Switch Hitter Development Log

Behold as I pretend that I am a game developer.

Sprint #3: "Now it's a real company!"

June 17th, 2018

Having spent the first two sprints working on specific game-related things, I wanted to go in a different direction for Sprint #3. I knew that, on Thursday, I'd be hitting the road for the weekend and, lacking a concrete knowledge of how much time I'd have to work during the week, I decided to focus on more behind-the-scenes stuff. My main goal was to get everything into a state that'd make me comfortable submitting Ensue to the Feedback Friday thread for the week. Unfortunately, I didn't quite get there.

Make a website for Rain Delay Games

One thing that all great video game companies have in common is that they have websites. Therefore, logic would suggest that Rain Delay Games needs a website. It's actually kind of funny to write this because, obviously, you're reading it on the RDG website that didn't exist prior to now. Time travel aside, I figured it'd be a good opportunity to refresh my Node.js and Bootstrap skills, as opposed to just using some WordPress template. (Historically, I'm also the type of person who often insists on writing his own version of something rather than using a pre-rolled solution.) It'd been a surprisingly long time since I'd last worked on a website where the meat of the display was traditional text content, so it was fun to think of it as a sort of old-school personal page.

Anyway, there will surely be a ton of visual upgrades to come as time goes on but I was able to use Byzanz to record short screen captures and learned how to use FFmpeg to convert wav files, exported from MilkyTracker, to ogg. It's really great that webm and ogg files are supported by the <video> and <audio> tags in Chrome and Firefox but a bit of a bummer that Safari chooses to ignore both formats. For the time being, I'm going to choose to ignore Safari.

Make a Twitter account for Rain Delay Games

Though I have a personal Twitter account and I represent one hundred percent of the Rain Delay Games workforce, I'm a little apprenhensive about pushing my softwares amidst all of my stupid Astros-related tweets. Therefore, it made sense to register another account to be the official company mouthpiece: @raindelaygames. I imagine there'll be plenty of retweeting for cross-promotion purposes and, for now, I'll probably just be announcing new devlog posts but we'll see how things go.

Make a bug database for Rain Delay Games

This is the good stuff. A couple weeks in to this whole thing, I felt like it was essential to have a real actual repository of all the issues and ideas that could eventually become work, as opposed to just trusting me to keep my notebook organized. Professionally, I've always used Jira, which, counter to what many people seem to think, I like okay. I've also, to far lesser extents, used Trac and the GitHub issue tracker, both of which are fine. I've never had the "pleasure" of setting any of them up, though, and, while I'm sure that it's pretty simple to get Trac going, I just felt like this would be another good opportunity to spend a day or two writing my own solution. What I came up with, after a few hours of work, is a Node/Bootstrap application called Storybook.

It has all of the basic functionality I need for the moment and was a great exercise in thinking about how the commercial tools are made. They have to be really flexible because every project manager has their own way of doing things. Maybe they want to be able to estimate story points or attach reasons to certain resolution statuses or be able to assign issues to multiple people. In my basic tag implementation, the insight I got was that just about everything is just a variation of a tag. A priority is just an enforced single selection from a defined set of tags. Even though I don't specifically have a field for "priority", there's nothing preventing me from just creating a tag like "Blocker" or "Low Priority". It could be that, later on, I'll want priority to be its own real thing but, for now, I'm happy to just make liberal use of tags. (It's worth noting that I have specifically decided that "status" (e.g. "new", "in progress", "resolved") is something more than a tag so it gets its own implementation.)

Make a Feedback Friday post for Ensue

And yet, I didn't quite get to this part. The thing is that I didn't have (or make?) time to start cross-promoting things on Twitter and the Ensue prototype needs to be fixed up a little in order for me to feel comfortable handing it off to people who won't directly have my ear when things inevitably go wrong. As well, at some point, I feel like it's more valuable to just wait for the next Feedback Friday, as opposed to making a post on Sunday, when most of the people who are going to look at it have already done so. It's also not quite clear whether people make a habit of posting their game in the thread every single week or cool it down for a few weeks at a time. I could definitely stand to browse through some old threads.

Closing thoughts

Overall, it was a very successful sprint. Spinning up a website and an issue tracker and a Twitter account aren't sexy accomplishments but they're things that need to happen at some point. Everything I've read about game development says that you just can't wait until the end to start marketing. Certainly nobody's going to play (let alone buy) your game if they don't know that it exists. The nice thing is that you can take a very broad view of marketing. Me writing this devlog post is marketing; showing up at a Seattle Indies Support Group is marketing; occasionally talking about development on the r/gamedev Discord server is marketing. I'm not trying to say that these things ensure that my game is going to be successful but, if I'm trying to take seriously the unpaid time I'm dedicating to Ensue this summer, then I have to be actively thinking about this stuff.

Next sprint

For Sprint #4, I'll once again be working within the confines of an unknown schedule as I'm slated for jury duty on Tuesday morning. As such, I'll be trying to tie up loose ends with Storybook, make some modifications to the Ensue prototype that leave me with no excuse not to add it to this week's Feedback Friday thread, and hopefully experiment with a new switch mechanic in the game. Oh, I also need to go through and add all existing stories into Storybook. Fun.