Its true. The harder you work, the more they pile on, the more that is expect, the harder it is to meet a deadline. But could all of this have been avoided?
Deadlines in today’s society are very real, and very tight. Companies have become rapidly more demanding, and developers have taken on more and more. Still, the end goal is the same for all of. Finish the project on time, and properly.
I found myself in the middle of a dilemma last night. I wanted to shake up my story a bit, and make it more interesting. I wasn’t quite satisfied with the premise, and questioned the characters. I then turned my attention to the main character.
Can you really kill off the main character and keep the story intact? I wondered if maybe another one stepped in, but then that would make them the main character. I decided to do a little research. Perhaps there have been games that did this in the past.
I had a conversation with someone today about WordPress. They said “Why are you building a web site with a blogging package?” I must admit, at first it got me thinking. After I came to my senses, I explained to them how its more than a blog.
I was staring at my screen just over a year ago. I wanted to rebuild CanisHosting.com, and had drawn out several wire frames, and jotted down several page titles. I even pondered the thought of having a new logo built. Finally, I built a prototype page, and tossed the link into an IM window at a friend.
I’ve taken a bit of break from programming the last few days. I’ve done quite a bit at my day job, and I really needed to rest that part of my brain. I’ve instead taken to writing more of my story, and working on visuals of the world I’m creating. I was resorting to pen/paper type things, and also some generic notes on my iPhone notepad. I have to admit, I’m not much of an artist at all. I can visualize things, but I can’t lay them out with a pencil.
One of the things I noticed when I started writing the story for my upcoming RPG is that I couldn’t quite get myself going with the dialogue between characters. I wasn’t sure if I didn’t quite develop the characters, or if the story itself wasn’t developed enough. The truth is I was taking the wrong approach completely.
I’ll never call myself an expert on writing dialogue. I can write a good blog post, probably pen a short story without much trouble, but I’ve never actually sat down and written anything quite like this. I’ve never had an ambition for script writing, and I’m certainly not going to be a play writer. But the fact is, video games need character dialogue.
A friend of mine decided to leave his job after four years. The company wasn’t growing. He wasn’t growing. It was a stagnant position at best. To his amazement, after a week, he accepted an offer from a really good company. His future was now back open, but how could he tell his boss?
I was asked to come into a project very late in the game. We had 4 1/2 hours until we were to show off a prototype of the company’s new “portfolio” site. We were five days behind with minimal functionality accomplished. I was asked to save the day.
A little nervous, and completely in the dark still about what this WordPress theme we’d bought was all about, I agreed to give it my best shot. I’ve worked with WordPress plenty of times, I had a decent understanding of how the API sorta worked, and I know PHP like the back of my hand. Still, tearing into someone’s code often times translates into hours of just figuring out their style and where everything is laid out.
Ever since the 80s and 90s days of Sierra On-line’s “Quest” games, I’ve been a big fan of PC and Console RPGs. Cinematics and crisp graphics add to the fun fo the game, but the exploration of the world, and the unravelling of a good story are the two main things that keep me going back to the genre.
About two months ago I joined twitter. I honestly only wanted to follow the local sports writers, and possibly interact with some of my friends. Soon after that I expanded to following Stargate actors. Then I got the idea that I could market myself a little better in case I needed to find a new job really quick, or wanted to pick up some freelance work.
I began to follow everyone who was following @VoodooPuppy, a game developer, experience designer, story-teller, and ruler of worlds. Oh yah, they also like gummy bears. I was following 500, then 800, and made my way up to 1500. I noticed that lots of people started following me back. Some were normal people, others were marketing companies, the rest were anything you can imagine. Something I did notice, people were starting to respond.
I’m now followed by almost 700 people. I have a few regulars that I interact with. We all started discovering that we had similar interests. After that, we found out we liked the same video game genres. We started talking about RPGs, JRPGs, and finally started swapping game titles and companies around.
That’s when I decided to compliment @mistwalker on a fine job with Lost Odyssey, an RPG for the Xbox 360. To my surprise, Mr. Sakaguchi himself responded. It was exciting to make a connection with someone who I’ve admired for so long.
There are now six of us that are starting to tweet daily. We’ve even moved into the direction of doing a little Zork styled RPGing with a new hash ‘#twitterpg’. We tossed around a few ideas, sat undecided, and @mistwalker cast the final vote to go with it. A new age in tweeting was born.
Currently, us six adventurers have just slain a mighty beast with our bare hands, and are deciding which bridge to take. I can see myself, @bendavischicago, @RogerReinhardt, @Dan_Tsukasa, @DawnRivers, and @mistwalker looking around this world. It is our’s for the taking, and we’re marching forward into the unknown to battle evil, save the world, and live as heroes.
I now invite you all to start using and following this hash. While we may not be ready to pickup another adventurer quite yet, 140 characters go quickly, I am interested in what other worlds people will come up with, and what adventures you will embark on. As I sit here on my porch on a mild late summer night, I can see the hash in the trend area in the near future. There are thousands of people tweeting and exploring virtual worlds running through our minds.
