Sunday, November 21, 2010

Revenge of the nerds

What can I say? The movie was received very positive pretty much everywhere. Of course a few improvement tips here and there, but overall I couldn't whish for better reactions! Especially the "creepy", "goose bumps" and "peed my pants" is heart-warming! After all, it is a horror game so for me delivering goose bumps is like delivering pizza for a pizza courier. Core business. So... A BIG thanks! Really, feedback (including criticism) from you is the (red)diesel for projects like these. Ow, and while browsing around, I saw the project was even mentioned at an online game-magazine, Pretty cool huh?

* Ow, and maybe funny to ask. Did you find the tiny “Easter Egg” in the movie? Tip: “I am a liar!”

But enough ego trippin’. This is just the beginning. I'll have to resume code-stamping, and trying to ensemble a team to lift this project to a next level. Speaking of which... Holy crap. One day you have nothing, wondering if someone will ever contact you at all. Next day the mailbox is filled. Making a movie and asking on gamedev wasn't a bad idea (so if you ever want to start up a project, you could follow this way).

I was kind of nervous before posting the movie and a "Please help me, I'm a little puppy with big brown eyes" post. I'm a naive Goofy, who can't say "No.". That's very sweet, but that attitude can bring you in serious problems when it comes to “doing business”. I knew IF people would start applying for the project, I would have to:
- Watch out for those who want to ride on your work, making profit of it or even stealing idea's
- Kindly reject help if it doesn't fit in the project
- Decide who's in and who's not

The whole game concept is a fragile thing, a Ming vase. As it depends largely on the story and a few not-seen-before game mechanics, I really have to watch it. If I would tell all my idea's, EA games or another big Guy who can produce games on the fly will have it tomorrow on the store shelves. Or the story just doesn't work anymore because anyone with interest for the project already knows the clue. Are you going to watch a movie if you already know the end? If it was Predator, Rambo or Robocop... YES of course. But this genre is different. You don't play Silent Hill for entertainment. For some it's even so fuck'n scary that you don't even want to play it. But the story has to be found out, it's your duty.

The beautiful thing of internet is that people come in touch easily. Just look at any blog or forum. Americans discuss with Iranians about games. Vikings share their jokes with South Africans, and an Asian gets compliments from a Marsian. But at the other hand... you don't really know who's on the other side. You all think I'm Rick from Holland, but in fact I am prince Mambassa al Bedala III from the African federation.

As for rejecting people that offer their help, that also hurts. You simply can't invite everyone for the party. But having to say "Sorry No" is difficult. I never want to hurt someone feelings by telling "you're not good enough". Certainly not when they are offering their precious time, for FREE! Don’t want to sound cocky. Nevertheless, Microsoft won't put everyone on the Windows 8 core code either, just out of compassion. Now Microsoft pays, while I can't. But that doesn't mean I wouldn't have serious plans.

From my own experience, amateur/hobby teams often die early because of taking too much ballast at once. The whole development has to go slick, like an oiled machine. But you can't expect to manage a 15-man army with different skills, personalities and working pace if you are busy yourself. I have work, extra work, girl + kid, friends and my own programming tasks on this project. That's why I would like to start with a small team. And if possible, keep it small. So basically, I have to make decisions. Our little boat only has a few seats!

So, what’s the status doc? I’m still talking with a couple of guys, and if everything goes well the project will be extended with:
- Story & biography writer(s) / Game concept document
- Sound & music composers
- 2D texture artist
- 3D (character) artist (for making the next ugly bastard in a demo movie)
We’re not complete yet, as I would like to have a (2D) concept artist, mapper and 3D asset modeler. But there is still a thread running on Polycount, so I have to fish patiently. Yeah, patiently… If I could do it over again, I would send each replier an automated “sign up” form generated by C3PO, asking for their portfolio and some other common questions. Then wait X weeks to sort all the forms out, and reply to the winning tickets… Ehm, sounds so impersonal. But I also hate to be like an “American Next top Model(er)” jury member. Difficult, difficult.

All in all, this is a whole new learning traject. Now that there are people kind enough to offer their (free!) services, I must grab the chance with both hands. The good thing is that I can focus more on the programming part again, and hopefully these guys will create far better work than I could do. But don’t forget you will also have to lead these people now. Don’t have to be a babysitter, but each individual wants to be taken seriously. Which means you’ll have to provide enough fun&interesting tasks, and giving constructive feedback (including the ability to be honest when the delivered work isn’t that good).

Am I ready for it? Well you can’t prepare yourself perfectly for everything in life. Just like becoming a daddy for the first time, you will never have that feeling “Think I’m ready to make one now”. Sometimes you have to stop thinking and just do it. Set sail mateys!

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