Happy New 2022! | Update
Greetings Reader! Seeing as we are into yet another year, I’d like to start by wishing you a Happy 2022!
I didn’t blog much in 2021, I had difficulty finding the time. Well, maybe not time – but the motivation. 2022 will mark my 50th year on Earth – half a goddam century! And it seems the older I get, the harder it is to decide what it is I need to focus on. Problems arise – be it on the house, or the car, and those become top priority to fix. Consequently, my dev work keeps getting pushed to the bottom of the list. And this blog is below that! 🙁
I did manage to put a few solid months into my game at the start of 2021, now titled “HotWired Racing”. My intention from the outset was to develop an engine (including the front-end) that could be used across many products. Thus, I could recycle code across many games allowing me to focus on the gameplay. However, the complexity of the front end – vehicle customisations and level select system, and all the data wrangling that entails, really ate into my time. The codebase is really quite big now. My head hurts just thinking about it! The good news is, I’d say the bulk of it is done, pending optimisation. Level construction is the next major task!
I spent three months towards the end of 2021 working with my son and his awesome team at IndieBox Studios. They invited me to join their Accelerator project to help out with art production. This proved to be a good opportunity to update my 3D skills. It meant getting to grips with Substance Painter, RizomUV and Marmoset Toolbag 4. Gone are the days of painting over a UV map in Photoshop! Procedural texture mapping is how it’s all done today. It’s actually rekindled my interest in 3D modelling to the extent that I’m already planning a 3D driving game to follow on from this 2D one.
It was a pleasure to work with my son, not many parents get that opportunity. The whole team at IndieBox is very professional and hardworking – I’m sure they’ll go on to do great things.
I gained a huge amount of respect for the folk at Roblox Corporation during that contract. They invest significant time, help and resources into helping young developers succeed on the platform. Hats off to them for that! They also paid their invoices BEFORE they were due. That’s a first for me in 30 years 🙂
I learned a few things over the course of last year. The first one being – you’re never too old to stop learning! I read occasionally about the cognitive process slowing down as you get older, but I actually feel better equipped to learn. From 45 onwards I have learned how to code C# and Unity, how to create different styles of digital art and now a whole bunch of new dev tools. On top of this I have learned a raft of skills on home and car repairs, fixing up and selling a property and tackling some major car repairs. My joints might creak a bit at times and I might be on course for a set of glasses – but I can assure you, you’re never too old to learn new stuff!
The second thing I learned is, if you’re going to work on a game, it pays to work on something you’re interested in. I love cars and driving – so my game is naturally vehicle-based. I’m also a huge fan of SpaceX and Tesla, so they feature in my game. Of course, I will need to change them to keep the licensing people happy, but developing a game that features something you have a passion for is a huge motivator. Had I invested time into something more abstract, I probably would have given up and started something else by now.
And speaking of licensing… It only takes a few minutes trawling the iOS or Play store to see a huge number of games out there featuring unlicensed content. In particular, vehicle brands. When I worked on a series of Need for Speed products back in the 2000s, licensing was a critical aspect of production. EA was super careful when it came to ensuring everything was properly licensed, from the car brands down to the fonts in the game. Brand logos had strict usage rules and there were limits to what you could do with the vehicles. No damage could be shown, and definitely no black smoke! How times have changed 🙂
I took some time out this year to reach out to licence holders to see if they wanted to be included in my game. It probably won’t surprise you that I didn’t get a single response! I suppose I was a bit naive in that respect – after all, I’m just some old guy working by himself at home, not UbiSoft. But I kind of understand why so many developers use unlicensed content now. Clearly, it’s not right, and you are opening yourself up to litigation. But I see why people do it. There’s a saying – ‘it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than it is for permission’. I think that’s the route most developers take now when it comes to brand licensing.
Outside of game development, I finally bought a 3D printer. A bought an Elegoo Mars 2. My first print was of a modular house that I modelled for Island Life (Roblox). I’m really looking forward to turning this into a hobby and already have a mountain of things that I want to create. I’m also going to have a go at casting some models. Unfortunately, resin printers stink to high heaven and the fumes are toxic. So, I’m going to have to wait until the warmer months and use it in an outbuilding.
I also wanted to start uploading some content to YouTube. Some of it would be related to game development, but it would probably be a mix of things.
I have repaired a lot of obscure things over the past few years. It would be good to get that information out there. YouTube has been unbelievably useful over the years and videos uploaded by individuals or smaller channels have really helped. Seeing someone tackle a job before you do it yourself is super useful.
I have been recording everything I have repaired for the past 5 years, there’s bound to be something of use in there. And, I’ve recorded every single repair and upgrade I have done to this new house since we moved in, in 2020 – from fitting showers to changing light fittings! The house looked great when we bought it, but there was a lot lurking beneath the surface….
If you are working on your own game or thinking of trying something new in 2022 – I wish you the best of luck! Just remember that all worthwhile things take time, and don’t beat yourself up if things take longer than you originally expected!