One adventure leads to another

Programming was now underway and as it turns out, multiple projects were happening in parallel now: four to be exact.

Miroslav in Serbia was coding GalaCollider, I was continuing to program a side scrolling platform game in Corona SDK with Lua and sprite/levelhelper that I started a year or two prior (but still hadn’t finished), a card game of mine: The Black Rose was about to be run on kickstarter, and a friend / co-designer of mine named Jeremy White here in Santa Barbara (Author of games like: Enemy Coast Ahead) was co-designing with me a new abstract-strategy civil war game to present at the upcoming GMT West event in Hanford, California.

On the road to GMT

gmt-logo_pdcsqsTwo cars full of game designers went on the road from Santa Barbara to Hanford for a weekend of fun and to show off our various prototypes. Every Saturday morning at GMT West Gene makes a speech in which he gives an update on various products, market trends and the future goals of GMT. Gene gave the floor to a man named Robert Masson who did a general shout-out to all present to see if anyone would be available to help with an iOS project being done in Lua.

I approached Rob and mentioned I might be able to help with the creation or editing of the visual assets and programming in Lua. We had a good conversation, he rode his motorbike back to LA and when I got back home in Santa Barbara we followed up with several calls over a few weeks and discussed his various prospects. It turned out that I didn’t end up coming aboard these prospects, due to reasons related to financial viability.

I threw out a fishing rod and mentioned to Rob that I was working on two digital games and that I was ultimately looking for the opportunity to transition into starting my own game design agency. Would Rob be interested in partnering with me to start a company? Could Rob be GalaCollider’s ticket to take this game from a “bedroom project” to the big-time?

Partnership discussions

eSports is quite a serious affair.

Rob looked like a great person to partner with, he was focused and interested in the business / marketing side of things and could help to take care of things like: contracts, lawyers, incorporating, accounting etc. but also had a great network on the marketing side of things. Rob mentioned on several occasions his connections to people working for Disney, the Apple App Store, eSports and potential investors.

This seemed like a great match for me, Rob was interested in dealing with all the aspects of running an agency that I found to be less interesting (the accounting, paper work, legal stuff etc.), which meant that I could potentially focus more on the creative, coordination and direction aspects instead.

We had several conversations that spanned several weeks. We looked at the current progress we had achieved on GalaCollider and my solo-Lua project, and also reviewed some of my other digital game concepts (that were still just pen-and-paper ideas). Rob brought an early investor to meet with me in Santa Barbara, who was awesome enough to immediately sign-up to make perpetual financial contributions towards building capital for our projects.

Ultimately we decided to focus on GalaCollider first, even though it was probably the most ambitious project of the final three we considered. Rob and I did our gentleman’s handshake, and new business venture had begun!

…Why we decided to develop GalaCollider first, will have to be the subject of another post.

Uncertain times followed

Each year at GenCon they have a meet-up for game designers organized by the Game Designer’s Guild, and in this particular year game designers were showing off prototypes to publishers. Emerson and I had a great conversation, and I showed him several of my game prototypes. While our discussions didn’t result in any publication so far, we did decide at the time to try and come up with a game idea together. He knew I had worked as the lead game designer for ShadowEra and suggested we try and design one together. I had just gone through this process with another card game called: Spell Battles and I knew from experience how difficult it is to fund and release a card game and was therefore a bit hesitant.

Spell Battles, another CCG I designed that has yet to find a publisher.
Spell Battles, another card game I designed that has yet to find a publisher.

Nevertheless, we proceeded. After a couple hour-long Skype calls we had the basis for a sci-fi card game with 4X elements, GalaCollider was born. Sadly as these first couple weeks continued Emerson had less and less time, and was unable to really contribute. We talked at the time about staggering development over several years, or finding another programmer who could assist, neither which option seemed to be be panning out.

As far as I could tell, it looked like this game may never really move further, and be “just another game” that ends up being on paper and never actually becoming a product.

One of the people I had been play testing with though, had a friend who lived to offshore in Serbia. He said that he would have time and the ability to begin coding the game, and for a very good price.

Emerson wasn’t really a big fan of this, and it was around about this time that Emerson decided to step off fully from the project. After some back-and-forth Emerson told me that he felt it had become more my game than his, since I had put in considerably more time than him, and retracted all his rights and responsibilities.

serbiaI always prefer working on a project as a team rather than solo, and it seems to be a bit of a pattern I’m trying to break, that sometimes I end up having to go alone on something that was begun as a team endeavor…

On the one hand I didn’t want to end up alone, but on the other it seemed kind of natural to take up this opportunity and to see how far the coder from Serbia could take it.

I checked with my playtesters and they all felt it was a solid enough concept to be worth the risk and time to move along further, so I went for it.

I had a few calls with Miroslav, the new programmer from Serbia, and it seemed like things could indeed move forward. I wasn’t sure where this would take me, but I did know that he felt it was a relatively easy game to code, and that we could indeed have a working Alpha product within about six months. This seemed encouraging.

And thus it was that programming began.