I usually try to avoid posting more than once per day, but I nearly forgot which date it was today… it’s the 5h of March! That means we have two birthdays to celebrate!
First up is Pontus Hammarberg, our own very cuddlesome artist who is trying to save mankind, one life at a time He has turned 26 today. Give him a cheer! (And in case you were wondering, Pontus goes by the internet alias “Kinten”, you may have seen him around.)
Second up is Harvest: Massive Encounter that is 2 years old today! It’s crazy how long time that has passed since its release, and how different things are now compared to back then.
To celebrate this we are going to give you a present! We are going to send out postcards (real, physical postcards) to anybody who wants one. All you need to do is to give us your home address (we’ll not use it for anything else, don’t worry), and maybe suggest a name for Project B! Anything goes, but obviously we prefer actual usable game names over “Cheesemaster of Death 2000″ The best name will receive an extra present… I think.
In any case, suggesting a name is optional, so to receive a postcard all you have to do is to go here:
We’ll gather addresses for about 2 weeks. I’ll post again later. (We may not send a postcard to everybody in case this becomes unexpectedly popular, since I have to write all of these by hand… so if that happens it will be first come first served.)
UPDATE: Remember to write your NAME with the address! Our divine senses can only stretch so far…
Two times a year for six years, that’s how often the Nordic Game Program is choosing projects for their development support grant. The program is intended to promote game development in the… uhm… Nordic countries, and focuses mainly (but not only) on games for younger audiences. Today (first of march) is the deadline for the first round of projects during 2010.
Nordic Game Program’s managing director is Erik Robertson, a really nice guy. You should head over to their GDC booth and have a chat if you get the chance. Here’s his NGP presentation from the last grant ceremony:
We have applied for the grant almost every round since it was started (2006). We missed one round because I didn’t know it was twice a year (I thought it was only once). In total we have applied with 5 or 6 different projects, I think… This time we applied with Project B (again). We still haven’t been selected for the grant, unfortunately, but it would obviously help us a lot. At least we could pay thewreck more than $3 per hour, hehe.
There are some noteable NGP recipients in their funded games list. Of course, being independent is a requirement to seek the grant, but these are the names that you may recognize:
Limbo, one of the current IGF finalists, has received the grant two times (once in 2006 and once in 2007). Both grants were 300,000 DKK.
Crayon Physics Deluxe
Petri Purho received a grant of 100,000 DKK in the round after winning IGF.
Black Drop Studios received 300,000 DKK in 2008 for their platform game Boingo. (I just realized when visiting their site that they have disbanded! That was a surprise )
A few weeks ago somebody gave me a link to an interview with Ira Glass on YouTube. I had never heard of Ira Glass before, but I found this part about having good taste to be very inspirational:
I think a lot of game developers have this kind of problem. They know what they want to create, but the finished product didn’t really turn out as they had thought. It can still be a good game, but it’s missing something. It’s nice to hear a solid reason why you should keep on going, and not just empty phrases like “believe in yourself.”
The other parts of the inteview are interesting as well.
The good news is that during the weekend I filled our wiki with a lot of DaisyMoon info! I think I added over 20 new articles about methods in the API.
The bad news is that our host decided it was a good idea ™ to upgrade our PHP to 5.3.1. Unfortunately that version of PHP contains a bug that breaks MediaWiki, so it’s currently not possible to edit pages on the wiki. We don’t know if or when our host decides to revert the upgrade, or upgrade again to PHP 5.3.2, so we will have to wait and see…
I found a small document lying around in my folder for Oxeye-related stuff. It described the different phases that our projects go through before a release, and I thought it would be fun to share it with others.
Oxeye consists of five people who are in different stages of life and with different abilities to spend time on game development. Our process for selecting which game to work on thus needs to be rather “loose.” The most important thing is that we feel that we are having fun (and releasing games is fun!). Our process can obviously not be applied to all kinds of companies, but on the other hand our company is not the kind of company you read about in business books.
