Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Past, Present, and Future of raxterworks

Hello everyone!

It's been, wow, 4 months since I last posted! Heeeeeavy. Lots have gone down since then. Did a MASSIVE overhaul of the artwork in 6x Mass Production, mainly with the goal of applying for government funding to get to GDC '14. It seemed a bit odd to me, "what am I doing? sprucing up the graphics just to impress someone into giving me money". Well, it seems that way but with the game in its previous form, there is no way anyone would take raxterworks seriously... I wouldn't. And with the possibility of going to GDC I wasn't about to take any chances. I had a solid mechanic that was fun (or at least engaging), it just needed something to bring it to life.

Thus began a 2 week drive of utter madness and work to 1) find someone who could do art for this, 2) concept it up and 3) complete all the content needed (even just a trimmed down list for demo purposes). Not to mention that it desperately needed sound ad music.

Concepts from Gabe - we ended up going for painterly

Enter Gabriele Gabba and Joe Bolton, the true heros of this story! So I worked with these two lovely people to get a demo off the ground. I'll leave out the minutes of it all, everything went quite smoothly and 2 weeks later I had a "working" demo. Ok well, it worked for me, not a chance that I was releasing it to the anyone else, you look at it odd and it bugs out. But i was sufficient to make a few vids, get a few screengrabs and give a good impression of where things were going.

That was 4 months ago. About a month ago (and for your notebooks, GDC just ended) and the funding didn't come through. Not for me, nor anyone actually... turns out that the government has limited funds for these sorts of 'trade missions' and that it gets used up as soon as the applications open... and they open in March/April each year. Meaning GDC would never have gotten through. And all that time was wasted...

Baaha of course not, I loved working on it. Not to mention that the work I did then has been instrumental to the progress that is happening now. Ok, I was really hoping on GDC for exposure for 6x Mass Production, and for... well going to GDC at all! But getting 6-fold to the state it was in, I could see the potential in the game. I'd been working on the back end mechanics so much that I kinda lost sight of making it a good experience and putting the art and music in brought it to life and I could see it as more than just a prototype.

Although I loved my little Hexel artworks, this was not going to convince anyone that this was a marketable game
It still needs a lot of work, but it's feeling a lot better now. I think anyway

Sure I should be able to see that a game will be good from raw mechanics alone without the need for swish graphics and melodies, but I'm not that good and in the end that is how it went down in my mind. Next time I'll be more astute, more observant and wiser I hope, for now I took that opportunity and decided to run with it.

That was about a month ago, I'm now sitting on a Phase 1 Alpha build of 6x Mass Production that I'm quite proud of, actually not scared to show to the world, and has a hand plan for Phase 2, 3 and beta releases. It's difficult, lovely, odd, and scary all at the same time. Difficult since I'm doing this in my spare time. My work for Renderheads is essentially my day job, working on 6-fold is like going into crunch mode since it occupies nearly all my spare time. It's odd because I've not taken a game I've built from scratch this seriously before. It's new ground for me.

It's scary because I want it to be a success, which intrinsically means I'm opening my self up for failure. Financially I'm doing alright from the Renderheads work, even recovered from a rather difficult year last year. I'm more scared of the "am I good enough" thought. It's a genuine worry, I watch these incredibly talented game devs from around the world (and some next door) and wonder if I'm missing a trick.

I always remember though, I'm making a game I like, I love puzzle games, I love games in general. I'm making a game I want to see exist, I'm assuming that there will be others that will like it too (I'm not all that unusual, you see :p). It's not so much a financial thing, I'd love it to sustain me so I can make more games full time, although I'm not expecting 6-fold to be a runaway success or anything. But part of the reason I make games is for people to enjoy them. That is the end goal I'm keeping in mind. I'm lucky that failure of this particular project won't leave me on the streets. This is why it is lovely.

As for the future. The Renderheads work is keeping me on my toes, it's hard work but super challenging and fun (except for the odd nonsensical client request) I've learned an incalculable amount working on various projects or prototypes there! Digging it to the core! I might have an exciting 'side' project on hand (a client project, technically but it's shaping up to be a very very fun idea). If that happens then 6-fold will have to take a back seat for a bit as this would be another paying job. In either case I'm going to write up a detailed plan of where 6 fold will go, so that when I return to it I can pick up on it with minimal warm up time. Mainly what phases mean what features and in what state of completion, that sort of thing. All in all, very exciting times ahead!

 Stay cool and groovy, dudes!