*What is your game about?*
Screenshots:SETI: - First Contact
First of all, be sure to check out the development blog
on my website: http://www.laughingleader.com/category/game-development/
And the DevLog
here on Tigsource: http://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=26622.0
SETI is a side-scrolling action-platformer set to release for Windows/Mac. It follows the adventure of a short astronaut as he journeys to a distant planet in search of extra-terrestrial life. Essentially it could fit in to a similar grouping of games like Metroid/Megaman/Cave Story, yet it's not my desire to simply re-hash what's been done countless times before. SETI is more than just a simple pixel art action-platformer, as it utilizes various RPG-like elements and features, including the standard inventory/loot/upgrade stuff, as well as dialogue and specific game-choices (not limited to dialogue alone) that can affect what happens in the game. Meaning, when the player inevitably finds some extra-terrestrial life, if they decide to just open fire, that can change quite a few things in the game.
I'm taking many of the things I've learned to appreciate and admire in games and mixing them into the equation. I loved all the detailed death animations in Heart of Darkness, for instance, so SETI has a pretty detailed death animation system that's being put into play. SETI is currently done in pixel art, so it's nothing horribly gorey or gruesome, but rather specific to different enemies and hazards that can kill you.
I also like to explain what would normally be "fourth wall" gameplay elements (like assuming the player's ability to load/save or respawn is an ability outside of the believable game world) as actual things in the world and gameplay I've created. For instance, respawning is really the product of "cloning" in this game, as the player character's DNA is absorbed when they first die. A myserious alien machine uses this DNA to clone the player when they die. As you might imagine, cloning isn't perfect, so there's a few defects and problems that can occur after many deaths (most of them are purely comedic defects that don't affect the gameplay in an unfair way). I plan on making it possible to never actually die through proper use of skill and timing, though this more-than-likely won't be something first-time players can achieve.
I also intend to put quite a bit of "smaller" things in the game as well. Little things like if you pilfer and loot some poor NPC's home, they'll actually respond to that, rather than ignoring it like so many games do. I like putting that kind of self-aware intelligence into the game.
Most of the development up to this point has been creating the "backbone" and many systems that the game requires to work as a whole. I have quite a few level layouts done and ready for fine-tuning and testing, while others are ready to have some art done. There's definitely a lot of concept art that could be done.
A large majority of the systems/engine/backbone/etc are already completed, which means that the "real" game development has started. A development partner will be invaluable as I head into the nitty-gritty of putting my level designs into play.*So, what were the details on the financial side again? Do I get paid for my work?*
The best way to look at it would be that I would want to pay you for your time and effort, but that would depend on how much money the game makes. See it as a bit of volunteer work as a way to build your portfolio and resume, with the goal that if the game does well, I will want to pay you an appropriate amount for your work.
If I had a good $10,000-20,000 laying around for a budget, I'd be able to pay you for you work before the game even goes to market. Unfortunately, I don't, so this really is more of a "volunteer/portfilio/resume" building project to participate in.*Why don't you just start a Kickstarter or something?*
I'd like to eventually, once there's a good amount of stuff
to show off. I'm not naive enough to believe most people would get excited over all the programming and designing I've done. There's needs to be some nice visual stuff to pull them in.
Once we make the game look interesting visually, and we have a demo available, my plan is to make some videos and create a Kickstarter page, as well as get on to Steam's Greenlight.
Exposure is important, but SETI needs a bit more work before it's ready to be shown off as what the game will eventually be at release. *Why are you looking for someone to work with?*
Having someone to work with (by making the levels look visually appealing) would cut the development time quite a bit, freeing me up to focus on the programming, animation, and other parts of the project that require attention. I also believe that two self-motivated, creative minds are better than one, and I'd like to create the opportunity to find someone I could work together with.*What type of level art would I be drawing?*
SETI's current collision system is such that the levels can be designed with a traditional tileset style, a Braid-like stamp style, or a digital painting style (meaning you draw/create the level like you would a painting, rather than designing tilesets or stamps, then putting all of those together to make one level). Regardless of which one we pick to do (tile/stamp or "level-painting"), I'd like to make the tiles less repetitive and relatively seamless, as the visual part of the level itself isn't constrained to the traditional tilemap system (the collision map is the only real tilemap).
