Like many, I grew up knowing that video games were the media of the future, that interaction was the way to engagement and creativity to be limitless, even constrained by the technologies of our times.
I had a tumultuous life recently. I moved to the US from France years ago. My wife and I got a kid and as my wife had a more stable income, I am the one that stayed home to take care of the child during the day and tried to recycle myself into doing jobs I could accomplish from home, on the computer, or with schedules allowing me to be present in my son’s life, which meant a lot of late nights working.
I have many skill under my belt. Some of them involving working in hydro power engineering , to eventually running a SCUBA diving company full time. Unfortunately, last year, the program I was running has been fully cancelled by the whole school district I was working with, putting me out of work very abruptly. I since battled between jobs, but as the most important thing to me is taking care of my kid, I tailored my life around it.
I do have a lot of extra time when he sleeps, which led me to get back on the computer for a decent amount of time. Getting back into games after a decade of idle gaming activity, getting into the whole new level on online interactions, I found out that more than ever, games were the media of excellence, yet I fell like I was being unproductive just being a user.
Trying to find myself a healthy occupation when not working or taking care of my kid, instead, I found an old passion never fulfilled who I thought I’d never back get into: Game development.
I play music since decades, grew up with video games, am a passionate of engineering and computer science as well of the arts in general. I personally always have been a huge advocate for video games to take a more predominant place in our world of flat screens as I always found the experience more enriching than most medias nowadays. It just made sense for me to get into a discipline that gathers all the things I have interest for.
I tried many engines, languages and development softwares and learned the hard way that gettin overwhelmed by too many tools can limit your ability to progress “efficiently”. Not having a typical programming background sure was a cause to my inability to even consider starting a long term project.
In December of 2014, I picked up on a fabulous tool;
Construct 2, which is a game engine that mainly helps getting rid of the syntax but yet uses logical reasoning just like in a regular programming language. To this date, I haven’t found a tool allowing me to prototype games as fast as Construct 2 and have become quite good at using it by now. I never got into learning the syntax and low level programming, yet I learned how to program micro chips and assembly code very early. I learned how to design electronics, so I do have the elements of logic required to understand programming, but I just never had the proper mindset and will to get to be fluent in a language adapted for game development. Construct 2, as well as other tools on the market now, have made gamedev much more accessible to people like me, who would love to treat it as a job, but didn’t have the means to express themselves with a pure programming language. There is something very unique about playing a game made by one person, as you get the raw logic, emotions and feelings that the developer was trying to convey, which gets lost when you play a game made by a AAA studio.
I also fell in love with
Pyxel Edit, a simple but yet very powerful pixel art software, rigged towards animation and tiles building. I use Photoshop professionally so I will be tempted to use it for some art or effects, but by keeping the amount of tools top a minimum,decided to give myself a set constraint, allowing to focus more on the development itself.
I since found a community of game developers by streaming live on Twitch.TV, who offered tremendous amount of support via software licenses and donations, but also and more importantly; helped me understand things very quickly, whether it is about art techniques, pure programming tricks or even helping me on challenging features of the Construct 2 engine.
As I had to take jobs that took me away from home, I had to take a month long break, but yet gamedev is a cruel obsession that doesn’t get cured until you complete a project.To find the reward of accomplishment, I then tried to participate in game jams, either alone or in team. It often resulted in a prototype that the team was willing to finish but again, that didn’t happen yet because of a lack of commitment, experience and direction. I made a space shooting game named “Bazuki” and participated in many Ludum Dare competitions where you have to make a game in less than 3 days
I started doing a lot of animations, partnering with programmers to just deliver art on time and find the best workflow for my expectations I participated in a couple successful game jams as a pixel artist an animator.I was willing to partner because I came to the conclusion that making a game alone is a nearly impossible task. I decided then to focus my research on animation and pixel art. I quickly found my strength in game development.
I also started taking commissions to force myself practicing, practicing and maybe a little bit more of practicing whenever possible.
Three partnerships and f ive game projects later, I found myself with the burden of unfinished projects and needed a way to reconcile it all while still keeping at it on a regular basis.
I decided to mix the features that many of my games had into one simple game, made out of features and parts that I have learned about during these past two years of daily game design learning process.
I did not grow frustrated out of my unfinished projects and partnerships, I tried to take the best out of it and on July 2016, I decided, with a few developer friends that I made during the past couple years online, to compete for completely arbitrary daily points with, in order to boost my productivity. Surprisingly enough, it worked and here I am making the game every day, able to code through my engine very fluently now, allowing to get daily rewards from my achievements. I am working part time to pay the bills and am able to work on the game daily for a minimum of 7-8 hours, which unfortunately has been taking a toll on my sleep schedule.
My plan with the game is to get it to a point where I have a polished, bug free, playable and presentable vertical slice of my game, a playable demo and the necessary feedback to see if the game will be worth finishing as it it and what direction the players would like it to take. I want it to a point where I would be proud to present it next to another indie game at a big convention. Yes GDC, Gamescom and all, I am looking at you.
https://www.twitch.tv/diver__ ) for people to look at the daily progress, as well as giving access to the discord channel to the people that want to get involved in any way with the development of the game. The goal is, once the demo finished, to take a brake form development and work actively on spreading
I hope that I convinced you enough to learn more about this project and that we will develop great discussion over the not yet mentioned games.
I decided to use pixel art, first, because of my love for it, I love the abstract representation we have form characters and environments. Pixel art, always forced us to use our imagination to complete the image in our minds of the characters on screen, just like reading a book.
As I mentioned above, I always fell like there is room for a game that would be using the bases from the early Prince of Persia and use the fun and fast paced action moves you can find in a game like NidHogg. I also feel like I will not get overwhelmed by dependencies and complex code, that I already know what needs to be done programming wise, so that I can humbly aim for completion.