Find the Gnome 2 – v2.1.16 build

This v2.1.16 build is mainly to address the gameplay breaking regression bug on the machines. You can find these notes here on Steam.

Bugfixes

  • Machines in level 3.2 and 4.1 were completely broken by the last update. Again. Fixed this. Again. Tjebbe was not pleased by the severity of this bug and the risk of regression, so he instructed Bertus to take measures to lower the risk on this in the future.

Gameplay changes

  • The hint button will now always target a dropped key, if any present. Its order is: first a dropped key (or machine part), second a gnome, and third a collectible. This way, if you are stuck the hint button will now reliably target the most important thing to do next. A note on the hint system by Bertus: “I have no clue where this blue beam of light is coming from, but it seems to be helpful so it should be OK.”

Other

  • Added another unique gnome name, part of the community reward. This one is in level 4.1. I think this gnome has some artistic potential…
  • You couldn’t select some locations on the map due to invisible UI elements being in front of it. Repositioned the camera and the UI elements to counter this. Tjebbe and Bertus are still not pleased with this whole map thing, they keep getting lost and find it difficult to use. They are planning on doing an interior redecoration of the captain cabin in the near future, to address this specific issue.
  • Stability issue: If you did reset a level that had a savestate, some systems didn’t properly reset. The hint and drone/bird could end up in an unpredictable state. Rest assured: No birds were harmed in this.
  • Stability issue: If you clicked on a gnome just when it entered a hidingspot and started fading away, your bird/drone could end up in an unpredictable state. Again, rest assured: no birds were harmed in this, we asked Floris and he said that he ‘in some cases experienced dizziness and a bit of nausea but it went away quickly’.

Find the Gnome 2 – v2.1.12 build

This v2.1.12 build is a part of the major upcoming update. I couldn’t wait to bring you Steam achievements so I released this early.

Achievements

  • Steam achievements: all in-game achievements are now also visible on Steam. Go hunt that rare achievement and display it on your Steam profile!
  • Retroactive Steam achievement unlocks: Just start your game and after a few sec you will see your achievements you worked hard for sync up with the Steam achievements. That’s some real gnome tinkering at work there!

Other fixes

  • Gnome names: 10 to 15 gnomes have names now, try look for them in the levels. Can you find them? You can see the name when you catch the gnome. These names were provided by people that attended the release party.
  • Bugfix: in some situations gnomes didn’t properly detect that they were in full view and should have start running to a better hiding place. I taught them how to not mix up the y and z coordinates of their locations and that fixed the issue.

For those that want to know where their gnome ended up:

  • Freße – first tutorial, level 1.10
  • Desiderius – second tutorial, level 1.11
  • Gnomeo – third tutorial, level 1.12
  • Pinkeltjedinkie – end of the tutorial, level 1.13
  • Shinty – the second forest level, level 1.2
  • Derrik – the third forest level, level 1.3
  • Eikoo – the second farm level, level 2.2
  • Pimpi – the second village level, level 3.2
  • Moldydoldy – the first city level, level 4.1
  • Pferdi – the second city level, level 4.2
  • Pinkel – the third city level, level 4.3

By the way, I see that I forgot to post here on my blog that I did the v2.1.7 build release on Steam on the 11th of January. You can find those notes here. Included some major stability fixes.

The following stuff is scheduled to be added as part of that ‘major update’ that is coming the following weeks:

  • The level 3.2 gets an overhaul on its looks and mechanics.
  • Collectible art that you can unlock. These are a reward for finding the ‘floating scroll’ collectible collections. And they will show you concept art and such about the game building process.
  • The main menu is still a bit empty. There is no title, no version number, no credits. So I want to add those to make it a more fun experience.
  • I think I need to make some collectibles more easy to find. Especially in the city, these are extremely hard to spot.

53 A new year

Happy new year everyone!

In this blog I will give you an update of the awesome release party we had on the launch of Find the Gnome 2, and how the game did on release.

And I will share some other updates, because I do a lot more (than devving on Find the Gnome).

Updates

First on those ‘other things’ I worked on.

