Sorry for the radio silence!

Hey there…

I am so mad at myself for not setting aside time to post an update during the months of September and October! I truly apologize to you guys! I’ve been juggling a few things at once during that time and let the blog slip unfortunately.

As for what I have been working on recently…

I actually have begun working with our voice actors again, which is very exciting! For Futuretech…our lead actor Brandon Lamar and I have been working together to bang out the majority of the main “cutscene” dialogue. I gotta say, Brandon is a natural! Rarely do I ever need to ask him for a retake. I started calling him the “One-Take Wonder” lol!

We also had one of our very first contributors come back to the project after a year long hiatus. Lauren Heward is one of the most gifted actresses I have ever known! I’m super excited that she is reprising the role of Ayesha.

On the game engine front, I have been working hard to get the player HUD and menu UI coding to work properly in UE4. So far so good. Once I got that under control, my focus has now switched to the AI directors…basically bots that control the enemy ships in each of the game levels.

There has also been early prep for PAX East 2018 in Boston next spring. Our booth will be setting up shop again on the convention floor with a new, larger demo of the mini-game. We will also have new contests, prizes, and swag in store.

Ok…I hope I have gotten you guys up to speed well enough for now. Time for me to dive right back into it. More info coming soon…I promise!

~SF

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Sometimes it’s hard…

Hey guys,

I typically try to share news and progress on this blog to help show people the actual in’s and outs of indie game development. Usually it’s pretty upbeat and fun. Most of the time it actually is…but…sometimes it’s hard.

To say that it’s “hard” has several meanings.

First, the technical hurdles of creating a video game are definitely not “easy”. Not to say with hard work and dedication it can’t be mastered…it certainly can. What I want to stress is that they are of varying degrees of difficulty, the learning curves are not all the same, and some of the information you need is buried deep in on-line forums and tutorials…or the cost to learn them in an academic setting is not cheap. Be prepared to get down in the trenches to learn all you need to know.

Second, the sheer amount of work needed to be done can actually be staggering if you aren’t fully prepared for it. I am personally into my fourth year working on this game IP…with some of my contributors into it almost nearly as long! There is story to be written, concept artwork to be drawn, assets to be modeled and textured, coding to be written, websites to be created and maintained, (blogs to be posted..hehe), legal trademark and copyright work to be done, marketing, social media, game testing, etc. I’m sure the triple-A studios feel this pressure as well, but when you have hundreds of people to help shoulder the load, I’m guessing it feels a bit different than when you are a group of about half a dozen people doing the majority of the work in their spare time.

Third…the cost. That in itself has multiple meanings. There is the monetary cost…which being a “no-budget” endeavor means having to work a regular job to keep yourself afloat while trying to create something that you most likely will never see a dime come out of until it is at least completed, if it sells at all. All the while there are legal costs, website costs, marketing costs, and occasional miscellaneous costs that you never see coming until it’s there. There is also, and in some respects to more of a degree, the time cost. All the people working on this…including  myself…do so in whatever spare time they can find between full and part time jobs, school, family commitments, etc. Time is a currency we all share and have a limited amount of. The fact that we, the LEGACY team, choose to spend some of that precious resource on this game should tell you something about our expectations of it’s potential.

Lastly, but certainly not leastly (is that a word??)…and this I speak for myself , is that it is hard to sometimes focus on the project at hand when so many other factors like the ones above continually weigh on my shoulders. That and the self-proclaimed duty to see this project brought to completion. In the last four years I have probably taken an actual “vacation” with my wife once…which lasted two weeks. I have a shelf full of video games that I never play because I won’t allow myself to take the time away from the project. Every night after I come home from my day job, I eat dinner, hang out with my wife & play with the dogs for about an hour,  then disappear into my home office for the rest of the night. That has been most of my days…for the past four years.

I don’t say all of this to make anyone feel sorry for me, I say it to show that along with the great, fun, exciting side of indie game development, there is also a grueling, exhausting, commitment-filled side as well that goes along with the first part like two sides of the same coin. That coin is the price of admission to the game development community. I just want to show you exactly what it will take to make that investment.

In the end, that coin will be the best money I ever spent!

~SF

 

 

Trademarks…and the headaches that come with!

Hi guys!

I will keep this short’ish (since the actual legalities of trademarks can take quite a while to delve into), and stick to my specific story regarding the hoops I have jumped through with our game.

