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

 

 

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

A New Toy – I Mean, Tool!

Hey everyone!

Gen here!

So…just a very small bit of news that I wanted to share (because I am still so excited about it): I bought myself a present. A large, expensive present. A Wacom Cintiq 13″ HD touch drawing tablet.

And it is LOVELY. SO lovely. If any of you aspiring or accomplished artists out there are considering it seriously, GET IT. I have been putting it off because of the price, understandably (it costs about as much as a computer), but found a deal for a refurbished one and took it as a sign. Ha ha.

I must say again – worth it.

With digital tablets, it’s sort of been a given that there’s a little disconnection when it comes to the drawing/painting process. You’re drawing half-blindly, staring at the cursor on the designated computer screen as if it is your last hope. And it is, really. That’s your drawing point. (Anyone who uses a tablet, this is baby basics of basics, I know.) Your hand is drawing on a surface away from the actual image being rendered. It’s weird, but you normalize the feeling and that disconnect because you want to create pretty art. It’s like playing a videogame, but for drawing.

The Cintiq, of course, eliminates that disconnect; you draw directly on the screen. It makes a difference. Already I’m noticing a faster speed to creating digital artwork now; there’s more control in each stroke too. It’s a fairly customizable product and you can adjust the lighting and settings as you wish.

Anyway – thought I would let you guys know!

~G

Happy 2017!

Hey everyone! Gen here!

Hope everybody had a lovely New Year’s! I think most of us are happy to start afresh, and not unwilling to let 2016 pass us by. But lots of great things happened too; lots of milestones made, social issues brought to the forefront, environment and animal protections and of course, our art/entertainment industry is growing and changing for the better.

And so have its independents! 😀

A lot is planned for 2017 for us, so this year should prove to be exciting in that regard. As for one of the initial goals for this year, the official trailer for Futuretech Flight Academy will be coming together! That will definitely be thrilling to see!

Otherwise, at least for my corner, working on final touches to that trailer script and storyboard set. It is mostly organizing and re-editing the content I have for Legacy after that!

Will blog again soon with updates!

~G

Importance of Diverse Characters!

Hey all!

Gen here! Again!

Just some thoughts on story development and character design. Of course, at this point, everything is fairly thought-out and nearly in its final stages for the Futuretech Flight Academy upcoming game. There’s some amazing concept/modeling/design art happening in regards to vehicles, weapons, environments…and characters!

There are, basically, unlimited discussions everywhere that analyze the significance of representation in all types of entertainment media – but especially within the realm of videogames now. This is natural, as it is a massive genre that has exploded along with the advancement of technology. Videogames are so versatile, and can really be almost whatever the audience wants – whether it’s a simple game of online Scrabble to Robot Unicorn Attack, or from Skyrim and Grand Theft Auto to VR gaming. There are fitness games, self-help games, adventure puzzle games and violence/horror simulators. This is a genre approaching the vastness of film and literature.

Yes, I know I’ve said this very same in a previous post some time ago. But it has only grown more true, I think.

This is why it is important to appreciate their power. Videogames are now part of the Humanities. They have been for a long time. The simple fact is, they significantly influence culture; especially our culture.

It is extremely important to recognize this.

Depending what the overall goal/purpose of the game is, there is a measure of responsibility upon the creators and the fans. (Yes, the fans. The great and terrible forces of fanbases are not to be underestimated!) It is always important to include all types of people in all types of life. It is important to represent them in our characters that we relate to and identify with in our media; in our humanities. It is particularly important to include diverse characters within games – because we do not merely stand by and watch; we take part in them.

Of course, the story may not support as much as is needed or wanted, but then questions need to be considered. We need to ask ourselves why. Is it for marketing purposes? Is it for historical accuracy? Is that version of historical accuracy accurate itself? Are stereotypes played into for a statement and/or purpose or just because that has been the status quo?

Obviously, no one is perfect. And group projects always must come to a compromised result/end product – that is the nature of them.

But it is our goal to always improve. This is only one area, of course. But we as humans tend to be drawn to the characters of a story, of a realm – so it makes the most sense to start with their transformation and development. Diversifying them and making them relatable both – is the key.

 

 

Intern-ception!

Hey guys! Gen here!

Just thought I’d check in again; let you all know what’s happening –

Been taking an additional art class with CGMA (the 2D Academy; they’ve got a whole other 3D Academy, too) to improve artistic skills, along with a (albeit slow-going) screenwriting course with MasterClass and some Udemy and Coursera videogame structure courses on the side of this internship.

The class I took with CGMA was Environment Sketching, which has now just ended and was awesome; I definitely learned a lot. The instructor was Dzu Nguyen, who is a freelance concept artist and illustrator in the videogame industry.

If anyone has the funds and wants to take an intensive art class online from professionals in the industry, I’d go with CGMA. The forums may not be so active depending on the students’ schedules, but there are chats which are pleasant and generally helpful, along with weekly Q&A videos with the instructors (Those are really great!) And honestly, if you can put forth the effort from home, then it’s worth the money.

ALSO, as mentioned in the previous blog post, there’s a publishing internship I’m doing for six months (well, about four and a half to go, now) that will help gain some insight into the traditional publishing/editing world of an independent press. This is something I am doing for myself AND for this internship, if that makes sense. (Before I even found this work with Polyfountain Media – waaay back when I had just graduated from college, I thought I would go into editing/publishing. It was a major interest and I had done some undergraduate work in designing/editing spreads for multiple campus publications, submitting pieces and being a cartoonist for a section of the main newspaper.)

For now, I wanted to have some additional experience in that field that could apply to what we’re doing here – what with the sheer extent of Legacy’s lore. It’s really become a vast world; there’s the Futuretech Flight Academy lore, which ties into the main feature game’s lore, and there’s also intense world-building being done by a fellow intern, Summer. There’s some really great projects in progress!

So. In other words: keeping busy! Haha.

But really, as far as I’ve ‘researched’ through podcasts, creative career fairs, job hunting and even from my experience at PAX this past spring…creative careers tend to require more from you. Especially the gaming world – and that’s okay. But it’s something to keep in mind for a career path in a fairly new, quickly-evolving and multi-purpose field.

Some Intern Thoughts and Updates!

Gen here!

Just some things!

The cutscenes for the mini-game so far are written; the only thing is to perform some minor edits and whatever else is required for them to flow with the rest of the game itself. As per the process, the writing/story creation provides only one part of the whole product; the rest of it is of course the visuals, designs, animations, gameplay, and all the research and trial and error that go along with it in the background. Also as per the process, if there are any elements in the artistic or gameplay development that are later established as essential, the story may be altered so as to reconcile with such changes. It’s a continuous back and forth.

BUT, the first drafts are complete. YAY!

Additionally, there are plans to pursue a novelization of certain aspects of the game’s story. This is where some news comes in – readers who have kept up with our production blog and our Facebook page may know I’ve got a day job working at a museum, but now I’ve also acquired a short internship with a publishing house at the same time. This is a good way to gain experience in the publishing process, particularly a self-publishing angle where marketing and promotional work is mostly done by the author. The goal for this is to bring more skills and knowledge to the Legacy table!!

~G