Rocket League: My Latest Addiction

Rocket League

So today marks 150 hours of my life spent playing Rocket League. Only a couple of weeks after the game’s launch on the 7th of July, I was fortunate enough to try it at a friend’s place. After just half an hour of play, I was hooked. The moment I got home that night, I hopped online and paid the £15 asking price with absolutely no hesitation. No waiting for Steam sales or deep discounts, I knew I would get my money’s worth on this purchase (and boy did I). Since then I’ve played Rocket League almost every day, and I’m still loving every second of it. Not bad for a game that’s basically football with rocket-powered cars. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Games, Reviews | No Comments »

A Question On Sound Design

Recently I had one someone ask me about the nature of my sound work on Starbound and by the time I was done writing my comment, I realized I’d provided such a detailed answer that I may as well share it here in case it was of interest to anybody else.

“So, what kind of sound design do you do for Starbound? Just any random sounds that need to be made? It would be awesome to see a Starbound development video of you doing some sound mixing or whatever it is you do.

Also, why aren’t you a music composer for Starbound too? :3″
– Sol Ritzow

Right now, sound design is one of those duties I tackle whenever there’s a pressing need or can afford to spare the time to do it. It tends to be deemed one of the less critical areas at this stage of the game’s development, and I almost always have my hands full with a tasks that are critical to getting the game to a finished state. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Design, Games, Starbound | 1 Comment »

Time for a refresh!

A Proud Display

Today I was struck with the realization that many pages on this site were years out of date, most notably my portfolio. Well I simply couldn’t let that stand, so I’ve spent some time updating things! It’s interesting seeing how my photography and video editing have developed in the past few years; the quality difference is pretty pronounced, in my eyes. But don’t take my word for it, you should check them out for yourself!

Later folks!

Posted in Art, Design, Life, Random Stuff, Videos | No Comments »

Reflecting on a year of big changes…

Today marks the one year anniversary of my departure from Australia.

It all feels a bit surreal in retrospect. My lifestyle has become so different from the fairly secluded one I led back in Perth. I wasn’t unhappy with my lot in life by any means. On the contrary, I considered myself very fortunate to have such a loving family, a good home and a job I tended to enjoy more often than not. Working as a games advisor, I got to spend my days talking about the medium I loved with other like-minded people, and I was able to continue enjoying my hobbies at the end of the day. Then I got pulled onto a little project that would eventually come to be known as Starbound and everything began to change.

What started as a hobby quickly became an obsession. I began burning the candle at both ends, working long and hard into the late hours for several months, often coming into my day job with only a couple of hours sleep at most. Eventually I made the decision to switch from full-time to part-time to free up precious hours to work on Starbound. Months later I dropped the job completely when I was offered a contract to work on Starbound full-time. It had become such an all-encompassing aspect of my life that I barely left the house and only got to see my friends a couple of times a month at most.

My family was incredibly supportive during this time; especially my mother. She understood my situation, mirroring much of my enthusiasm for the project and it’s potential. It was a gamble, to be sure, as I would ultimately spend half a year working with no income, getting by with savings I’d been putting aside for a rainy day. At the time we had no idea whether Starbound would be successful. Being a person who hadn’t really had much in the way of larger aspirations, putting so much time and effort into something that might not succeed was a bit scary, but I remained hopeful all the same.

Fast forward to the present day and things are just so completely different.

Now I’m working in an office full of fun, incredibly talented people. In this place my friends and co-workers are one and the same. While city life in London is pretty damn expensive, I really like the area I live in, and not having a 45 minute commute to and from work is a really nice change from my previous jobs. I can get to the office on foot in just over twenty minutes if I move at a decent clip, and now I’m just a stone’s throw away from visiting my friends if I feel like being sociable.