Previously I had posted that our game’s name (LEGACY) was officially cleared through the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office). They had even published it in their official gazette…which was pretty darn exciting, I won’t lie. That was a few years ago. One of the things that one needs to do to make the mark “official” is to use that mark in commerce (ex. on a sold product). Since the scope of our game, coupled with the lack of funding, and the limitations of having to work on the game in our spare time were all working to delay it’s release…that requirement had not been met by the standard deadline.

We are still a bit away from having a product ready to ship…and that probably won’t change much until we are able to get some funding behind the project. In regards to the trademark, it wasn’t that much of a big deal to reach the deadline, or so I thought. Once the mark lapses into non-use, you can just re-submit a new application. Since the mark was still available, and I had been approved so easily the last time, I figured this would be a piece of cake! I was wrong.

Here’s where it gets funny. The new mark application for LEGACY doesn’t seem to hold up to the existing search and comparison criteria…so it was denied! Mind you…NOTHING has changed from the last time. The existing marks that they say are contestable to mine now WERE ALREADY THERE the last time I went to apply…and succeeded! So…what happened?! I’m still trying to figure that out. I have messaged the designated trademark attorney working on my application, and have since contested the denial. I can only hope that they see the failed logic in denying what had already been approved once before.

That said, there is a slight possibility that the name of the game may have to change. We’ve been batting around some ideas, but none of them really convey the epic scope or obvious (once you know the story) tie-in that makes “LEGACY” work so well. I know that in the grand scheme of game development, the game play and story will ultimately define the work. The name is just the dressing…but it is really tasty dressing..lol! Anyways, I thought I would let you guys know what I’ve been working on lately. Not as fun or exciting as the stuff I’ve posted before I know…but still a part of the whole indie game dev experience. I’ll let you know how it goes hopefully soon!

~SF

 

 

Getting close to an Alpha test for FFA!

Hi guys!

Just wanted to check in and let you know that we are getting some major progress done on FUTURETECH FLIGHT ACADEMY (the smaller “mini-game” set to release ahead of LEGACY proper). I’ve recently been able to incorporate some much needed functionality for the mission selection and ship selection UI screens. Now that it is in place, the game is actually starting to feel like a “real game”…if that makes any sense.

Within a few more weeks I hope to have it at a point that will allow some early game testing for people outside of the project. I will keep you all informed so that when the alpha is ready, the criteria for applications for alpha testers will be made available for anyone who might be interested.

Ok, that’s it for now. Back to blueprint coding!

~SF

Looking back at 2016….

Hey guys!

As 2017 fast approaches, I thought it would be good to take a moment to reflect upon the current year and some of it’s high points in regards to the progress of the making of LEGACY (and to a new degree, it’s “prequel” of sorts…FutureTech Flight Academy, or “FFA” for short).

I would have to say that, without a doubt, our major high point was attending PAX EAST in Boston, MA this past spring. We had an amazing time there…from finally showcasing a playable demo for the public, to taking in all the sights, sounds, and energy from the event itself. There were so many great games showcased there that certainly fueled our drive and ambitions to become a name in this fabulous industry! We also met a lot of interesting and genuinely helpful people during our three days on the convention floor. The people who sat down and actually played the demo had tons of great feedback for us. Subsequently, from this feedback, our newest game idea was formed. Also, we were surrounded by other teams in the booths adjacent to us who had a lot of helpful and useful ideas and advice. It really was a great feeling to see just how supportive the indie gaming community can be from the inside. Plus, PAX EAST 2016 would not have been such a fantastic success if it weren’t for the truly awe-inspiring effort put in by the team who volunteered to man the booth. To Camille, Genevieve, Latisha, and Tori…I want to thank each of you for making the event run smoothly, efficiently, successfully, and most importantly…fun! Although we will not be making an appearance at PAX in 2017, be prepared to see us in 2018 with some new, amazing content!

The major event that spawned from our visit to PAX was the decision to create a smaller, one-off game which could be considered a “prequel” of sorts to the main project. It seemed that the majority of the people who played our demo…a small space combat portion of the game…thought that this was an example of the full game itself. Not only that, but they were all for it being a project that they would be willing to follow and support. This realization was in fact a bit of a relief, seeing that the main game would not be close to completed until sometime mid-to-late 2018. By splintering off and working on a standalone space combat sim, we had the possibility of releasing a completed game much sooner. We have also placed FFA on Steam’s Greenlight “early concepts” page for additional feedback and exposure. As of now, production of FFA is well underway, with a projected release sometime this coming Spring/Summer.

