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.
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.
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.
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.