Ludum Dare is a freeform event where entrants try to complete a game from scratch solo within 48 hours. I made a little submarine dive game for Ludum Dare 29, which had the theme "Beneath The Surface". It's called 29 Leagues and it can be found here on the Ludum Dare website.
I’ve been working on my vehicle combat game Scraps full-time for over a year now. The basic building mechanics are all done and a multiplayer prototype is working, but it’s still months away from a solid alpha release where you can start playing proper multiplayer deathmatch games and I can start getting a few dollars coming in.
Originally when I started I’d hoped to have an Alpha release out by now, but once the project got going it became apparent that this was a bigger job (doesn’t that always happen?). I now have a much better idea of how long the game is going to take, but it’s a while, so I’m getting near the point where I’m thinking about getting some extra part-time work. Of course that’d slow down development even more.
However, Kickstarter has just become available in this country and it’s a good time to go for it. I’m looking for a bit of funding now, not to cover the whole of development, but to give me free reign to keep working on it full-time until it’s really ready to go. Chipping in $20NZD (~$16USD) or more also secures you a copy of the game.
Music fans deserve an update as well. First of all, you might be wondering why I went from an album with, y'know, meaning and art or whatever, to a game where you put vehicles together and shoot other vehicles. Well, this is a very old game idea. I've been wanting to play this since I was a kid as it has some of that childlike Lego building aspect. My more recent game ideas tend to have more of a "meaning" and "art" component, whatever meaning and art are, but that doesn't mean I don't have an enduring desire to build stuff and shoot stuff, so I'm making this first. It also probably has more mass appeal. There's something to be said for simple fun once in a while.
Unfortunately this is really taking up all my time, and I don't have any new music stuff. It's been a busy year. That doesn't mean I'll never have new music, but at the moment I haven't really been writing songs let alone recording them. Writing good songs also requires having good ideas to write about.
The fact that I don't have to do music work is an aspect that makes it more real anyway. Making games is my real job at the moment, and it's a cool job, but marketing isn't fun and the risk of failure is high. I've always recorded music primarily for myself and I'm glad that other people get to hear it, but even if no-one listens to it it's still essentially achieved its purpose. When I do release music, I don't have to say it's awesome and you should buy it or whatever, it can just be what it is. I'm lucky that my job is also one where I work on stuff that I want to make, so I can market it honestly. I couldn't work in a job where I have to push a product that I don't actually like.
I saw a thing the other day where a guy posted a game, with a title like "my friend just released this game but he thinks no-one will play it!" All the comments were marketing advice and admonition for the fact that the guy (whether it was truly his friend or he was really the "friend" himself) hadn't marketed it throughout development.
He needed to post in in these places, his search results were crap, he needed to send it out to press. What a terrible job he'd done, surely cheating himself out of his goal of a successful game. The supposed actual guy who made the game wasn't in attendance to give his opinion on all this, but the feeling was that apparently we can't create stuff for ourselves anymore. Apparently we have to want to share it with the entire world. If it's not disseminated, if it's not viral, if it's not worth something - on the NASDAQ, on Alexa, on Klout - it doesn't have value. "Art for art's sake is an empty phrase" indeed.
I've just put up a playable release of Scraps, the game I'm currently making, where you can try out the working features of the game. Namely, building a vehicle from parts and testing it out. Check it out here.
I entered the Taite Music Prize competition this year, which is a music award with that rare quality that the choice of winner (ostensibly at least) has no bearing on the popularity or affiliations of the artist. The actual judging criteria are:
* Please consider the artistic merit, creativity, innovation and excellence of each album in its entirety.
* Judging criteria does not include album sales, artist popularity, recognition, previous awards, live or international achievements.
Actually the only one on the finalist list that I thought was really special personally is Electric Hawaii by Opossom, but there's a fair bit of variation there to fit different tastes. The Aaradhna album I thought was good too. I do feel that the shortlist choices still reflect who's already popular a little more than they should, and the reason I'm making this post is so I can point out some other entries from this year that I think deserve listening to.
If the entries do reflect who's popular, I suspect it doesn't help that there were 77 entries this year and a month to judge. Both the official judges and IMNZ members are asked to judge each album in its entirety, but that's about two and a half hours of unpaid listening to albums per day for a month. I'd hardly expect anyone to actually do that, and I wonder if a limit should be put on the number of entries. IMNZ members aren't forced to submit their top-10 selections, but of the preliminary judging board and the over 80 IMNZ members, there are only six hits recorded (not necessarily unique) to the listening link for my entry over that month.
Anyway, I went through all the albums and gave them at least a chance, and my shortlist came out quite different to the official selection. So here are some albums I think deserve a mention:
Bury Me Low - Bury Me Low Unpretentious, perfectly-executed folk (and it's not all quiet folk - listen to Chariot). This is my favourite nominee.
The Golden Awesome - Autumn Stupid band name. Terrible MS Paint artwork. Incredible sound! Shoegaze meets rock and they have a beautiful child. But very derivative of Loveless et al
The Whyld - Preface Interesting blend of “hip-hop/rap indie rock nz hiphop nz indie rock nz rap indie rock” (their tags). Some good lyrics. Tries to be more than just a collection of tracks (which is good)
James Duncan - Vanishing Commendable original sound. This is the sort of thing that we should probably be giving the Taite prize too. But then the music itself doesn't really grab me
I've started a DevLog on TIGSource for my new game project: Scraps. Scraps is a game where you build your vehicle from parts, fight, and scavenge more parts from your enemies. This is a game I've been wanting to play for years but no-one's made it. The DevLog itself has a lot more information and will be updated as things are done: It's here.
A dedicated Scraps website will be coming sometime in the future. A couple of very, very early in development screenshots - almost everything here is a placeholder, unfinished, or missing: