New year, new beer

After a very rough holiday season, I’m finally back to a place of dev.

Back on Nov. 1st, my wife had the honor of being laid off from the same job that laid me off back in 2006, via a conference call, and right before the holiday season. To her credit, instead of spending a month of depressive TV watching and sleeping, she dove right into job hunting and (luckily) found a job doing the same thing, and for the same pay.

Its mine all mine, once more!

Which means that for the FIRST TIME in over 2 years and 10 months, I am alone in the house, not tending to kids (who went back to school this week) not playing tech for a person on each floor of the house who needs to access work or school, not providing snack, meals, beverages or clean up duty to said people on each floor. I can just sit. And work.

my cat

Except for this fuzzball, who senses the house is empty and is clinging to me as if I were the last chopper out of Saigon.

It is a bit daunting, now I have zero excuse – time to finish the GDD, publish the mobile game and get seriously working on the game – before May sneaks up on me and I’m stuck with two kiddos once again.

I do have ONE resolution this year – I want to show my game a either Games4Change’s XR 4 Change expo, or perhaps the Interactive pavilion at Tribeca; either way – its been too long since I’ve been home and I long to roam the streets of NYC, see friends I haven’t seen in years and visit some fave watering holes – plus suck up a ton of reference photos for painting my city grungy paintings.

Time to get moving.

It’s like you’re always stuck in second gear

I hate ‘Friends’

I’ve always hated ‘Friends’

I’ve hated it since it debuted in ’94 and them roommates and I were dirt poor, living in Greenpoint, Brooklyn and it took TWO subway rides to get anywhere. The roomies and I would lambast the show for its sheer ‘un-New York-ness’. No one we knew had giant apartments like that. There were no strikingly attractive people living across the hall from us. Our ‘wacky adventures’ were rollerblading the city streets looking for the cheapest food and ale we could find.

But I can’t get that damn theme song out of my head.

2nd gear. Stuck. Summer break with 2 kids who are bored. Family vacations stuck in the car driving for hours. Summer camps (special needs for lil’ Art Director and chess camp for Jr. lil’ Art Director).
Playdates with other kids. And I truly believe Sartre is being misquoted when he said ‘Hell is other people’ – I think he mean to say ‘Hell is other people’s kids’ – either I have some sort of ‘vibe’ kids pick up on, or there is a serious parenting crisis in the country; but it seems that if I show even the slightest interest / interaction with anyone my kids are playing with, they instantly glom on to me and demand my attention. Its almost as if they’re neglected by every single adult in their lives and they are starved for grown up attention.

Rant over. Seeing that I haven’t written since April- I can totally relate to the whole ‘stuck in 2nd gear’ motif. Even though things HAVE been moving forward.

I’ve been slowly plugging away at the mobile game – and despite the struggles of adding the Curved World effect that it seems is necessary for all infinite runners these days, its getting closer to release. The biggest issue, of course, is the impostor syndrome nagging of ‘is it any good?’ Which I’m sure will plague me 10 years down the road after the internet has shredded it, mocked me into a cave-living hermit.

Booper Get Home logo

I’ve been playing around with AI stuff as well – I tried plugging my game into Midjourney, and this is what was spat out – and I kinda like it as a starting point, so it might become the logo for the mobile game. After some edits. Painting it from scratch. Adding my kid’s handwritten font. Redoing it again cause I don’t like it. BUT – I do see the potential for faster iterating of ideas, maybe not the actual art creation, but just quickly throwing out stuff to see what get the creative juices flowing.

intern work!

Lastly – I got an intern! A fellow Oculus Launch Pad dev (who also happens to be a new media professor at a nearby college) approached me with a student who wants to learn VR dev and I have to say; as SOON as I get a dime of funding, I’m hiring this guy. Its been so long since I’ve done any collaborative work with someone else, that I had forgotten that people can bring a whole different kind of creativity to the table. The animation above really drove that point home. I would have given this character a skootchy, wiggly type of dragging on the ground movement, but instead my intern gave it this vertical, bounciness that I totally adore. Having a different viewpoint can be completely eye-opening.

Keep your eyes peeled – crowdfunding is coming soon!

Going Mobile

Since I’m pretty much dedicated to being a game dev; I’ve realized that its a HUGE undertaking that can’t be done by one man alone.

you spin me right round

Well. I *could* do it all myself, but my kids’d be graduating college and starting families of their own by the time I got anything finished. So I need ducats. Big time.

So, I started to pursue funding – except to no one’s surprise; people just don’t hand out checks to random people saying, ‘Go make yer dream game kid!’ Which is quite disappointing. Thinking to myself about ways to make money, I did come to the realization that if I’m ‘going’ to be a dev – how about sell your work?

early ideas on the mobile game

Since I already have characters / assets / framework already in place for a game I want to make – how about bang out a mobile game that I can get out quick?

Its something published; which funders want to see

It’s something using the same characters, so the start of a franchise.

I can tout it when I demo my game and people ask ‘how can I help?’ I can point them towards the mobile game for a quick purchase and it’ll amuse the kids on the car ride home AND keep the game in people’s minds.

And it avoids the failed KickStarter / Ko-fi / Patreon route that seems to doom a lot of indie devs.

So – may I present ‘Go, Booper, GO!’ – the first iteration of my mobile game:

Buy it when I release it, k?

Winning streak

#WritingWednesday and I just realized I hadn’t posted a blog in like, forever and seeking to rectify that.

So let’s show off, shall we?

I never had a badge before!

Working backwards – I just got into the finals of the Game Dev World Championship and I’m absolutely floored. Can NOT wait until March 15th to find out I didn’t win. but, hey – that’s just my pessimistic side speaking.

Over the Xmas break – I saw a FaceBook post from a local reporter, Taylor Bruck, who was asking for any ‘feel good’ stories and I rolled the dice and pitched my game, and to my delight, she accepted! She came out to the house, interviewed the kids and myself, shot some video and took a few pix and a few days later, it aired on Spectrum 1 News.

Screenshot of the Spectrum 1 news story
Lookit what I done won!

I also showed my game at the Cleveland Gaming Classic back in November and that was a fun one – partially because it didn’t require me to drive 2.5 hours to get there (plus the relief that if I forgot something, I didn’t have to pray that a nearby WalMart had what I needed and was open)

aww, taking after his dad!

it was also nice that I got to show the kids what I do, and what these type of conventions are like. Plus they got to play videogames (always a win) and see cool stuff like this:

Pretty sure he shot first

But it was also nice to branch out to a new expo, meet local people that are also in my dev community and see fellow parents and kids friends, it felt more informal and relaxed.

And hey – winning an award for Most Creative didn’t hurt either.

The other thing, besides the holidays, and kid’s off from school and epic deluges of snow and testing positive for Covid-19 and winter blahs is me deciding I needed to get off my butt and get a product ready to ship. If I’m seriously going to pursue funding, the people who write the checks are going to want to see a track record. And that means shipping titles. So I said to myself: ‘Self? What’s the quickest wat to publish a game? … @#$%^& – I gotta make a MOBILE GAME.’

gotta collect them in order to spell a word

So, since I have a crapton of assets ready to go – lets make this a franchise and ‘educational’ to boot. I had started with calling it ‘Booper Prelude’ but a gave dev friend and mentor suggested that I use ‘Go Booper Go!’ and it has a nice ring to it.

I also figure that when it comes expo time again, I can have a tablet running it and a QR code to the Play Store page so people can drop me a few bucks to help support the VR project as well. Gotta start thinking business stuff.