Don’t look now, but that kinda resembles progress

Ok so it’s not the groundbreaking massive “woo it’s done!” Kind of progress, but it’s a start.

Quake con was a great fun filled event, with me and Parker spending 2 long days blowing stuff up to our hearts content.   We’ll be heading back next year for sure.

So that progress thing?  Swiftthought games is real now, has all sorts of business stuff and is paying for it’s own hosting etc…  I’ve got a handful of jobs wrapped up or 90% there, with hopfully a couple new ones (potentially including an actual web game) coming down the pipe. 

And! I’ve got some progress on the Mutant Sheep Eat The Earth! made as well.  several new cards were finalized, text revisions made, and the website is getting there.  Also thegamecrafter.com has updated their production pipe so soon they say they can offer tuck boxes and full color instructions.

And all the meanwhile, I’m discovering that playing dad is a lot of fun and continually exhausting. 

This weekend promises to be quite productive and the future remains as unpredictable as ever, which is half the fun.

Reboot

My how time flies when you’re busy!

In fact it’s so easy to forget to keep updating the blog when you’ve got real projects that need to get done. Luckily I’ve got a good pace of things going and seem to have settled into a nice routine which keeps GFW from going insane and keeps the freelance work getting done in a timely fashion.  However it hasn’t exactly left a lot of time to spare for pet projects.

I need to get back to doing what I need to do.  I need to make stuff.  It has been too long since I’ve made something. (and I’ve got to finish those dang oil paintings!)

What Have I Been Doing?

So for posterity’s sake let’s do a quick re-cap shall we?

  • Consulting work = good.  Got a nice workload of it that’s just about ready to wrap up.
  • Swiftthought Games is now a real entity (ooohh!)
  • Banking stuff is set up.
  • Mutant Sheep Eat the Earth! is down to 40 illustrations to go. Then a get a new proof set to do a couple rounds of playtesting.
  • Baby is cute and a handful.
  • I wish I had time to paint!
  • Wenderflonia’s store is almost ready to go.

Time to get rolling!  First priority, finish the MSETE! website and illustrations.

I’ve got an Idea percolating for a smaller board game that I need to make a quick playtest mock of.

Oh and if you’re interested in game design in general you need to see this http://www.gdcvault.com/play/1012259/Train) (you might have to register but it’s free)

What I’ve been Playing

  • Starcraft II – so apparently has everyone else on earth.  It’s very good if a bit old school.
  • Elemental – been playing the betas, it’s come a long way in a very short time and the release version promises a nice Master of Magic type fix.
  • Minecraft – highly addictive and still early in development.  Mining and building and monsters. There’s a couple free old versions available to play, but the latest alpha builds are only available if you buy it (around $13 but going up soon)
  • Bejeweled Blitz – 60 seconds of crack in a pretty match 3 shell.

But first

Quakecon! this coming weekend.  Me and Parker are heading downtown for 2 days of massive lan party goodness and whatever else there is to see.

Old Wars and Putting the Sheep in Gear

Well summertime is here and that means it is time to kick things off and do stuff.

No Really..

I’ve been pretty stuck in idle for a while but a couple little things have started getting some traction.  Granted the freelance design work has been pleasantly steady which helps alleviate the guilt. 🙂   But really there’s been two projects that have gotten me going again. (ok, that and the baby finally deciding on a sleep schedule so there’s actually a couple hours that are useful on a regular basis doesn’t hurt either)

First http://www.beautifulbasics.com is up and running. It is still in its infancy but between me and GFW (whose site recently good a lovely makeover) we’re hoping that it will grow into a thriving community about family,tradition, and living a simple healthy lifestyle.

Second, I finally cracked open my tubes of winsor newton water soluble oil paints, they dry like oils but you can thin em with water instead of turp. It is a nice change from the usual acrylics and I absolutely love the drying time. The only downside so far is the color change while the water evaporates is going to take some getting used to. So the paint seems to dry in two stages, first the water evaporates leaving the darker pure oil color behind, which then takes the usual few days to dry.  Oh, and the cleanup with soap n water is a snap and the fumes are nowhere near as bad as old fashioned oils.

