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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Battle Gem Ponies DevLog #188 (Working Man By Day, Indie Dev By Night)

     Finally scored that gosh-dang job after months of chaos!

     The publisher hunt is over... The job hunt is over... The storm is finally settling and I can start making a game plan. Not a literal game design plan, but you know. An adjusted 5 year plan with branching paths and failsafes sort of thing.

     October is around the corner, and I can't stall any longer for these 50/50 chances in tech cities across the country making sweet sounding proposals but taking weeks at a time to get back to me. 

     I got a software engineering offer from a place within driving distance where I'll have a chance to learn, a chance to excel, the ability to satisfy all my financial objectives, the ability to start as soon as Monday morning, AND it allows me to still live close to my friends and family as well as the growing Orlando gamedev community!

     Excited for this next chapter in my journey, doing the common indie thing of kicking ass at a day job to earn enough money to live on, enough to kill debt, and enough to save for the long term. Burning midnight oil to bring a dream project to life, no matter how many months / years / decades / centuries it takes.

     So here's one last devlog where no progress on BGP is made, but lots of things to reflect on about these past 2 transformative months.

Looks like it'll be quite a while before I need to team up with a publisher.
I can cross this off my worries list and get back to making my product awesome.
Still... It was a useful experience trying to see places where my game could fit in.

  • Secured A Job (I start Monday)
  • More Interviews, Tests, and Studying Along the Way
  • Made A Financial Plan Using My Own Spreadsheets and Bookmark System AND the EveryDollar App
  • Made a Shortlist of Places to Move Into and Stuff to Buy Over Black Friday Season to Fill It
  • Bookmarked 10 Places Selling the Exact Car I Want for An Ideal Price (Grey Exterior/White Interior Last Gen Mazda6 GT just under $20K)
  • Studying Cooking Tutorials More Closely than Ever
  • Literally Went to Walmart and Tallied Up the Cost of Every Item and Grocery I Could Possibly Need and Compared Them to Online Prices and Top 5 Comparison Lists
  • Made a Credit Card Plan That Can Stock Up My Apartment Over the Black Friday Season and Get Me to Magfest
     Lessons Learned:
  • Where do I even begin? The job hunt was a stressful mess, but it taught me so much. I definitely came out the other side a lot wiser. And certainly with a lot more programming languages and techniques I can pull out of my hat now.
  • I know exactly how fast groceries can add up now and a literal budget goes a long way.
  • After budgeting and researching credit cards further, I can see how so many people can fall into bad habits and form eternal debt. I'll have to play this adulting game carefully and stay aware of where every dollar is going and keep my "present issues" scope at least 3 months ahead.  

       All the research into publishers was a pretty eye opening experience and a good use of my time. I learned a lot about making a game presentable even before the vertical slice is finished. I also analyzed a lot of titles, their marketing, and their success.

     Don't expect any more info about my job aside from "it keeps the lights on" and "involves software" because the rest is top secret and not specifically related to gamedev anyway. But it's cool, I like the team, and I'm excited to see what I can do there.


     Got some serious feedback from a game designer at one of the publishers/incubators I submitted Battle Gem Ponies to. While this first part's not really a "Feature", it's pretty interesting. More like a... "Reasons NOT to Feature" since it's basically rejection feedback. It was really helpful though and pointed out a few things I didn't notice.

     Basically the same stuff I've been telling myself. I need a vertical slice if I want a publisher, not just a playable buggy prototype with no story. I gotta add that pizazz I see in my head. I gotta squash those battle delay bugs! I gotta make goals & controls more clear! I gotta polish things up beyond belief!

     And I definitely gotta make that run toggle button transparent when it goes idle. (How embarrassing.)

     But yeah. Good to know I can trust the voice in my head to know what's what and keep me from flying off the rails. I could be like my 2016 self thinking my game is the greatest thing to ever grace the indie space in recent years and totally missing all these glaring issues. Being super harsh and critical with myself behind the scenes is absolutely upping the quality of the whole thing.

     Glad I finally have time to do something about it now.

And then MAGfest emailed me Monday night...
     Well this was a pleasant surprise! My game actually made it to round 2 of the Magfest Indie Showcase submission process! The cutoff was September 5th so I had my timelines totally mixed up. Of course they wouldn't start judging until ALL entries are submitted and the initial hotel rush was dealt with.

    Now weeks later they sifted through the hundreds of submissions and thought my little RPG about ponies was a great fit. Hooray!

     Guess now the big deal is to start planning for a booth in January! Gonna need about $3,000 to pull it off (yikes) so I guess I better chill this Christmas, have some backup credit cards, and pinch some pennies til the event comes in January.

     Also gotta work my butt off if I want the vertical slice ready by then if I'm picked too. And that's the other thing. Now they're gonna play the demo for real instead of just watching the footage. Maybe they're forgiving of bugs and know those can be ironed out in time, or maybe they'll think the game's a mess for the same reasons listed above and I'll be off the list as quickly as I got on.

     Just gotta cross my fingers and see. Definitely don't have time to adjust that build or anything. I'm knee deep into remaking the whole thing and haven't touched code in months. Submissions are due October 7th, so maayybe I can have a rushed out (but functional) sandbox of the new build by then... Don't count on it though. You know how good I am with time estimates.

     I can finally get back to Battle Gem Ponies... After all this time, wow...

     Well, I guess the first order of business is to finish up those YouTube scripts. I gotta make that lineup of videos and catch up from this hiatus. I at least want all 3,000 people who've downloaded the demo buzzing about the game by the end of October.

     So even if I only get 2 hours a day, or even just one if I'm busy or life gets in the way, I'll keep making steady progress on BGP, and have videos in the pipeline coming out regularly to keep fans engaged.

     Main takeaway from this whole experience is that Battle Gem Ponies is going to be a more professional production that ever. I'll be using a more streamlined process for getting things done, I now know what aspects to polish to make it stand out more, and I'll have the benefit of learning tons about software development and teamwork from my new job.

Battle Gem Ponies is gonna be better than ever! (Even if it takes a little longer to come out)

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