Author: fidistheone (page 1 of 5)

This is not my company page

Hi,

Just to clear things out – this is my personal blog. Not my company page. Here I keep stuff rather personal.

In fact, my only company page for now is located here: http://cobble.games which redirects to facebook.

I guess I will finally have to pay someone to build me a proper company online www.

I’m kind of busy working on projects I’m getting paid for.

This is currently what my company is involed in:

  • Futurust: point and click game, available Q3 2018 on Steam

 

  • Chronicles of Nyanya – I’ve helped the team Hamstercube to implement steam achievenents and prepare the build for Steam launch
  • IFUN4ALL long term outsourcing partner

    We’re currently building some internal tools to help with their core and unique features.
  • One more project I cannot talk about yet with Games Operator partner

On the road of game development

I’ve decided to change the subtitle of this page.

It used to be called “On the road to game development” and I’ve started it while still being a wannabe gamedev in transition.

Since I’m already “on the other side” meaning – I earn money from making games full time for more than 1 year – the current name “On the road of game development” is more accurate.

Since I already got you here, let me try to make a brief summary of my route:

I started my transition in year 2014.

I was working as a senior IT help desk for nearly 8 years at that time. I had a descent, stable  money income but I was deeply unhappy.  33 year old overweight fart, talking about games in the environment full of professional “suits” could not be treated seriously. Dont get me wrong – IT team was full of geeks so we got along very well. However, I felt something was missing in my life.

In 2013 I found this course called GameDev School. They were just starting up with a pioneer game development tutoring service. I felt like it was something I could use to get away from my current position.  The course was fine. Not the type of “serious” IT courses I used to know. You could probably find a better place to get the practical knowledge about making games. However they managed to succeed in one thing: They sold me a dream that I could earn money from what I enjoy the most – games.

That was just a first step but it made me move my ass.   After that, all I have now is thanks to my persistance (or creative obsession).

I quit my corporate IT job, took the closest to gamedev job I could find with my skillset, and started learning, learning, learning like hell.

Two years, 10 game jams and 1 released mobile game later (postmortems are here and here) I got hired in one of the Warsaw companies making mobile games.

I worked there for like maybe 6 months for a salary which was way below any industry standard. Literally, people working in Polish supermarkets earned more than me, who worked there as a junior Unity coder.

However… I was happy. I knew bigger money would eventually come if I continued to learn and absorb new knowledge. I got a great life lesson there as well – I got unexpectedly fired.

Two weeks before my exit talk everything was fine. Owner even talked about long term plans and giving me more reponsibilities… then came RKO from out of nowhere.

Why? I know why but this is not a place to write about such pitty things. I wish them luck. In fact they made me a huge favour.

You see… I’m a survivour. I never give up. This stubbornness sometimes causes me major problems but in the long term I’ve learnt that this is my super power. I always prevail.

2 days later I found another game dev job.

This happened thanks to unbelievably awesome game dev community. When I called out for help the feedback was amazing. I felt like I was surrounded by brothers and sisters in arms, who had found themselves in similar situation at least once as well.

Later I found out yet another thing: even though I was a noob in some gamedev areas, I was way ahead in other things. It turned out that my work ethic, years of crunch mode, working in a publishing / marketing department gave me some skills many did not have.

I had been contacted by a industry friend of mine who asked me if I could help one team in need to deliever their project milestones. I thought – ok, I’ll take it. I sure could use some extra money for a planned wedding. Little did I know that yet again fate wanted to give me another push towards my goal. After 2 months in (at that time) my current job things got very ugly. You can read more about it HERE

As I mentioned I had a backup plan. I’ve decided to go full time freelance as a Unity Freelance Coder. I had a company registered already, a contract signed with a publisher and what is more important: No Non Compete Agreement signed. Meaning – I could do more than one commercial project in the same time.

Soon it started to pay off.

Since I could do more projects due to my high work ethic, dedication and productivity, I could offer a more competitive hour rate. That gave me a steady flow of incomming customers. In the same time I managed to secure one more long term contract and now I’m finally able to provide income not only for me and my family but also hire more people.

Dont get me wrong.

This is not easy what I’m doing. It requires me to be constantly working on improving my skills, thinking and planning 6 months of contracts in advance. Sometimes at the cost my private life. I must say I’m very lucky to be with my Justyna. The most patient and lovable person I know. I wouldn’t have went that far in such a short time without her.

That’s about it. It’s almost 9 PM. I’m actually writing this post waiting for the game build to finish being compiled.

