Prelude To Planning

Posted On: 2018-12-31

By Mark

This is the last post of 2018, so it seems like a good time to look back and reflect on the past few months (next week's post will be about looking forward to 2019 and how I am planning to go forward .) Since this is something of a retrospective, I'll aim to structure it like any other: document what went right, what went wrong, and what lessons I can use going forward.

What Went Right

The first, and most obvious thing that went right was making the transition to working full-time on game development. I had wanted to take the next step in game development for quite some time, but it wasn't until this past year that I was able to understand what that next step was. Everyone I've talked to about this (friends, family, and even my former colleagues) have been extremely supportive of this transition, and I am immensely grateful for that.

As far as accomplishments since October, the first that springs to mind is the release of a notebook prototype on This is my first game prototype released to a game distribution network (all my previous prototypes are only hosted on my site) and it was also the first story-driven prototype that I have been happy with my writing on.

The third major milestone was finding some measure of success creating normal mapped 2d sprites. Since I first started thinking about this particular project (over a year ago) I wanted to include dynamic lighting. I tried several times (across various breaks, weekends, etc,) but never was happy with the results, as it always looked really flat (often worse than when it was unlit). Fortunately, I happened to read an excellent article about the environment art in Dead Cells that helped me realize that good normal maps could fix the issues I was having. Since then, I've been focused on normal maps as the next step for the art, so successfully implementing them is both extremely satifying (a year-long goal finally achieved) and also frees me up to start looking at other areas to improve my art.

What Went Wrong

The first thing to mention is the limited amount of community building/marketing that I have done. Originally, I had planned October to be the start of full-time game dev so that I could develop a couple small games and try marketing them (October to December have lots of holidays and seasonal themes, which I had thought I could use as a jumping-off point.) While I don't regret any of the prototypes I did make, as they each provided valueable lessons and experiences, I am now behind where I thought I would be from a marketing experience standpoint, so I will need to make extra time to develop those skills next year.

The second thing that went wrong was the blog post backlog. In order to reliably deliver content on a schedule, I will need to have a backlog of content that is completed ahead of schedule. This both works to cover in case of sudden absence (emergency/illness/etc) and also helps counteract how different posts take different amounts of time to create (and therefore if I write them same-day, they would get posted at different times.) In spite of the necessity of such a backlog, I have, at most, only ever had two in the backlog at any given time (and I have since run through them, such that I am, yet again, authoring this the same day I post it.) Part of this is related to how topical some of these posts are: if I write about something that I am currently working on, having it waiting in the wings for a month changes it to actually be about something I was working on a month (or more) ago. Going forward, I think the best antidote for this issue is to have the backlog focused on timeless posts, and continuing to write and release topical posts as they become relevant. (Ideally, I should also setup a system that automatically loads a timeless post if I don't have a topical one for a particular date, but that will probably take reworking how the blog engine works, since it's currently identifying posts by their date.)

What's Next

I intend to spend time this week working through my near-term and long-term goals again, to make sure I am still on the right track. The results should become next week's blog post, so stay tuned for that. (Also, if you want a referesher on what my previous goals were I wrote them up in a blog post in October.)