The competition

Tell me, do you often experience something like this: you have a great idea, start working on it, and one day you stumble upon a video and it seems as if the whole world is already creating the idea’s you had in mind. And they where doing this for like the past 2 years already, so it seems as if you where sleeping these past 2 years…

This blog is about the competition I face while building ‘Manage the Universe’ and what I think of my chances.

First of all 2 nice videos worth watching if you are into strategy games / city builders. These are the competition I’m talking about, especially those in the strategy 4X section.

My first notice is that most of the games have decent to excellent 3D graphics. Yes a few are cartoony but even then quite polished.

A bit more on the looks of the game. My aim for the game would be to place it in a space sci-fi setting with gameplay balancing between strategy and first person action. That brings another set of competitors in view:

There are a lot of good looking competitor games in the market. I did know this already. But every time I look at the competition I see very well thought-out and nice looking spaceships. I want at least well thought-out space ships, but even that requires a lot of work to pull of.

Back to the strategy video. A thing I noticed was that a lot 4X strategy of games use generated maps with hexagon tiles. And they have interesting approaches on how to make the terrain fit these tiles and still look natural. See this for instance:

Look at the water body on the right: these are nicely hidden hexagons. Or the mountains. Or the nice transition between the plains and the farms in the bottom left. It gives me a nice reference to what is possible, but I do know from first hand experience that getting it to this level is quite a feat on its own.

Now on to comparing other parts of the game. My game would fit quite a bit in the 4X genre: ‘eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate’. A few of these games are 4X and do also have real time battles, so that is about the same. Most of these strategy games have progression systems (upgrades, tech trees). A few of them are in a space sci-fi setting. A few of them have hero units. And a few of them are story driven. But not all of them have it all at the same time. And no one of these play from the eyes of a main protagonist, as in: your strategy control is centered around your protagonist. And none of them have the unfolding gameplay, progression system and replayability system.

A lot of comments that accompany these video’s do complain about these upcoming titles to be more of the same. But at the same time people refer back to Age of Empires 2, Dune, Supreme Commander (1), Total War series, Empire Earth 1, Black and White, Star wars Empires at War, Populus, Civilization series, etc. Deep inside them they want to relive their old experiences over and over again.

In 1990-2000 there was a golden age of strategy games. But it seems as if there is a revival happening with a lot of upcoming titles. The question is however: are these new titles compelling/different enough to compete with the other new stuff when they compete at the same time with the old legends. And is this revival a good or a bad thing for my title… only time will tell.

On the positive side I do have a few interesting tricks up my sleeve. While I have to watch out with the graphic side of things (and possible look for support of other devs), my interesting gameplay mechanics will save the day! (If executed well)

Bi-Weekly update 17

Manage the Universe

Last update I wanted to create a holographic view of the second world detail level. But I would not be me if I worked on something else. I had a hard time determining how it should look like so I decided to let the idea mature a bit more.

Asking for a buddy

What I ended up doing was asking Reddit to help me out again. This time more serious: I asked for a game dev buddy. That is because while determining where to work on I realized I was doing a lot of work on my own and I need someone to talk to. I need someone to mirror my behavior and help structure the thoughts I have.

I got an overwhelming and heartwarming response. A lot of people can relate to the issues I have with finding like minded people in these COVID times. It is hard to work from home, alone.

Core game loop

‘buddy’ game designer CALSYTHE took the limited information I gave him and turned them into a core game loop. This is a major step: it means that all needed components are already in place and they have the potential to work together to create a working game.

This is what the core game loop looks like:

God games

Another game designer that contacted me on the Reddit post did send me this video. It is about the ‘god game’ type of game where you use indirect controls to let people do stuff.

Well, after watching this game I found out that I did not want my game to be a pure ‘god’ game. Yes the ‘god’ mechanics is a fun one, and yes I think I will use it partially. But more as a secondary mechanic than the main one. This is a game and I want the player to have more direct control over stuff than in real life, to enhance the power fantasy.

A ‘god’ mechanic I would like to implement is one where your environment makes their own decisions independent of you. But they still use your ‘set way’ or ‘blueprint’ to subconsciously guide their decisions.

And yeah power is relative, it is the contradiction that makes you feel the power. So I know I need some helplessness in the game to emphasize the power. But that could be naturally achieved by adding stuff you really don’t control (even in real life never ever) like love/adoration/faith.

