As most of the people who read this blog know, I am a programmer by trade. I studied programming at Full Sail University. I moved to Austin to program. I programmed slot machines for a while. I accepted a new job at BioWare to program. It has been my lifeblood. Then I became a lead and as the team grew I programmed less and less. Code became something to review as opposed to something to write. Gone were the days of taking on fancy new systems myself.
Now that I’m independent, I get the opportunity to write code more often. Depending on how you want to look at it, however, it is just one of many opportunities. I also get the chance to flex my business savvy, engage in social media, relate publicly, wax creative, manage the project, and train my legal eyes. I am a man of many hats.
I have been wheeling and dealing on the business and legal end. We have contractors and I have written and worked with attorneys to make sure that we handle everything up-to-code. We have a humble budget as well, which has been nerve-wracking trying to get the contract work without feeling like we’re insulting anyone. This book has been an immense help: Business & Legal Primer for Game Development.
You may have seen my posts over at http://www.binarysolo.com. I’ve been trying to engage people and start to get them excited about the game. Without the millions that big companies spend on marketing, we have to work on engaging people directly. Although it can be tedious, this is sometimes extremely rewarding when people have a positive response. I use HootSuite to help see facebook, twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn all at once. (Should we be somewhere else too? Leave me a comment!)
Being creative is natural. I’m not going to lie, I’m new to design, but I know I have to be more practiced than loving features from my favorite games. I’ve perused my fair share of the Design of the Times column in GDMag. (RIP) This one will be a learning experience. (Again, should I know about some great link about design? Comment!)
Obviously, I have also been coding like crazy. We chose a small game on purpose, but I’ve been surprised just at how much code I have written. Not only have we written match three code, but we have enemies with stats, parallax scrolling, player saving and loading, and some form of achievements. I have been reminded a few times while programming this of the sage advice someone once gave me to constantly re-evaluate and make sure that I am solving the right problem. You get rusty if you haven’t written a lick of code in a year!
I am still excited, hungry, scared, and naïve on this indie game adventure. Even if I end up toiling in obscurity, the value of the journey is intensely satisfying. Learning about business, engaging with people, thinking about the player experience are all valuable skills to hone. I wonder how sharp they’ll be in a year.
See you, Space Cowboy.