Essentially what all that means is I'm open to whatever method of drawing the levels is easier for you. If you're better at creating tilesets/stamps and puttings those together, or you're better at drawing whole levels completely, we'll make it work. "I meant what sort of environments will I be drawing, Mr. Technical!"
Ah. In that case, you'll be drawing a great variety of environments. Everything from rocky, desolute-looking wastelands to lush, gorgeous greenery. I have quite a few environments planned from just the story itself, and we'll come up with others as development continues.*What sort of workflow can I expect?*
Our workflow will (loosely
) be like this:
- 1. (Optional): If you'd like to do some concept art, I'll first send you some ideas and a general outline for the level/area of the game we're currently working on. This part could inspire some level layouts.
- 2. I design the layout of the level, mapping out where significant collision path, obstactles, objects, etc go. Before I send it to you, it'll undergo a bit of testing first to make sure the layout is working (in case adjustments need to be made).
- 3. I'll then send you the layout. If I didn't already send you the level details for step 0, I'll send you a detailed description of the key points of the level (such as, environment type, feeling/mood, lighting). I may have some concept art to provide too (if step 0 wasn't done).
- 4. You'll start working on the level here, and we'll more than likely bounce around a few ideas we may get. I'll have an initial idea for the way the level will look and feel, but I'm open to your creative input.
*What kind of work schedule are we looking at? Deadlines?*
- 5. Before you put in the fine-details and polish, you'd want to send me the rough version first, so we can make sure everything is working right. This stage is important since I may have to adjust or modify the layout again.
*: If we're going for a more traditional approach (tilesets or easy-to-change stamps), we may skip evaluating the rough stage, since changing a few tiles/stamps later on would be relatively painless.
As I'm not under pressure of a publisher, and I have pretty much little-to-no money for a budget, I try and keep development stress and rush-free. My plan is to finish development within a year, but realistically there's no official deadline yet, as maintaining quality is more important to me than speeding through and churning out a half-assed game.
I'll give you the necessary stuff you need to start drawing in two-week chunks
. These will be more of guidelines and goals we'd be working towards more than "strict deadlines", as I take in to account unexpected trouble, the possible need to re-design or fix things, and the more positive-possibility
that the current level art you're working on could be finished before the two-week chunk is over.
Between the two-week chunks we'd be updating one another on our progress when necessary, possibly bouncing ideas around, and generally remaining in contact. If you don't have Skype installed already, please do so. Skype will be the main method of keeping in contact. *So the work relationship will be pretty informal?*
Yes. Our work will be of professional quality
, while we will (hopefully) be developing a friendly rapport. I'm not the head of a major company, a manager, or anything of the sort. I'm just a 21-year old graduate with the desire to channel creativity, fun, and enjoyment into the form of a video game, hoping that it will pay off and pave the way towards years of enlightening experience and growth (a fancy way of saying I want to live by doing what I love)
.*What if I need to drop out of development, or stop working for an extended period of time because [good reason here]?*
If you need to drop out of development, or go on leave for a while, and we discuss it, then we'd work out when you could possibly return, or if you have to drop out completely, what sort of payment you'll recieve for the work you did. Unfortunately it would still have to follow the same model of "after the game sells", but know that if you have to stop development before your work is completed, that you'll recieve less due to not completing it all the way through (the difference between three months of good work and twelve months of good work).
I do believe in appropriate compensation when work is done though, and I understand if complications in life come up, or if you feel that you need to devote your time elsewhere. Life happens.
However, before you even send in an application/submission, please try and see if you could make it through a development stretch (5-9 months max?) of doing level art. I say nine months, as it's more than likely that the last months of development will deal with fixing bugs, tweaking the code, and doing some marketing. The actual level-art-creation-period will probably
be a few months (3-6?), but don't quote me on that, as it's just an estimation. We'll know more once we see how the workflow works out.*What if I can only devote part of my time towards development?*
From the previous post:
The meaning of "part-time" should be fairly obvious. It could be that you're interested in doing some work, but you don't want to devote or commit to spending too much time on anything. I probably won't ask you to do any of the major workload of level art if that's the case, but I would be open to seeing if you'd like to do some concept art or other miscellaneous art-related things that would be fairly simple and compact.