Identity

Identity and the search for identity is something many people can relate to. With me having a real ‘business’ I have had a few boosts in my own search for identity.

One of my latest findings is how to align all of my identities and get 1 ‘backing’ personality out of it. So me being a father, me being a lover, me being a software engineer, being an Indi game dev, me playing computer games, etc. Getting all these identities together will solve a lot of contradictory feelings and energy drains. The main thing I discovered is what my inner child is a ‘manly energetic problem solver that really likes to fiddle with stuff on his own’. So next on the to-do list is to align more of the things I do to match up with this profile, and to find out how I can implement an (emotionally) mature version of this inner child.

A concrete example of this is that I am making decisions about how I would like to shape the future of the company GameFeelings if things take off. This is not about dreaming of a future, but it is really needed if I want to take running a company seriously, as said by Joakim Achrén from elite game developers. I follow his blogs for a while now and I am subscribed to his mailing list, and there he speaks a lot about how to found game companies and still enjoy your work as the founder even when things change. It comes all down to deciding on identity and always aligning the things you do and plan to do with your identity.

Procrastination

I think the long time readers of my blog figured this out already, but I am very good at procrastination. I think it has something to do with my ADHD as explained in this YouTube video.

Procrastination could be a bad thing and I usually interpret it as a bad thing, however I am on a discovery that most of the time there is an underlying issue that can act as a signal on things that are not working out. For instance, me not wanting to start working on the level 1 and level 2 is more an issue of knowing that I can’t deliver on the art, animation and effects. And that relates more to having issues with a time deadline than that I don’t believe in me being able to learn some sufficient basic skills.

So yeah I am currently wondering if I am going to make the game I want and take the time it needs, or to just push for it…

Bi-Weekly update 16

Business

A quick overview of the business side of things.

Due to the whole COVID thing there is still much uncertainty in the market. Especially on the freelance / consultancy side. And since I am a single developer with no profitable game released yet, my money comes from savings of the freelancing I do in business software development.

My idea is to put as much time in my game ‘Manage the Universe’ as possible before having to put that project on halt and doing some freelancing to get the finances to do another take on ‘Manage the Universe’.

For this reason I’m looking for a new freelance project starting in December 2020 / January 2021 with a duration of 3 to 6 months. If you do happen to know someone that can use my skillset, please let me know.

I’m looking for:

  • A full remote project all over the world, or partially remote if it is max 2 hours driving from Zwolle (Netherlands), or on-site if it is max 1 hour driving from Zwolle.
  • Or a C# Unity project, or a C# .Net (Core) project.
  • Hourly rate is negotiable depending on travel and working conditions, seniority required, using an intermediate party, etc. Range is 65-80 euro/hour (ex btw).

What do you get:

  • An expert developer of C# .Net with a lot of experience on back-end heavy projects. Experienced in both full-stack as in solution/enterprise architecture. I have 10 years of professional experience, besides building software as a hobby for over 22 years now.
  • People recommend me because 1) I love my work and I naturally inspire other developers, 2) I can be build upon and deliver what I promise.
  • My expertise shines when doing technically heavy projects or being in a complex environment. Very skilled at dividing workload, solution architecture, databases, (multi)threading, networking.
  • Technologies used recently: .Net Core, Azure services, MsSql, Message queue’s, Azure DevOps, Azure IAM (AD/OpenID), Unittests, Postman.
  • Methodologies used recently: Agile, Scrum, CI/CD, Dev(Sec)Ops, TDD.
  • Languages: Native Dutch speaker, work level English.
  • For my full resume see https://www.linkedin.com/in/diederikjohannesderoos/

I am open for companies that want a long term relationship with small projects or assistance on a 1-2 days/week basis. With work like this other contract types like payment on a project base are possible.

Manage the Universe

With the commercial talk out of the way, here is an update on ‘Manage the Universe’, the game I am currently working on.

The major progress is on the ‘galaxy’ overview. If you watched my socials I did put this on my twitter:

As mentioned in previous updates this game is going to be a strategy game. The hexagonal style is communicating this very well I think. And the hexagon tile enables me to simplify the game mechanics.

The game has several levels of gameplay. To sum those up:

(By the way, layer 3 has the most appealing looks yet. That is because I started with layer 3, did some work on layer 2, more on layer 1, and then re-imagined layer 3. When I get the other layers another pass they will look a lot more appealing and consistent.)