Distractions and Games? I’ve got plenty, but primarily playing Red Dead Revolver on the 360 and the indie strategy game ‘Hegemony, Phillip of Macedon‘ are tying up most of my mental breaks.  That and I’ve got to get a full day to get some people together and play a full game of Arkham Horror.  I will say that the Hegemony game is a wonderful new addiction.  It’s an absolutely massive undertaking for a small indie game company to make.  While it’s got some clunky features, it more than makes up for it in innovative new features that are sure to be copied by everyone else (Total War guys I’m looking at you) .  Unlike a lot of other Real-time Strategy games there is an emphasis on maintaining supply to you cities and units on the march that makes for a good time.

So, how does this lead me to getting my backside in gear and get cracking on the damn sheep you ask?

As luck would have it, GFW is taking the kids and heading west for a week come this Friday.  That’s going to leave me with a lot of downtime and I’ve got plans to make the best of it.

In theory, a bud will be coming by for some programmy consultanty help and if that happens that’s cool and that will probably take a couple hours every day but hey money talks 😉

Other than that I’m attending Akon (as a guest this year) Saturday; building an initial pass at a joomla website for a client; and designing a 1 page sheet, hopefully all this weekend.
So in theory, that leaves many hours are available every night next week for some serious sheepage! Oh, and I plan on blogging more (daily?) updates.

Let’s see how things work out, but hopefully there will be a ton of progress to report very very very soon.

On the road to nowhere

Well.  So according to “the plan” By now I should have had 28 sheep wrapped and packed.

Turns out it’s more like 4, well.. not like… it’s exactly 4.

On the other hand, though, I do have 20 sheep drawn, inked and scanned ready to paint, and that’s good.  That was all last week but I’d qualify that as keeping up on the schedule.

So this week just didn’t lead to any real work getting done.  Worked on some freelance stuff and started messing about with what will be the marketing site for Mutant Sheep Eat the Earth! Which I’ve the photoshop files all ready to go on. And ninjababy has been taking up all the time that’s more or less left over at the end of a work day.

Baby Jude earns his Ninja Legs at 8 weeks.

So, I’m not gonna fret.  Just buckle down and give it another go.  And I’m gonna be a better blogger and actually post on a semi-regular basis, there’s actually a series of game related things I’ve been meaning to get put down.

For now.. It’s time to crawl into bed and plan to assault next week with renewed vigor.

A sheep a day

Short update on sheep development.

For the last week I’ve been maintaining an average of finishing a sheep a day.  As of today I’m racheting that up to 2 sheep a day with the allowance to either work forward or catch up as needed on weekends.  However, at midnight every Sunday 14 more sheep will be completed.

This puts me at 31 days for the next round of beta testing.  Give or take a day or so for a pass on the card files and rules to get updated with the more updated rules from the existing rounds of playtesting.

I know, 2 cards a day doesn’t sound like much.. but it’s probably going to work out between 1 1/2 to 2hrs a day.  Which, with a 2 mo old baby and normal household duties and freelance work piled on top.. It’s going to be a challenge and I forsee several late Sunday night cram sessions in the not too distant future.

However, tonight, I’m on top of the world and on schedule.  Which feels damn nice.

Some quick random notes from the gaming world.

http://www.frozensynapse.com/ is a fun turn based combat a-la X-com but with the whole future retro graphics vibe.  Games are very quick (5 -10 turns) and you don’t both have to be online at the same time. You can snag 2 beta keys for this excellent indie game for $25 (one for you and one for a friend)  Anyone playing feel free to shoot me a challenge (Drakkehim) I’m pretty terrible but it’s a heck of lotta fun.

http://www.sleepisdeath.net/ may be one of the more important Art ‘games’  that’s out there. Its 2 player always.. no ai.. freeform collaborative storytelling.  The community that’s serious about it are making filly, fun and sometimes deeply touching and moving stories together.  I’ve got 1/2 the cast of buffy built. 🙂   It’s all user generated content.  But content travels between players which is very cool.  So the more you play, the more stuff you have to play with.

http://www.taleworlds.com/main.aspx Mount and Blade – Warband is a very nice update to Mount and Blade which is probably the coolest mounted warfare game ever.  Made by a very talented bunch of guys from Turkey.

http://www.kings-bounty.com/eng/ The kings bounty series is just crazy turn based fantasy strategy that’s incredibly well done.  The Rock Paper Shotgun guys talk about it here.  And it just happens to be available on whatever digital download service you prefer. (steam, gamersgate, dirct2drive etc)

Oh, and they’ve announced Witcher 2…  yeah.. if it’s half as good as the first one it’ll be amazing.