The Concept Phase
In this phase there’s only a game idea and a very short draft for the game. A game concept should be descibed so that it fits on a single A4 paper. I think we have 7 of these concepts on our office wall at the moment. To be honest, I think the font size has gotten smaller for each new one, but we still try to keep these concepts as short as possible.
In this phase one or two of us creates a simple prototype to test the game idea. Nothing more than our valuable time is invested on this prototype. Games such as Jet Engine Nights and House Globe are considered light prototypes, even if House Globe never was intended to be anything else than a TIGSource competition entry. Anybody can start a light prototype when-ever they feel like it (unless there’s a time-crucial deadline coming up, of course).
In this phase at least 3 of our members have decided that we want to put a little more effort on the prototype. The difference to “light prototype” is that we can use our savings on buying stuff for the prototype (such as music and other material we can’t create ourselves).
Only one game can be “green-lighted” at a time. The green-lighted game will be our main project and all effort will be put into completing the game. A prototype can only be green-lighted once everybody agrees that it’s a good idea, and that we have some kind of plan on the scope of the game and how long it’s going to take to finish it. Our current project is “Project B.”
Green-lighted games can still be abandoned, though. Every two months we have a reschedule meeting (using Skype) to keep track on progress and to update the plan. If we realize that we have mistaken ourselves on the game idea or our ability to create the game, then it will be dropped. Obviously not an easy decision to make!
As you already know, Oxeye is run more or less like a hobby, so things get done in the order they are fun and we have energy and time to make them. That means we’ve accumulated a lot of unfinished projects (because finishing projects is not as fun as starting them), so I’ll begin this year with a small list of stuff that aren’t “done” yet, and what our “plans” for them are.
The Harvest 1.17/1.18 Patch – I still intend to finish and release this patch, but unfortunately the Mac OS X version just keeps crashing on me. I’ve spent a whole weekend cursing at xcode to no avail, and I’m not looking forward to wasting another weekend on the same problem. You could say that I’m waiting for some kind of divine intervention, and who can tell when that is going to happen…
Also, I want to add more features to this patch before I release it. I realized that it would probably be possible to allow mods for other game modes than creative, as long as I make sure that all “cheating” methods are disabled. That would be quite nice, since it would allow people to make user interface mods and so on.
Harvest Lua Documentation – I started moving our forum documentation into our Oxeye wiki, but that quickly became really boring, so it’s also unfinished. I’m not really planning to finish it anytime soon, but I’ll make sure that whenever I change or add stuff to the mod system, the documentation on the wiki will be up to date.
jeb <3 RTS – The RTS Design article series I did (over a year ago now) is also unfinished. I think the reason I stopped working on it was because I had already written my most important points, and the remaining articles were derailing a little too much. I also got some critisism that my articles were too Starcraft’y, so I need to take one step back and look at the subject in a more general way.
thewreck’s Retrospective – I’m not the only one here who isn’t finishing projects Daniel Brynolf, who is better known as thewreck, has made a lot of small games in MMF over the years, and was writing an article series about them. The first article is here, http://www.oxeyegames.com/thewreck-in-retrospect-part-1/, but the second one is still a draft in our wordpress backend. Pontus (Kinten) even wagered 500 kr (roughly $60) that thewreck would never write the second article. He said, “the money is safe with me,” and so far it looks like he’s right.
So there it is. I’ll make a new year promise that during 2010, we’ll start more projects that we won’t finish!
In two weeks, July 16-19, there will be a indie game developer gathering called No More Sweden in Malmö. This is the second year of the event, and this time around it’s more than twice the size with 34 people signed up! The main purpose of the event is to meet interesting people and have a fun time, but there will also be some game development competitions.
I will post more about this after the event, with pictures and maybe video clips, but until then you can find more information at the NMS site: http://www.nomoresweden.com
I’ve recently started using Twitter because I wanted to check out what the fuzz was about. I am still not completely convinced, but with the help of DestroyTwitter it has at least become a lot easier to keep track of tweets.
In case you want to fetch my updates, follow jeb_. I’m currently tweeting all kinds of things, so please give me some feedback on how to make it more interesting.