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Day 46: Never Have A 0% Day

It’s been a difficult week in my personal life. I’m waiting to get the lab results of a biopsy and it has been weighing on my mind. Today, I got pulled over for having an expired license and fined $310. That really stings.

(I have email reminders for my registration and insurance renewals each year, but I’d forgotten about my license which is only renewed every 5 years. No excuses, it’s completely my fault. It’s just tough to swallow with finances being so tight.)

So when I got home after another day at my dead-end job, I sat at my computer, dejected. No motivation to do any learning. Almost looking for an excuse to quit.

It took a few minutes of mindful meditation to recalibrate myself.

I had to remember that there will never be a perfect time to pursue my dream of game development. Life will always throw obstacles in the way. Whether it’s health, money, work or whatever – if I were to wait for an opportune time where everything was ‘just right’, I would never accomplish anything.

I apologize for the opening to this post being more of a personal diary entry rather than a game dev one but I guess it’s to be expected at times. Dreams are very personal…and developing games is my dream.

In the GDC talk No Time, No Budget, No Problem: Finishing ‘The First Tree’, one point that stood out to me was ‘never have a 0% day’.

David Wehle, the developer of The First Tree, is married and father to two young children. He worked full-time. His father had recently passed away. I doubt he would say everything was ‘perfect’ in his life to start gaming development.

In order to work on his game, he needed to make sacrifices. Staying up late every night, he was able to devote approximately 10 hours each week to his game over the course of 18 months.

David’s talk was one of the most motivating talks I’ve listened to and I am glad I watched it earlier this week. I really needed it.

Along with always working on his game, even just a little bit each day, he licensed publicly available assets to save even more time.

Although he could have made most of the assets himself, he estimates licensing them instead saved him roughly 600 hours of work. Considering his game took about 1000 hours to create, that’s an immense amount of time savings that would have otherwise nearly doubled development time.

The resources he used included:

So even though I’m feeling low, in line with the ‘never have a 0% day’ motto, I’m going to continue working on the Health Bar Tutorial which is a branch of the main Tower Defense Tutorial I’ve been following.

Current Progress Status

  • Tower Defense Tutorial: 47/73 -> Health Bar Tutorial 2/7
  • Unity in Action (Pg 324 of 352)

Onward!

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Day 44: Telemetry & Feedback

The ‘Subnautica’ Postmortem talk was fascinating. I’ve never been privy to the behind the scenes of gaming development so I learned some interesting ways data is gathered.

Starting at the 14:38 mark, Jonas speaks about the systems implemented in their “earliest access” of the game whereby pressing ‘escape’ anywhere allowed players to provide feedback.

All the feedback is sent to their back-end server where it’s all aggregated and analysed.Here’s a link to it (it’s public access)

Telemetry and heatmap data was also collected to see where players were travelling on the game map. Unfortunately, because of GDPR, using Unity Analytics is no longer an option. (I didn’t know Subnautica was developed in Unity. That’s pretty cool!)

The developers were also working remotely (around the world) so they used a Trello board for tasks and made that public so that players could see the road map and that way generate more interest.

They also watched streamers to gauge whether the interface was intuitive and what caused the biggest reactions.

Overall a great talk and worth watching.

Current Progress Status

  • Tower Defense Tutorial: 43/73
  • Unity in Action (Pg 301 of 352)

Onward!

Day 42: GDC 2019

The GDC 2019 talks have been added to the vault and although some of it is locked for members only, there is a lot of freely available content.

I’ve compiled a list of talks with topics I think I’ll enjoy watching:

  • A Survival Guide for Game Developers: If you are aspiring toward a career in game development this is a lecture you don’t want to miss. Richard Vogel will discuss his observations of what it’s like working in the games industry for over 20 years and the most important soft skills needed for success
  • ‘Subnautica’ Postmortem: Subnautica’ almost failed. Unknown Worlds Entertainment almost went bankrupt. Initially, Early Access sales were weak. Fast forward three years and ‘Subnautica’ sold two million copies, growing fast. How did they turn it around? Is it replicable?
  • 1,500 Slot Machines Walk into a Bar: Adventures in Quantity Over Quality: Quality is overrated. Disheartened by all of the noise in the mobile ecosystem, speakers Alex Schwartz and Ziba Scott set out to determine the lowest bar for success on App Stores. They flooded the market with over 1,500 auto-generated slot machine games, got 1.6 million installs, made money…
  • 2014 vs. 2018: The Shape of Financial Success Before and After the Indiepocalypse: The Indiepocalypse has happened. No one is making money on Steam anymore. No wait, there are more than 300 games with more than 1,000 concurrent players each. You haven’t even heard of most of them. High profile flops have normalized failure. Meanwhile, everyone forgets that more games are making more money on Steam than ever before.
  • Being Pro at Being a Noob: A new developer appears! Entering the world of game development is exciting, especially you’re full of passion and drive. But being a new developer can also be daunting, confusing, and full of uncertainty on how to harness all of that energy.
  • Celebrating Introverts in the Workplace: In a society where being social and outgoing is celebrated, it can be difficult to be an introvert… It will also give some insights on ways of working to enable introverts’ growth, contribution and well-being.
  • Community Driven Discoverability for Indies: Identify your niche and unique selling points, find your audience, build strong communities, enable meaningful social experiences, provide value to streamers and youtubers, leverage social media to enable your players to be your advocates.
  • Crowdfunding Your Video Game in 2019: The talk will go over the current state of crowdfunding for video games, the different platforms that are now available to game makers, what type of projects have the best chance of getting funded, and what techniques work the best to run a successful campaign
  • Discoverability from Day Zero:In this talk, Felix Kramer (Tunic, Neo Cab producer) will make the case for discoverability being a high priority before the work on your game even begins.

Current Progress Status

  • Tower Defense Tutorial: 41/73
  • Unity in Action (Pg 278 of 352)

Onward!

Day 19: GDC talks

I got sidetracked from working on the coding assignment by some more great content from past Game Developers Conferences.

The first video linked below is about Tom Francis’ journey to create his first game, Gunpoint, which he developed while working full-time at another job. He also lays out the lessons learned and applied on his next game.

The second talk I watched was about a developer who decided to make and self-publish his own game in a year.

This one made me a little uneasy about my timeline seeing that he was already a very experienced programmer, wasn’t working alone on the project, and it still had taken a year.

I know it all depends on the scope and scale of the first game I want to create, which at this point is unknown. I’m still undecided about the genre. Puzzle? FPS? Side-scroller? Will it be 3D? 2.5? 2D?

Oh no…I can feel that analysis paralysis suffocating feeling setting in again.

For now I need to simply focus on continuing to learn C# and working with Unity.

Onwards!

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