Introducing the Were-Release

No development can be done in a vacuum, and with games player feedback isn’t just important – it’s absolutely necessary. Doesn’t matter how much I think a thing is fun if nobody else does!

To this end, I’ve committed myself to publish a new build to this site for everyone to play with each month. This fits well with my overall “sorta-Agile” strategy of iterative and rapid development, and it’s the right length of time to delivery substantially new releases.

But then I thought – you know what? Just doing something every 30 or 31 days is kinda boring. What if I tied to some monthly thing so it’s easier to remember and a bit more of an occasion?

Then it hit me – in a manner of speaking

The full moon happens each month! Sometimes twice!

Tying a monthly release to the full moon seemed to strike the right kind of balance between “weird” and “sorta makes sense, actually” that I try to live every day by.

I’m calling it the Were-Release. I don’t like that name anymore than you do, but it’s here, and we best just get used to it, ok?

The latest Were-Release can always be found on this page, and guess what? There’s already one there! The Were-Release for January, Wolf, has been uploaded to the site and is ready to be downloaded.

Be warned: This release, and likely all Were-Releases, will be rough and are not exactly release candidates. But play around with them and make noise in the comments if things are cool, suck, or just plain broken.

PRE-SPRINT 14 – IT’S REAL AND IT’S SPECTACULAR – PLANNING

IT’S REAL AND IT’S SPECTACULAR

Week of January 8th, 2017

WARP DOGS’ CORP LOGS

  • The state of our WARP CORP is still ~otherworldly~
  • The Extinction-Level-Event (ELE) has been pushed back to 34 weeks away. A new record!

Nearly 14 weeks ago (hey, that number looks familiar!) I made the decision to quit my job and pursue my lifelong dream to create, play, and become immersed in all things video game.

Didn’t seem real then, but it sure feels real now, and boy does it feel spectacular.

I’ve often wondered about what I’m suppose to feel – anxiety? Dread? Excitement? Some sort of mixture?

I have probably felt just about every emotion there is to feel these last few months, so what’s leftover is nothing but pure, unadulterated excitement. I’m so god damned ready for this to begin.

After this week…it does.

SPRINT GOALS

The biggest goal this week is to get through my last workweek successfully. Beyond that…

  • This week marks 2017’s first full moon, and thus begins my weird experiment to release a build of my game each lunar cycle. I’m calling it the Were-Release for now, but there is surely a better name
  • I’m also going to take the final steps to transfer my life to fulltime development
  • On the feature front, I want a hero that moves around and has basic actions, like dialog. I’m also planning out a basic UI, basic collision, basic room transition, and a whole lot of other basic things
  • By the end of this week, I’ll have something that actually & honestly looks like a game. For real!

That’s it for now. Let’s do our best today, ok?

PRE-SPRINT 13 – YEAR OF THE SWITCH – RETROSPECTIVE

YEAR OF THE SWITCH

Week of January 1st, 2017

OVERVIEW

What a good week. First, I had a ton of success in learning GameMaker and porting old code and concepts over to it. I had been worried that I wouldn’t ‘jive’ with the GameMaker Language or GMS in general, but I genuinely love it and find it really interesting and easy to work with

As promised, this time I have actual GIFs to share again, so you know things are going great 🙂

This was my 2nd-to-last week at work, and was also the first chance I had to tell my coworkers I was leaving. As was expected, it was crushingly melancholy. I’ve said this a few times, but it would be so much easier if I was leaving my job for another job, or if I was leaving because I hated my boss or my coworkers or whatever.

But I don’t! I love them all. They were all so supportive and genuinely interested in what I was doing, and it’s making leaving even harder.

I also now know more than ever that I’m making the right move. What remains is one last workweek – 5 days more days of ties and commutes and Outlook. After that? Well…

…guess we’ll find out

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Learned a ton in GameMaker. I seriously learned more in these last 7 days then the last 7 years previous
  • Discovered a new user of MindMaps: Using it to create a Product Map of sorts.
  • Did a lot of coding, adding in basic movement, dialog, and a tileset I had created long ago
  • Continued to use tools and processes such as Pomodoros and KanbanFlow

LOWLIGHTS

  • Really none, other than the sadness of my transition

SHOW & TELL

PRE-SPRINT 13 – YEAR OF THE SWITCH – PLANNING

YEAR OF THE SWITCH

Week of January 1st, 2017

WARP DOGS’ CORP LOGS

  • The state of our WARP CORP has increased to ~otherworldly~
  • The Extinction-Level-Event (ELE) has been pushed back to 34 weeks away. A new record!

New year, new life. This is the year I make the big switch.

Each year I try to make some semblance of resolutions – lose weight, read more books, that type of thing – but this year it all feels so much more intense. It’s like I really got to mean them this time, you know? There’s some magic to big decisions, and I’m hoping some of it rubs off on these resolutions.

Anyway. Enough of that wishy-washy stuff. Resolutions for me are as follows:

  • Have a Kickstartable by December 31st
  • Adopt the slogan, “Let’s do our best today”
  • Start a “gratitude journal” to remind me what matters in life
  • Practice mindfulness, whatever that means for me
  • Lose 80 pounds
  • Oh, and celebrate the insanely good vibes about video games

SPRINT GOALS

Last sprint I committed to GameMaker Studio for my game’s engine. This sprint, I’ll work on learning all the ins and outs of GMS while also porting over my Lua code. I’ve said this a few times already with little success, but I really and sincerely hope to have much more to share at the end of this sprint

On the non-coding front, I plan to continue iterating over the various mind maps and other analysis artifacts in prep for the big day. I want to be laser-focused and dialed in and all those other cliches the very day I quit, and to do that I need to have the full breadth of analysis completed and ready to go.

