After a review of 2015, I set my eyes forward to analyze what is still left to do. A lot.
Based on Dylan Jones’ article about Currencies in Game Loops I started to think about the game in an entirely new way: Core Loops. From there I started thinking about it in terms of verbs: what can the player DO? This is entirely different from my Feature based approach.
I analyzed the verbs and sorted them by frequency. Meaning, in 15 minutes how frequently with the player DO X? I then made this graphic with the size of the bubbles based on frequency:
It is hard to relate how much of a paradigm shift this was for me. I quickly discovered I had spent time on some of the smallest (less frequent) verbs and never touched some of the most common verbs. Uh… Oops!
The next step was to estimate, just quickly and off the cuff, how much time I thought it would take to complete each of the verbs. I whipped it up in Xmind.
I took my estimate and doubled it (an old Project Manager’s rule of thumb):
That’s how many days I have left of programming. A year has 250ish days. 1.5 years to go.
I want to finish the game this year. It’s time to change my approach
1. Better Work Space
Up until this point I have been working at a tiny desk in my bedroom with a locked door to keep the 3 year old out (the 1 year old can reach the door handle but doesn’t know what to do with it. NO ONE TELL HER!)
I need to work better, faster, with less interruptions (there is a lot of crying in the background in my house).
I own a software company but it has been 2 years since I worked there. They have hired many people (at this moment I don’t even know the exact headcount, 12? 15?). They repurposed my office and desk a long time ago. But I found a little cubicle area tucked away in the back that I could put a table and a desk. I decorated it with some very important motivational trinkets:
A shield of Gondor, the banner of Gondor, a Decepticons poster from the Transformers DreamWave comics (the autobots are on the opposite wall, in an endless staring war), and my T-800 Arnold figure.
It sucks to commute again, but I’ve been working here for 2 weeks and the quiet combined with no interruptions has been invaluable. The physical act of going TO somewhere to work helps me get mentally prepared. That I work in a location I have never played a game helps keep my subconscious in check.
I recommend to anyone if you are having trouble focusing on work, look at changing where you are working.
2. Expand the Team
I’ve already been working on the game for 2 years and I don’t fancy the idea of another 2 years. I’m sure you don’t either. :-)
I put out an SOS to see if there was anyone willing to help with programming. I explored all my options: fans, government grants, hiring co-op, recent grads, outsourcing to other countries.
In the end two fans of stepped forward to help part time with the game. Both are in a probation period working on their first tasks, but assuming they work out, I think they can achieve 100 days of programming this year.
3. Live Streams
This year there will be more live streaming.
Rogier enjoys working on the game and has offered to do live streams of the artwork when he works on Archmage Rises. This has already helped get word out about the game.
I will also do live streams of the game, maybe even the programming, as it is ready. I’m still working on under the hood stuff which even I don’t like watching. But as it moves to more understandable features I’ll get on twitch.
4. Demo the Game at Conventions
I’ll be taking the game on the road and showing it to whomever will stop and give me 5 minutes. Stay tuned for specific convention details. I believe this is the most effective way to catch a journalists's attention.
5. Set a Release Date
If I’m going to demo the game to the public, their first question will be “When will it be done?”. With the expanded team and a better understanding of the game, it is now possible to set a pre-order date and a release date. But I’ll leave the specifics of that to another post. :-)
We each have 8,760 hours in 2016. This is how I’m planning to make the most of mine.