The past 2 weeks I coded / designed a lot of fixes for Find the Gnome 2. Especially the control scheme proved to be something worth looking at. This type of game revolves around good controls, so I did the best I could in fixing up stuff. There will be an overhaul of the controls in 3 months from here in an update specifically aimed at controls, but for now its ‘working as intended’.

Something that might interest the readers with a (software) developer background: I added DI back into the game in the past 2 weeks. I used to have this in when I made the first Find the gnome, but removed it due to order-of-things issues. However, when building Find the Gnome 2, over time I sneaked in DI by misusing ScriptableObjects… I got it almost under control and everything was stable, and I didn’t want to make a big change before releasing. With the pressure gone after the release, I could do a risky refactor. This time, I had a proper game flow in place, so I could fit the DI in perfectly and solve a few long-lasting bugs (related to using ScriptableObjects) at the same time. No order-of-things issues anymore, a cleaner workflow, more predictable object lifetimes: I am very happy with the results.

I also made a blog about iterative game development: the state of game development. I love the YouTube guy Josh Strife Hayes, he has a very keen eye for game dev and writes very good review of games and has many reviews on the state of gaming in general. I got triggered by a video of him on one of my own pet peeves: iterative game dev, and the game industry looking for a way to do sustainable game dev. Give it a read, and leave a comment if you think I am wrong (or on to something).

And, to conclude this update section, also an update on my current freelance software consultancy job I am working on. As I mentioned in blog 51 I am currently working at Thinkwise for 2 full months now. Its a fun and technically interesting project. The thing I like the most is that my social skills are really improving. Team dynamics and workflow improvements that I just learned to understand at my previous consultancy job (Findesk at Topicus), I am now already identifying and applying at this team and helping them out with it. I love this dynamic, of being able to help a team out with both technical hands-on work, but at the same time approach the same issues also through the team dynamic and workflow improvements. This massively improves my impact and efficiency, and opens new possibilities for me and the team.

The release of Find the Gnome 2

Lets move on to the release. The previous bi-weekly update blog was on the release party announcement. And on Tuesday the 13th of December 2022, I had this release and the accompanied party together with 25 other attendees.

Here are some impressions on the release party itself and the after-party in the café:

The party itself was a success. A lot of like minded people attended the launch of the game, so we had some great talks about Find the Gnome 2, but also business and life in general. I heard of at least 2 new initiatives being founded by people meeting each other here at this party. For me, releasing my 2nd game is a milestone, but being able to bring people together is for sure a milestone on another level!

From this blog I would thank all my friends, family and all people I worked together with for this wonderful experience!

After release stats

But as with all things, they tend to move on with time.

A lot of people have already asked me: how did the release go? And with this, they of course want to know how I personally felt about the game being released. But they also wanted to know some stats. How many people did buy the game? Did the game perform to my expectations?

These are the stats from 2 weeks starting from the release:

I made 26 sales in these 2 weeks and have 263 wishlists.

What to make of all of this?

Well, lets start with my expectations. Because that is what matters: what did I aim for? I did not want to do a marketing effort targeted at Steam. I wanted to focus on making a quality product that enables me to show what I am capable of (as a game dev). And I wanted to release a game that I then ‘upgraded’ to become better over time, both in product quality as in sales performance.

A good thing to benchmark this release to is my previous attempt at the same thing: the release of Find the Gnome (1) on Steam in 2018. I had the same targets in mind and also didn’t focus on Steam marketing.

The data on this game from the 2 weeks on launch (that’s around Juli 2018):

The numbers are roughly the same. Steam has had tens of thousands new games since 2018 (so more competition), as well as updated a lot of their algorithms, but also more gamers are on Steam now.

The game is better looking now (then before). But so is the competition. One thing on looks: the amount of people that go to the discovery queue to my game is with 30% a bit higher than the 25% of my previous game. That can be seen as an indication to a better looking game and a more attractive Steam page.

However the direct navigation on my new game is WAY better than the previous one. With 20% now (vs 1,5% then) this indicates that a lot of people are interested in looking up my game if they see it somewhere else or hear it from somebody.

