A Real Studio

Hey everyone,

I don't know if I ever mentioned this. But there were some college friends that started a game company. One sold his car to buy computers for everyone in a converted garage they used as a studio. And to save money, the three of them moved into the house and after a few months, realized they hated each other and moved away. This, after they talked mad smack about how they were going to be the next big thing, poached one of our main artists, and imploded in a fiery ball of drama. I was determined not to let that happen with Ryan and I. Through shear will of force, it did not happen even though we likely annoyed the crap out of each other. I've fought with Ryan several times even before that. It's nearly always over how to either run the company or what to do in a game. I figure, if he's passionate enough about one of our games to flip out about, that's more of a good thing than bad. As for what we fought about while trying to live in the same house together, I don't want to bring up personal issues. Let's just say, the house studio ended up being a bad idea, but no permanent damage other than some debt and less solid productivity than we could have had. So what's next? Time for a real studio.

We move into a commercial office space on Sept 1st. It's almost 600 sq, so should be able to fit 10 people comfortably and a conference / meeting table. It's a pretty nice complex in the middle of light industrial sprawl of Rancho Cordova. Nice large fountain outside surrounded by palm trees. Something about palm trees reminds me we're in California.

So yeah, a real studio. That means I can actually invite people to the new studio rather than the house of some guy on the team. One thing about working together, we've learned the configuration that we need and what doesn't work well. We need to have people facing each other. We need to put the artists / creative people, somewhere away from everyone else. Multiple rooms is essential. Two heads might be better than one, but five heads are not better than three. Five heads devolves into group think where you get less ideas, good ideas get stifled by people that don't want to defend them to mixed crowds, bad ideas from people trying to be edgy or different get encouraged, and everything takes twice as long to get decided. You're also far more likely to get people "voting" on stuff they're not knowledgeable about and hurting a project. It's just bad news. Keep decision makers in groups of 1-3 and focused on their link in the project chain. Everyone on the team should be respected, but don't run a company like a democracy. All you do is piss off the people that know what needs to happen by taking away their control to make good decisions, frustrate people from other areas with too many choices, and waste everyone's time. Walls are good. Walls help us focus.

Something else I've figured out. Either everyone in the game industry is emotionally unstable or I have a habit of attracting people too much like me. I'm amazed at how fragile talented people are. Untalented people aren't fragile. They're happy being who they are and feel little to no motivation to improve. Talented people are not as good as they want to be and they hate that and (sometimes) themselves. Talented people are often self destructive. Talented people are insulted at being lumped in with less talented people. But yet, nothing shatters the confidence of a talented person than someone that's more talented and less confident. Talented people need to be supported and nurtured. I have to get better at managing fragile people.

Enough of that. So here's an update. The project for the big company is taking longer than I'd like. We don't have 3d modelers on the team, so I had to outsource that part. The guy I picked for it, works another job, tutors people on the side, and just picked up an internship. There's maybe 5 hours left for him to do, and it's taking him a week. I used to think, "OMG, I can't wait until we're funded so I can pay people and know work will get done on time." Now I'm paying people, and still can't promise that. It shouldn't be that much longer. I'm really happy with the work he's done so far, so I might just be stressing for no reason. We'll post video of it once it's done. I think it's really cool. The client is happy so far. For a first big project outsourced to us, that's pretty important to me that we start off well.

Raygun Rocketship
This game has changed so many times. I don't really remember what I've last said about it. Basically, everything got thrown away--code, artwork, main character(who I never liked anyways), and most of the story lines. I redid the story lines and added a ton of new characters. A lot of that work got gutted. I feel like I've already talked about this. I don't know. Anyways, the current plan is 6 endings with 3 major branches. The game will sort the player into one of the three branches--each with a different difficulty level. You start off in a small ship, then get promoted to Commander and given a crew very early in the game. Each of the three branches has a different crew, so the story line is different. We'll likely allow people to play a lower story line at a harder difficulty level so they don't have to play badly on purpose just to try another story line. I haven't updated the website to reflect the changes yet. I mean, we've been through four difference artists on the project. Finally, we have a stable team. But man, it's been rough.

Elemental Lords
No real progress here. The game has sat in limbo due to a freakish string of bad luck with character modelers. I'm offering cash money for character modelers to do this and I've had three bail so far. One got halfway done with one of the characters then disappeared and stopped answering my emails and texts. I'm meeting 3 different character modelers this week. Hopefully, one of them can get it done. It's really discouraging that nearly everything else is done and the 3d characters are just decorations anyways. For us to get stuck at the 95% finished mark, is sad.

Hopefully, I'll post some pics, maybe some video of the new place once we move in there.





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