Happy New Year!

Hey guys,

Happy New Year!!! Yes, a bit late, but I wish it none the less.

So now that we are entering 2018, I wanted to take a minute to get you guys caught up on where the production of FUTURETECH SPACE COMBAT ACADEMY is at.

First off, we have been given official notice that the name of our minigame is officially registered with the US Patent and Trademark Office! It will be published in their February 8th official trademark gazette. Once the game goes public and available for sale (which we are shooting for late 2018 to happen) the trademark becomes finalized. This will then allow us to put the little “R” in place of the standard “TM” next to the title! Oh…and…other legal stuff. 😉

Second, we will be presenting the updated pre-alpha demo of FUTURETECH at PAX East in Boston this spring! The event is from April 4th -7th at the BCEC (Boston Convention and Exhibition Center) near the bay. Anyone can come by our booth #24118 and try out the game demo. As of now I have two levels fully completed and ready to play, with two more in the works which should be done by the convention dates.

Currently I have been knee deep in blueprint coding inside the UE4 editor. The game will have a rank and score system in play, which is what I have been working on the past week or so. After a few snags, I have the two systems working pretty smoothly. As players earn points for completing objectives, destroying enemies, and completing specific tasks, the points will go towards earning rank designations and, eventually, unlocking special weapons and defenses.

Lastly, progress is slow but steady with the games voice over scripts and audio recordings. With so much working being done in the game engine for the coding, I have had to slow down the work on the voice overs unfortunately. However, with our main writer Genevieve on a short hiatus, I have taken over the job of writing some of the generic pilot dialogue for the actors. It’s slow going, but they are in the pipeline.

Ok…that’s pretty much it for now. I’ll work hard to get another update out next month so you guys can stay up-to-date with our progress. Thanks for reading and staying on-board with FUTURETECH and LEGACY!

~SF

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Good news on the new title!

Hey guys!

So I wanted to share the good news…our new title for the mini-game has been approved for trademark registration by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office! The name will henceforth be “FUTURETECH SPACE COMBAT ACADEMY”. I hope you guys like it!

Also, we are making some really great progress on the mini-game in preparation for PAX East 2018 in April. By the time we hit the show floor, expect us to have at least 4 full playable levels available for you to demo at our booth. More information to come!

Ok, that’s about it for now. Back to level building. 🙂

~SF

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

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

 

 

Exploration!

Hey everyone! Gen here!

SO – the game is still in progress, but moving along quickly! There is indeed a pre-alpha version available to staff as was mentioned in a previous post, but there are still scripts of chatter and communication direction in the works as the levels are edited. Still, it’s amazing to be part of a project and see it coalesce into a cohesive product!!! It’s an exciting time!!!

Personally, I’m also having a bit of fun exploring new skills and practicing existing ones. Currently taking a Python programming class with MIT through edX…so will see how that turns out. (Obviously you can all see I’m all about online learning and alternate education along with the traditional. It’s helpful, especially when you have a busy schedule.)

But besides that, I’m exploring some concept art and perspective practice…if you wish to follow what I’m doing art-wise, my Instagram is primarily for that sort of thing: g.d.franco. Check it out if interested! Currently trying to improve with environment sketches and three-point perspective.

Speaking of art and games…very soon, I will be broadcasting a Twitch series on concept art, writing and a handful of reaction Let’s Plays. Mostly art and storyboarding, though. Upon the startup, I’ll be creating content for Legacy’s universe, specifically. Again, if you are interested, keep an eye out for the channel gdfrancoart. Coming soon!

Haha – lots of self-promotion in this post. But it’s an FYI, if you all are interested. No pressure!

Also, a question for anyone: does anyone want to see Legacy on a particular social media platform? There is Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook already, but is anyone particularly interested in a Legacy-centric Instagram? Or even later on, a newsletter production booklet of some type? Just throwing about some more ideas.

~G

 

 

Momentum!

Hey everyone! Gen here!

Just an update on the writerly side of things – everyone is working hard to complete Futuretech: Flight Academy, and already there is a pre-alpha (or rather, first-playable) version out to internal staff, which is awesome and exciting! So progress has taken a tangible step!

As always, the story is never, ever finished – and even now there are scripts being written for intros, radio chatter, reactions and briefs! The game flow and voice actors’ considerations dictate a lot of how that process goes, too.

And along with the writing comes new storyboards! Working on the trailer and changing an outcome for a character!

As people know, the game design document, comprised of pretty much everything that goes into the design process – art, writing, assets, published announcements, flow charts, info/lore sheets, controls, etc. etc. – is always changing, even up to the last second. Currently, the Legacy universe expands to its main game as well as Futuretech‘s, so a lot of its production is along the same story foundations. There’s a substantial amount of art and planning done already, and I’ve been looking into publishing processes for books lately – specifically art production books.

So, the question is…if our team could compile, publish and distribute a production book of sorts for Futuretech, would players be interested in it for an affordable price? Just an idea I’ve been kicking around for some time. All up in the air right now and ultimately up to the director, but it is something worth considering, what with many fans (including myself) being avid collectors of their fandoms’ production art books…

~G