The Studio

Hey guys,

We’ve been a little quiet as of late, with a lot of issues and stalls going on behind the scenes. There've been some significant changes in personnel -- some good, some necessary. Let’s go through what’s going on.

Raygun Rocketship
The big news here is the lead guy with this project has decided that the break after Sac Anime wasn't enough and has decided to step down. This is good and bad. The good news is that the project can start moving forward again, the bad news is we lose a talented member of the team and a friend. I hope he eventually is able to rejoin the team once his day job and family obligations settle down, but until then, the game must go on.

As I mentioned in my last email that I've added members to the Raygun team. It turned into 4 more people. With the team doubling in size, we hope the stability lasts and we’re able to start showing off some stuff soon. First challenge: redoing all 3d environmental models, cleaning up pathing, teaching the new level designer how to use the custom tools, and smooth out level 1 so it’s something we’re proud to show off as the fun and engaging game we all know Raygun can be.

Granny Wars
Simply put, we parted ways with our programmer on this project. All code that’s been done so far will be thrown out, and Ryan will be moved temporarily from Raygun to Granny Wars to start coding from scratch. Ryan is a far more experienced programmer and I believe that Granny Wars will finally be headed in the right direction code wise. It’s ridiculous this had to happen this way when we could have had Granny Wars up and working months ago.

Monster Balls
This is another project that’s had code that had to be thrown out and the programmer on the project parted ways with. That happened a year ago. The game has since been rebuilt, has been playable for a while, and now has a working world map. Like Candy Crush Saga, the player will be able to scroll through the world and chose previously beaten puzzles, or attempt the next.

I haven’t mentioned this before, but Monster Balls is a little unusual in that it mixes casual game play, monetization strategy, and art style, with heavy story content. This isn’t the standard formula. So we’re taking a chance here to look for the gamers looking for a core rpg / casual style puzzle game. Either the game will never really catch on due to mixing two things that don’t go together, or we’ll hit an under served niche market.

What? Yes, we are still working on the Dawnshine IP in general. I've play tested our deck building card game adaptation, found some fatal flaws in design, decided the game was too basic, and threw it out. It’s been completely overhauled and made far more complex. There are now multiple strategies to win the game including all out war, avoiding conflict completely, and somewhere in between.

I’ve recruited and reassigned a couple artists for the project. We’re close to nailing a consistent clothing style for the Kaynish faction and will soon be building lore characters for it. Once I get this build more finalized, I’ll start opening up things for people outside our team to come play it and give us feedback. Maybe we’ll meet at a Round Table and I’ll spring for pizza or something.

The Studio
We've gone back and forth on this. Would it be a wise financial investment to spend money on a studio when we’re not able to pay people yet to be in it? A friend I hadn't seen in a few years, called me up to have dinner. He and his wife were telling me about how unhappy they were with the family they were renting one of their houses out to--paint on the carpets, holes in walls, smashed toilet, food stains on the walls that’d been there for years, and a strong, mysterious smell that's only slightly more pleasant than tear gas. As most of the team is in that same general area of Sacramento, it got me thinking if getting a decent sized house and having people just kick it there on their off days and do some work, if that might not be better than a cold, stale office somewhere.

So we went through with it. Ryan and I are going to move there in a couple weeks. It will be nice to live somewhere where I won’t be woken up at 4am by two bums screaming at each other fighting over the recyclables in the garbage cans. That seriously happens about every day--and I don't even live downtown.

My friend converted and rewired the garage so he could host LAN parties there. So it’s essentially already set up for a large number of computers to be there in a studio type setting. There’s also a bar in the room. Hmm, none of us on the team are really drinkers, but maybe it could be an espresso bar or something. How nerdy are we? But yeah, the entire house, other than the two bedrooms Ryan and I will be living in, will be set up as a studio--meeting rooms, white boards, etc. Ryan and I will keep our day jobs so we can pay rent, but otherwise, it should be a fun, casual place for the rest of the team to crash, collaborate, raid the fridge, get some work done, and be part of after hours gamer parties.

I have a good feeling this should increase our productivity considerably. Working side by side with people makes game development so much easier than being isolated. I’ll post pictures next month as we’re setting up the place.

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