Mind you that those stats are ‘old’ in that these are on the 2 first weeks after launch. That is like 3.5 weeks ago now. Here is a graph of the full last months, and you can see something interestingly happened yesterday:

That is a MASSIVE boost in exposure I got from somewhere. Its also direct navigation, so it must be from something external. Like a YouTube video or a Twitch stream. I did a quick search but couldn’t find it yet.

My gut feeling is telling me this game has a very good selling and marketing potential. It might be a bit short on content, but something like that can be fixed.

From that perspective this release is a massive success. I have released a good game with a good foundation. I can now to tend to and improve upon this game, exactly as I wanted it to be.

So what is next? How do I continue from here on?

Well like I said, the trick to (getting money) out of this game for me, is to keep improving and updating the game. Get more marketing on each major update release.

Also, the Steam wishlist works as follows: you get people in with exposure (like YouTube playthroughs and/or marketing efforts), and then convert them. This conversion happens at sales, and for everybody this target is different. Some people go at 10%, others at 25% and a lot at 50%. Some won’t do it if it isn’t below 90%. So when a game dev sets a price on his game, he needs to keep in mind he always will sell it ‘below 100%’.

For me its a combination of updating the game and getting exposure, and to ‘ride’ the important sale events of Steam.

And I have another trick up my sleeve: A lot of people already pointed out this game works magic with kids. And this game is a ‘typical’ game that could flourish on mobile. So for me to get even better sales, I have to make my game as good as possible on Steam and then ‘jump’ to another storefront and/or platform. And then use the exposure from all platforms to boost the sales on both.

So yeah, this was a good release.

And, to remind you: I already released an update to the game. It now plays even more fluently. Now might also be the right time to leave a Steam review of the game.

That is my last word on this after-release thing: if I get to 10 Steam reviews, I get a massive ‘baseline’ boost in Steam traffic. That is another untapped potential my game currently has.

Find the Gnome 2 – Update

Hello fellow gnome lovers!

Its the first of 2023, and I wanted to thank you all for supporting this game by buying it and playing it! And I thank you for telling me about the fun you had with the game.

In this post I will shed some light on the roadmap of updates on the game, as well as help you out with a few specific parts of the game.

Help with the game

First, the controls. WASD moves the camera, QE rotates the camera, and with the mouse you click on gnomes and on the objects in the level. You can also use the ‘hold the right mouse button’ to rotate the camera. And if you want full mouse control, you can go to the settings menu and enabled this behaviour.

Then on to the basic gameplay. The idea is that you watch the level carefully, and when you suspect a gnome is in something you click on that object. If a gnomes runs away, look at where its heading to and click on that thing. It will make the gnome divert its course and take a longer path. Thus giving the bird longer to catch the gnomes.

On the difficulty: the game is by default on the difficulty ‘Get active’. This difficulty is tuned so that you have to divert the gnome its course by guessing its path and the object it wants to go to. But if this is too hard, because lets say you are a child and have difficulties clicking on the gnome, you can switch the difficulty to ‘casual’. This will make the gnomes move more slowly, have a slighter bigger area to click on and the clicked objects will be disabled for longer. You can find the difficulty switch in the ‘gameplay’ menu.

In each level there are 2 collectibles to be found. These collectibles are a floating scroll and a theme specific object. These 2 collectibles are represented in the corner right HUD by 2 buttons that glow when found. The collectibles are small and hard to spot, and are the most difficult part of the game. However, these collectibles are always in the same spot.

There is also a hint button for those that have difficulty finding a gnome or a collectible. Depending on the difficulty, the hint button will reset more quickly.

Roadmap

I just have released an update to the game with a lot of bugfixes. I tried my best to test the game before launch on as many systems as possible and with as many diverse people as possible. But still a few mishaps ended up into the release build.

However, this is just a small update, mainly focused at fixing inconveniences.

There is an update plan to add more content and to address ‘bigger’ things

  • Update 1: How the game was made
  • Update 2: Controls
  • Update 3: More funny stuff
  • Update 4: Speedrun

These updates will be bigger updates with add additional content game and improvements to existing systems. Most of the content is planned already, and consists of stuff that couldn’t make it into the release or needed more playtesting by you (the actual users) to know if it was a necessarily fix.

But I am open to add even more stuff to the game, and improve on the systems in the game. Just hop on discord and give me your thoughts on the game and I will look into the suggestions.

