Lisa’s Indie Adventures – August 2015

August already? How is this possible! Is time accelerating? July’s update saw a bunch of forging ahead on Imaginal and getting to show it, and August was more of the forging. Time moves so fast that I can’t keep up! I’m currently back in Kentucky, trying to rest after an arduous PAX. But anyway, here’s what I did in August:

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Lisa’s Indie Adventure Update – June 2015

Greetings friends! It is once again time for my monthly update on my indie adventures. If you recall from  May, I cracked down on taking care of myself and ensuring that I took proper breaks, so as not to burn out super quickly.

1. Part of June was a lot of behind-the-scenes work on plotting my website revamp. While I restructured things and posted some new pages on my current streaming project, I haven’t pulled the trigger as far as an updated front page and a theme change. However, just this week, it seems I have accidentally managed to update my old theme and lose all the custom CSS I had in here, so I’m probably going to finalize the revamp sooner rather than later.

2. E3 was also this month, and with it game a number of gatherings with visiting game devs from all over. I got to reconnect with folks and learn about exciting projects and developments. On the floor itself, I was especially excited by For Honor and Trackmania (the latter being a surprise to me as I had never played the franchise, but the 2-players-driving-1-car mode sold me!). However, a downside was that the week leading up to and during E3 was really rough on me, health-wise, and I struggled to stay positive and not get too down on myself about the limitations I have to deal with.

3. More work on Imaginal included the beginnings of an installation version with interactive LED lights, lots more insight writing, and work on some nuts and bolts to get it release-ready. I also brainstormed with folks about some fun ideas for how to launch the game, which I’ll keep on the DL for now, but it should be fun. I also submitted the game to NotGamesFest 2015, a festival with a focus on more interactive art pieces.

4. I had a great dev stream with Adriel Wallick on Idea Generation that was great fun for both of us as well as the stream. We tackled some brainstorming exercises and came up with loads of silly game ideas. My hope is that someone is inspired enough to make one of them.

5. The SteamLUG episode that I recorded for was posted, talking about Slow Down, Bull, Linux, games I’ve been playing lately, and indie games in general.

6. Cat Trick is coming back into being an active project! I had a great stream about all the considerations one must take when making a mobile game out of a PC prototype, and then an in-depth follow-up article about the decision making process when dealing with larger, goal-oriented decisions to be made. With those two things I’m feeling pretty good about starting back in on development with this game.

7. I’ve been having a lot of great times making levels for Hyperlight Drifter, especially in recent weeks when I’ve been focusing a lot on combat-oriented rooms. I feel like I’ll always be a combat designer at heart 🙂

8. I’ve started doing a monthly Patron Hangout for my $30+ pier patrons, wherein we hangout and talk about whatever. I just had my first one!

So what was the big insight for this month? As I mentioned a bit earlier, E3 week was super rough on me, physically. When I have lots of plans for the games and projects I want to work on, and they all fall to nothing because I can barely move for a day, it is really demoralizing. Fortunately I have a lot of people in my life who encourage me and remind me to focus on the positive and the things I *have* accomplished instead of what I wanted to accomplish but couldn’t.

It was also rough in the sense of just feeling like I’m able to keep up with my industry peers. I took E3 very slow, and several nights opted to retreat home to the burrow instead of stick around looking for adventure (perhaps as a reaction to completely overdoing it the weekend before and paying for it in exhaustion).

The insight, then, is that I have to learn to align my expectations with my physical limitations. Thinking about what I actually CAN do in the time I have, and not beating myself up if I don’t live up to superhuman standards. I think it will still be a struggle for me to accept this about myself, but the insight is there.

If you’ll notice, the theme for the past couple of months in the insight department has been all about self-care. There’s an insight in that fact alone, for sure 🙂

As always, if you would like in on the more frequent updates, or want to help me continue my dev streaming initiatives, please consider supporting me on Patreon!

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Cat Trick Plots and Plans

On my most recent developer stream, I dove into the not-so-simple process of preparing my PC-based game jam entry, Cat Trick, for release as a mobile title. There were lots of technical things discussed, but I think the most interesting and insightful segment of the stream was the last part, where we discussed how a lot of design and format decisions depend on the clarity of my goals for what I want out of this game. I recently went over my decisions with my teammate, Will, and since we were in agreement in all of them, I decided to walk through my entire decision-making process here.

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Schoolhouse Jam Postmortem

Last weekend I participated in (and assisted in the wrangling of) a small experimental game jam focused on games for classroom learning. I’ve always recognized educational games from afar as something challenging and impressive, but this was my first time dabbling in it myself, with 0 experience making an educational game. I learned SO much about educational game design and the shortcomings of my own design intuition in this context, even from one small weekend prototype. It was incredibly valuable!

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Flaws and Games and Character

On one of my recent “class” streams, a conversation evolved about how the flaws of games can give them character. It really started out as looking streamlining between generations of genres. In our case we were playing Borderlands 2, and I was observing how a lot of tropes of that generation were present in Destiny as a more modern “rpg-shooter” hybrid, but had been hyper streamlined. Some of the older conventions of the late PS3/XBox 360 era of shooters now felt a little clunky – things like waiting on NPC positioning for events to occur, the “turn-in” experience, accomplishing different tasks via different menus which sometimes had limited access, how sometimes the relationship between systems and options made some actions obsolete and other decision making processes feel paralyzing.

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