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More TZ progress… Remembering IGC… Indies live in a small world…

Trajectory Zone continues to make the race to the finish line… Probably tonight or tomarrow night, I’ll send SP Test 1 to the team to start ripping to shreds. I had to make some last minute changes to the Single Player test version before sending it out – it appears that as the aliens get more and more advanced, the amount of flack they throw out starts to lag out the Torque engine a bit (the aliens were firing between 1 and 12 shots per volley, up to 250 ms between volleys.) Well… more than a bit really. So, scaled that back a bit, and it looks like it works better. 
I couldn’t be happier – SP Test 1 is by no means the end of the project, but, it’s a wonderful step towards it. The Single Player version actually tests a lot of the multi-player features too, so testing it helps test the MP gameplay also.
Finally started haunting the Dexterity forums – and discovered there was more people on there that also have accounts here at GG that I expected. Kinda cool – starting to realize how much of a ‘small world’ it is when it comes to Indie game development.
That got me to thinkin’ about my ‘history’ as an Indie. Until I got an account at GG, I knew very very few Indies. Most of the people I knew in game development were professional developers working for companies like EA that I met on the SWEng-GameDev and Game Design mailing lists. There’s a world of difference between the two groups of developers. (FYI: I’ve never submitted this as a resource, and not sure if I ever will, but here’s the addresses to the SWEng-GameDev and the GameDesign mailing lists: [url=http://lists.midnightryder.com] Almost every major development company has at least one person subscribed to one of the two mailing lists – it’s impressive. It’s also noisy sometimes 😉
Anyway – meeting people at IGC still ends up bein’ one of my best experiences yet. (Phil C.’s touchy-feely comments on Dexterity got me to thinkin’ about this 😉 I probably learned more in the course of 3 days about Indies than all of the time I’ve spent on GG. Met a lot of people, some of which I actually keep in contact with on a semi-frequent basis. But the biggest thing that it gave me was a sense of hope – it COULD be done. You CAN be a full time Indie developer. Man I could use a dose of that hope again – the bloody LONG development cycle on TZ has really drug me down at times, ‘specially when combined with massive problems with the Day Job. The goal of getting TZ done doesn’t seem that far away. The goal of becomin’ a full time Indie seems to be a lot farther away than I expected it to be. I’m lookin’ forward to goin’ to IGC again – last date I heard was in mid October, so my wife and I are already tenatively planning our vacation to Eugene, Or. Heck, I’d love to be a speaker again, too, if that was an option – I absolutely loved that last time (‘specially if I could team up with David “RM” Michael again.)
After this – no gigantic projects like TZ for a while. I’m not going to focus on puzzle games completely (but I’ve got a great engine for 2D puzzle games, so, might as well use it from time to time), however I do want to do projects that are smaller in scope, and have a much shorter development time and less resources that must be thrown into ’em. Not that TZ was supposed to be a massive project – chalk part of it up to inexperience when working on a game of this size – the process of adding features without a solid idea of how long a new feature takes is one of the things that drug it out so long. Oh well. It’s getting close to done at least 🙂
Ideally, I’d like to concentrate on games that only need a team of 3 people to do – programmer, artist, and music guy. And for some of the art resources (any non-organic 3D models for instance) I can easily do double duty to assist on content development. TZ has more than doubled that number. I won’t say “Never Again”, but, I’ll definitely be more heasitant to take on that large of a project again.
Got RFP recently on a contract project. It was defense industry based, and WAY too large for me to handle. Too bad – I coulda’ used the money. That’s 4 projects I’ve been offered so far, and I’ve yet to land a single one of ’em (3 have fizzled out, and that last one I declined.) What a bummer. Why can’t someone send me an RFP for something like a dozen puzzle games? 😉
I’ll post a dev snapshot of TZ (Which is lookin’ quite a bit different than it used to – and there’s at least one new suprise that wasn’t in the last screen shot I provided), and if I finish the demo, I might even post a snapshot of Flip Panic! (latest puzzle game) sometime this week.
Wow… what a rambling post. Ok, time to close this thing before I manage to hit the maximum post size 😉
Dan MacDonald   (Jul 21, 2003 at 13:46)
Yeah I feel the same way about IGC, I wouldn’t miss it for the world. I need that 6 month high that follows the conference :). The session you and DavidRM held on making money as an indie still get’s more hits then any of the other session summaries I have hosted at www.RainfallStudios.com. It was a really great session.
Davis Ray Sickmon, Jr   (Jul 21, 2003 at 14:49)  
LOL – Yeah, IGC needs to have two sessions a year, just to keep everyone’s spirits up (of course, we’d all be more broke than before 😉 That’s actually kinda gratifying to know that our session was that well recieved!
I know EXACTLY what I’d speak about if I did it again, too: Surviving Indie Game Development.
Phil Carlisle   (Jul 21, 2003 at 18:05)
Yeah, I’d like to do one “Why go indie” 🙂
Man, I cant believe that conf had such a buzz. Maybe it was just the freshness of it all, but yeah, the feeling of hope was almost palpable!
See ya there!
Phil.
Eric Forhan   (Jul 21, 2003 at 21:19)
Live and learn, Davis. TZ just really went out of the scope of what you initially envisioned–ultimately for the good, but at the sacrifice of a lot of time and work. I must say it’s been a great experience, overall.
No more huge projects for me, either–at least for awhile. As many others have suggested, I say the same: Indies, start small. 🙂
Woohoo! I get to test it soon!
Eric
Davis Ray Sickmon, Jr   (Jul 21, 2003 at 21:22)  
I talked to David RM, and then to Jay Moore – looks David and I will be speakin’ at IGC again, tenatively titled “Surviving Indie Game Development”, unless Jay changes things 🙂
It would be cool to hear from someone who retired from a professional development team to move to Indie status. Gee… who do we know that’s doin’t that these days? (Nudging Phil 😉
Davis Ray Sickmon, Jr   (Jul 21, 2003 at 21:25)  
Eric – possibly tonight yet. Just gettin’ ready to put the GameOver display in 🙂 Looks like retuning how often the aliens fired makes a HUGE difference in lag.
Frank Bignone   (Jul 22, 2003 at 02:33)
Great News Davis
Best luck with your test session.
Phil Carlisle   (Jul 23, 2003 at 18:06)
Hey Davey Ray!
I’ll be there at IGC, dunno what Jay wants me to do yet, but I’ll be happy to talk on almost ANY subject 🙂 hahahaha..
Phil.

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