That’s it.. I’m done.. -G’night.

Quick update 50% marker passed!

Just tooting my own horn.  I just passed the 50% mark on the art asset creation for the sheep decks.

Just 62 more cards to finalize..

Here’s where things stand as of now:

Cards Drawn 78 remaining 47 total cards: 125
Cards Painted 63 remaining 62 ready to paint 15
Cards Placed indo Deck Files 63 remaining 62 ready to place 0
Cards Tested in Gameplay 1 remaining 124 -<this isn’t exactly accurate but I know what it means>-
Known Text Revisions To do 3
Proof  for Press complete remaining 125
Done 0 remaining 125

Drawn 78 remaining 47 total cards: 125Painted 63 remaining 62 ready to paint 15Placed 63 remaining 62 ready to place 0Tested 1 remaining 124 Known Rev 3 remaining 122 Proof 0 remaining 125 Done 0 remaining 125

A minor change of Title

So with the acquisition of a planned fun little markting site for Mutant Sheep, the game has undergone a Minor Title change.  It’s now:

Mutant Sheep Eat the Earth!

[read that in a booming movie trailer voice]

So with the arrival of the new scanner  and spring mental cobweb cleaning done, it’s time to get down to brass tacks.

The big things to get done:

  • Art – lots of art still to do
  • Trademark/copyright  the game name/title
  • File actual paperwork for Swiftthought Games n stuff
  • Playtest the new version of the rules and card changes.
  • Create Marketing site mentioned above.
  • Make tutorial videos that explain the rules for above mentioned website.

Yeah so that’s a decent chunk of work..  Ok I’m gonna go watch SG-1 and draw 5 sheep before bedtime.

Updated look for the site

Digital Spring Cleaning

Well it was about time for an update around here,  a bit of spring cleaning you might say.  It was a bunch of  fun.. especially trying to get Comicpress to integrate without going insane..  Still have to have to fix the navigation on the posts and subpage.. but it’s functional for now and I’m happy with the new look.

I got the basic layout and tweaks done and found some new widget plugins that will make things a bit easier to manage.  After I did a bit of housecleaning that is..  A bunch of old templates, junk files etc etc got wiped and some leftover images got resized.

Next up is www.wenderflonia.com getting a facelift and some tweaks and then both sites are going to get some core content cleaned up and moved about.

But for now, it’s back to baby training, working on the template project and maybe even enjoying the weekend a bit.

Incubation And Spreadsheets

State of the Sheep

So after a couple days of taking a look at all the assets I feel like I’ve got a good grasp of where things stand in Mutant Sheep Eat the Planet!

In Short..

Cards Drawn 75 remaining 50 total cards: 125

Painted 62,remaining 63 ready to paint 13

Placed 60 remaining 65 ready to place into deck 2 (this is a short and easy step but it’s important which is why I track it)

So that’s not so bad.  Only 50 illustrations left and then 63 color jobs.   Granted the biggest hurdle is that I no longer have a scanner and the whole ‘transition to an all digital pipeline’ just doesn’t seem to be happening.   So I bought a scanner and it’ll be here in a couple days.

In the meanwhile I’ve started revising some basic rules, and updating the text on the cards so as to get mystelf start thinking about the rules etc and balance.  Hopefully I can make edits to the cards while watching baby Jude perform his nightly antics.. So a new round of playtesting will  be in the immediate/near future.

Then there’s a couple other steps for the cards, proofreading, final alignment, etc but those are what I’ll make friends n Family do 😉

Other Projects that Eat Time

Irismel.com

Ok so this is currently a formative tech demo.  But the thought of a multiplayer online web based rougelike with a live DM has been percolating around in the back of my mind forever.  So when I needed to figure out jQueryUI standards I whipped together the beginning’s of a web based map editor.  The downside..It more or less kills IE.. something about absolute positioning 5,000 32×32 divs makes it crawl.   But I’ve got some ideas to improve performance drastically.    Oh and what’s already up at Irismel.com is my first level editor for Blood Soaked Deadly Dungeons of Doom! But Irismel is a project that’s growing out of research projects not a driver for research, which is why I’m looking to use CakePHP for the foundation, because it’s something I want to learn.

Template Driven Microsites

The project that’s primarily eating away from SheepTime(tm) is an easy to edit microsite development tool.  That’s all I’m saying for now.. but it’s pretty cool and easy to use and has the potential to actually ‘Earn Real Money’.

