Gaming with your Spouse

My wife stopped playing Video Games after Goldeneye.  Life seemed to catch up with her, and she put the memories of Video Games behind her.

When we married, we decided that we enjoyed doing things together.  Having both of us in the military, we enjoyed physical fitness together, and I told her I also would enjoy playing video games together.

Differences

However, the differences in playing ability, brought stresses to our game time.  I felt immensely loved by her decision to play with me, but also felt conflicted because I played at a higher skill level.

Men often bond in being shoulder to shoulder with a buddy, not talking a lot, and doing stuff together.  That’s why some men fish together, some men go to base-ball games together, and some men run together, but don’t talk a lot during it.  It felt great to bond with my wife while playing video games.

Patient Growth

With time, my wife’s skill levels grew.  The initial patience and time invested by playing at a lower skill level was worth it.  For any person who’s spouse is on a lower skill level than you, I encourage you to be patient, and encouraging when playing, it’ll pay in the long run.

Have you tried gaming with your spouse?

Initial Indie Game Interest

A picture with a pixelated F for Flixel

The genesis of my interest in Indie Games occurred prior to my deployment to Afghanistan.  The Commander stated that there would be downtime over seas, and that we should fill it with the meaningful pursuit of education.  The Army assists with tuition, and I’ve known multiple people who received their Master’s Degree while deployed.

Initial Interest

During that time, I reached the conclusion that I no longer would like to be in the military, and that I should start pursuing what I wanted to do outside of it.  I had a degree in Aeronautical Engineering, but that knowledge seemed gone, having not touched it in 3 years (I was an infantry officer).  With an interest in programming from High School, and a love of Video Games, I started looking for something that interested me.

Within the weeks I prepared for deployment, I learned Adam Saltsman’s free engine and programing interface named Flixel.  Instantly, I fell for it.  Retro styled music, sound effects, and art brought comforting nostalgia and dreams of a future fun.  Right before we left, I finished one of the tutorials, and became engrossed in it.

A picture with a pixelated F for Flixel
The Flixel Game Engine by Adam Atomic

Unfortunately, I soon found out that I would never get that promised time to work on education, and the rare times that I did, I was so exhausted from the day, I just wanted to relax, but I continued to read articles, and theories, while keeping the desire alive.

After deployment, during my last remaining year in the Army, my workload continued to be great, and decided to pursue it once I left the Army.  It May of 2011, I left the Army, and started to follow my dream.

What started your interest in Video Game Development?

Evolution of Marketing

a sign of wrong way

When I first started out in Indie Video Game development, I didn’t know where to begin.  I started with looking online, and searching Gamasutra for all the postmortems of indie video game developers.  I learned that almost all developers, messed up marketing.

Research

I searched online about it and stumbled upon Pat Flynn’s blog, which lead me to an array of other blogs and posts.  They all talked about content marketing.  Content marketing works by writing a lot of high-quality content about a certain subject often, which drives people to your site through Search Engine Optimization.  Ads and affiliates pay then pay you for the people that click on the ads and affiliate links.

I studied this for a year, but followed the idea of Jon Acuff’s book Start, and Michael Hyatt’s book Platform.  Pretty much they said start now, and start with a blog and writing.  After blogging for 6 months, I splintered my blog between a high focus on faith and life, and this site, the focus on video games and video game development.

Wrong Marketing

a sign of wrong way
Wrong marketing

What I didn’t realize, is that this kind of marketing isn’t done by other indies.  Other indies’ marketing consists of marketing to the press, and releasing pictures of their works. The only work I’ve done is an elementary game, and finishing my Video Game Art classes; art I’m too embarrassed to show.

Although my marketing plan does not follow standard indies, I truthfully enjoy writing on the subject of Video Games and the indie lifestyle.  Eventually my development pictures and work will come, but for now, I’ll enjoy posting my thoughts on everything Video Games.

What do you wish indie sites posted about?

Some Beats None

A crude sketch of a boy

I dreamed of making Video Games as a child.  I played them and through each of them my imagination soared.  For times, I became part of those worlds.  My friend was a bit of a programmer, so we’d talk about making a video game.  I can remember one Sunday making sketches of ants that fought each other like ninjas.  Just think, not 2 swords, but 4 swords the ant could carry.  I thought, “It seemed like a lot of hard work though, it’ll probably get easier once we’re older.”

Making Video Games is Hard

At the United States Military Academy, I resumed that dream.  Since I still wanted to be an Aviator and future Astronaut, Aerospace Engineering felt like the logical choice.

