Our third monthly report and I feel like we’re finally getting into the swing of things here. We did do a little company game jam this month but there’s no games to share from it sadly. Our focus this time was to get some outsiders in and help them work on making their own games. We made some good progress on the first two days and then we all went drinking and no-one was in any state to do any work on the final day. Hindsight is 20/20. Still it was a good weekend and I was glad to spend some time helping new people get into game development.
We also had the really great news this month that Journal was chosen as an official selection for IndieCade, so we flew out to LA this week to take part in the event. Which is why this post is a little late. I can also tease we’ve been selected for another show where the lineup has not been announced yet. I’m not really into award ceremonies as a thing, however being picked for these kind of shows is a good confidence boost and reassurance that we’re going in a good direction with the game.
Work on still unannounced contract project is mostly done and I’m finally back working full time on Journal. Which is good because we’re getting towards the end of the year and I’m determined to have it finished this year, even if release itself gets pushed into early next year.
A lot of my time has been spent on our new dialogue engine and although I know it’s hubris to say so I feel like this will be the last time I have to write a new dialogue system. Journal has been through at least four or five dialogue systems now, however they’ve always mostly been place holders for something more easily edited. Our new system works with a lovely visual dialogue tool called ChatMapper. This allows anyone (without coding knowledge) to build our game dialogue trees and the game just reads an XML export from ChatMapper. This means it’s a lot easier for all of us to work together on the dialogue and make changes quickly and easily. The hope is that this engine can also be transposed into our future projects. We shall see how well reality lines up.
I’ve also been spending time polishing up a lot of more minor aspects of Journal. It might be a bit early for the polish phase but as we’re showing it to more and more people it’s something I wanted to spend a little time on. As the game has looked pretty much the same for quite a while now I wanted it to look fresh for IndieCade.
So I don’t want to get too specific about what Melissa has been working on art wise as she’s been doing the climax of the game. For the most part Journal isn’t a game that would be ruined by spoilers as the game is largely about personal interactions rather than a grand narrative. However the ending is something very big and very personally important to me and the whole last day of the game is that being played out. As always she’s done a great job so I’ll include one image (with a couple of mosaics added) that shouldn’t give too much away.
Now the core game art is done she’s begun working on the shadow puppet dream theatre sequences that compromise the remaining artwork for the game.
The decision was made to refocus Suze this month on our accounts. Since she started she’s got a lot of our finances in order but there’s been this backlog task to get everything we’ve done this year logged into Sage and all set up like a proper company. So she’s been going though our bank statements asking me what every random thing I bought was and where the receipt is. Weird being held accountable, hard to know if we’re playing at business or doing it properly.
She’s also been working more on her small (but feature creeping) game project that internally we’re calling Coal Bastard. That name is not going to stick, but I’ve got a habit of calling projects “[theme] bastard” until they get a real name. However now Stealth Bastard has gone to market it would cause far too much confusion if we stayed with that name. I’ve included some more art below but we’re still not far along enough to talk about how it plays.
With both Journal and “unannounced contract project” barreling towards completion it’s all starting to feel like everything is coming together nicely at Locked Door Puzzle. I don’t yet have a real sense when Coal Bastard is going to be done (and we’re looking at scheduling that better next month) but with Suze also getting our accounts in a neat order it finally feels like we’re all pulling towards the same goal.