Demo

Find the Gnome 2 also has a demo. This is intended to stay up as long as Find the Gnome 2 is in stores. Like the good old times where you could play demo’s to find out if a game was to your liking.

The demo is technically the same as the full game, but stripped of 75% of the levels. This is to make the demo easy for me, the developer, to maintain. This means that with each update of the main game, the demo gets an update too.

There are some things that don’t translate that well from the full game into the demo. Things like that are the trail on the map, all the achievements being visible but you can’t find them in the demo, and more like that. I am aware of these issues and working on them, but with low priority. So for now, this is just how it is.

Find the Gnome 2 – v2.1.1 build

The Find the Gnome 2 – v2.1.1 build is live now on Steam. This build contains a few small fixes that became apparent after more players played the game.

The next update will be a planned content update called ‘how the game was made’ and will contain new content.

Release notes

Controls

  • By default, rotating with the right mouse button is enabled
  • Added rotation key hints to the tutorial
  • Automatically disable the virtual mouse on controller switch

Steam deck

  • Proper close on exit
  • Improved controller control scheme for easier use of rotation, zooming, moving and clicking at the same time.

Other

  • A lot of minor fixes, like all achievements having the proper pictures.

MacOS issue

Additional note for MacOS

  • There is a signing issue with the FMOD sound library that makes it impossible to start the game.
  • I am working on an update, but it proves to be more difficult than anticipated. There will be a follow-up patch when this get resolved.

State of gaming

With Find the Gnome 2 released, a lot of that pressure has had a relieve. So here is a new article on my view on game dev: why are games like they are today?

Why are games like they are today?

First, this video from Josh Strife Hayes:

First, let me be clear: this guy is one of the best critics out there. Has a hearth of gold, points out the real issues, and even provides solutions.

He addresses the following things in this video

  • Increase in popularity of gaming
  • New options (of updating your games) becoming available
  • Birth of various addictive and misleading gameplay features
  • More emphasis on content that makes money (than on good fun gameplay)
  • More power to ‘marketeers’ in game dev companies, thus pushing previous mentioned gameplay
  • Game dev companies being ultimately about generating the most money possible

I have also written a ton on the advances in the game dev industry. And contemplated at why things are like they are today.

Josh makes a couple of very good points. From a player perspective, from the game design perspective and from the marketeer / ‘big money’ perspective.

But there is more to this. People are people in that they try to make ‘things work’ in life and use the path of the least resistance. However there are also people (like me) that have less nefarious intentions. I insist in that I have ‘a backbone’ or ‘a vision’ and don’t want to make as much money as possible. And are just looking to do cool things and/or advance the industry forward. You can see this yourself in how I make my games and how I treat the people I do business with.

Yes I need my business to generate money to sustain myself. Let that be clear. And I want to get a bit more so I can invite other fun people to be around me and let them share. But there is a limit to where I want to go. One of those limits is when you don’t respect a persons most precious resource on earth: his time.

Josh does hint on ‘some games making less money because they don’t monetize that heavy’. I think that a lot of these game dev companies didn’t do this because they don’t want to do that. Its not that they ‘forgot’ about that heavy monetization is a possibility, or that they lack the technical know-how. Its about having the right priorities. Yes there are a lot of people that are in here for the money only… but hey, isn’t that a problem of life itself?

In the past years, I produced a few articles myself on this issue. Here are these articles on that (ordered in time). It tries to shed a perspective from a developer point of view:

So… and… what now?

I really like thinking about this subject. Its a combination of a few cool topics that i like: game dev, self improvement, having meaningful and interesting work (as a game dev), enabling more fun games by having enough income to sustain building games, giving gamers fun and good games to play.

I am going to think a bit more about this. Maybe write another article on this subject? I have seen a lot more of the game dev and indie game dev scene in the last year (now corona isn’t that big of an issue anymore). And I have seen a lot of cool stuff happening. That would be an interesting starting point…

I would invite other devs to join in on the discussion. Through your own blogs, video blogs, platforms and whatever. And together look at what is happening here.

Edit: I posted this on reddit… and it got removed. Im sorry for that, folks at reddit. Still all devs are invited to join in on the discussion.

