Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Easing Back into the Game

Posted by Rampant Coyote on September 11, 2017

The last year has been a little bit … nuts. Some of it was nuts in a good way.  The day job, however, took its toll.

I’m no stranger to crunch, or (sadly) extended crunch. It came with the territory as a full-time game developer, and pretty much every programming job I’ve ever worked has had times where you have to pull out the stops to fix an emergency or meet a deadline. I’ve now worked at GlobalSim longer than I’ve worked for any other employer, and the hours have been more regular and responsible than most.

The last year was something of an exception that skewed the average a bit. I definitely have a stake in things, so it was about more than making my boss happy. We’ve been spun off as an employee-owned company, free of the shackles and oversight of a big parent company… but also free of their deep pockets to cover us when we fall short. So its been a little like working at a startup with a 15-year history, reputation, and clientele. But on top of that, we’ve been reinventing ourselves, catching up on some pretty significant technical debt, and pursuing new technology (including Virtual Reality). That’s been a lot to tackle, and we’ve all been pulling out the stops to make it all happen.

I’m very pleased to say that it looks like the hard work is paying off. It also means that AFAICT the worst is over. Of course, the former means the latter may not be the case, because success spawns more business, and we can go a little crazy keeping up. But for today, I feel like we’re at least moving in the right directions.

But this also means I am struggling to get my life back, and that is subject to some redefinition.

Game development–and even game-playing–slowed considerably over this last year. It’s really hard to jump back in front of a computer after a 12+ hour day of programming. Now I’m looking at all new versions of Unity, a game that has some programming but a lot of content left to do, and a lot of “cool ideas” for it and other games I want to tackle, but I need to get back into the game dev habit. At the very least, I’m actually able to get excited looking at stuff again. Now I have a ton of more experience with the engine, and a list of things that I need to consider doing or re-doing that I tell myself “wouldn’t be too hard” or take much time. Uh-huh.

And then I have the equipment and experience now to do VR-based games, even though I know there’s still not enough of a market out there to make any money at it. I don’t care. The Idea Fairy is strong with this one. I really want to take some time to do some game-jam type stuff to get back into the swing of things.

The blog posts, as I announced would happen many moons ago, have shifted from “every weekday” to “usually two or more times a week.” I think that change is going to be permanent. I love posting and the real-time communication, but I do have to jealously guard the time it takes.

After over two years of playing almost every day, my practice time on the guitar had  since November faded to something like once a week. I even allowed my Rocksmith habit to lapse. I’m getting back into that again, but it’s literally painful. I’m earning my calluses back. Fortunately, the once-a-week-ish practice kept my skills from deteriorating as bad as my calluses, so I’m just about back up to speed on that.

Gaming… gah. Over the last nine months, real-time strategy games (primarily old, familiar games) have been my equivalent of vegging out in front of the TV for an hour. I haven’t sunk my teeth into a really deep RPG since Pillars of Eternity was first released. Last year, I put a lot of time into the original release of No Man’s Sky. I’ve started getting back into this one, as the game has totally changed (for the better, from what I can tell), and all my old knowledge and practices have become obsolete.

One major change that impacts everything is writing. Originally, I jumped back into it after finishing Frayed Knights: The Skull of S’makh-Daon because I thought I really needed to work on my writing chops. While the game was praised for its writing, I still felt I could and should do better, and wondered if practicing in the old-school linear medium would help my skills (answer: Yes, I believe so, but I guess you’ll have to find out for yourself with the next game). I thought I could write some stories and compete in the marketplace. My validation would come from publication, and then I’d have scratched that itch and be able to go back on my way.

Hah-hah!

Over the last two years, that has become a growing part of my life. It’s been hit as hard as everything else with the more intense periods of crunch, but it’s also been enough of a change of pace from software development that I’ve been able to maintain it reasonably well over the last year. In 2014, one of my short stories was published in an anthology for the first time in. In 2015, I had two stories published. Last year, it was three stories (not including the one I posted here on the blog). This year, I had a goal of four, with a stretch goal of five. My fourth short story this year came out in Mirages & Speculations, and the fifth one will be coming out in StoryHack #1 hopefully by the end of the month. I have another story scheduled for release in an anthology before the end of the year.

I also had a goal to finish and query my novel before the end of the year. This is the one that was based on the RPG concept I was pursuing before switching gears to Frayed Knights. Well, I finished my internal edit, queried it, and now it’s under contract to be released early next year. I am SUPER EXCITED about this project. But it does come with an inherent “what’s next?” question, which means I am now busily working on the sequel. Fortunately, I can write a novel a lot faster than writing a CRPG (and–up to a point–it’s a solo endeavor, which makes things infinitely easier). The bottom line is… I’m a writer now. That’s become a passion as big as game development for me.

Which means I have to get a LOT more efficient with my time.

So anyway…  I’m easing back into the swing of things. It’s kind of amazing getting home from work in the evenings when the sun is still up and not being exhausted. I think I could get used to this. I just have to make sure I put the time to good use.

It’s good to be back.


Filed Under: Game Development, Geek Life, Rampant Games, Writing - Comments: 3 Comments to Read



  • Cuthalion said,

    Wow, you’re getting a lot of stuff published! Pretty exciting.

  • Modran said,

    Hey, know that I’m constantly impressed by the amount of stuff you achieve each week :).

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    Thank you!

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