The last week was fairly intense for us as we had a milestone to deliver. Even though we are our own bosses and can do what we like, we feel it is important to set clear goals and tasks and attempt to achieve them. Back in May, we created a very ambitious plan for the next three months of development. For this milestone we were planning on having all of our research complete, the Drama Manager design done, rough layouts for five pages of our comic, a ton of stuff related to social media, and just a lot of documentation. So how did we do?
In terms of research, we did do a lot tests and investigated a lot of plugins and tools that we could use. This task took up a lot more time than we had anticipated, mainly due to us wanting to be very diligent and thorough. This extra effort, however, really paid off for us as we discovered an excellent tool, Creature Automated Animation Engine, that will allow us animate all our characters much faster and can do many of the special effects we have planned. To demonstrate this to the team, Marcelo and Helen rigged up one of our early character concepts and did a quick walk cycle. We were sold on it immediately and went ahead and made our first plugin purchase! As for other areas of research, we are still not finished as we haven’t locked the story or the art style, but the heavy lifting is done.
As for our other goals, we achieved all but one: the comic roughs. It wasn’t that we didn’t have time to do it or that we didn’t want to do it or that we forgot about it. We started to work on it and quickly came to the realization that we shouldn’t have put it into this milestone at all. When we came up with our schedule, we worked backwards from our end goals and it only made sense to ensure that we touched on everything on every milestone. While this can be useful in many cases, being to dogmatic to this approach can be very problematic. In our case, building a comic requires a very clear story to have been written, or at least well thought out, to be able to layout the panels. Our story is still under development and will be for a few more weeks at least. In our zeal to do a bit of everything, we forgot to pay attention to the contingencies. (Actually, we knew the story had to come first, but we thought we could wing it with just the outline)
On the social media front, it took us quite a while to really get things rolling, but it’s really starting to move. Twitter has been our success story so far, especially since we instituted a minimum of one tweet a day, started using hashtags such as #gamedev and #indiedev, and following/tweeting back our followers, we have seen significant growth in followers and the trend has been escalating. We have been experimenting with Instagram and Periscope, both of which allow us to tweet automatically when we post to the platform and are just fun to play around with. On the not-so-successful side of things, we learned that our Facebook and Google+ accounts are quite neglected and we haven’t been using them properly. We have now pivoted our methods for these channels and will hopefully figure out what can make them successful.
One milestone down, many more to go!