The hexagon and gameplay levels system ties in into the progress. The idea is to unfold it like this:

The whole galaxy is generated from a seed. That is where another benefit of the hexagon comes into play: it makes for an easy building block system.

Where to work on next?

I’m still deciding on the art direction. A lot of the 3rd person level 1 planet view is depended on assets being made, and with the art direction not clear yet I don’t think that is where I will be working on next.

But the level 2 region overview of the planet is something I’m comfortable to make a few decisions on. I’m thinking about making it a holographic representation like thing, to emphasize the strategic element of it. With it being a representation only I can use a few shortcuts like non-realistic building placement and low effort assets. It would be cool if in the next 2 weeks I can get to the point where I can show off buildings, units and unit command.

Bi-Weekly update 15

Manage the Universe

Another two weeks of progress have been made on ‘Manage the Universe’. Still working on very rough concepts. But I have some nice screenshots to spice it up!

World surface generator

Most of the work went into the tile generator. This system will generate the surface of the world where your character can walk upon. The world consists of regions where each region is a hexagon that is filled with smaller hexagon tiles. A few screenshots of the work in progress:

Decisions

There are a few things that I had to decide upon. How big is the world? How detailed is this world? Is it generated or hand crafted? How close by is the camera on the player, and how good does it have to look when being that close?

I choose the world to consist of regions in hexagonal shapes, with that being the smallest ‘thing’ in the game. You specify if a region has housing, mines, units, etc. Then the region is split up into smaller hexagon tiles, with the content of these tiles being generated from the region ‘master data’. These tiles leverage the benefits of a generated terrain while still being able to model specific tiles. This way I can still create interesting tiles with specific features to it.

Here is a screenshot of me work out another aspect of the design: how ‘rough’ these terrain tiles will be and what the max height can be while still look believable.

To get an idea of sizes: the screenshot is a mountain tile composition I made. This mountain consists of 7 tiles. This is the highest I can get a mountain to be without taking more tiles as a base, or else it will look ‘off’. The capsules are the size of a human avatar, for size comparison. Each tile is roughly 40 by 40 meters, the region 400 by 500 meters.

There are still some things to experiment with: take the mountain for instance, it is very low poly. I don’t know my poly budget yet but I think it doesn’t look that well even if you take in consideration there will be props on the mountain slopes. So I think I have to go with LOD profiles on my tiles to get a better looking world, especially since the cam will be more close by than the screenshot currently shows.

Next

There is still a lot to do to get even a minimal working version.

Working on the game gets easier by the week. I had a lot of difficulties determining where to work on when all was unclear, but it is a lot more fun now I am heading in a specific direction.

Fingers crossed if I can have some gameplay ready in 2 months from here…

Bi-Weekly update 14

Manage the Universe

Two weeks of hard work have gone into ‘Manage the Universe’. I wanted to get a visual stimulating progress to show to you my readers… but instead I ended up creating a lot of code and doing a few sessions on game design.

I’m getting an idea of what I want with the visual side of the game. Creating this on my own isn’t in my set of ability so I have called in on the mighty power of the internet to assist me… in getting some nice things from the asset store!

These assets will be used in the alpha I plan on releasing November this year. I don’t know if they will be in the end product: that will depend on how well it works.

Another interesting thing I did was asking Reddit about my game design. I got a lot of useful responses. The main issue pointed out was that there is no ‘core game mechanic’.

So I did a lot of thinking and rework on the game design. And I decided to get the scope of the game smaller to be able to deliver something worthwhile end 2020.

While working on the design I realized a lot of the game’s pacing is depended on progression. So my main focus currently is to get an interesting tech tree that will allow for a gradual pacing but at the same time get that sci-fi vibe of endless exploration and endless possibilities.

One thing I learned while getting a tech tree together is that I needed to work backwards: In a game a tech unlocks an ability, but as a designer I have to think about the pacing I want to achieve and then work backwards what that implies for the available techs.

An idea of where I am currently at with the early stage gameplay:

‘Manage the Universe’ early game progression on draw.io

And that is it for this update! I hope you enjoyed reading this post and know a bit more about what it takes to make a game.

Bi-Weekly update 13

New content

As a solo game developer I have to make stuff happen across a broad range of expertise’s. That is not easy as a specialist. And I think a lot of small (starting) business have these issues. So that is why I want to share my practices.

I did some website analyzing past 2 weeks. This article came out of that: Your website, worth the effort? If you have a small website and try to reach out to your customers, please give it a read and comment how it was helpful to you or how I can improve articles like this in the future.