52 Release party

Find the Gnome 2 will release in a few days, on Tuesday December the 13th.

This is a happy moment for me, Erik, the main developer of Find the Gnome 2. And I want to celebrate this moment. For that reason, I am going to throw a party.

You can join this party too. Its intended for the people that supported me through the development in this game, the people that helped shaping and building the game, and the people that have a general interest in Find the Gnome or in Dutch indie games.

The event will start on 20:00, and you are welcome from 19:30 onward. The official part will end around 21:30.

The program is as follows:

  • 19:30 (in SIO room 8) Slow start with a drink, enjoy a slideshow of the development of the game, make connections with the other attendees.
  • 20:00 Welcome.
  • Talk about the development process of Find the Gnome 2.
  • Introduction of the other developers of Find the Gnome 2.
  • Demo of Find the Gnome 2 by Roan.
  • Brief café break-out to get a drink & snack.
  • Official release at the party, on Steam & worldwide!
  • Time to play the game.

The location is SIO Zwolle. You can find their website over here: https://www.siozwolle.nl/

If you are going to attend, please use the contact form to give me notice of your arrival. That way I can be sure there are enough drinks and snacks for everyone.

Special offering: those who attend the release party can give 1 gnome in the game a personal name.

51 Almost release ready

I had to rant a bit, about myself. About my unnecessary expectations of myself that destroy me if I don’t pay attention to it. I spotted them this time before they did damage, but still. I don’t like it when I see a train hurling towards a ravine, even when it gets redirected a bit before its doom. Thats what you will read between the lines of the ‘upcoming release’ part.

But to balance things out: I had some very pleasant working weeks. Thats what you will read on the other parts of the blog. Fun work on Find the Gnome 2. And a new consultancy job that also excites me.

Upcoming release

First, the upcoming release of Find the Gnome 2.

The release date is set on December the 13th, the release time is 12:00 CET. The game will release on Steam only. You can find it here https://store.steampowered.com/app/1855160/Find_the_Gnome_2/. There is also a demo available right now on the Steam page, for if you want to ‘feel’ how this game plays. And: don’t forget to wishlist! This really helps me out, it pushes my game up in the Steam algorithm.

I am currently finishing up work on the game. The release is going to be an ‘Erik style’ release: I like to update a game after release, so expect not everything in this game to release at once on the launch date. My sub goal is to have a fun and engaging game up on release date, my main goal is to have a game up and then to making updates for it.

Also: I am not going to have an emphasis on marketing, for FtG2 its not my goal to make my investment back. I appreciate all the help and buzz. But its not something I am going to actively spend time and money on.

You might be asking: “hey Erik, why spend all this time (and money) on this game, and not do this big of a marketing? Do you expect this game to sell on its own?”

No, I don’t expect this game to sell that good at all. Because, to have an (almost guaranteed) chance of good sales, you need to spend a lot of upfront time on marketing. I don’t want to do that for Find the Gnome 2. This game is just a demonstration to myself, and potential game devvers that want to hire me. I have reached all my goals when this game is available in the Steam store.

A reasonable follow up question might be: “but hey Erik, if you just did x and y, will almost certainly get a few additional bucks”. Yes thats totally possible. But my time is limited, as is my focus.

I am currently being coached by Jonathan (Like I said in my previous blog), and we are working on a better focus for me and me enjoying my game dev more. I am fully aware of the possibilities that marketing bring. But its just not the right time. For a next game, I can set new goals, and marketing could be one of the things I will take a look at for that game.

To put it even stronger: if I don’t focus right now, I will almost certainly freeze up as the release date gets closer, and thats no fun for nobody. If I am put on extreme stress, this is apparently what happens. And that needs resolving. But time is limited for a rework on my mind patterns. There are still a few dev and administrative things left to do before the release, and I am applying my focus on those things. So thats why we are cutting down on what my own expectations are of the release, so I keep being able to work on my game and enjoy working on it.

I want this release of Find the Gnome 2 be a fun and happy day for myself. A bit of backstory: My previous launch, of the first Find the Gnome, wasn’t fun and I did burn out on game dev for almost a year after that. You can find my writings about this in the beginning posts of my blog.