Beyond that, I hope to use these last 2 weeks of relative stability to help out the more foundational aspects of my move – budgets, getting health care sorted out, working on my writing, that kind of thing. These are aspects that will become harder to focus on as the anxiety of my move sinks in, so it’s important to figure it out now.

That’s it for now. Let’s do our best today, ok?

PRE-SPRINT 12 – MERRY QUITMAS – RETROSPECTIVE

MERRY QUITMAS

Week of December 25th, 2016

OVERVIEW

Well, it’s official, then. I’ve put my two weeks notice in. Quitmas has come and gone, and now all that remains is a two week limbo before things really hit the fan.

I’m excited. I’m nervous. I’m somehow both thrilled about how much money I saved + dismayed that I didn’t save more. It’s complicated.

In terms of laying a foundation this week could not have gone better. KanbanFlow has been fantastic and I’ve developed a real repeatable system almost overnight. I love it.

The decision to use GameMaker Studio was also an important one. I’ll begin learning the ins and outs in earnest and will hope to have some actual dev progress screenshots up.

MEGA-MONTH is officially over after tonight. As is 2016. The end of my employment and old life follow soon after that. Then…uh, well, then it’s onto something new. Exciting!

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Laid a fantastic foundation for work via KanbanFlow and Pomodoros in general
  • Set up a new YouTube channel, VGM Pomodoro, for both myself and the general public
  • Decided (officially!) to use GameMaker Studio for my development language
  • Continued to find success in focus and meditation, though the latter has also been putting me to sleep a bit too frequently
  • Played, beat, and analyzed Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Inside, and a few demoes
  • Christmas was rad!
  • Oh yeah, and I quit my job
  • MEGA-MONTH HAS BEEN SATIATED

LOWLIGHTS

  • Still no dev, but this is likely the last week for that to be the case
  • What is game…?
    • UPDATE: I dunno
      • UPDATE: TBD

On Work

My life is a cliche.

Each day, I get up and commute to my job. I don’t hate it, but I feel immensely unsatisfied. I’m smart enough, and have done well for myself. But is this really it? Is this my life?

Am I really just on autopilot until I retire or die?

I accepted this. I figured these are thoughts that everyone struggles with, and that accepting them is just something that adults must do.

But I’ve had doubts I can live my life like this. I’ve dreamed of early retirement, and as I got older and those thoughts became less realistic, I instead contemplated escape. I thought about suicide. I thought about ‘running away’ from home, abandoning my wife and dog and house and living in my car. These are crazy, escapist fantasias, so clearly something was wrong.

Over the summer an incredibly dumb thing happened to me. So dumb, in fact, I can’t even bring it up – not out of shame, but more because it wouldn’t make any sense.

It sent my life to rock bottom. I’ve since learned to be thankful for this dumb thing, because it forced me to realize that my mind was real fucked and that I needed to a) go to therapy, b) get on some medication, and c) figure my life out

I did all that, and it has all worked. Better than I ever could have expected, in fact.

As the fog that surrounded me all my life began to lift away, I was left with a surprising realization…

Maybe I do hate my job?

Not the job itself, mind you. Certainly not my coworkers or my boss. I love all of them.

What I hated was the idea of my job. The idea of giving up on my dreams immediately out of college and working at an office. An office! God, hadn’t I read enough Dilbert comics and watched enough Office Space to know that I would be unhappy there? “Nah, that won’t be me”, I thought once upon a time. But it was. It was exactly me.

I gave up on my dreams for this? 

From one cliche to another, right? But I can at least keep a straight face saying this one. It feels true.

So what exactly are my dreams?

My entire life has orbited around video games. My earliest memories? Playing Secret of Mana co-op with my dad. Having my family wake me up when they finally beat the Vanilla Dome castle in Super Mario World. Playing Fire & Ice with an ear infection.

I know game companies better than I know most people. I own every console, every game I feel worth it. I have spent tens of thousands of dollars over the course of my life on games, books about games, art about games, games about games.

I went to school for Computer Science – why? To make games!

I moved to Seattle – why? Because that’s where games are made! 

I worked at Nintendo in the crappiest position imaginable – why? Because it was my foot in the door to – you guessed it – games!

Then, I got laid off. I got scared. I went down to $35 in my checking account and began looking at Craigslist for something, anything. I settled for an office job – my current job.

I figured dreams were unrealistic, that I should just grow up.

Well. No more. I mean, I’ll still probably continue growing up, but that other thing? The giving-up-on-dreams thing? That’s over with.

Starting today.

Today’s the day I put in my 2 weeks notice.

Today, I begin my life anew – before it’s too late. Today I officially ‘launch’ WARP DOGS, whatever that means. Today I begin my new life creating video games, analyzing video games, writing about video games. Today is terrifying. Today is exciting. Today marks a change.

My last day will be Friday the 13th – a pretty fitting day to start making my own luck.

I’ll need it.