"We should make a game." Over a month ago the words were uttered in the break room of our work building. Neither of us really knew what we were doing. Both of us in our 30s and lifelong artists with little combined knowledge of game development.
Justin has been honing his skills in comic book and sequential art for quite some time; but he had never tackled the level of animation required for multi-frame, multidimensional video game characters. When I asked him if he would do the animations for our game, it was a quick and confident "Yes". Secretly; I knew that he knew he had no idea what in the hell he was doing. Because I too had no idea what in the hell I was doing when I said "Yes, I can write all the code for this game." But we we're going to figure it out.
I have only been coding for a little over a year. At 30, I began to teach myself how to write code, with no previous knowledge in the field and the foreknowledge that I have always sucked at math. Primarily an artist, I have always searched to create art for games, and I became comfortable in the world of defining myself as an artist, shying away from learning a programming language.
Years of being led astray by everyday dramatizations it was easy to get sucked into a state of daily demotivating fog. Clouded by dis-helpful distractions, the days of monotony slip by and robbed me of my time and passions. Long forgetting the dreams I dreamed as a child, for I had reached adulthood and traded playing with life for working to survive.
We are both giving 100% on this project, and are wholeheartedly committed as we trade leisure for work; but this is a different type of work, it is playful work. It is dancing in a sandbox of our imaginations. It is leaving this world for a time and composing our own. It is our guts and our tears smeared across a digital canvas. It is the reflection of our dreams and our fears realized in a simulated experience.
There is no promise of reward. No comfort that anyone will play our game. No promise that a single copy will be sold. It is a risk of the most valuable asset that each of us possesses: time. Time is invaluable because it can't be returned once spent. But for me, it doesn't matter. I have no feeling one way or another if I make a dime from the game or not. I enjoy the process. I enjoy lonely nights and my drawing table making up creatures and worlds. I lust after the intense problems that come simultaneous with inventing new ways to manipulate a virtual reality. I swell at the soft clicking of a keyboard silent and deep into the late hours of the night, even knowing that I have work in the morning.
So what is our game about?
There is a boy, and a bizarre chaotic world that he has been thrown into. Without giving to much away; he is granted mystical powers from a celestial being after his reality is shattered. The game is set in the early 90s, with nostalgia of boom boxes, hip-hop music and game-boys.
Were currently working through solidifying a good combat system. Justin has been primarily focused on creating 2d animations of my concept designs. So far we have preliminary/prototype and unpolished running, jumping, idle, and attack animations for our main character, which I have been busy slicing up and frankensteining trying to find a good feeling combat notch. Of course there are undead, and a mech unit boss which are still partly finished. Overall we are nearly finished with the preliminary art needed for game testing and tweaking.
Plans for the near future:
Once we have a good solid grasp of how the combat system feels, we are going to move into level design features and being rendering the animations and backgrounds with color, while congruently adding effects and some polish. A couple of new enemies will be tested, including a symbiotic interdimensional parasite and an undead necromancer. During the next few weeks, we will be distributing the game to some alpha testers who will hopefully tells us everything wrong with it so far. We've set a deadline with have a polished playable demo of the game ready for beta testing distribution by October 15, with a deadline to release right before Halloween.
We're really just making it up as we go along. It is evolving into something wonderful. At the start, we really didn't know what we were doing or how to do it, yet we've figured it out this far. We still don't know what were doing; but its a learning process, and an evolution for both of us.