A picture from the article displaying real traffic data from 2020

I created something else last week. A tutorial ‘Azure DevOps Unity3D pipeline‘ about using CI/CD for Unity3D game development, using the Microsoft stack. I tried using Jenkins in January this year to achieve the same, but that didn’t work out. So that is why I created one using Azure DevOps and I’m quite satisfied with the results.

The tutorial video from the article

In the future I will give you more insight in my toolings used. But I need some time to accumulate positive and negative experience’s so I can give a balanced insight in my game dev related development tools and practices.

Birthdays

August is a special month for my family: my wife, 1 child and I celebrate our birthday that month.

Due to COVID-19 we had to spread the ‘load’ so we had a full week of eating cake each day.

Not much else

Beside creating the content for the website and attending to birthday parties there was not much time left.

I did some code optimizations on Manage the Universe and added a few background-computing things but that was all. Nothing visual to show…

Next update I promise I share some nice early gameplay!

Azure DevOps Unity3D pipeline

This is an article to accompany my video about setting up an Azure DevOps pipeline for a local build agent with Unity3D.

For those who want the files: https://gamefeelings.files.wordpress.com/2020/08/helper-files-for-azure-devops-unity-build-2.zip

And here the links to a few other resources:

Why Azure DevOps

I did a video on a Jenkins setup this year. In that video I show how to setup a local build system for Unity3D with Jenkins.

Doing DevOps was already kind-of a practice in game dev. It was often called a pipeline and revolved around getting newly build stuff integrated in the existing code base. So the current move of automating and streamlining more stuff into pipelines is only an evolution of this old practice. You only have to pay attention on what to automate and how stringent you are, but other that that it is a worthwhile exercise. See a good YouTube about this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9HRzE7_2Xc.

So why Azure DevOps? Well, I’m a Microsoft developer from when I grew up and have used their tools for over decades now. I do find that over time I like their approach to empowering the developer with good working tools, I tried a few other tools but always got back to them having the better maintained and better thought-out philosophy.

I tried Jenkins but found it to be outdated and non intuitive. So yeah, I do have a few (payed) Microsoft accounts already so for me Azure DevOps is the better choice.

Helper files

If you follow the tutorial you see me using a batch file, a setup, and a specific pipeline.

You can download the content in a zip over here, or copy it from the source code paragraphs below.

The pipeline yaml file:

# Starter pipeline
# Start with a minimal pipeline that you can customize to build and deploy your code.
# Add steps that build, run tests, deploy, and more:
# https://aka.ms/yaml

trigger:
- master

pool:
  name: Default
  demands: 
    Unity_2019.3.2f1

steps:
#cleanup for unity build
- task: DeleteFiles@1
  inputs:
    SourceFolder: '$(Build.ArtifactStagingDirectory)'
    Contents: '**/*'

#get the previously secured library (if any) for performance reasons
- task: DeleteFiles@1
  inputs:
    SourceFolder: '$(Build.Repository.LocalPath)\Unity Source\Manage the Universe\Library'
    Contents: '**/*'
- task: CmdLine@2
  inputs:
    script: 'if EXIST "$(Build.BinariesDirectory)\Library\" move "$(Build.BinariesDirectory)\Library" "$(Build.Repository.LocalPath)\Unity Source\Manage the Universe\Library"'

#unity PC build
- task: UnityBuildTask@3
  inputs:
    buildTarget: 'Win64'
    unityProjectPath: 'Unity Source\Manage the Universe'
    outputPath: '$(Build.BinariesDirectory)\Build'
    outputFileName: 'ManageTheUniverse'

#create the installer
- task: BatchScript@1
  inputs:
    filename: 'Installer/createsetup.bat'
    arguments: '"$(Build.BinariesDirectory)\Build\*" "$(Build.ArtifactStagingDirectory)\SetupCreation" "0.1.$(Build.BuildNumber)"'
    workingFolder: '$(Build.Repository.LocalPath)\Installer'

#upload artifact
- task: PublishBuildArtifacts@1
  inputs:
    PathtoPublish: '$(Build.ArtifactStagingDirectory)\SetupCreation'
    ArtifactName: 'drop'
    publishLocation: 'Container'