Yes, game development is not a 9 to 5 type of job.

However, I regret nothing. All my mistakes and failures made me stronger. Despite of all odds, despite everything not-so-friendly people told me or told about me –  I’m here, doing my own thing, getting paid for that and I’m not going anywhere else.

Deal with it 🙂

 

Obsessive – compulsive creativity disorder

There’s something wrong with me. I’m not normal. I should be sleeping. It’s the middle of a night, everyone’s sleeping and I’m in front of game engine editor testing new solutions. Nobody forces me to do so. Nobody is paying me extra. I … just… cant… fall asleep… until I find the solution for the issue I have with this bloody code.

I’ve started my gamedev journey in 2014 and I cannot recall how many times I found myself in similar situations. Countless, that’s for sure.

Yesterday it happened again:

Before I went to sleep last night I was trying to solve this issue with one of the prototypes I’m working on. Game requires mining resources in 3D space. I figured I might use one of the 3D terrain generation scripts and later fill it in with some voxel cubes. Unfortunately the performance sucked big time. I was struggling to find the solution for couple of days and it got me more and more frustrated with each and every day.

… but I won’t give up. I can’t give up. I never give up!

Only my Fiancee can convince me to detach myself from crunch mode.
“Come to bed, Chris” I hear.
So I go… and quickly fall asleep next to my love.

4:30 AM I wake up, after less then 5h sleep.
I almost scream:

– EUREKA! I found the solution!

Then I realize what time it is. The sun is about to rise. Everyone’s sleeping. Even my dog.  I try to convince myself:
“Don’t do this, Chris. Go back to sleep like a descent citizen”

One hour later – I still cant fall asleep. I MUST implement this solution. I simply MUST check if I AM RIGHT about it.

I get up. Turn on my notebook. Open up the editor. Code the solution in. IT’S WORKING! Bloody hell, IT’S WORKING!

10 minutes later I’m back in bed sleeping like a baby.

Obsession. Creative Obsession. Without it I wouldn’t be here, doing what I love – building games.

 

Intermittent Asshole Syndrome

 

I have been silent lately here on this blog. My GameDev Freelance Service is going full speed so in order to put all the life pieces together I must chose what not to do in order to live in a healthy balance. I’m currently supporting 2 major clients and trying to deliver my personal project. If you add a life partner, a dog and practising capoeira you may come to the same conclusion as me that sometimes writing a blog post matters less than having a descent 8h sleep.

Despite being terribly busy I’ve decided to stand up and write about something which had happened behind the doors of a one of the closed gamedev groups.

We had seen a classic example of bullying. Friend of mine made something stupid and wrote a condenceting post which looked as if he was trying to teach the experts how to do their job, even though he had no experience in that matter. Later he was trying to turn it into laughs but it was way too late for the enraged crowd to step back. Some people made screenshots and posted them on twitter. People can be cruel in their jokes. Fortunately after a while  moderators and some more experienced and respected developers stepped in to calm down the mob.

Now we have a relative peace. However, later I spoke with the kid who started the thread and believe me… Feeling like sh@&t is the mildest way of trying to describe what he is going through right now.

Even though I’m partly responsible for his roast as I also participated in this whole madness, I’m writing this post to cheer him up and support him.

Why? Because 4 years ago I made the very same mistake as him.

The roast lasted not one day, not two days but it took 2 years of being regularly laughed on by some of the well known local devs. The gossips, the irritating trolling on social media, private messages.  It’s long over now but I still remember the names of those assholes. Also I keep screenshots of some of their messages. You know that saying: forgive your enemies but never forget their names.

I’ve grown a thick skin and slowly getting more and more credibility on the market. I’m no longer a noob as I used to be. It’s all because of the persistence and genetically encoded stubborness. This would not be possible without the support I received from my friends and the close ones.

This makes me thinking: Why are we so fast to judge and act like wild, starving monkeys who saw a banana? Aren’t we supposed to create a positive experience and welcome new people to learn from one another? Being an asshole to noobs does not help them grow to be better devs. We need mentors, not assholes.

So to end this long post here’s my 10 golden rules to be a better gamedev. It also took me some time to learn about the existance of them. Also I’m not claiming I have them mastered. As some of you may know I have a problem with the first part of each rule – shutting down the flapping upper.

Rule 1) STFU and work on your technical skills

Rule 2) STFU and listen to feedback

Rule 3) STFU and instead of giving your feedback ask if someone wants to hear it first.

