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Trajectory Zone Beta 3 soon, the wonderful things about having a gamer wife, Week Two of Full Time Indie Survival, my game obsession returns…

Sometimes I forget just how wonderful the woman I married really is. I’m not talking about the love and support, I’m talking about conversations like this… I tell my wife about a new game I want (Karaoke Revolution / Frequency / Amplitude – I like games that make you interact differently than the normal keyboard / mouse / joystick.) I searched to see if there’s a PC version or equivalent. Unluckly, it doesn’t exist. “So, love, I think I’m going to have to break down and buy a PS2.” Her response, despite all the things going on financially, etc. “About time!”
Man did ever I picked the right woman to marry 🙂 Sometimes I forget she’s a gamer too – neither one of us have that much time to spend playing games anymore (me writing games, and her going to college and working full time now), but she’s still a gamer at heart.
Week two of Full Time Indie Developer came with some revalations. 
1) I’m still working for the company I was before, just as a contractor. This is NOT a good thing. While I’ve now got a very “Hey, I don’t have to take your crap” attitude (well, I had that before, but, now it’s even more intensified), I’m still allowing myself to be trapped in a pretty ugly environment. The ex-Day Job is improving thier prospects, but, it’s the people and the political wars that are heating up that are the problem. I ALMOST got involved – then I remembered some facts. If I’m waisting energy on beating down someone who probably deserves it, I’m not getting other things done. I’m #1 priority at the moment – doing my part in the war against ineptitude doesn’t further my goals.
2) Allowing myself to ‘settle in’ at the Day Job again is a bad idea, because my consulting rate to them sucks (I set it up as a stop-gap measure to prevent me from having to draw unemployment. I’m avoiding that as much as I can. Just one of those ‘pride’ issues. Plus, I was in mid-project when it happened – I hate leaving things unfinished.) I make more than what I did before, but, it doesn’t allow for the ‘lean times’ where there’s little consulting work. I could try and jack up my rates, but I’d have to damned near fight for it – screw that. And I hate the idea of re-negotiating in mid-project.
3) I’m not building up a client list. Oops. Time to fix that – I put an ad in the paper for computer services type stuff. Granted, it’s a classifieds ad in the ‘Services’ section – since I don’t have a ton of money to fund it with, I started with something small. Have it pay for it’s self, then move to other advertising avenues that require more cash. And of course, it’s time to pull out the Geurilla Marketing & Tactics type stuff – making yourself get noticed without spending a ton ‘o bucks on it. And making people remember who ya’ are 🙂
Trajectory Zone is getting real close to Beta 3 now. Tonight I whacked one of the major bugs – an issue with attaching a camera to a projectile. I’m excited – after Beta 3, I don’t think there will be any more changes to the core functionality of the Multi-player stuff. There’s a new turn-based mode (Classic), a simultaneous resolution mode (Enhanced – everyone locks in a shot, and fires at once), a slow Free For All mode, and a fast paced Spray and Pray gameplay mode (called Armageddon). Setting up a new game is simple for new users, joining is easy, etc. However, I still haven’t touched Single Player yet – it needs more work. But I wanted to get all the rest of the stuff proved out, and then move on.
I’m trying very hard not to continue my “tweak the hell out of one aspect forever” trend that I have. I need this thing done, and out the door. Potential financial problems becomes a great motivator for getting it done 😉 But the other reason is… I’ve got other games I REALLY REALLY want to write 🙂
I have a game I’m obsessed with. Dance Dance Revolution. The pads have been in the corner for a couple o’ months now. The other day I was frustrated, and pulled ’em out again. Played for two hours straight. I’d really like to make games that utilize the pads. I LIKE being able to interact with games on a more physical level. Sure, sedentary “kick back and blast the heck outta things” is fun, but, I find stuff like DDR to be encredibly rewarding – I get done and feel so much better after the ‘workout’ that goes with it. I want more games like this 🙂
The only problem with programming games for this particular nitch – it’s bloody hard to sell this sort of game when the hardware barely exists for the PC and Mac! I’ve got a couple o’ planned ideas though… I may give it a shot. Sell the game online, sell the hardware online (a cheap pad and a USB converter) as a packaged deal, and see how bad trying to market to that sort of nitch would be. But, I wonder – if positioned right, maybe I could sell it to parents with the idea that kids have fun AND get a workout instead of vegging in front o’ the machine. I dunno. Sounds kinda iffy, but, if I keep the game designs concept light (IE – focusing on small content game), then the investment in time might pay off. Who knows.
