Friday, January 31, 2014

Going Pro

Okay, yeah, wow.  It's been way more than a week now since my last post.  I know.  I know.  But I haven't abandoned this blog, and I determined at least not to let the entire month of January go by without an update.  (Hey, it's still January in my time zone.  I don't know when it is where you are.  Though in any case it's very unlikely that it's still January when you're reading this...)

Furthermore, in the interests of doubling down and breaking two promises at once, this post will not be about Eamon, as previously professed.  Yes, I will get back to that, and I won't take another month and a half to do it.  But something happened related to the last post that I felt I ought to mention first.

So, last month for the first time I attempted Ludum Dare, a game competition in which participants create a full game from scratch in 48 hours, based on a provided theme.  I didn't particularly care about the competition, per se; I just wanted to see if I could create a game that quickly.  Perhaps somewhat audaciously, I decided to see if I could in 48 hours (actually more like 24 for various reasons) create a game in javascript and HTML5, despite never having done so before.  Somewhat to my astonishment, I succeeded.  My creation may not have been a great game, but it was a game, and it more or less worked, and it even had a level editor.

Halfway through the last of five levels of Underequipped.

So far, that's all old news; I went over all of that in my last post.  But there's one thing I didn't mention in my last post, for the rather logical reason that it hadn't happened yet.  I didn't really follow up much with Ludum Dare itself; the guidelines recommended rating other games in order to get votes, but I was extremely busy in the weeks following the competition, and I never got around to doing so—as I said, I wasn't really in it for the competition anyway; I just wanted to make a game.  (I do feel a little guilty about not supporting the other entrants by voting and commenting on their games, though... but I seriously had virtually no free time in that time period.)  But a few weeks ago, I told some friends about what I had done, and showed them the game.

Little did I know (to use the most melodramatic sentence opening possible) that one of said friends was in the process of putting together a video game company.  And he didn't have a programmer.  He and his business partner were planning on teaching themselves programming and trying to tackle the job themselves, but at that rate he expected it would be a year and a half before their first game was out.  But he was impressed enough with what I had been able to accomplish in 48 hours (though I hadn't really thought it was all that impressive) that he asked if I'd help him out with his game.

I agreed, and he invited me to come to his place that Friday so he could show me what he had so far.  He and his partner were putting together the game in Unity; I had heard of Unity, of course, but I knew very little about it—and since it was, I thought, more of an engine than a game creation system, per se, it wasn't on the agenda for this blog, either.  Still, I thought I ought to be prepared, so I did some reading up of the Unity manual, as well as a tutorial on C#, the language he and his partner wanted to use for the scripting.  I didn't get all that far before our meeting—only as far as Creating and Destroying Game Objects in the Unity manual, and Using Attributes in the C# tutorials, but at least I knew a little more about than I had.

This is just the Unity splash screen.  I can't show you the specific game I'm working on, not because there's nothing to show, but because I think at this point it's still supposed to be kind of a secret.

So, feeling a bit less prepared than I would have liked to be, I showed up on Friday, and he told me a little more about the game, and showed me what he and his partner had done so far.  Most of the graphics were in place for the introductory level, but none of the scripting had been done yet.  I figured I may as well see what I could do, so I started right in and tried getting things working, with a lot of help from web searches and posts they turned up on Unity Answers.

And so, somehow, despite never having touched Unity before—or C#, for that matter—I ended up pretty much programming the core functionality of the level that evening.  This impressed him enough he offered to make me a full partner in the company.

(To be fair, though, the gameplay was relatively simple, and the coding wasn't that complicated; someone experienced with Unity and C# could probably have easily done it all in well under hour—it took me much longer only because I kept having to look up things that anyone better versed in Unity would already know.  All the code amounted in the end to under 150 lines.)

Of course, I don't know what's going to come of this.  After the first game's done, he has a lot of other games in mind to do, and his goal is to keep churning them out at a regular basis and making some decent money from them—but of course there's no guarantee the goal will be realized.  Still, it's something, and it could end up leading to something big, even if it's not guaranteed.

So, yes, the short version is that thanks to a silly little game I created in about a day, I somehow ended up becoming a partner in a video game company.  This is not an outcome I anticipated, but what the hey.  I'll take it.

Okay, my next post will seriously, seriously be up in less than a week.  And it will seriously, seriously finally get back to Eamon.  Very sorry for the delay.

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