Rule 4) STFU and dont waste time on things that do not get you closer to your target

Rule 5) STFU and kill your ego

Rule 6) STFU and do Game Jams

Rule 7) STFU and ask questions instead of giving opinions

Rule 8) STFU and accept that you know nothing and that this will not change until the very end of your career

Rule 9) STFU and be nice to people

Rule 10) STFU and dont stop. Never. Always iterate until awesome.

 

Remember that being an asshole to a n00b doesn’t make you a better GameDev.

 

1 year anniversary of Kurki Collective ! Yay!

 

Facebook has reminded me that 1 year ago Kurki Collective, indiedev initiative I am memeber of, went live and official.

What is Kurki Collective ?

Kurki Collective is a subgroup of “Indycze Jajo” virtual initiative which has been started by Izabela Latak – Grzesik couple of years ago.

“Indycze Jajo” helped amateur or part-time gamedevelopers like me to “get our stuff together” and motivate one another to become better and better. We usually meet up on our slack channel and Google Plus community to share ideas & knowledge, show our game development progress and generally socialize. We come from different parts of Poland, most of us do not live in large cities, some of us have families to support, some of us work GameDev full time, some of us do it after their day job hours.

We have one thing in common – We love creating games.

After several years of amateur acitivity we came up with an idea – how about going more “pro”, just a little bit. Still no stress and far from getting too much serious. Hence “Kurki Collective” idea emerged.

Numbers

 

What we as Kurki Collective and I could do better?

  • Personally I think we should become more visible in social media. However it requires more time and involvement from the members on promoting our initiative. I know this is partly my fault. I promise I will do better.
  • Publish More Games!  There are bunch of cool projects being developed under the cover of our small collective. Since we’re a tad shy we show it only to one another.
  • We need a webpage !
  • More similar to Kurki Games Factory initiatives
  • More live meet ups

The intitiative helped me personally a lot. With help of Kurki Collective members I became a fulltime Game Developer for hire (https://www.facebook.com/CobbleGames/), published my own small mobile game and now I work with Error Games Studio  ( who work with a a publisher Fat Dog Games) on their game called Futurust

If you take in consideration the fact that just 3 years ago I was still working in IT Support this is a huge life changer: I earn money from what I love.

So if you are or want to be a game developer – join a similar community in your area or simply create one – as we did. Just being around like-minded people will help you grow.

Summary of 2 months as a Freelancer: Cobble Games

The TL;DR; Version of this post should be read: “WTF Time, you serious?!”

Basically since I made a decision to leave the former employer I am working 16h / day on starting up my new Freelance Unity Contracting Service for IndieDevs (More about the business HERE )

I have no time for anything whatsoever. Which is not a good thing. Even now I write this post while preparing a test build for one of my clients and that takes a while so I’m kinda stuck on not-coding. The good part is that I work for myself and my family building independent life. If I screw up then I will be the only person I could blame.

One may ask: Why going Freelance ? You don’t have that much experience as a developer. 10 months? That’s nothing.

Answer is simple: Because there is a demand for my services and I work harder than the average 9 to 5 fellow.

My experience in 3 former companies where I either worked in a development or was closely looking at the production process proved that time on the market means nothing. I’ve seen companies that are 10+ years  in business which lack the very basic management knowledge. Companies that have no game designers and still make games! Companies that do not invest in employees or preproduction and they still manage to deliver!  Companies who even though have plenty of money from the investor have absolutely no clue what they are doing.

That proves the Michał Marcinkowski thesis from PGA2016 : We are equally incompetent.

Of course there is a bunch of well established studios with a great reputation with absolutely 0% employee friction.

They are simply great:  they make awesome games. They care about their teams and their employees never leave. Why would they? The problem is I know only maybe 5 of such companies and they either are not in Warsaw or I don’t have a required skill set in order to get their attention. For now, at least.

I know my place. Dunning Kruger syndrome is long gone.

I could either again start another junior position and risk losing my nerves and be dependent to some weird decisions of someone whose only advantage was that he started earlier, for a wage which is below any industry standards or take a chance that fate gave me and go Freelance.

My Fiancée was getting nervous – we’re planning to get married. Fortunately she has a stable job not in gamedev but being almost 36 years old and working 3rd year below my market value just to chase that rabbit would be very selfish of me.

Just to give you a perspective: Mc Donald’s pays more and gives better work conditions than some of the gamedev studios in Poland.

I could always go look for a senior IT support role again. With 10 years of experience in IT I can find a job in IT  industry practically with no effort.