Ideally if you've done some part-time work for me, we'd work out what the proper compensation for that is, and once the game sells, you'll get whatever that amount was when I can actually pay you. I have to be vague on amounts here, simply because it all depends on how much work you've done, how well the game sells, etc. *What if I agreed to work full-time, and then I disappear or procrastinate so much that I rarely get anything done?*
It's not my desire to have to drag someone along who's not properly motivated. If you happen to disappear for weeks on end, or take longer-than-reasonable time to finish something out of pure procrastination, I will have to drop you as a work partner. As harsh as that may sound, it hurts development if you decide to just disappear without any communication, and it's not my desire to have to deal with all the drama surrounding something like that. I want the development of my game to be one full of creativity, fun, determination and focus, so all of that translates into the game. I've lived up to my standards so far, so I expect you to do the same if you want to work together with me for a large chunk of development time. *You sound a bit harsh from that last question. Are you a mean/controlling/micromanaging person?*
No, not at all. I hope I didn't come off that way. Please don't mistake determination and commitment for some sort of egotistical need to control and micromanage. I hate when I get micromanaged, and I don't like to do so to others.
I want this to be a good experience, and I want to work with someone with a similar level of motivation and focus. Making that clear before we even begin to work together is important so I can make sure we're on the same page. *What's with all the details and specifications? Isn't this just for level art?*
I admit, I did put a great deal of effort to make this detailed and specific. I did so in order to find the right person to work with, and so it's apparent that I'm someone who wants to create a great game, and is serious about doing so. Level art might seem pretty low on the "significance scale", but I assure you it's not. Having the right level art can be the difference between a potential buyer/player going, "Hm... This looks like everything else I've seen." to "Wow! This game looks amazing."
Furthermore, if I find the right person who's interested in doing all the optional artwork as well (character artwork/animaton/etc), then that could potentially mean they'll have a much bigger part in development. There's a lot of trust and information needed before I'd allow someone to take on a much larger chunk of development, as I've spent a great deal of months developing this game already. Hence all the questions and such.*What's the ideal person/artist you're looking for?*
The ideal person is one that shows they are self-motivated, organized, and have an art style and ability I'm looking for. Due to my lack of funds, this person is most likely looking for a way to launch their career as a game artist (meaning they're probably in a similar situation to me).
Having a large amount of games you've drawn for isn't required, as I don't have a list of games I've created either (as this is my first game), but you should already have prior knowledge and experience (and examples) drawing environments and levels, even if they haven't made it to a final release game.
Essentially I don't want to have to explain to you how to draw a tileset/stamp/etc. You should already know and be able to do so, as I already know how to program and develop/design (as shown by the state of my current game).*Would you want to work with someone who has a lot of experience as a game artist already?*
Though it's probably unlikely they'd want to team up with a first-timer like me (after being used to getting paid for their work), I'd gladly accept someone who already has game artist experience under their belt. That'd make development all that more smoother, especially if they can do character art and animation (and do so well).*What about music? Do you have a sound designer already?*
That area should be covered. I've got a friend I'm working with to create the music, and I already create the sound effects (and have created some music as well). If you meet all of the before-mentioned areas (level/environment artist, possibly able to do character artwork/animation as well), AND you can do sound design, I may question what forces brought our awesome duo opportunity together.
Having extra skills certainly is a plus. *How about programming? Do you need--*
No, I don't need a programmer. If you somehow are a "developer-savant" (meaning you can do all the before mentioned and do it well), I'd question why you aren't making your own game already.
Don't worry about the programming. If you have some programming experience, it more-than-likely will not be put into practice for development, as I have that covered. Though, if you can program too (after being able to do all the other stuff), I'd probably bounce some programming ideas off of you during development(if I run into a problem or could use some ideas).*So, what now?*
If you've read everything before this, I commend you. Your genuine interest is good, and if you believe you meet the needed criteria, please email me
your answers to everything under the "Applications/Submissions" section, as well as any questions or concerns you might have.
If you've read all of this and decided that it's not for you, that's perfectly understandable. It's a gamble to work with a first-time developer after all. I encourage you to keep an eye on SETI and see where it goes in future month. Perhaps you'll change your mind.
With that said, thanks for reading, and I hope to hear from those of you interested.