The past year has also represented pretty good progress on my weight loss journey. After receiving a heartfelt plea from one of my best friends to start seriously thinking about my health, I decided that when I moved here I would try to take control of my eating habits and exercise more often, and that’s precisely what I’ve done. I’ve been carefully calorie counting most of my meals and making sure I walk to and from work on a regular basis. Honestly I don’t feel like I’ve been this healthy since my uni days when I was playing a frankly ridiculous amount of Dance Dance Revolution.

To put it in perspective, when I first arrived in London at this time last year, I weighed in at 130kg, dangerously close to being classed as morbidly obese. At time of writing I’ve gotten myself down to 105kg, which means I’ve successfully managed to drop 20% of my body weight in the past year. As someone who has been obese for almost his entire life, this is incredibly encouraging. My goal is ultimately to get myself down to a healthy weight (about 70kg), which I think is probably going to take me another couple of years to reach, but I’m okay with doing things at a steady pace.

Honestly, I couldn’t ever have imagined my life being what it is now. When I started working on Starbound all I had was the earnest hope that it would someday lead to something bigger and better, and even in it’s incomplete form it has already done exactly that. Developing the game continues to be an absolute joy, and I’m totally pumped for the stuff we’re going to be working on over the next couple of months! I’m really looking forward to this June as well, when I’ll be visiting my friends and family back home in Perth. I’ve missed them all a great deal and I will be doling out hugs like nobody’s business!

Here’s to another great year!

Posted in Life, Starbound | 2 Comments »

The Challenges Of Game Development: An Amateur’s Perspective

Before I get started, I’d like it made clear that everything I write here is purely my own personal opinion, based off my own experiences. This is my blog after all, this is where I write to express myself when no other outlet feels appropriate at the time. Nothing I say in this space should be taken as being representative of Chucklefish or its staff. With that said, I hope you find this perspective interesting.

Like many things in life, I’ve found my work as a game developer to be a constant learning experience. Often it has involved learning practical things that are directly relevant to my work, like honing my understanding of JSON and Starbound’s systems in order to get the results I desire. Sometimes it has meant learning more difficult lessons, like knowing when and how to distance myself emotionally from negative feedback, and trying not to take it personally.

Honestly, this can be difficult at times. When negativity is directed at something you’re so passionate about, something you’ve spent years of your life working on, it can feel like someone is criticizing you directly as a human being. When faced with negative attitudes, I try instead to focus on the legitimate criticisms that often lie behind them, and then assess whether or not they are something I can reasonably address.

A good example would be simply looking at Starbound’s steam page. At time of writing, 92% of the reviews given to our game are marked as positive, which is great! It makes me happy to think so many people are enjoying our game! But you wouldn’t think that to be the case if you scrolled down and saw the large number of negative reviews dotting the front page. My first reaction naturally being to ask, why?

Upon deeper investigation, the criticism of these reviews largely seems to stem from the total decline in stable updates for the game. As we’ve continued to work on Starbound behind the scenes, the people who have supported our game are eager for more content as soon as possible. This criticism comes from a place of passion, and our players simply want what they were promised. This is a criticism I can understand, and even empathize with.

Those who have been following the game for some time would likely know that we tried doing updates on a weekly basis at first. It led to many expressing dissatisfaction with the amount of content they were receiving in this piecemeal fashion and honestly, it limited us as developers in many respects, especially having to make sure that anything we put out to the public was working without disrupting the cohesive and otherwise-functional whole. These weekly updates were ultimately scrapped in favor of our current system of writing regular daily updates and our nightly build that allowed people to peek behind the curtain, if they were so inclined.

I for one have quickly begun to see the benefits of the “when it’s done” philosophy that many higher caliber studios like Valve and Blizzard have been using for years. The upside of this approach is that when our next stable update does hit, it’s going to be packed with loads of new stuff for our players to check out. The downside is it that it can mean a lengthy wait, as it has done, which understandably can be frustrating to our players. I’m still waiting for that Half-Life 3 announcement myself!

I think the greatest lesson I have taken away from this whole experience, and the thing that I want to convey most, is that game development is hard.

But boy do I love it.

Posted in Chucklefish, Games, Life, Starbound | No Comments »