Right now I am still enjoying working on Find the Gnome 2. So getting the priorities right has helped so far.

Current state

What did I work on the last weeks?

This is an interesting one: tutorials. I started working on this a bit earlier. But the UI part needed cleaning up, as well as applying it to all levels that needed a bit of explanation. It now looks like this:

I want to direct your attention to the ‘image’ of the narrator. Meinder created these lovely images. These images are also in the subtitles now when the parallax cartoon cinematic play, and add even more feeling to the story. Also, by using the same looks in the tutorials as in the subtitles, the different parts of the game blend together even more.

Here is a peek at the last level:

This is 60% of the level, I am keeping the last part secret for now. There is a lot to find in this last level, to unlock, to interact with, and interesting things to look at.

Technically I had to add a new system in. In this level, there are some area’s that gnomes can’t traverse between. In previous levels, I always had some kind of connection between area’s. My AI wasn’t ready for some hidingspots being out of reach in certain parts of the game, so I had to get this in at the last moment. But I think its well worth the investment, I might even change up earlier levels to include this also there. It turned out that there is gameplay in that, because I can also use this to limit gnomes to certain hidingspots, these patterns that you can create with it making some early levels more interesting.

For now, there is still work for me to do on this level. It has now 4 gnomes in it, but this level is going to have more than 25 gnomes in it. I will make sure this level is play-able when the game releases.

Additionally, 5 of the 12 levels are going to get some rework that will add even more things to do. I have had Meinder and Syoma work on creating additional content in the past weeks, and I still have to integrate and animate all of that. So I expect this to be available after the release, in one of the first content updates.

What kind of content is still being worked on and will be in the release version?

  • I need to make a gameplay trailer for Steam to complete my profile. Otherwise I can’t release on Steam. I will use a few simple cuts of me playing the game, and including the most fun moments.
  • I need to finish up work on the last level of the game.
  • There are 2 additional drone models that you will receive (the bird will be replaced by drones in later levels, there is a story to how and why). Models and animations are ready, but i need to integrate them and tune the gameplay for them.

That should be all.

Those 3 points are enough work to pull off before the release. Thats because while I am finishing up work on Find the Gnome 2, I have switched over my main job.

Thinkwise

For those that are new: my main job is consultancy work for 32 hours a week. I spend my ‘best’ daily work hours on this job, pay for the bills, and maintain my family.

The kind of consultancy work I do is mainly on business software development. But I also work at game dev gigs, if this options presents itself. From the remaining hours in a week (and a bit more), these go to my own game dev company.

So me working on a new job is a big thing. Especially new work takes more mental energy away: I need to connect to new people, understand the business quickly, and get up to speed on development quickly.

The new company I am currently working for is ‘Thinkwise’. They have a low code platform that promises you to solve the ‘legacy software problem’ once and forever, and transfer your business from your previous vendor over to their platform within 1 year. I am getting ready to work at their low code platform. So I don’t implement features with low code, I work on the actual low code platform itself.

Normally, my consultancy job I get through ‘agents’ that find job openings for me. This one, however, I did myself. With the help of a few connections. That last part is a bit ‘new’ to me: it takes a lot of courage to ask around, at old acquaintances, to see if they could put my skills to good use.

This job ended up being even more ‘fun’ in the first days than I intended it to be: I know at least 4 people on this organization. Some of them I worked with, others I know from back when I was a child. This made the first days a real breeze. Connecting with old acquaintances, talking about their lives and how we ended up in the here-and-now.

So I am exited to be in a new company, with new things to work at. The position is more ‘technically’ demanding than the last one. But that is something I am looking forward to. I am not that much into ‘specific domains’ like finance or something (unless its games), but another thing I really like doing is just technical complex stuff. ‘Solving puzzles’ each day.

So yeah, interesting opportunity. Still have to prove myself here on the technical side of things. But that will be something that I think is fun to do.

This whole ‘new job’ thing will take some focus away from my game. But that’s good. I think. And I expected it to do so, and prepared for it. The gamedev time that I am spending on Find the Gnome 2, are on things I like doing. (And not things that are out of my reach like marketing)

That’s it for today! See you next time.

