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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.

 

 

 

(Kurki Game Factory vol 4) Community voted for a theme: Destruction UP

Sooo… yesterday we closed the voting survey for July’s Kurki Game Factory theme.

You guys chose “Destruction UP”.  As I was seeing the votes clearing out I have decided to prepare something similar to one of my favorite Amiga Games called “Swiv”. The theme  fits perfectly to this top down shootem up.  Since the concept is well known, yet still very engaging I will be able to focus on juiceing it up.

Here’s how the Amiga original looked like:

Mine will be probably more voxel based but still I want to include some of the core features known from the first SWIV, like for example ad-hoc Cooperative mode (Second player could join in as a Jeep Operator at any time of the game)

Keep the fingers crossed  & wish me luck 🙂

PS. I am open to new job opportunities starting August. The part of the project I took part in is finished and I am looking for another place to get more gamedev  experience. I would love to learn something more from design perspective.

Kurki Collective Games Factory vol 4 feat. Me

Just a quick update:

Since a friend of mine decided to skip his turn in Kurki Games Factory, I’ve decided to quickly jump in the slot. I will make a game for a topic voted by the community within a month.

You can vote for the topics listed on facebook page or twitter.
Since we’re tad late because of the last weekend’s Kurki Collective Live Meet-up, the voting will last until Wednesday next week.

Next Thursday we will announce the topic chosen by our fans and I will upload the game on the 31st of July to https://kurki-collective.itch.io/ webpage. The game will be available for free

Wish me luck!

 

HQ: We are ready to lift off

This is generally a simple informative post with what’s currently going on in my private, indiedev and dayjob gamedev life. So that you know that this place is alive and I’m also still breathing despite my “noble” age 😛

I’ll try to be brief:

Private life has become stable again as some time ago we finally closed all the logistic issues with my former city of residance. Me and my Fiancee both have a stable employment and we moved to a new small, yet cosy and comfortable flat in Warsaw. Neighbourhood is safe and quiet and basically that is all we need.

My dayjob gamedev things are getting better and better. The project I am in is about to finish it’s prealpha stage and decision making people decided my role will be more System / Technical Designer-like. I will still have to code but I shall not focus on creating tools or optimization but rather brainstorming, talking about and designing game systems as well as roughly implementing them in a prototype sort of code, so that better coders can see them in action. They will probably have to refactor it afterwards but at least we have something to work with. I am the one who asks uncomfortable questions and try to brainstorm with other team members to find the best system solutions. So yeah – a lot of meetings, a lot of talking and later a lot of writing notes and documents and a bit of spread sheets … and after that even more talking to make sure we are all on the same page.

Frankly, I love it 🙂

My indiedev side projects: I guess I start to see a pattern in my behaviour. I pick a topic in a first half of the year which I think will be that BIG ONE. Then I fail or get tired by some weird obstacle and I come up with a new idea and prototype which actually has a chance to work. That was the case with year 2016 when I firstly came up with an idea of “the best rythm game evaaa” which I failed to deliver and ended up with finishing Unholy Showdown. This year is almost the same: I came up with an idea of “the best mobile platformer evaaa! ” then I found out that I am actually a very poor animator and that unfortunately this time my Fiancee cannot help me with drawing. I became frustrated and then I drifted to another idea and prototype … which is actually getting a better traction.

It’s called (for now) “Light Sheppard” and the core game loop is really dead simple:

You pick up lights > you spend them to build structures > structures like turrets can destroy monsters> you pick more lights > you build better structures and create a base > you can destroy bigger monsters and so on and so forth.

Current stage of development is as you can see below. I am aiming at a first playable pre-alpha for the 23rd off June when I am meeting live with my fellow indie developers from Kurki Collective. I’ll get their feedback and iterate as quick as possible to deliver a descent MVP maybe by the end of this year.  I am aiming to publish it using Steam Direct and publish it on Early Access to get feedback from community. I dont necessarily need to earn that much from it.  I dont have any financial expectations from this project. If I manage to deliver this game then this will be yet another personal achievement and a great learning experience. That is all I want… and never wanted anything different. Money can come and go but what I manage to learn and experience, stays with me forever.

Wish me luck!

 

In search of new balance

Changes are always difficult but embracing the fact that changes are inevitable gives you a liberating opportunity to react toward them  in the way you are most comfortable with.

After staying way too long in the corporate world (8 years in support IT)  the first job and city change seemed to be very difficult… but it proved to be the best thing I could make for my life at that point.

The second “professional jump” to new job and new city turned out to be way easier than the first move. I got seasoned by first changes.

The most important thing is to go forward as soon as you make the decision. Dont wait for the counter offer, dont waste time on expressing how much you suffer because organization goals do not align with your personal goals. Just go. They will not miss you and the sooner you forget about the past and focus on building your future the better for you.

As soon as I made the decision that it’s time for me to go (it was in December 2016) I immediatly focused just on things that would get me closer to acheiving the goal. I entered “Terminator mode” as would Michał Marcinkowski form Transhuman Design call it.

Now that I managed to secure the job contract after probation period (at least for now:  embrace the fact that nothing in life is certain and permanent),  I can focus on getting the stability back.

This new situation got me off balance. I must adjust my habbits to gain back my full productivity.

Before February my life was based on certain bricks:

  1. Job which was less and less demanding, but needed to generate certain financial stabilization
  2. personal project and game james (work after work) which helped me improve skills
  3. capoeira to give me a proper dose of physical activity
  4. Family and Relationship time
  5. Sleep and Rest

Due to the fact that huge chunk of time was occupied by point 1 and 2 it was hard for me to put a descent focus on 3,4 and 5.

Now my life looks slightly different:

  1. Job where I grow and learn new things with each and every day
  2. 2 times more of capoeira (now since I live in the city where my Group has a head quarter it would be a sin not to use this opportunity)
  3. Personal projects
  4. Family and relationship time
  5. Sleep and rest

Now since I moved the need to fulfill my curosity and urge to learn new things to working hours, I can spend less time on point 3 and more time on point 4 and 5…

I still have the problem with the last one – getting a proper sleep since I got acustomed to do gamedev long after normal day working hours. I made the decision not to participate in any on site Game Jams so I can focus more on delivering long term projects. I might consider attending online Ludum Dare but we shall see. Short term plans must make way for more long term projects and obligations.

Time to find another center of weight 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

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