#secure the library for performance reasons
- task: DeleteFiles@1
  inputs:
    SourceFolder: '$(Build.BinariesDirectory)\Library'
    Contents: '**/*'
- task: CmdLine@2
  inputs:
    script: 'move "$(Build.Repository.LocalPath)\Unity Source\Manage the Universe\Library" "$(Build.BinariesDirectory)\Library"'

The setup batch file:

set arg1=%~1
set arg2=%~2
set arg3=%~3

"Inno Setup 6\ISCC.exe" "/DBuildSource=%arg1%" "/DBuildTarget=%arg2%" "/DMyAppVersion=%arg3%" setup.iss

The Inno setup 6 file:

; Script generated by the Inno Setup Script Wizard.
; SEE THE DOCUMENTATION FOR DETAILS ON CREATING INNO SETUP SCRIPT FILES!

#define MyAppName "ManageTheUniverse"
#define MyAppPublisher "GameFeelings"
#define MyAppURL "https://gamefeelings.com/"
#define MyAppExeName "managetheuniverse.exe"

[Setup]
; NOTE: The value of AppId uniquely identifies this application. Do not use the same AppId value in installers for other applications.
; (To generate a new GUID, click Tools | Generate GUID inside the IDE.)
AppId={{A3C19EB9-57D2-4DCD-870D-9A8A0CCCBFB2}
AppName={#MyAppName}
AppVersion={#MyAppVersion}
;AppVerName={#MyAppName} {#MyAppVersion}
AppPublisher={#MyAppPublisher}
AppPublisherURL={#MyAppURL}
AppSupportURL={#MyAppURL}
AppUpdatesURL={#MyAppURL}
DefaultDirName={autopf}\{#MyAppName}
DisableProgramGroupPage=yes
; Remove the following line to run in administrative install mode (install for all users.)
PrivilegesRequired=lowest
OutputDir={#BuildTarget}
OutputBaseFilename=SetupPc
Compression=lzma
SolidCompression=yes
WizardStyle=modern

[Languages]
Name: "english"; MessagesFile: "compiler:Default.isl"

[Tasks]
Name: "desktopicon"; Description: "{cm:CreateDesktopIcon}"; GroupDescription: "{cm:AdditionalIcons}"; Flags: unchecked

[Files]
Source: "{#BuildSource}"; DestDir: "{app}"; Flags: ignoreversion recursesubdirs createallsubdirs
; NOTE: Don't use "Flags: ignoreversion" on any shared system files

[Icons]
Name: "{autoprograms}\{#MyAppName}"; Filename: "{app}\{#MyAppExeName}"
Name: "{autodesktop}\{#MyAppName}"; Filename: "{app}\{#MyAppExeName}"; Tasks: desktopicon

[Run]
Filename: "{app}\{#MyAppExeName}"; Description: "{cm:LaunchProgram,{#StringChange(MyAppName, '&', '&&')}}"; Flags: nowait postinstall skipifsilent

Admin Access

You need to have a high access level in your Azure DevOps organizations to pull this off. So in an existing organization with a DevOps account already in use you probably need to work with the admins to get everything going.

However if you have your own (free) account you by default have the admin role.

Azure DevOps plan limitations

Depending on your DevOps account plan you have limitations to the amount of running agents. And you have limited build minutes a month.

If you are on a free version you probably are limited to 1 local build agent, and have 1800 free build minutes a month (and for more you pay).

Even with a local build agent a few things still count for build minutes like uploading your artifacts or coordinating stuff.

Your website, worth the effort?

I have my websites erikderoos.nl for over 5 years now and gamefeelings.com for almost 3 years. What did it bring me? Was it worth the effort?

My website philosophy

I like to create stuff and share the product or the experience with others. This can be to help others, or to get money to feed my family, or just for selfish (very human) reasons like boosting my ego.

The thing is that the current world is fragmented over specialized websites: your portfolio on LinkedIn, your personal story on Facebook, your game on Steam, a game dev blog on Indie DB and a thought about game dev on Gamasutra.

I’m not in control of this data. Nor do these sites create a good picture of me or my capabilities. And if I ever want to add something to this that doesn’t fit in their specialization, like selling game stuff on my own, I then have to start from rock bottom.

So my philosophy is to create 1 website for my personal experience and 1 website for my business. And then to get interested souls to find my content.

Link building

To be discoverable by these interested souls I have to make myself known to the search engines.