Imagine the stories that will come out of all of this. An innocent exchange of tweets praising a genre, complimenting a designer, new twitter friendships coming to life, and it is now ballooning into something more. A creative exchange building new personalities and places, inspired by the greatest games ever written.
I invite you all to partake. Form your party. Set a course. Launch your adventure. #twitterpg is your’s for the taking.
Dan Joseph is the CEO and head of Software Engineering of Familiaris Games. Aside from my personal flash game projects, I am collaborating with Ben Davis on multiple future projects, and writing the story and script for an upcoming AAA level RPG, modelled after the same type of game play you see in Lost Odyssey, Final Fantasy, and other Japanese-based RPGs. When I'm not developing games, I'm working as a Web Developer on various major brand web sites. You can follow me on twitter @iamdanjoseph. If you wish to contact me, please click the contact page, and fill out the form. I will get back to you as soon as I can.
I realized today that I’ve pretty much disappeared on everyone. Sorry about that! Real life got in the way, and my duties as a web developer were needed 2.5x more than normal. Its been kind of fun, but stressful at many points. I’m about done though, and piece 10 of my Flash Game Dev 101 series will be released after this week.
In the meantime, I’d like to take the time to talk a little bit about HTML5 and project planning.
I recently was brought into a project to help with. It was as simple set of html/css pages. No programming. No databases. Just static pages. All the art was done, so I just had to come up with the html and css code, and let ’em loose. The only issue, they wanted it done in HTML5/CSS3.
One of the things that makes building a html5/css3 only site is Internet Explorer 8. It is still widely used, and will be for some time. Windows XP users can’t upgrade to IE9, and many of them have no interest in Firefox, Chrome, or Safari. Sure, you can download a hack, such as PIE.htc, but that doesn’t solve all the problems, and you’re still left with some quirkiness about your pages.
One of the reasons for the decision to go the html5 route was the ability to embed custom fonts into the web pages. Creative people shy away from the standard fonts so they can use “prettier” fonts, or even just something that is fresh.
I can fully understand that.
The issue we ran into was we were converting a single web site, into a new landing page web site, and then many pages embedded into a facebook application and placed on their fan page. We needed something trackable, SEOable (that has to be a word!), and so we (thought we) couldn’t just go the route of static images with links laid over the top.
Personally, I liked the idea of all of this. I still do. But looking back on it, the headaches of trying to make IE8 look right, and function right, and the client expecting things to be perfect, it just was a no-win situation for us developers.
The moral of this story. If you’re going for cutting edge, you need to understand and plan that your IE8 customers won’t see the site as you want them too. You either have to accept that, or scrap all the html5/css3 elements. Animations will have to be flash, rounded corners will have to be images, and fonts will have to be standard.
Familiars Games Update
Ben Davis and me are still working on getting our second game out the door. Ben has been patient with me while I’ve not had enough time to work on Priority Delivery, and has begun sketching out his next personal project. So far he has a winner, and he’s still working towards improving it. We’re looking at September releases for both of those games.
The story of Johnny that I’ve been talking about has moved forward a bit thanks to my iPhone’s notepad app. I’ve been writing down notes and developing characters in places such as restrooms, conference rooms before meetings, and in traffic jams when the roads are closed for a wreck (yes, this happened last week!).
Thank you all for keeping in touch via twitter! I always thought it was a stupid platform, but have realized its power and entertainment. Thanks for following!
Video Game Endorsement
If you’re looking for a GREAT Xbox 360 game, go grab Lost Odyssey. It’s a couple years old now, and harder to find, but you can order it online if nothing else. The game has 100+ hours of game play, terrific cinematics, excellent graphics, and a strong story. The game play itself is also very good. Controls are smooth, and movement is smooth. I have put it on my personal Top 10 RPGs of all times, which I’ll be posting here on DanJoseph.me eventually.
That’s it for today!
Dan Joseph is a Software Engineer/Architect. You can follow him on twitter @iamdanjoseph. If you wish to contact him, please click the contact page, and fill out the form.
- Beginning PHP
- Canis Hosting
- Career Advice
- Character Development
- Christian Growth
- Development Practices
- Dialogue Development
- Familiaris Games
- Flash Game Programming 101
- Game Development
- Game Review
- Mail Bag
- Project Management
- Social Media
- Special Announcements
- Spiritual Warfare
- State of the Blog
- Story Development
- Thursday Small Group Notes
- Time Management
- Video Games
- Web Browsers
- Web Development
- World Development
- Year In Review
- September 2019
- August 2019
- January 2019
- July 2018
- April 2018
- March 2018
- February 2018
- January 2018
- August 2017
- June 2017
- March 2017
- February 2017
- January 2017
- December 2016
- November 2016
- October 2016
- September 2016
- August 2016
- July 2016
- June 2016
- February 2016
- December 2015
- November 2015
- November 2013
- April 2013
- February 2013
- January 2013
- September 2012
- July 2012
- June 2012
- May 2012
- January 2012
- December 2011
- October 2011
- September 2011
- August 2011
- July 2011
- June 2011