Freelance Work

Yup just a trickle at the moment, but at least one item in the immediate future.

Misc Gaming News

So the Christmas Deluge has come and gone and it was good.

The highlight was clearly Dragon Age, easily the best game of last year.

Currently playing Mass Effect 2.. and it’s absolutely spectacular, also playing some Sins of a Solar Empire : Diplomacy for the strategy fix.. and it’s good and a handful of tiny Indie & Casual games that are just lots of fun (Trine, AI War, Soliumn Infernum, Boowork Adv 2 etc.)

The top 3 acquisitions that I’d like to make that just came out in the Spring Bonanza are: Bad Company 2.. Multiplayer shootem fun, Final Fantasy XIII for the jRPG fix and Settlers 7 for the build a world fix.. except it’s covered in UBI’s super evil DRM so it’s getting a pass until they come to their senses.  But really I’ll probably just go and play more Arma2 and Witcher and Empire: Total War.

Firing up the ol engines of creation!

So now that Jude

aka Milkface

has come into our lives things are slowly settling into a routine (granted it’s one with less sleep than we’d like, but it’s a start).    That means there is starting to be some periods of non super stressful time where freelance work and pet projects can once again start to flourish.

On the freelance side of things, things are picking up nicely with more design work for KELL

And the Big paintings were a big success and look beautiful on Jude’s wall.

Sun Elephant

So that leaves the much neglected games projects, and the sheep are getting hungry.

So starting tomorrow it’s time to take a good hard look at where things stand and what still needs to be done.  I have a sneaky suspicion that it will involve spreadsheets and maybe even some project planning stuff.. YAY!  And more playtesting.  I have an XML based card shuffler program I whipped up to teach myself Python that will let me run a couple hundred pulls of the decks and see how things work mathmaticlly so I can see if I can find some solution to the whole endgame issue where players don’t have enough clout to affect the outcome.

Lots to do, and it promises to be exciting.  Oh and I’ll be blogging more, and possibly adding some more game industry ramblings / reviews n commentary.

Tales of puppets, babies, games etc

Latest News

So here we are, another year is already on the way and it’s time to get busy.

As of today baby Jude is ~45days out and counting, lots of house prep is being done and more still to do.  Excitement is high and nesting mode is in full swing.  The home office has been moved into the game room and the new space works well and the start of a dedicated baby room is in progress.  Super Awesome GFW has got her etsy store up and running, and a whole kitchen studio full of paint and canvas.  90% of all pictures on the walls in the house are now original art, and man is that nice.

Christmas came and went in a blur of cookies, candy, family and food.  When it was all said and done my very own muppet Whatnot was here to stay.  He’s pictured above, and it’s very very cool.  I have plans for him.  Big plans.  But first I’m gonna need a couple mutant sheep puppets.

Speaking of Mutant Sheep.. With the death of my POS Kodak all in one printer I no longer have a scanner.  So I’m having to switch to an all digital pipeline.. which may be faster once I get rolling on it.. but it does mean that I can’t doodle out the roughs at work and then take em home and ink em.  Other than that, it’s back to grindstone and get em finished asap!  Progress on it has been pretty abysmal lately and I’m not exactly thrilled with that, not sure what the mental block/holdup is but it’s time to work through it.

That is, just as soon as I wrap up a bit more paying design / web work.  The freelance developer & designer side of things is really picking up lately and I hope to keep it rolling throughout the year.  So naturally that stuff comes first, before Sheep.

Gaming

The holidays were full of super end of year sales, the most impressive was probably the insane Steam sale, lots of awesomeness was picked up at a pittance.  So here’s a list of the gaming highlights.

  • Dragon Age: Traditional fantasy RPG, polished like nothing else.
  • Kings Bounty: Insane Fantasy turn based combat with a happy disregard for tradition.
  • Mirrors Edge: First person runner.  Not sure why this wasn’t a bigger hit.
  • Garrys Mod:  A multiplayer physics based playgound, had a lot of fun building airships with kiddo an just doing strange stuff.
  • Left for Dead 2: Better than the first one, more zombies, more guns, for when you just want to shoot.
  • Machinarium: A beautiful hand drawn adventure game with so much character its hard to believe.
  • STALKER – Clear Sky: Post Chernobyl fps world to explore full of mutants and more.

And in board games:

We have played the first game of Pandemic.  A co-op board game where you have to work together to save the world from 4 diseases, HIGHLY recommended.  And I have a copy of Arkahm Horror sitting on my desk waiting to have a day dedicated to it.

Long time no bloggy.

Ok, been a bit hectic and I’ve been a bad blogger. 🙁

I feel I can blame it on the impending arrival of offspring and get on with it.

the debbil
the Devil

Couple paintings are done and there’s now a nice angel and demon in 24×24″ panels in the front hall. You know.. to scare people away from the good art that covers the rest of the house.

So the current plans (subject to revision but hey I feel better when I can pretend life’s going according to some sort of plan) is to prep the baby room and get the 2 paintings finished in time for baby Jude to arrive.    Then it’s baby time and squeezing in the last touches on Mutant Sheep Eat The Planet! and get that finished out by Summer in addition to getting some more freelance work and getting Wenderflonia all set up and ready to take over the art world.

The entry to the kitchen
The entry to the kitchen

Slow progress, but good things none the less

Wow time sure does fly, and whoa am I so totally not going to make the Oct 31 deadline! Which more or less means that November and December are going to be choked with Holidays and Family.

And it turns out there’s a little baby boy inbound, eta Feb 25(ish) (holy crap!)

So that has got to be more or less the last deadline, beacause somehow I don’t think there’s gonna be much free time after that for a while.

So, you might ask, what the hell have you been doing for the last 18 days.   Well, Mutant Sheep progress has been slow… much slower than I wanted but I seriously needed a break. More After the Break, Pictures too! Continue reading Slow progress, but good things none the less

Sheep benchmark

Time for a little progress update, eh?

Ok so some more sheep have been done but it’s time to assess the situation and get a firm grasp of where exactly I stand.   But first a picture of the prototype tuckbox that the game will be shipping with (some assembly  required)

tuckbnox

Why Include something as silly as a tuckbox, when it will surely impact the bottom line One might ask.  Well the answer is simple,  with the last couple playtests it’s become obvious that the system of green tokens to track the value of the current place is massively cumbersome.  So I decided to put in a little track sheet that you can just put a couple counters on to track the value of the current place as it is eaten.  And the price difference between a 4×4 board and a board big enough to have a tuckbox to be cut out is negligible. So the tuck box is almost free.

But anyway… back to the current state of the game development process.    So it turns out that 85% of the time it’s taking is art.  That’s right.  It’s taking much much longer to draw silly sheep than it is to creating the game and the cards and exporting them and uploading them and writing / editing the rules etc. etc.

Crazy eh?

As of RIGHT NOW, I have Drawn and Painted 60 of 125 sheep.  Of those 50 have been placed into their final art location in the inDesign files that are the decks.

I have 65 sheep left to Draw, ink, and paint.   A happy estimate would be that if I totally buckle down I can probably do a sheep every 2 hours, maybe a bit more.  So let’s call it 90 min.  So that’s just a hair short of 100hrs of ART work left to do.  Not too terribly bad.

Other than that I probably have 6 hours of editing and tweaking on the cards’ text to make sure they’re clear and are easier to understand.

Then toss in the other little things like re-writing the rules and finalizing the web and packaging art, realistically it’s probably closer to 120 hrs of work.

That’s some really long weekends in my immediate future if I’m to hit my goal of having it launched by my birthday.

Time to buckle up, it’s gonna be one helluva ride to see if I can do this.

Slow progress

So progress in sheepsville has been..well.. slow..
I’ve got another dozen or so sheep painted and ready to go into their cards, but overall, progress has been a fraction of what it needs to be.

The upside, however, is that I’ve gotten a bunch of freelance work (that’s right, I’ll work for money) and that’s pretty much all wrapped up for now.

I’ve started the process of reworking the site theme. Currently I’ve got the new headers and superfish menus in place, and gotten a jquery lightbox up and running, the menu’s need a bit more work though. Also, we now have a gallery.

All that remains is the re-styling of the content and sidebar and drawing a new site background image.

But first up, www.Wenderflonia.com is gearing up for a massive overhaul and that’s #1 in the priority list. Keep an eye out for it, we’ll have art commissions, prints and more goodies coming soon.

And more sheep. I must make more picture of sheep, and get an accurate count of exactly how many I still have left to finish.

That’s it for now. Further updates shortly.