Figuring things out again

February 16, 2012 in Painter Story

A lot of talk has been going on recently in IRC about reforging the project. We are considering changes to the story that would lengthen both it and the timespan in which it happens, amongst other things. We’ve been thinking about this because of issues we feel are potential problems with the story, or that could detract from enjoyment of it.

This is one of the problems with creative projects. It’s incredibly hard (if not outright impossible) to have an idea form fully and perfectly from one’s head like an Athena of thought. Instead, you have to keep adding and taking away, iteratively building up the concepts behind your story. This becomes annoying when you’ve already made progress on things that might have to be redone or completely thrown away.

In the end, the goal is a better story, a better product than what it might have been before, but the constant work at fixing and redesigning can be a dead end, as developers keep making changes instead of putting their foot down and saying “this is it”. That’s something that worries me, given my personal tendencies to get bogged down in details in the pursuit of perfection. At some point, the line must be drawn, and work has to continue.

Hopefully we can draw that line appropriately and tell a good story.

Bonus: new art from gebyy-terar: casual Kourin.

Indie project management is for suckers.

January 15, 2012 in Game Development

So yeah, Painter Story. Hard to believe it’s been eight months since the last post, without anything really to show for it. Most indie game projects would have been dead by now, after such a period of time, but because I’m more stubborn than a mountain of goats, I’m forcing myself and my poor team to carry on.

Working on an indie project is an exercise in pain and frustration. Most of the time you have grand dreams at the start, which have to be hacked down into a stub because you’re short on all the elements required of successful project management: time and money.

Big, cheap, fast: You're lucky if you even get to pick two.
And even if you skimp on scope, quality will probably suck, too.

On top of that, everyone else has their own vision of the project, probably competing with yours. And unless you have money to pay everyone for their work on the project at the start, it’s a volunteer effort. As someone who runs conventions, I know how difficult it can be to get volunteers to actually do what’s needed, because they require some kind of mental or emotional buy-in to whatever mindless tasks you assign them. It’s worse than herding cats.

I remember from college, being told of a statistic. Something like four fifths of every project fails, and a good number of those failures are spectacular ones. Forgive me for not remembering the actual numbers, it’s been eons since those days. But yeah. The chances of a project not utterly going up in flames before finishing are not good. The chances of the project actually being completed are pretty bad. And for the project being completed, and turning out well, I’d say that calls for walking in a thunderstorm carrying a metal rod because lightning apparently never strikes twice. Where was I going with this? Oh yeah, success is rare, managing an indie project of volunteers is suffering.

Anyway, we’re climbing back on the horse again. I hope to have a draft of the first half of Painter Story complete by this year’s Anime North, and if it isn’t, feel free to yell at me if you see me there.