedly almost made me cry.

Speaking of Sky Sisters, I worked on more of the polish stuff involved with the secret hidden quest you can do.

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I also addressed one major piece of feedback which was dividing the game up into more defined "chunks" where after a boss you can choose to continue playing or to end your session doubling your score. The game is primarily a score attack so it's a way of making a bet after each boss.

Of course there were some more doodles.

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2016: I Guess Part I

2016: I Guess Part I
I must be getting pretty old now because these yearly review posts feel like they're coming on faster and faster. Another year goes by and I'm not really even sure what happened to it. I feel like I've written too many paragraphs about this feeling by now though, so I'll just skip over it this time.

I also accidentally slash totally on purpose took a really long break from everything work related including this blog unfortunately. I think it was actually pretty overdue. Looking back I haven't really taken a real break in the past however many years. Sure I take some time off from coding every once in a while, but not from "work" entirely.

Alright let's get down to business with my yearly review.

January


2016 in particular felt like a pretty fresh start compared to the last couple of years. Back in good ole January 2016 I had just moved to Denver, Colorado about two months earlier. I was back into the cold of winter compared to my previous home in the hot deserts of Arizona. It was nice to get a feel of seasons again, although it wouldn't take me long to feel totally sick of snow.

This month I was invited to be on the stream for Awesome Games Done Quick 2016 to provide commentary for the Snapshot run. It was an absolute blast and it was actually one of my game developer bucket list items checked off. The Games Done Quick marathons are my favorite things in the world, and to be a small part of them was a huge honor. Shout outs to Blechy and Nightmare and all the GDQ staff for making it possible!



I was also spending time this month working on a prototype of an procedural RPG type game that is still unfortunately in the early prototype stages. It's still a pretty loose idea for a game, and it's still one that I want to get around to, but unfortunately right now it's not really in the cards. I was working on some concepts of the over world based on some of the style from Links Awakening, as well as some of the core mechanics of the battle system.

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Also this month marked the beginning of my epic Pathfinder campaign with a few of my closest friends in Denver. I rolled up a Samsaran Reincarnated Oracle named Ryn. The campaign is still going today and we're almost through the "last" season! This has been by far the most fun I've had in a tabletop pen and paper game, and I hope it goes on forever (or has a really cool ending at least.)

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Toward the end of the month I also got into writing music again for some reason. Every once in a while I feel the itch to try to write music but unfortunately it doesn't last very long. There's something about music that makes it really tough to improve. I think the fact that I'm always exposed to super professional amazing music is what gets me. Sometimes I'll get really into one a song that I'm writing, and I think it sounds really good, but then I listen to a single song from a game or something on my work playlist and I realize how absolutely terrible my song is. Plus music software is a gosh dang nightmare to work in and even the simplest digital audio workstations give me infinite pain.

Song 6!

And of course I'm always doodling stuff.

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February


This is the month that I decided to start streaming, and I used that as a launch pad to get myself working on Super Sky Sisters again.

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My Pathfinder campaign progressed and the design of my character Ryn kept evolving. One of my favorite things about Pathfinder or any tabletop game really is that it's a constant source of material for doodling. Playing a good tabletop game with a solid group of people is way more captivating to me than any other form of media!

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I also put together a presentation about explosions in video games for the fine folks of Warp Zone in Louisville Kentucky.



One of the first things I did on Super Sky Sisters was completely redo the backgrounds. One of the main pieces of feedback I got on the game in 2015 was that the background was pretty dull compared to the rest of the art. At first this was intentional as I didn't want to detract from the foreground art, but the more I looked at it the more I agreed with that feedback. I redesigned the background with some more stuff going on, and tried to shift the style of the background to that of the rest of the game.

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I also dipped my toes into song writing once again this month before giving up on it forever-ish.

Song 11!

Another addition to Sky Sisters was giving the players upgrades along their play through which I think is one of the best things I added in my return to the game.

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March


Looking back at this stuff now I can't believe how long ago it was. This month I went back and redid the art for the two player characters in Super Sky Sisters. At first I didn't actually like the new style, but I had to redraw them for the purposes of doing a bunch of animations for them.

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I actually hate hate hate doing animations. I think I might actually like the end result, but animations are so frustrating for me to work on. Making good animations is a gosh dang mystery to me, but I do what I can.

March of course was also the month of the big Game Developers Conference which I've been going to every year since 2008. Dang that is a long time. Look at how serious I look in this picture.

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Wow my hair was so blue back then! As I write this my hair is a big faded out mess. One of the biggest draw backs of moving out of Arizona was losing access to my ultra talented hair stylist, Stacy. At this point I'm actually making plans to go back to Arizona so that I can have her do my hair again (and also visit my friends.)

Along with GDC this was also the month of the big TowerFall showdown at The Foundry. Some really amazing games were played and I somehow walked away with the crown. I remember telling Matt "I don't know who was playing TowerFall just now, but it wasn't me." It was this weird feeling where I was playing so well that I felt like I was having an out of body experience. Anyway check out some footage.





I went back and spent some time revisiting my art style tests for my rpg prototype. I ended up ditching the pixel art look and going with a high definition style that uses pixel art as its source. Basically I draw everything at 4x its normal size using the pencil tool.

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And of course the doodle train doesn't stop.

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State of my Brain

State of my Brain
Progress on things has been pretty weird lately. I've been all over the place with what I've been working on and how I've been spending my time. I'm struggling to find things to talk about on the ole blog so I figured I'd write up just a bunch of thoughts and feelings that are bouncing around my noggin.

Super Sky Sisters
I've been feeling like this game is "almost done" for the past year. It's always felt that I'm one bullet point away from finishing it, but each bullet point reveals two or three more that I then have to work on. It just doesn't seem like the game has enough stuff for it to be called "finished." That and I'm also struggling with a lot of anxiety about the game.

Honestly what I really want to do is just release it on itch.io and call it a day, but I feel like I'm missing possible opportunities to do way more with it. Steam, Humble, maybe actually trying to get any sort of press for it... but all of these things make me feel incredibly anxious. I would be perfectly happy just quietly releasing it on itch, but am I just screwing myself over by doing that? I mean I do have to make money on my work otherwise it becomes pretty difficult to eat, but right now the thought of putting Sky Sisters in front of a potentially huge audience makes me feel pretty uneasy and I'm not sure exactly why.

These feelings of weird social anxiety that somehow carries over to my work is probably the biggest reason I haven't hurried up and finished it. My anxiety and "introvertedness" just gets stronger and stronger all the time and I'm not sure how to fight it! Whoops this part isn't exactly about Sky Sisters anymore.