Being known to these search engines is just the start. If you know this stuff just read ahead, but for those who don’t know about link building or SEO (Search Engine Optimization):

The Google and kinds have a system in place, it is called ‘ranking’. They will rank your website’s relevance depending on keywords, actuality, writing quality, ability to deliver on your promise (of information), your authority and many more parameters.

The main thing here are keywords and authority.
Keywords are relevant to know when to show you when people search on a subject. Not all keywords are equal because some are so overcrowded with websites that want a slice, others are so specific nobody searches on them.
Authority is build with links from external websites to your websites content. The better the external websites rating, the more relevant the link, and the longer people stay on your website after the link, the higher your authority gets.

Websites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Reddit and Steam are massive platforms with massive credibility. However the search engines know that there is a low entry to get a link on this platforms to your website.
But if just a lot of people follow a link from this platform to your website, you still must be doing something right.

And that is when the rank of your website starts to increase. On the given keywords.

I utilize the specific platforms to maximize their gain too. A good YouTube video will get more people to view it, YouTube will value stuff of my creation more and show it to more people, thus showing links to my website to more people.

Getting people to know you is in the end just a numbers game.

Time intensive content

I keep track of my time invested in activities. So I know how much time I spend creating content for my website or just keep it up to date.

Time tracking in Excel

I did spend 100 hours in 2020 on content. That is 14 hour / month. In that time I maintained 2 websites, created 29 posts, created 1 YouTube video, attended 2 conferences and had a presence on Twitter/Facebook/Reddit.

Results (personal website)

My personal website erikderoos.nl was a failure from the start. I did 4 blog posts on it in 2 years time on a very specialized subject. Further more I have a glorified portfolio on there to give more background to my LinkedIn profile.

erikderoos.nl visitor/views per year

In 2018 I got 110 visitors with 2.4 views, in 2019 I got 174 visitors with 2.4 views and for now in 2020 I got 178 visitors with 2.9 views.

No one ever referenced visiting my personal website during my time as a software consultant when doing interviews on new projects. Because this was my main goal this website didn’t work out.
But not all is lost, there are some solid visitor numbers. And it seems that 50% of the visitors follow personal links, probably to get a better idea of who I am. Maybe this helps people to better judge me and my online activities.

Lets forget this website and focus on my game dev website where I intent to make money off.

Results (business website)

My website gamefeelings.com is a much more alive site where I blog about my game dev endeavors. I currently have 50 posts in total. I also use YouTube to host support video’s for my content, and I have a few games on external game portals that link back to this website.

gamefeelings.com visitor/views per year

In 2018 I got 109 visitors with 2.9 views, in 2019 I got 78 visitors with 1.5 views and for now in 2020 I got 343 visitors with 2.1 views.
Furthermore I added a mailing list in 2020 and got 6 natural non family/friends subscriptions in the last 2 months.

Referrers in 2020

What I find interesting from my referrers, is that from the 343 visitors in 2020 there were 70 from following a link on (only) 1 YouTube video I made.

I never did any marketing, aside from a review request in 2018 with the launch of my game Find the Gnome. Nor did I ever post content that wasn’t something of my own or was click bait.
With me putting more effort in creating better content more people gradually find my website but I haven’t hit the jackpot either.

Views per page in 2020

With 100 hours put into the website and the content on the website, I attracted roughly 3 people per hour spend.
However If I look into the YouTube video I did, it took me 9 hours to make it and I got 82 people to my website with it (so far). So that is 11 people attracted per hour spend.

It seems that over time my content posted on socials is the best way to get people to my website. The number 2 and 3 are Facebook and YouTube with both 70 people attracted.
Funny is that the nr 1 is search engines: 47 people got to me through Google, and 42 got to me trough Baidu, with 91 attracted people in total.

I have one last thing about my website’s efficiency: I got 2 freelance game dev jobs in May 2020. One was a jobpost from Facebook, the other contacted me by LinkedIn. They both mentioned visiting my website. These were small projects with small payments but as my 2 first gigs these were worthy starter projects.

Summary

This is what I take away from this:

  1. If people want to find you they will.
  2. My content isn’t magically discovered by people minding their own business, I have to stay active in promoting and distributing my content to them.
  3. Socials are a good way to distribute my content. However, content quality is important and that can be measured by people organically finding me on search terms.
  4. Having a compelling website is very time consuming. Just creating content about random subjects isn’t the best way to spend my hours. It is wiser to limit the subjects to what I am good at or can write interestingly about.