Melv May   (Nov 20, 2003 at 03:04)
I always like reading your posts; you always seem to have a lot of stuff going on. 🙂
I can associate with the wife-support thing; when it mattered, my wife really stood behind me and said, “get back on that computer and finish what you started! If you don’t you’ll regret it!”. So I went back to my PC and 10 mins later she gave me a cold beer from the fridge! I did some great development that day!
– Melv.
Gareth Davies   (Nov 20, 2003 at 06:31)
Ah Davis playing DDR. Now that’s a ‘interesting’ mental image.
I always thought you could do a really evil, light-gun dance mat combo game… 😉
I’ll add “Find supporting wife” to my todo list.
Sounds like great progress on TZ, yeah hurry up, we all what you do finish it too 🙂
Davis Ray Sickmon, Jr   (Nov 20, 2003 at 10:26)  
Gareth: Yeah, a beefy 30-ish gamer with long hair looks as bad on a DDR pad as you can imagine. Sometimes I’m extremely graceful at it, then sometimes the lumbering oaf that I am really shines through! 😉 One of my more amusing experiences with DDR was when some friends of mine threw a house warming party at their new place, and asked me to bring the DDR setup. Think one 30-something on a DDR pad is funny mental image? Imagine a packed room of ’em, drinking and playing DDR non-stop. Too bad I forgot my camera on that one!
I could see a combination like that – however, the hardware + software cost on it would be ugly 😛 The PC lightguns (if you can find ’em) aren’t cheap :-/ (Surprisingly, I don’t one one in my massive stash of Toys. Lord knows I’ve got almost everything else – 3D headsets, LCD shutter glasses, DDR pads, etc., etc., etc.) Hm… I wonder how to make a light gun work with Torque… Eric and I were already discussing a shooting gallery type game 🙂
Melv: Hehe – I usually scale back the amount of stuff that I’d like to post in here. My .plan files just get TOO long of I put all the game / indie related stuff going on in here. I had a habit of posting all my thoughs on Live Journal (no longer on there) then moved to a combination of the .plan files here and using The Journal to hold the rest of my thoughts / designs / plans / etc. (BTW: I highly recommend The Journal to anyone interested in keeping thier thoughts, etc. organized. It’s great :-), that way I don’t bore people further with all the personal stuff that might be TMI 🙂 (I’ve ran into that problem before – has some friends get a really skewed view of my wife and I’s life based on brain dumps we posted in our Live Journal’s. Amazing how easily people take something completely out of context, run it through the rumor mill, and get questions back later like if we’re sleeping with other people or something. REALLY BIZZARE!)
You just pointed out something important missing from my development process – beer! 🙂 I’ll have to fix that tonight 😉
Edited on Nov 20, 2003 10:31
Xavier “eXoDuS” Amado   (Nov 20, 2003 at 11:25)
Uh oh, werk werk. 
🙂
Jeff Peck   (Nov 20, 2003 at 17:07)
Davis – if you are interested in DDR at all, I make home-made metal pads that have acheived some level of noteriety (sp?) here in Maryland… they’re about as arcade authentic as you can get and still fairly cheap ($150 a pad), including PS2, USB and now X-box controller ports. I’m sure your aware of www.ddrfreak.com , but thats a great site to find a machine in your area if you feel you are ready to step up the hobby and play for real in the arcade!
(I myself am a veteran DDR player, placed 3rd in the Standard tournament for maryland.. most difficult song I’ve passed, if you are at all familiar with the songs, is Max 300 on Heavy 1.5x)
Drop me a line, my contact info is in my profile, if for nothing other than random Torque/DDR chat!
~ Jeff
Davis Ray Sickmon, Jr   (Nov 20, 2003 at 17:22)  
Oddly enough, Remy from DDRFreak.com is one of the Beta testers on TZ 🙂 Small world.
I THOUGHT about building a metal pad set, but, didn’t want to spend ~$200-$300 (I’ve gotta have two, since my wife and I play together sometimes) on parts, etc. So, I went down to Toys R Us, and bought me a pad (ug – the only ones they had were Brittney Spears pads. Bleh.) and two USB joysticks. Yanked the interface off the pad, yanked the parts out of the joystick, then did a little sodering and added some aligator clips. I bought these 2′ x 2′ interlocking foam squares you can get at Home Depot from time to time, and adheared the whole thing down on top of that with duct tape, and build a new interface box & strain relief for the cables from the foam I trimmed off elsewhere. Each pad setup cost me $30 – not too shabby, and surprisingly they stood up to abuse really well (until I stored them, and the duct tape started to loosen.)
Max 300 on Heavy 1.5x? Yeeks – not even a chance I’d last more than about 30 seconds. Probably less 🙂 I love the game, but, I never said I was GOOD at it 🙂 I normally play on Standard most of the time, but Light for some stuff.

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