Another first for us in 2016 was the release of our very first teaser trailer! It’s fairly short and purposely ambiguous, but definitely sets the tone and mood for the game as a whole. The haunting voice-over work from on of our voice actors Tulip (whose voice can be heard on her web page http://www.tulipflanagan.com) sounds just so perfect! I still can’t get over how good it is. Thank you Tulip for the wonderful improvisation. The teaser video can be found here…https://youtu.be/OG3d8P2k9y0.

One of the technical milestones in the project early in the year was the completion of the “AI Ship Director”…an intuitive in-engine visual scripted program…used to control all of the various AI ships in a given level. By implementing this “Director”…I was able to greatly increase the efficiency and speed at which the game engine could control enemy AI assets in a level. Other technical achievements of last year were the creation of a functioning main menu, weapon selection script, and a order priority selection menu. The latter gives the player the ability to designate targets of priority for their support AI wingmen during the space combat scenarios.

In the writing department, we covered a lot of ground this past year. Our writers, Genevieve and Summer, both created some very intriguing dialogue and back-story for the game. Genevieve has been focused on creating a new main character for FFA, a young rookie pilot in training named Gary. Newly recruited, he is eager to get into the fight against the alien menace that is currently controlling the planet. However, he soon finds out that joining the cause comes with it’s own heavy price to pay. Moving to the lore of the game, Summer has been writing a narrative that will delve deep into the history of the world of LEGACY. Several hundreds of years before the events of LEGACY, circumstances are unfolding on Earth and beyond that will forever change the fate of humanity.

In the art department, we had a very talented batch of concept artists, 3D modelers, and level designers working to get a ton of assets and art sheets thru the pipeline. Latisha and Jacob…the core of our 3D modeling team…have been working on creating our weapons, level assets, and textures. Sergio, who has moved on from our team to work with a AAA gaming studio, was integral to creating the 3D models for our fighter and bomber assets…with design help from concept artist Kevin. Kevin, who has been busy with both ship and environmental concept art design, created a fantastic array of alien and human weapon designs, as well as environmental art for the interior of the large space cruiser being developed for our next main game demo level. Tori, our level designer, has been putting together that demo level inside of Unreal Engine 4 for most of the latter half of 2016. Our newest concept artist addition to the team, Danielle, has been creating character a-pose modeling sheets and illustrations featuring design updates to the main characters of the game. Her unique ability to blend both the established design aesthetics of the characters while being able to seamlessly integrate her own unique spin has been amazing to watch! The characters are fabulous to look at…and are coming to life with their own unique personalities. I cannot wait to get them modeled and rigged for animation in 2017! Our UI designer Camille has been working on creating some really great designs for both the menu screens and HUD iconography for both the main game and FFA. Some of those menu screens were showcased in our demo at PAX back in April. Since then she has create a ton of new work that will be front and center in FFA’s gaming interface.

Of course there were a few setbacks…which seem to mirror a lot of what transpired in 2016 as a whole. One of the major ones was not reaching a point that we felt comfortable launching a crowd funding campaign. Initially slated for fall of this year, there just didn’t seem (at least in my eyes) enough solid ground to initiate that sort of funding campaign. It’s my true belief that people should have the ability to see a comprehensive, fully grounded and functioning demo product before being asked for their financial support. Although we had a playable demo, there just seems to be a little bit more needed in place before that happens. Rest assured, that will be coming very soon though. Another was the inability to cast all of the main voice acting roles for the game. With a large portion of the characters cast with amazingly talented voice actors, the bar has been set pretty high for the remaining parts. The search for the voice of the main protagonist, alien scientist, and for the newest character…Gary…along with several other NPC’s…continues on into the new year.

In conclusion, I believe that overall 2016 was a monumentally positive year for production. Like our aforementioned voice actors, it has set the bar high for 2017. It is a bar that, although high, I believe we will surpass and even eclipse in 2017. We have the team, the vision, and the drive to make it happen. Keep an eye out for what is next. Trust me…it’s gonna be cool!

Happy New Year from the LEGACY team…and thank you for your continued support and interest!

~SF