The Day After Dev Report #19 – Reinvigorated

You know how last time I was complaining that it was February already? Well it’s March already. I missed the previous post because of lack of news and, to be honest, lack of vim and vigour for The Day After… Until this week!

In a nice parade of encouragement, I had a few good things fall into my lap:

  • Potential 3d modellers
  • A game jam
  • Some cross-cultural stuff
  • And a nice donation paid back.

Business

As I mentioned last time, I was talking to a lecturer at the AIE. Off his own back he’s done some asking around for me about 3d modellers and managed to suggest a few. I did my research and am talking to one group now. They look like they do great work, and have experience with cartoony characters. Fingers crossed it’s what I want (and in my budget!)

I’m looking into some boring business stuff that might put things on a sure footing. As regards to The Day After it feels a little early, but I think it’s better to have this done now before some jerk throws a spanner in the works. Hopefully it doesn’t cost too much.

Coding

The last few weeks have had me trying different approaches at the game code. I think my coding style works best if I have a vague idea, outline the code bits and then fill in. I have a decent idea of what I want, but the outlining bit keeps going awry.

I was feeling a bit down about this wheel-spinning. Then on Sunday my friends hit me with a thunderbolt. See Alex used to work at a games company and has been working on projects for a while. Buying a new house gave he and his partner the great idea to run a games jam next month. I had thought about running one myself a long time ago, but didn’t have the resources or drive. Thank God for my friends 🙂

Now I have a bit of a deadline to have something non-embarrassing to show fellow indie devs. And if all else fails, I’ll get to try a Oculus Rift.

Design

Kickstarters can go really, really well. Kickstarters can go crazy bad. Occasionally they make your day.

A while ago I supported a Kickstarter called Atama-ii Books. The idea is that you could teach kids English by presenting them cool stories with branching narratives (like Choose Your Own Adventure). Artwork would be done by Alice Carroll, who you might remember from the concept/character art for The Day After. Alice is cool and the project was cool, so I threw money at it. Plus if you supported the project at a certain time, they would try to put you in the Atama-ii book about a zombie apocalypse. Hell yes.

The project got the funding it needed and just this week, the first books were released – including Zombies in Tokyo. I like putting little plot twists on life so with the blessing of the project lead Marcos and Alice, instead of getting myself in the zombie book, I asked if they’d put in one of my The Day After characters. And they did!

I got the results this week and it blew my fucking mind. Evie the Scientist got a cameo in the book, with some dialogue as well! Amazing.

So The Day After is cross-media, or vaguely within the larger zeitgeist, or however you want to think about it. I better finish the game then 🙂

If you want to check out the awesomeness, buy Zombies in Tokyo on Amazon. It’s cheap!

But that wasn’t the only gift of awesomeness this week. If you’re keen on board games like I am, you’ll be familiar with the videos and podcasts of the British lads Shut Up and Sit Down. They recently were released from the umbrella of Penny Arcade TV. They were running a fundraiser where you could support them for a season. I’ve gotten a lot of enjoyment and ideas from their videos, so it was a no-brainer to support them.

As part of the support tier I went for, you got a goodies bag. It had a SU&SD dice with a funny disclaimer with it, some custom cards for games, custom tunes for Escape, a newsletter and other stuff. You also got to get custom audio message from Quinns and Paul.

I was at a loss as to what to get. Instead of the boring voicemail option, I asked them for advice on creating betrayal-style mechanics in competitive/co-op games. Games like Battlestar Galactica, Shadows over Camelot, Bang! and Room 25 have this sort of mechanic. The Twins are the pivot for that sort of thing in The Day After, as are a few other ideas I’ve been thinking about for years and not discussed yet.

So my mind was blown when they gave me the result. Two minutes 40 seconds of amazingness. They said my name even though they are like famous Internet people. They provided a bunch of great examples and insights and fuelled my creativity for a bunch of ideas. I created a nice little theory about an aspect of game design (which I’ll talk about some day). It’s that enthusiasm, friendliness and insight that I like games, so their audio message was yet another kick in the bum for me.

We live in a blessed time. You can connect with people all over the globe. You can support them. They can support you. I decided a while ago that negative cultures don’t earn you anything. You can’t do anything with a negative. Positives can be created, or shared, or passed on. This little philosophy came back in spades for me – building on the creativity of others and doing stuff outside of the usual mantras led to cavalcade of mind-blowing experiences for me.

This is what I want to do. The Day After is by design an angry, afraid and sad game. Violent catastrophes are like that. But the foundations of the game can be that human connection. I want to capture the generosity that Valve is trying to instill in its free-to-play games. I want that creativity and earnest friendliness that these crowd-funded projects exemplified for me. I don’t want to burn books and squeeze dollars from people. I want to leave the world richer than I found it.

For these and so many more reasons, I better get cracking on my game. 🙂

The Short and Sweet

What I’ve been working on lately:

  • Business stuff
  • Brainstorming
  • Game code

What I’m working on the next run:

  • Following up the business stuff
  • GAME CODE
  • Some minor web stuff