When was the last time I wrote a blog entry? Probably back when Xanga was the coolest thing among youngsters everywhere.
This is the first official entry into my blog as Formal Sheep about my upcoming game, The Rabbit and the Owl - and hopefully future titles as well.
Naughty Dog. Concerned Ape. Exploding Rabbit. Formal Sheep. I didn't realize how common adjective + animal schema was in naming game companies until after I decided on this name (basically when I found it was ripe for SEO, it was very available on knowem.com, and it was remotely related to me - I was born in the year of the sheep). It feels like the whole -ly startup company naming pattern.
It's been quite a journey since I first started going down the indie game dev path. After graduating college in December 2013, I figured I would spend a year trying to make a game. I've always wanted to be a game developer and have full control over the design as well. Many programmers for games at large companies just implement what they're given, while the design is left to people with marine biology degrees and such. I could've tried to find a startup company or a group of people who were trying to make a game, but total freedom was too enticing.
And so I spent almost a year and a half trying to make games that never saw the light of day. I've probably started, worked on, and abandoned at least 8 different game ideas (and wasted a lot of time as well).
The idea for TRATO first came about in April 2015 when I was messing around with trying to make some really cool (i.e. I thought it was cool) action platformer game about pirates and a pirate lord named Bootydamus (a Google search shows 1 result for that name - is it really that unique?). As I'm sure many other prototypes go, I was using programmer art, also known as black squares. I had a white background, and was creating rudimentary terrain and and characters with just the black squares. At some point, I inadvertently created a silhouette-like profile of a face (it looked kind of like Jay Leno), which made me think of a Rubin's vase.
Okay, so I thought what if we control two characters - one in black and one in white? And what if the environment could be manipulated? I looked this up on to see if the concept had been done. I found that it was relatively unexplored, so I had an opportunity here.
Now I had this cool idea that I didn't really dedicate myself fully to for months because at this point I was a bit burned out, and it felt like a daunting amount of work to start over again for a very uncertain future. I was considering just finding a nice job and move out of my parents' basement.
After a few demotivating months of tinkering on the game here and there, I watched Indie Game: The Movie. Watching the trials and tribulations of the makers of Super Meat Boy, Fez, and Braid inspired me to come back to this idea. It was then that I decided to apply for the Independent Games Festival as a goal and see where I stood by then to decide if I wanted to keep pursuing the dream. It was already the beginning of August at this point and the deadline was just under 3 months away.
I was fortunately able to find friends who were willing to help me make this something resembling a real game. After intensely hammering away at the game, I made the submission date. It felt so good. Then not so good when I found out I wasn't selected... but I think I always knew it wasn't going to make it, not in that early state.
I knew I had something though, and the dream was more alive than ever. Early play testing with friends and family was very positive. And so more months of working on the game. I've made a surprising amount of progress since then. I've reached a point where I'm now comfortable with trying to get myself and the game known out there. Now I'm doing what many other indie devs do these days - writing developer's blogs. Since I haven't written a blog since I was 13, I had no idea how I'd feel about this, but in fact, it's very therapeutic. Knowing that someone, somewhere might see this makes me feel a bit validated. It's a bit scary putting my thoughts out there. I have to admit I don't really know what I'm doing. Well, I suppose everything's an experience.