However I got a call – name it … a Karma blessing.  One small team of developers had issues with their programmers who failed to deliver. I took a chance. In two weeks I delivered what they couldn’t have delivered for nearly 3 months. We all got paid. Then I delivered the second milestone and it got accepted again, payment is on it’s way. Then I got a outsource offer from another company working on some minor tweaks… and the contracts keep coming and coming.  I am in that point I must refuse to take any more work as I have no time for private live and sometimes sleep.

What about the future?

Hard to tell. Life tought me one thing: Never be sure of anything, go with a flow and adapt. I’m good at adapting.

I might have my personal targets or plans but in this particular industry you simply cannot be sure of anything. For now I have that Futurust game to be finished and published and those minor freelance tasks give me a great chance to learn different coding styles as I must add or change existing code which is a great experience. I might want to consider to form my own team at some point and contact a publisher for development funds… or I might consider joining one of those 5 renown studios to get access to their know-how and be part of something greater. Life will show.

For now I stay humble and keep up the hard work.

 

 

Sometimes you just have to say no.

Even though I really wanted just a bit of stability this year, yet again I’ve experienced that the only reliable factor in my life is my Fiancee. She’s with me no matter what. Supporting me with a God-like patience.

Without going into unpleasent details I’ve decided to cut my business relationship with my previous employer.  First 2 months had been almost perfect but the last week turned out in such way that I’ve started to doubt in the future of that particular enterprise.  I’ve decided that the fight was not worth losing my health for.

I didnt mind the money – I asked for a rise and I was promised one. That was a test. I knew we will crunch with that project scope. Guy wanted me to sign Non Compete Agreement which I was fine with… but not for the salary of a amateur bartender.  I was more worried by the type of contract I was offered to sign. It was not on partner terms, against our previous agreements – basically each month they could tell me – hey, we dont need you here, we won’t pay you as you havent fullfilled the non existing game document requirements and we dont care if you need to pay your corporate taxes and health insurance. They said it was a standard type of contract for their publisher.  Well… if this was the truth,  I was working for the wrong publisher.

Moreover it turned out that more and more people started to contact me if I could help them with their projects. They wanted to pay for my skills so the Punk inside me said “Dude, you dont have to be a slave…  F this S” and so I did.  Integrity is the key.

Since I already had a company set up I thought – Lets go full time with this…. and here I am:

I present you Cobble Games: Game Developement contract coder for hire.

More about this on my Facebook Page

New Postmortem: Kurki Games Factory July Challenge

It took me a while but I finally made a Postmortem of the recent short project I took part in.
Go read it HERE

Time to get back to School

Let’s face it: Compared to last year high octane productivity year, I got a tad lazy. Just a tiny bit. I know it and I will not hide it.
Maybe it’s because of the vacations, maybe because I chose wrong annual targets… or maybe simply I got more relaxed since I already achieved my target – got a job in game development.
Moreover life got a bit bumpy in June. All is good now but I guess this is my body sort of  saying – “Dude, you are going too fast. Chill out or you will burn out”

So I paused that mad race of productivity paranoia, enjoyed the beautiful summer and focused on other personal matters – spending more time with my life partner, socializing with friends, playing video games more often, etc.

However, I am again starting to sense this urge to BUILD stuff. I’m not sure why but whenever I spend too much time in that “rest mode” I start to get uneasy. So many things to learn… So little time. I almost can hear that invisible death clock ticking and a Clock Master saying with a grim voice: You are going to die building nothing worth remembering.

I guess it’s time to wake up now. I want this holiday season to be over. I want to get back to school.

Kurki Game Factory: July update #5, #6, #7, #8, #9 and some additional notes

We’re approaching the inevitable deadline. Time is running out, TO-DO list is pretty long, so I don’t want to waste too much time.

Current stage of project is as follows:

I’m still adding core features and tweaking the ones that already exist. TLDR: I NEED MOAR JUICE!

Hopefully I’ll manage to achieve something of a better quality.

I haven’t posted that often with the progress as you must be aware that I am in the middle of changing jobs. Can’t say much as I still need to sort out some legal stuff with my previous employer. Things got pretty unpleasent, they still owe me some money.  However, things are good already. I have found another GameDev Team and I am starting to work with them full time in August.  Moreover I will no longer be bound with non compete agreement and I will be able to cooperate with other teams as a supporting C# developer.

So… yeah… that change has not been planned but it appears that it will be for the better.

 

 

 

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