And now for something completely different. On the 23rd of may, we'll be at Indievelopment to show off Powargrid. We rented enough booth space (2x2 meter) to set up two PCs to demo our game. Initially, we planned on simply renting one or two tables, so people could sit sown and play Powargrid.
But (of course) we realized that we'd have a much cooler demo stand if we had two demo cabinets instead. Black ones preferably. So, ignoring the fact that we already have too much to do, we decided to go and build us those cabinets. Michiel drew a couple of designs in Sketchup, and this is the one we decided to (try to) build:
One of the things we've noticed the couple of times we've demoed Powargrid is that the screen really is only visible to a handful of people. Which is a shame, since we want to show our game to as many people as possible :). And, looking at it from the perspective of the conference visitor, you don't want to decide whether or not you think a game is interesting by seeing only a small part of the screen. So we decided to add a second monitor on top of the cabinet. That way, it should be easy enough for everyone to have a look at the game (and decide whether to play it yourself). We're curious to see how well this will work.
Another thing is that we want to make sure the demo cabinets can be taken apart and re-assembled. First because we want to be able to transport them more easily, but also because we want to minimize the space it takes to store the cabinets. This is typically something that works fine in theory, but presents some problems in practice. In this case, the question is whether we can build a cabinet that is sturdy enough to actually game on. We think we've managed to do so, but we won't know for sure until we've had people play on them.
By now, we're busy building the cabinets. Michiel has a workshop together with a couple of friends of ours. So we have a place where we can build, with all the power tools we need. Big tip 'o the hat to Freek, Marnix and Otto :D. Here are some picture of the cabinets-in-the-making:
And of course a picture of the nearly finished cabinets:
We've built and painted both cabinets. We've used cloth for the backs (Michiel's old curtains actually). Along the way, we decided that we needed an extra surface for the monitor, else you'll be looking down at it, which is uncomfortable. Fun thing to notice is how much faster we were able to build the second one. Mainly because we already did most of the thinking that was needed. What we still need to do is decide how we want to secure the monitors to the top of the cabinet and see what the best way is to transport them.
We're quite optimistic that we can build the cabinets in time for Indievelopment. In a future post we'll show you the nitty gritty of building the cabinets. And of course we'll also report our impressions and what we learned at Indievelopment after the 23rd.
This week I reached a nice milestone: all the dialogues in the Powargrid campaign have a blobbie picture now. So no more need for placeholder pictures like this one:
Now to be fair, the dialogue pictures are not finished. The backgrounds for the final mission still need work and many blobbies, especially those I drew long ago, need a critical look and often an upgrade. Apparently there is some skill involved even in drawing blobbies ;). But at least every dialogue in the game now has a more or less acceptable picture to show.
This also got me wondering about what the best way to work is. Since Michiel and I are building Powargrid next to our day jobs, we only rarely work for a full day straight. Usually it's three to four hours during an evening (at least twice a week) plus bits of time here and there. We have a list of things to do and we also have a priority in our heads, but we don't really have a plan for what to do when.
So we usually end up doing whatever we feel like doing at that moment, or whatever is most urgent. And I'm wondering whether this is the best way for us to work.
My first guess is yes, since we like to work this way and it works for us (har har) and there is this feeling that having all kinds of schedules and targets may drain some of the fun. Also, there is a lot of work that simply has to be done in building a game and it doesn't really matter when it's done, as long as it does get done. So why not work this way?
Well, there are reasons. And that's why I'm wondering if in the future, we'll have to change the way we work. Most importantly, we'll go from building a game to actually releasing it. This means that we'll have to do much more things that can't wait, like responding to customers, doing marketing related stuff (about which we'll write something in the near future, so stay tuned :) and making sure the game is ready on time. On top of that, some work simply has to wait for other things to get done. So eventually we may want to plan things out a bit more.
In all, I'm not sure how we'll end up working in the future, but my guess is that we'll have to move to something with a bit more structure to keep track of which things can't wait. But it's also possible that we'll end up alternating between ways of working; more structured around releases and less so when we're (early) in the process of building a game.
Time will tell what way we'll end up working and whether this will happen naturally or whether it will require a concious change. I'm curious about where we'll be in a year's time. One thing I do know: I'm having a great time creating our game :D
We're Michiel and Willem. Hi!