Friday, August 21, 2009

The Pressure to Release on-Time

I am starting to wonder if I can get Protonaut out the door on time.

Greg and I set a goal to have the game in releasable form by September 14th - the date I'll be flying down to GDC Austin. I figured this was a good a date as any - might as well have your game done before going to a game conference. As of this posting, there is just about 3 weeks left. It seemed far enough away, at the time - and our progress on the game appears to be maintaining a steady pace. But then real life steps in.

I could start with the small complaints - tonight's programming timeslot was instead wasted fighting the first-ever porn-spammer on the Fantastic Contraption forums. I am still very proud of how the community held together and stayed sane for over a year before this happened, and I'm pretty sure this will blow over as well - but due to some technical difficulties my entire night was consumed.

I have bigger fish to fry than a single night, though. Some old chums I used to work with have roped me into covering some shifts at their new office next week. Sure, it's part time; I can work most (if not all) of it from home; and the workload is likely light. But it'll harm my train of thought fairly hardcore, and code will progress at a halting pace at best.

Then there is the last-minute ticket purchase for PAX. I've never been to the Penny Arcade Expo, but I hear it is a blast - and that's going to consume a hearty 4-day weekend, plus some recovery time.

Then there is the Great Canadian Beer Festival, for which I am not only attending both days - but am also volunteering for, doing the volunteer orientation, and doing the afterparty. The recovery time for this is going to be even longer.

Let's not forget that Colin Northway, old chum of mine and writer of Fantastic Contraption, is in town and we will likely hang out at least a tiny bit.

That isn't to mention my regular routines (Aikido, getting exercise on my bike, chores, harvest season in the garden, etc.) that pretty much slims my remaining working time down to just about 7 days worth of solid effort. It's suddenly gotten dark in here, what with all the foreboding-ness. I'm officially daunted.

It's not all doom-and-gloom, though. We've hit Build 35 in Protonaut now, which sports the first incarnation of music and sound effects, not to mention a few key tweaks and the usual barrage of new menu interfaces - which has really got me excited. For the first time, Protonaut feels like an unfinished game instead of a collection of parts that might amount to something someday. Roger Levy is now on board with Greg and I to do our music, and he produced a great 8-bit Russian folk-tune to fit the Red-theme of the game today. It reminds me of Monkey Island music, it's really sweet.

For more external influences, Greg posted to his blog about the success of his latest game, Fig. 8, and how the bidding war went down. It's a very interesting timeline and I think it does a good job at representing the value behind proper marketing, and putting your game in the correct (bidding) spotlight. Congrats to Greg & the others at Intuition. It's very motivating reading about other's success.

I suppose I just have to keep my chin high and my nose down to the grindstone. I guess I'll be coding inverted.

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