48 So much cool stuff

There is so much cool and fun stuff to share with you this blog!

I want to tell about how the demo launch went. And what I want to do after the demo. And that my vacation provided me with a bunch of new things to think about. And, as a proper ADHD person should do, I stumbled upon my game dev CI/CD video statistics and jumped on the whole thing thinking about even more things to do. And… and… and…

Okay I calm down. Lets start off with the demo launch.

The launch of the demo

On the 29th of June 2022, I published the demo of Find the Gnome 2 on Steam. As you can see, its now visible on Steam. You can search for it, or you can access it directly from the Find the Gnome 2 store page.

In the days preceding the demo launch, I worked hard to optimize the demo for the best gameplay experience. Most of that work was improving menu’s, UI and fixing bugs.

Did it pay off? How did the launch go?

In short: I am not sure how the launch did go. I for myself are relieved I got to the point of launching and having something to show. A stable game with no bugs (that I am aware of).

But in expectations: I had setup some links in my demo to get people to wishlist the full game. These links are from Steam and are unique so that I know what link was used. These links did generate no traffic. So or the system is broken, or the demo isn’t making people wanting to wishlist the game so much. But I think that there is a 3rd option in play: a game demo has a very low yield in general (that is what other game devs also point out) and my demo is just not marketed enough by me to get the numbers going.

I did find someone on YouTube covering my game:

Thank you RuneSnow! Appreciate the time you put into this and the feedback you provided! You did go some length to make the game work for you, even looked up the controls to tune them to your liking (but sadly, you didn’t find the options you were looking for).

I promoted this game also to my colleague’s on my current job at Topicus on the Friday of the launch. And a few people did play my game there just when I packed my bag to leave. I really had to leave because we were going to go on 2 weeks of vacation right then, so I could not gather feedback on the demo.

So yeah the planning of the demo was a bit off. Didn’t combine well with my vacation.

What is next? Well I am going to include a feedback form in the game. So it is easier for people to get back to me and state what is up with the game. Also, I was working on a tutorial. That will also help I think. And I have to keep working on the controls. First fix that mouse issue, and add an option for ‘full mouse control’ that is off by default.

Next on Find the Gnome 2

When the demo fixes (the feedback form, tutorial and improved controls) are done, I will continue with the ‘normal’ content work of Find the Gnome 2.

Here a selection of level content that is already available in the full version, or that I am integrating right now:

There is a lot of work that goes into this game. Just to make every level feel fresh and interesting to explore. And these aren’t even the final designs, because each of these levels needs an additional overhaul to add more hidingspots and even some interactive machines to suit the theme.

To give you an idea how a level is created, here is a peek at how the final level (level 4.3) is being created right now.

First, I think of a theme, a level size and the amount of things to do. Then Meinder (from meinder.nl) creates a sketch/concept art based on these instructions.

From there on, Syoma gets to work (see his ArtStation for more of his work), and creates a low poly diorama from it. Currently, it isn’t finished yet. But this is the state as it is right now with roughly 2/3 of the level completed.

To give you an idea of what work it takes to create a level: Syoma put already more than 40 hours into this level. Meinder did also a few hours on this sketch. And when I get to integrate this level, it will easily take me another 20 hours to make it all come to live and add interesting features to it. After that, we probably need to do some rework too… so yeah, a lot of hours go into making just 1 level.

I have to say though, that this final level is the biggest one yet. So there is relatively more hours that go into modelling this level than that went into other modelling other levels.

With having said that, lets move on to the next subject of this blog: my vacation and the learning’s that I had.

Thinking when on vacation

When on vacation it is always a good moment to reflect on past life and make new commitments for a better future. Vacation is a good moment to rest for the body and the soul. And be with family. And reflect on things that matter the most in life. Or at least, that is how I use my vacation.

On of the most memorable moments is when I came by this sign:

It reads ‘Welcome to national park De Groote Peel. Watch out! Gnome crossing.’

Nah, just kidding. This wasn’t the most memorable moment. But it was fun to see a reference to gnomes. And I also noticed a lot of garden gnome statues in gardens of homes and in the front of mobile homes on camping sites, especially in Germany. So maybe I should do a German translation of my game soon?

But back to the topic of the vacation: we went out with our folding trailer (dont know if this is the right translation for ‘vouwwagen’ but I will continue this name to reference our method of camping). And we went to camping sites in Germany, Luxembourg and The Netherlands.

Before I share my thoughts on a good book I did read, lets revisit a few of the highlights of our vacation.

Preparations when at home. Its a six person folding trailer. Its old but still very functional. And most important: it still keeps us shielded from rain. Here we are doing maintenance on it. Its missing its inner canvas because we are repairing some connections that got severed during its lifetime:

Lets skip a few days. Here you see is my daughter building stone sculptures like the ones next to it. This is during a roundtrip around our first camping site at Monschau, Germany:

This is at Kiischpelt, Luxembourg. A very nice and child friendly camping spot next to a stream. My wife had to book this weeks in advance to be able to secure a spot:

And here our ‘packaging’ setup when we are ready to move again. With a small coffee brewery on top of our car for a nice brewed coffee for when we are hitting the road again. And the kids are enjoying some of there ‘digital time’ so we have our hands free to pack everything up. This camping spot was next to the Mousel in Germany, at Krov. This camping site had a lot of room left, but thats probably because they just got new owners and the facilities where in the process of being overhauled:

And yes the weather was extremely hot. Every camping site was much more dry than usual (and less green in the process). The last camping site we went to was situated in Melderslo in The Netherlands. Here we are at a local beach:

And on the last day, we went to a nearby amusement park. Never heard of it, but it had some very nice roller coasters and other attractions. Its called ‘Toverland’ and is very child friendly. And they have a lot of playgrounds with water features, especially fun for children when its so hot like right now. And I went into the most cool looking coaster I have seen:

One last note on coasters in general: I don’t know if I am alone in this, but I like wooden coasters much more. They feel ten times more intense. At Toverland they also had a wooden one called ‘Troy’ and I did enjoy that ride the most.

