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A .plan that isn’t the size of a small novel! Game development comes to a screeching halt for a week…

So when I was forced into my full-time Indie status a month and a week ago, one of my biggest concerns was where I was going to get work from. I knew I could get work, just where I was gonna get it was the question. For the short term, this hasn’t been a problem. Last week / begining of this week, I had multiple short-term contracts all hit at once. 
I had to drop game & TorqueIDE development just to keep up with the paying contracts. How bad was it? Well, I made just over one month’s worth of pay in one week. On Sunday / Monday, I worked 37 hours straight to get one project out the door so a guy could head out and start it up on Tuesday morning.
Of course, stuff like this is a “Win some, loose some” deal. One project I bid for about a grand worth of labor – I did it in 55 minutes (I realized there was a much more opimized way of doing things instead of how I bid it). (It should be noted that also now holds my new record for highest average per-hour wage: $1145 / hour. Previously, my record was $400 / hour, set over a decade ago. I’ve decided I want to work about 6 hours a week at that pay rate 😉 One project is ongoing T & M work, so, there’s no loose there. The other project could be called a ‘legacy project’ – it was a pre-existing contract for my ex-Day Job, and it needed to be done ASAP, for the price it was bid (16 hours – not my bid). Well, I more than doubled that for time involved. Oh well – still, it averaged out to be a really good week, and also means I have yet another month of survival in the bank as soon as all contracts are paid up. (30 days for two of them.)
The only real downside to all of this (well, besides the fact I didn’t hardly see my wife at all for a week) is that I had to put all other development on hold. Thankfully, this wasn’t a long term set of contracts – I think Eric F. would kill me if I told him I had to put development on hold for two months 😉
So things can return back to normal now. Thank god – the money was good, but the stress and hours managed to be worse than normal.
As a relaxer, I played Deus Ex Invisible War. I snagged it the day it came out (which is a big complement to how I felt about Deus Ex – I’m more of a $19.95 bargan version kind of guy instead of $50 new on the shelf.), but only had an hour of play time on it. I sat down yesterday after I got off work, and power gamed through all but the very last part.
I’d highly recommend this game to anyone who likes a good adventure. I’m excited to play through it AGAIN, so I can pick different choices in my actions to see how things turn out differently. Highly replayable, but, I’m most currious to see how things change by doing different stuff. I identified some key points in the game where I THINK I could completely change things with a single action – the question is, how much difference my choices really make. Is it just an illusion of making a difference, or did they really go through enough effort to try and guess what all the player could do?
To me, Deus Ex and Deus Ex Invisible War represent something ‘different’ when it comes to games. IMHO, Quake / Q2/ Q3A games, if I were to draw a parrallel with litterature, are along the lines of Star Trek books – fluff. Same goes for most games – they don’t require heavy thought, just lots of reactions. Or if they do require thought, it’s not something that makes you think deeper – puzzle games fall into that category. Deus Ex (especially Invisible War) is more like a more recent Stephen King novel – bordering something you’d call true litterature. DEIW makes you think, pulls you in, and is as hard to walk away from as a good book. There’s only been a couple of games like that, IMHO – DE & DEWI take it a bit further by giving you so many options to work with. (Though, with DE it was way too easy to explore all the possible endings, and non-Violently solving the game wasn’t quite possible.) 
There will always be more Quakes than Deus Ex’s, but, I can’t help but root for more games like DE. 
The best moment of the game didn’t come from in the game though – it was my wife. I was checking out the Havoc physics. I’m not impressed really – it seemed to introduce even less natrual poses when people were dead than normal, but it did work great for things like rolling barrels. Too bad they didn’t have the mass set very well on objects, since I could bump a keg with a tap in it, and watch it go flying. Anyway… So I picked up a dead body, and flung it. Multiple times, just to see what happened, how it looked, reacted, etc. My wife is watching this, and says “Eeewwww – quit playing with the dead bodies! That’s gross!” as she’s watching the strange positions the dead bodies land in.
Up to that point, I thought the ragdoll stuff was a waste. Granted, I’ve only seen a couple of dead bodies that were laying in their inital death state (not in a casket, in other words), but some of the positions that DEIW landed them in don’t seem very realistic. But the fact that it evoked an emotion out of my wife tells me that it might be worthwhile afterall. 
BUT – the errors in the physics also detract from it, since the more you expect things to react like real life, the more it become glaring when they don’t. It’s definitely a trade off that has to be investigated for each game very closely. Sometimes arcade physics (IE – a set of consistent physics that you work out on your own instead of trying to simulate all the possibilities of real life) still make more sense to use than realistic physics (trying to simulate the real world as close as possible).
*SIGH* The only problem with becoming a game developer, and I’m sure it’s the same problem that novelists or movie directors face, is that you no longer just enjoy the game. Instead, you analyze it, turn it over in your head, learn lessons from it, etc. While playing, it’s hard not to be thinking “Gee, if they would have applied (x) to this, then it would have looked better.” or “You know, I would have rather…” 🙂
Oh look – I did it again. This was only going to be two or three paragraphs long. And yet again, it turns into a novel. Oh well – I’m sure people who are really busy don’t read my .plans anyway 🙂
Dylan Sale   (Dec 10, 2003 at 11:03)
Yeah, I loved it too 😉 I thought the movement physics were a bit weird though.. especially when jumping, you seem to jump higher sometimes.
Also, If you threw a body against the floor with the full strength mod (level 3), then occasionaly parts would fall through (ie the arm or leg). 
That mass thing with barrels and whatnot bothered me. Some things are “too heavy” to pick up, yet you can push them across the room by accidentally nudging them 😐
On the whole though, a very satisfying game 😀
And DUDE, $1145 / hour? THATS INSANE 😀
Edited on Dec 10, 2003 11:04
Ron Yacketta   (Dec 10, 2003 at 11:06)
Eh?
Work has me by the gonades 🙂 and yet I foung time to read the entire plan and work on some game dev stuff.. yeah its lunch time here 😉 no time to eat.. have to read GG forums and play with code
-Ron
Davis Ray Sickmon, Jr   (Dec 10, 2003 at 12:17)  
Dylan: With normal strength, I threw a chair. It bounced, and hit the ceiling, caroomed off a few walls, etc. I was never able to replicate it.
One minor strategy point I would have liked to be able to pull off (and never made it work) was to snag a dead body, and throw it into the next person I run into to make them go off ballance. The game doesn’t react to that one – apparently I’m the only sick bastard that would think that way 😉
$1145 / hour is based on the average, not what I actually charge. The job was bid at (x) number of hours at $45 / hour. Instead of taking what it should, it took 55 minutes which is what generated that time. Yeah, it’s still insane. I’d love to do that more often 🙂
Ron: As you might have guessed from my schedule, I didn’t get a chance to look at your Eclipse resource this weekend 🙁 Do ya’ still want me to look at it, kick it a few times, etc., or did you find someone else ta’ do it?
Ron Yacketta   (Dec 10, 2003 at 12:24)
Davis,
Nor have you emailed me my account information for TZ 😉 no biggies, kind of figured you were swamped etc. Yeah, give the eclipse a few kicks; would be nice to get a test ot two on a mac machine. I tossed it to Ben G who gave some positive feedback and found the issues I emailed you about. I have also tossed it to GG (Tim G), he is swamped and I do not want to pester him about it.
-Ron

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