Today is one of those days I can’t sleep. Here it’s 4am.
It’s been many weeks that I’ve been going to sleep between 4-6am. I tried to organize the work, had the KS video prepared, while at the same time wrote the game and press texts, sent them to proofread, recorded the ingame video footage, managed the press news, etc. What I do recall as the most stressful time before the KS campaign was the day before launching, when messing around with the Visual .Net code Jose Manuel did so I could change the chars speed, the particle effects and trying to position the NPCs to make them move properly without them getting stuck when they touched each other (blame the collision system!). I didn’t have the slightest idea how it all worked, even JM left some indications before leaving to BCN. Also Carlos could not connect at all times to solve things that were not working properly.
I must have done it three hundred times. Compile now and check if things are correct. Are not? Then apply changes, commit the files on the repo and check again if it worked properly. It was very time consuming and getting good video takes wasn’t easy. Miguel was at Seville due to personal matters for a week, so I was overwhelmed by all the work we needed to pull out for the KS campaign.
Rafater worked hard to have the video ready while I was preparing the KS layout. We finished it all at 9am, having been up all night long. The day after, KS approved our page and the backers know the rest of the story and how it ends… Anyways this time we’ll take it longer so we can push a proper KS campaign, as said on the last update.
So as you see, we rushed quite a lot, also because we are trying to meet our internal deadlines. Why such a hurry?
The reasons are as follows.
When the team was made up by Miguel (Combat and IA Design and Production), Jose Manuel (Lead Programmer), Rafa (2D Art) and me (Story, Dialogues and Quests, Production), both Miguel and me could pay the expenses for Jose Manuel’s and Rafa salaries. But as the project needs increased, we needed to hire more people. Now that David Lopez (3D GFX), David Lucena (Lightning and Shadow casting) and Carlos Mangas (Combat Programming) have joined the team, it’s very difficult to keep up and pay them all from our personal savings.
Both Miguel and me are making remarkable efforts to maintain afloat this lifetime cRPG dream of us. Miguel has had to let go some of his clients from his personal business to allocate more time to the project. This also means a reduced income and more economic constraints, besides he recently moved with his girlfriend with all the expenses and hassle this means.
In my case, I voluntarily left a Social Games company that I’ve seen ranking up from 17 to 120 employees in a year and a half. I was the QA Manager and my job was pretty stable. But dreams are dreams, and to make them come true you must risk something. I’ve been working on some freelance translation work to help pay my part of the expenses, but this doesn’t give enough money to make the cRPG we want to make.
We’ve achieved many, let me write it in capital letters, MANY good things with such adverse circumstances. Jose, David Lopez, Carlos Mangas, David Lucena, and me, are now working full time on The Dark Triad (Jose Manuel has been the only one that has been working on the project full time during the last 10 months). Miguel and Rafa are working part-time, even Miguel works almost 7-8 hours on the project. Rafa is also involved in other projects, but when he is needed he’s always there to respond with hard work.
So we can say then that our modus operandi almost resembles that of other established professional RPG game companies, with the difference that everybody works from their homes. I don’t really know if we are the first ones to attempt a cRPG at this scale doing remote work. This, rather than being an obstacle, has meant an increased productivity, as we have a schedule where we must overlap and be together during all the morning, and then everybody has some flexible hours, which allow them to work at midnight for example when they feel more proactive. The team has daily meetings by Skype, also all the activity, tickets, messaging, etc. is centralized on Assembla. Before finding out what worked best for us Project Management-wise, we tried with Trello, Google docs, Jira and other Agile Dev solutions, but Assembla is the one we all feel most comfortable with.
If you’ve read our other entries, you know we already have some major systems in place, specially our proprietary 3D tech, which consists and a fully fledged 3D game editor and a model viewer. We don’t use Unity. We would do in the future if things go well, but having our own 3D tech allows us for a great flexibility to mess in the heart of the code itself and adapt it to our needs.
We find ourselves in a critical stage where we are redefining many things, specially regarding the story to make it more compelling, and, tied to this, adding the necessary non-combat skills to provide the players with enough options to work out things in different, unexpected ways. As you can imagine, this affects the classes, skills, abilities, companions interactions, etc., we we must have a clear vision of what we are doing before start adding content involving those systems (and what was already done will need to be rebuild to adjust it to our new vision).
Next week I’ll send you a draft of what I’m coming up regarding the story, with so you can give me some honest feedback if you wish. I will need it if we want to make The Dark Triad the memorable RPG we are pursuing. If we can fund the game on KS, I’ll be able to work 12-14 hours/day on the story and dialogues. That’s my oath to all our backers so the characters, the story is truly engaging and the choices you make have real consequences in the game world.
Even I have not gone into full detail, you see that making a game, specially an RPG, is a complex affair that involves many procedures and logistics, and there are many constraints and challenges to solve along the way.
What amazes me and makes me most proud of all this is the commitment of each team member. David Lopez and David Lucena have been working in the games industry since the early 2000’s for some important companies, and they have been really interested since the knew about our project, and they are being really proactive on making The Dark Triad a dream come true. Carlos and Rafa are also super committed, and without Miguel’s partnership, work and commitment, The Dark Triad would not had even made its first breath. But this time, please allow me to mention Jose Manuel Alcaraz, our Lead Programmer, the man that goes to sleep at 7am many times, who has designed our 3D engine from scratch, and who is the essential cornerstone of the project. I know some day he’ll have a deserved recognition as the one that helped to make The Dark Triad come true.
Please Hail Jose Manuel! =)