Bi-Weekly update 12

Manage the Universe

I have been working on Manage the Universe for a few weeks now, and I am still in the prototype phase. A few idea’s are getting more refined during this process, so that is what I want to show you today.

This gif starts with the ‘starsystem overview’ or so called ‘level 3 view’ and when the planet gets selected, we move over to the ‘planet regional view’ or ‘level 2 view’.

Manage the Universe - Prototype - 2020 08 07
Manage the Universe – Prototype – 2020 08 07

The idea is that on level 2 you get to a Civilizations like overview and manage the world by interacting with these tiles and expand cities and corporations on them.

These tiles on level 2 are fed with a historical and geological history system that will decide their state and their progress. So on getting to a world for the first time, you can encounter already developed cities based on the history of the world and the history of the inhabited race.

These tiles are ‘districts’ that you are able to explore on a level 1 view with your character. So next to do would be to make a level 1 view where you can actually get down to this planet and walk around in the cities / deserts / woods.

Other stuff

There is not much else to report.

Bi-Weekly update 11

New mailing list idea

There are a lot of people around me and my family that like to know what it is that I do, and how things are going with my game company. For them I have this email list in Mailchimp.

I’m going to change some things to this email list. Currently it is just ‘the same’ as this blog, but I find it hard to come up with a good email each time because I know people read the email list for different reasons than these blog posts.

So I’m going to stop sending them a summary of this blogpost, but instead focus more on the ‘what people close to me want to know’.
The email list content is thus going to be more centered around running the company and the impact it has on me and my family, while this blogpost is more focused on game updates and less about detailed personal/family matters.

Holidays

I had some great holidays the past 3 weeks. It was a good mixture of relaxing at home, go out camping, building a nice garden shed, and meditating on my companies future and the next game to build.

Manage the Universe – my new game

Previous update I shared that my new game will be centered around the following

space, inception, sleeves, management, adventure, 3D pixel-art, replay-ability.

The name of the game is ‘Manage the Universe’ for now. It will be most of all a strategy game mixed with the management style of games. I thought this name to be quite fitting for the genre and the content.

It’s basic gameplay is that you are a person that have to play the game on 6 different levels to achieve the end goal, and the end goal is to rule the universe.
At level 1 you are a mere peasant, roaming an inhabited planet and you have to help your environment to advance.
At level 2 you are a governor of a province, and try to get along with your neighboring provinces.
At level 3 you start becoming a space oriented world organization, seeking for help and answers on your near planets and stars.
At level 4 you start to really get a grip on space and build massive fleets to conquer the stars and find other civilizations.
At level 5 you organize with other civilizations into federations and establish a galaxy wide order, while striving for supremacy.
At level 6 you start a secret order, have a base, and recruit followers. This to unravel a mysterious fate that is brought upon your galaxy.

The thing is: you can play all levels at once. Every planet is visit-able, every civilization has its history and is plans for the future. You can play small fleet battles with early space crafts or massive end-of-times size space battles with planet-destroying capable dreadnoughts.

This game will be about feeling powerful, discovery and strategically play your ‘cards’. The challenge is to not to win, but to advance.

It will also be about allowing you to play the way you want: want to stay doing level 5 stuff only? Ok. Want to start a new game at level 5 immediately? Ok. Want to use the same randomized seeds over and over again? Ok. Reset the universe mid-game and get to keep most of your stuff? Ok. At least that is how I want to play my games…

Aesthetics and my new game

During my holidays I build this shed:

garden shed with open entry

I really love doing all kinds of creative works. I tried to create this shed with a mixture of functionality and beauty, and all from only an image I had in my head.
In the end I think the treated wood wood nicely contrasts with the darkgrey paint, the thick beams give it some posture, and the angles help to blend it more into the garden and keep a sense of depth. It is only the roof that I’m not that fond of, its finish was hard to be done nicely.

With my new game ‘Manage the Universe’ I want to spend more time on the aesthetics than I did on previous titles. A bit like the before mentioned garden shed: a mixture of functionality and beauty. Functionality is something I really like myself so my games will always be heavily influenced by that, beauty is something I long for but don’t understand (yet).

Animal Winter – update

I’m working on this title I came to call ‘Animal Winter’, as a side project to have something completely different to wrap my mind around.

This is the latest advancement:

It is now a ‘proper’ endless runner with a never ending generated environment. I use so called ‘segments’ that the game dynamically stitched together.

And the stitching doing its work: