Initially, what have happened to us this year shall be informed: chaos.
It is not much meticulous details to be apprised, just two facets: the progress management and my personal working pace.
During the Spring Festival vacation, I was filled with dread about GDC for the poor quality of our demo and it led to a horrible state of mind.
为了赶上GDC，疯狂加美术内容 / Filling art stuff for GDC
Then due to the epidemic matter this year, the conference was suspended, which had offered me a huge relief. Meanwhile, this mental status of ease caused some problems.
There was nothing to orientate us, as no one milestone leading us. This was why we were absorbed into a peculiar period. An illusion of 'Infinite time amount' had given a trend to add as much systems as we can into the game. And of cause, no one of them was well functional and without a load of bugs. I felt we were like cooks providing a table with some well-looking raw food and cannot be enjoyed. I realised we had better do several of them firstly.
Except the lame will of qualifying, a serious custom of myself was significant: I barely carefully consider the balance between the two vocation as a 'designer' and an 'Artist'. The 3D art making is really frustrating as many people knows. Basically, you work on it for several hours and then all you want to do is reclining on your cat. Furthermore, I was in charge of the animations, effects and shaders creation.
有一说一，做 shader 还是挺好玩的 / To be honest, it is delightful making shaders
I had used to hear about many indie creators doing multifarious jobs all alone, and I deemed I could be one of them. However, I missed the necessary tricks to perform a balance. 'Game Design' needs to be dominant of all the aspects to avoid the crash of the whole system. Actually, this had been concerned a bit, contrarily art working was really toiling. Sometimes a programmer noticed me to check something, I had to complete a phase of art work, took a break, and then gave a glimpse with exhaustion. This did not only diminish the efficiency, but also reduce the quality control.
All the concealed glitches outburst in summer and caused by financial problem. In fact, we used to have a stable economic source, however it was affected by the epidemic profoundly this year. After two months not able to afford the salary, the members of our studio decreased by two. Then I realised our development was full of problematic methods.
没钱了 / Penury
I loosened the rolling work nerves, and commenced to draw a new orientation for us. All of us took a discuss for several days and a temporary plan was provided: make another game firstly.
It is acknowledged that creating a 'Metroidvania' game is laborious, especially for the tiny team as we are. And every single step is challenging. So the plan was to make a small game acting as a side episode sharing the same world of our main game. It should be a platformer and puzzle game. This kind of game with simple systems, as we estimated, could be finished quickly and earn the money we required.
Two months later, we had a demo. The quality was terrible and I knew it. There was a fact I totally admit that we lack experience drastically. On the contrary, since we made the promise to some friends in the industry, we sent them in time. It was forcing us to the correct lane that I told myself. And the first step was forcing us to follow the schedule. Even it was criticized severely, it was what a demo meant to confront (Actually we told the friends to debunk it as hard as they can and they really did it). Basically, even got appraised negatively, we must put the progress in a proper segment in every suitable period. In addition, hearing reviews from people outside of the studio could create more connection between us and the players, and provide more life to the game. What the most precious experience making this demo brought us is we shall never keep waiting since nothing can be completely prepared.
一切都往小做 / Concentrate on a small project
Surprisingly, the side project merely lasts a short range of time. After finishing that demo, we suddenly received a cooperation job offered by another company. It was not a game projection, although the Unity Engine would be applied. Our programmer works profoundly in it and I am performing assistance all the time. This experience is quite beneficial. Firstly, we were paid well, all the unpaid wage and the office rend has been solved. Additionally, I found a healthy creating method is coming back to me. Now the time era of the outsourcing job has passed a half, and during this period I began to read, watch films, and play games in a personal plan (I even did not possess enough time and energy to play games before). Also, I am configuring the work progress when we get back to game development next year.
Here is the plan for next year.
Firstly, the main game development will be resumed. Of cause the tiny platformer was easier to create, however the whole project contained too much uncertain work. On the other hand, the main metroidvania game demo only remains limit content to make and less risky. All we need to amend is some discussion about the plan and it should continue smoothly. There is one thing we can promise: three months is enough to finish the demo. Also, during the progress, I would keep myself perceiving the importance of keeping the system laconic.
Additionally, while we have more budget next year, a new artist would be hired to share some of my jobs. After the previous reading and studying time range, I come to realise it was unhealthy to dive myself into too much art working as a game director. Among the read books, The Art of Game Design really gave me considerable avail and rebuilt my mind. And I will share my feelings about it later.
好书，准备二刷 / A fabulous book deserves read multiple times
It is such a strive to be an indie creator, only passion is quite not enough to make it good. Continuously studying and amending methods is also vital. After the confuse status lasting months, we seemed finally find the suitable tempo. I really hope everything can go well from now on.