50 Real relaxation

Hey, we are at blog 50! No, nothing special lol. But thats a lot of blogs; blogging for almost 5 years now. About my (Erik) his stuff, game dev, and his life in general.

This blog is, you guessed it, also about a lot of stuff. I am having a planned month ‘off’ work currently, as in: no consultancy job at the moment. With that, I have a lot of time on hand to do (seemingly random) stuff.

Let me clarify what I mean with ‘seemingly random’ stuff:

Life improvements

As you all know, I like to explore life. See what kind of things help me out to make my work more fun, to make me a better person. (And then to share these findings with you, through this blog)

I am using this month off to do things I normally would not do. Like helping out my wife and her father on their gardening company (more on that later in this blog). Or to just jump into my car and drive to Utrecht to attend to the ‘game dev cafe’ (I ask a few questions onto the end, on 33:55). Or to start a whole new chapter in my business by scheduling a meeting with Jonathan to see how we can help each other out (later more on that in this blog).

Interesting part about all this is that I didn’t plan that much of the previous work. Yes I wanted to explore working together with my wife. But wasn’t planning on doing a large time investment there.

My original plan was to work my ass off. Yes, I admit. That was the plan. To work on Find the Gnome 2, make CI/CD video’s, and spend a bit of time to find a new consultancy job.

But as soon as I was ready to start working on the CI/CD video’s, I just wanted to do easy stuff. Like helping my wife out at her company with just physical work. Shoveling sand around on a job site of them. Things like that. This stuff is so much more easy (for me) to start work on. It gives instant gratification, is very visual in what you need to do and what work you already finished. And yes its hard on the body, but I honestly do like a workout like that. Just start up slowly and take a rest when you need it, and physical work like that is ‘easy’ to pull off.

Also, finding a new consultancy job proved to be a lot more work than I initially counted on. This is important for me, so I gave it all I had. Most of my precious ‘mind’ energy did go to talking with intermediates, doing introduction talks with the teams, and then even make a test. This all was a lot more demanding on me than I initially accounted for.

So I decided to just ‘go with the flow’. Take a step back. See what my mind and body needs. Rest a bit between the different activities. Play a few games (that I hadn’t touched for months due to pressure on work: that should have been a sign lol). And above all: accept that I was doing the best I could. Even though I wasn’t “making CI/CD video’s like my original plan”.

That is real relaxation for me. To do a bit work. Find things to do. Explore new opportunities. And accept that ‘there is a time for everything’.

Those CI/CD video’s will come with time. I am already writing the video scripts. Have 1 finished. But I think I need to cut the content up differently (than I originally planned for). But that’s okay. Good things need time to grow.

On to the other two subjects of this blog.

Lets start with the ‘Jonathan plan’:

Jonathan plan

The basic premise is simple: he helps me out with my business, I help him out with his business.

He currently is the account manager of Basys. They make BI data warehousing solutions. In his work at Basys, he helps out companies get better business results by providing them BI solutions. But Jonathan is also quite technical himself. He loves automating stuff, helping people out on websites, things like that. He even has his own business ‘TG4’ that he runs on the side for 6 years now.

He wants to ‘spread out his wings’ and take off with his own business. He is building up his client portfolio with his side-business, and is on the brink of getting more technically demanding projects to do so. Our view on how business should operate and treat each other align very well. And I could help him out with my tech skills if he starts landing those more demanding projects.

At the same time, I do have things of my own that I need assistance with. Jonathan is already helping out companies streamline their businesses, and I would like to hire him for exactly that: help me get GameFeelings more profitable. And / or how my game development business could interfere with or empower my software consultancy business.

There is a lot of stuff I think that he can help with. But the basics are:

  • Accountability: have someone to account to if my plans go wrong. (And: how to recover from that)
  • Focus: gamedev, software consultancy, so much stuff to do. What do I need, what do I want to get out of this?
  • Find the Gnome 2: Release in December. Lets make the best of it.

So yeah, expect some more on this in the next blog!

And that brings me to the last part of this blog:

Working together with my wife

Another thing I had planned for this month ‘off’, was to help my wife out. She and her dad started the gardening business https://www.groenhoutvdhulst.nl/ this year.

Her dad has very extensive experience with woodwork, landscaping and likewise projects. She was looking for a new job opportunity. And they both really enjoy gardening. So they joined forces.

Currently they are working on a client project that requires a lot of manual labor due to work site accessibility restrictions. And I was like: hey, I really like that work vibe you have going on with your dad. I would like to join in. And they where like: yeah, please! This project can use some additional hands.

I personally had some moderate feelings about this:

  • My wife and her dad work together for 10 months now. If I join in, maybe this changes relationships on the worksite? I have worked with her dad before and we got along fine. But that was never ‘under pressure’ of a contracted job.
  • Would my contribution even matter? I am planning to work 1 day a week at most, and probably less. Getting me up-to-speed could negate the benefits of having me.

But things turned out to be quite different.

  • I really enjoyed the physical labor. I do have a lot of muscle strain to not being used to this kind of work. But I love to push myself. To put that manly human body of me to good use.
  • I am much less influenced by the weather than I initially thought I would be. Sun, rain, warmth, cold: it doesn’t matter. Just keep an eye out on what my body needs, and keep a pacing that matches the circumstances. There is a hot shower waiting for me when I get home.
  • I am getting along quite nicely with her dad. I am a bit all-over-the-place and have a higher pace of working. But thats okay it seems, its ‘me’ and they know that I am like that. I also tend to understand what he wants me to do, so that he can trust me. That also a good thing.
  • My contributions do seem to matter. And I am quick to learn. Or so it seems lol.

So yeah, this is turning out to be a very good experience for me. Its always good to know that I have some other job opportunities I can fall-back on if my main job would suddenly stop existing… no, just kidding. I think the physical exercise is really good for me. And I just love doing things with my hands, its very pleasing for me to work on something that i visually see being altered by my own doings.

A big part of landscaping is: carrying stuff around.

Another thing I wanted to do is become more proficient at using tools. I really enjoy working with tools (all kind of them, but the more noise the better). But I don’t have that much use of them in my personal life.

So that’s why I was very pleased with the opportunity that I got to ride this machine:

Still need to get a lot of experience and learn a lot of tricks to get good with these machines. But I like it a lot already!

So yeah, a very inspiring month so far for me. Probably going to be a bit sad when this month is over and I have to get back to ‘the usual software consultancy work’… just kidding, I now know a bit better what ‘Erik’ needs to enjoy life. So I plan on weaving a few of these newly discovered findings into the patterns of my life.

See you next time!

49 Work and such

Time flies when you are having fun! Past 4 weeks I went to Gamescom 2022, and just before that, we had the demo launch of Find the Gnome 2.

Back 2 work

These months are always strange months. One moment you are out on holidays, next moment you are back in the 9-to-5 rhythm with kids attending school.

For me, these months are more intense than normally. On the end of Juli, I got a notice that my consultancy job at Topicus is coming to an end. However, they asked me to join another team in the remaining time, and help out with an important project. So I had the pleasure to quickly adapt to my new team (like a real consultant lol), and get this project up to speed.

This new project is expected to deliver on 1th of October. I am the main engineer and analist at the same time. The team helps out with project management, testing and quality assurance. And this is an upgrade on an existing system, so they need to maintain this solution afterwards.

But hey, change of scenery! This is always something I enjoy. I also added a month of rest afterwards, between this job and the next one. So that’s also something I like working towards.

Find the Gnome 2

A progress update on Find the Gnome: I have been working on getting as much of the content ready for the final game. 9 of the 12 levels are ready now. And 8 of the 9 cartoon sequences are ready by now.

There is still a lot of finishing touches left to do. Like I said in earlier blogs, I need to do rework on the tutorial and on the controls. But I also need to do a revision of the levels, to make sure the content is engaging and of high enough quality.

The final release is planned in December. That’s 16 weeks from now, 3 months.

I think the game is on track with all the stuff coming together now. All levels will be finished by December. Tutorial and control stuff will be fixed by then. Maybe the level revisions aren’t completed by then, but that’s okay if that isn’t perfect on launch date. Its always nice to do a content update after release, to show that I am caring about my games.

That’s all for today!