(By the way, I didn’t include too much personal details on the pictures on purpose. I want to give my family control over their own privacy.)

So enough talk about Erik the Tourist enjoying family life when out camping. Although that is very important (maybe even the most important thing in life). Reflecting on life itself is also very much worth the time you put into it. So lets move on to the book and my thoughts on it.

The book I read was ‘Hoe je vrienden maakt en mensen beinvloed’ or in English ‘How to win friends and influence people’. I did read specifically this book due to it being referenced by a YouTube guy I follow.

Alexander Grace is his name. I really like his content because he shares his insights on positive masculinity among other things. And does this in a very uplifting and constructive way, with his main goal being that man and women have better and lasting relationships that benefit both parties equally. So when this guy referenced this book, he referenced it in a way like ‘This book teaches you the basic stuff on how to be a good, healthy and fun person to be with.’. The book itself is very old, like from 1915 or so. But the lessons in it are timeless.

One of the reasons I wanted to read this book and see if I could try to practice what it preaches, is because I had some insights in the months preceding my vacation.

At my work at Topicus, I seem to be limited not by my technical or analytical skills but at my skills on how to influence people and getting my message across. Further more, I came to realize that I am much more on my own then I would like it to be. To state it harshly: I don’t have that many friends. But to get somewhere in life, I need guidance and help. Living life is much more difficult than it has to be if there aren’t many (different) people around me to help me get through certain hardships in life.

I am fully aware of the ADHD and authistic part in me thats just more ‘rigid’ in thinking and makes me to be more on my own and have a smaller circle of people around me. That good and okay. But I also have other parts in me that aren’t that rigid and really like to just be talkative and connect with other people. So what I think is happening to me right now, is just a small shift in the balance of my personality. I want to open up more to the world around me. And I am looking for guidance on how to do this ‘properly’.

So that is where this book comes into play. The book itself takes a very ‘American’ approach: 5% theory and 95% of accounts of people practicing the theory and having very good results.

I am tempted to write a summary here, but that’s not my expertise. Look this book up on Bol.com or Amazon. And see it for yourself.

But my main take away from this book is that my ‘rigid’ thinking about things in life gets in between relationships and hampers communications. Its not about ‘factual truths’ but more about relationships between humans. And the reality of life is that we are often busy with our own problems, so its very hard to open up to someone else. So if I want to connect to someone, its much more easy to get into their world, then if I would make them to come over to my world. ‘Seek first to understand, then to be understood’.

So I have set myself the goal to be more understanding in the coming half year. Even more than I am comfortable doing. In that way I ‘really tried’ to make this theory work. And if I don’t like the results in February 2023, I will try a new approach by then.

By the way. I also moved over to Notion for a new way of note taking. Previously, I wrote all my findings down in documents. A separate document for each moment that I had some insights. I do look back at these document once a year or so to see where I am making progress and such. But its getting harder to connect the dots over the years. Especially if I have interesting sources like YouTube video’s or books that I want to recommend to other people, and I cant find them again, thats really frustrating. One purpose of note taking is to clear up my mind, but another purpose is to make learnings of it later on and to share these learnings.

Why notion? I was thinking about using an offline tool. But then I realized a lot of the times I make/take notes, is when I am walking somewhere in the wild making up my mind. I always have my phone with me, but not that many times my laptop. And I looked into other online tools as well. But notion seems to be the most clean one and flexible one, not railroading me in some direction.

With having said that, I get to the last subject of this blog. I am writing for 4 hours now so that probably not that smart. Most people won’t read that far into this blog. But lets continue, my ADHD brain had some smart brain farts (or that is what I thought when I got them lol) and wants to share them.

My CI/CD video’s

As you might remember from older blogs: the most successful pages on this website are about my CI/CD video’s on Unity build pipelines. Like 2 out of 3 outside visitors come to visit these stand alone pages. I also think 50% to 75% of the readers of my bi-weekly blogs content are people that did find me due to this CI/CD content.

For 2022, my website traffic looks like this:

On YouTube I have the GameFeelings channel with 31 subscribers at the moment. These are my video view numbers (sorry for the Dutch interface):

I personally do like it that people find me because of this CI/CD stuff. I like working on that kind of content. And I want to help out people with this stuff, because I struggle a lot to sort things out myself.

The Find the Gnome 2 content is also doing good. Or that is what I think it is. I am not actively marketing anything yet. Only some post on twitter, facebook and reddit but those are mostly for friends and family or for fellow game devs. But this Find the Gnome 2 content is also dwarved on my YouTube channel with 0.5k views compared to the 9k views on my CI/CD and Unity stuff.

So I am going with the flow on this. And going to invest time in new, updated and fresh CI/CD and Unity content.

Thats it for this blog post! Hope you had a fun time reading my content. Wish you all the best an see you next time. Bye!

Published by Erik_de_Roos

Erik de Roos is a Freelance software developer.

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