Once I reached my junior year of college, the Army gives cadets a loan at a low interest.  Some cadets buy cars, some invest theirs, and some buy themselves a nice gift.  I bought myself a nice workstation and tutorial DVDs.  All I have to do is draw a little, and the creative energy will flow and I’ll be a natural.  It’ll just take, a little hard work.

My classes consumed me at the Academy, and later, the Army work life didn’t let up.  Just wait until I get out of the Army, then I’ll have the time to make Video Games.  I only education and experience in Leadership, Infantry Tactics, and Aeronautical Engineering. I thought it would only take a year to make enough money to sustain my family once my wife got out.

It’s been 1.5 years of not making any money.  As a Christian man, who believes 1 Timothy 5:8, it has been difficult not making any income.  Why isn’t God going to deliver me?  Was I making any progress?  Does my one Beginner Video Game mean anything?

Some Beats None

As I’m finishing up my Video Game Art classes, I agree with the book Start by Jon Acuff.  That in order to get to where I want to be, those tiny reps I’m doing, the small sketches, the simple games, the crummy 3d art, are all tiny reps.  Some Beats None, Jon says.  I agree.

A crude sketch of a boy
A Sketch I did recently. It’s not perfect, but it’s a rep towards my future goals.

Continue reading “Some Beats None”

Design a Logo

Several Pictures of Roots that have a lion coming out of them

This is part of a larger series of becoming an Independent Video Game Developer

After you choose a Company Name, choosing a company Logo can be very frustrating.  One easy way to do it is to go about this is to use 99designs, but if you’re indie, then you probably want to do it on your own to save money and build skills.

Start with the Name

Since my company name, Lion Root, has to do with Lions and Roots, I thought my logo should resemble both Lions and Roots.  Team Meat, has a picture of Meat Boy, which resembles meat, and Infinite Ammo has a picture of…ammo. Literal or figurative, your logo should have meaning.

Get some Inspiration

For me, I started with Lions.  Personally, I haven’t drawn Lions enough to memorize the way to draw them, so I Google Image searched Lion, and Lion Logos.  Having a general understanding of how Lion’s look helps, but also seeing other logos gives a good idea of features that distinguish lions.  The Eyes, the Mane, and the Mouth stuck out to me most.

For the roots, I searched Roots, and Root Logo on Google Image Search.  Roots can be both intricate and small and straightforward and large.  The roots of a tree can be massive and thick, while the roots of a flower are significantly smaller.  All roots branch off and split.  In terms of drawing, and later printing, having thicker roots felt like the best way to go.

Start Sketching

Several Pictures of Roots that have a lion coming out of them
The beginning pictures I’ve used.

So at that moment I transitioned to my tablet and photoshop.  I sketched several out, and took derivations of it.  There was even a super simple one with a square root sign over the name lion which I liked, but it didn’t feel creative enough.  Maybe in the future I’ll use it.  I made some pictures, played with the line use and toyed with the black and white contrasts.  I started to like the black with the white on the bottom, but I didn’t feel like the lines looked like roots as much as the top picture did.

Refine

Finally, I decided to go with a combination of the top and bottom.  I chose to go with a black background and white lion because it symbolically shows the Lion Root as light in darkness, as Christ is in the world.  Having solid black eyes didn’t seem right since the eyes are the gateway to the soul, so having light coming out of the eyes further pushed that home.  You can see I used thick roots.  Having the roots come forward rather than behind gave a larger mane, which to me symbolized more majesty.  I didn’t have a lion roaring either, since I like to think of Jesus as not angry all the time.  Opposite of that, having a smiling lion would look silly too.  The distinguishing lion beard and nose bump remain.

Picture of a lion root
Almost to the Final Logo

Creating a logo only takes a few steps, but the process can take hours.  Overall, about 5 hours went into this project over the course of a week.

Final Logo Design

A picture of a lion face with roots coming out of it
The Final Logo Design I went with

At some point, your minor tweaks aren’t really tweaks, but mind tricks to make you think you’re making progress, when you’re really not.  My final moves where to have 3 main branches, and try to get the viewer’s eyes settle on the eyes, but they settle a little down and to the right of it.  At that point, you’re done.  Feel free to link your logo in the comments.

*Note from the future – I actually decided to update mine after I was told it looked too much like LionHead

What does your logo look like?

Choosing a Company Name

This is part of a larger series of becoming an Independent Video Game Developer

Choosing a Company Name felt very difficult for me.  Companies go through some noticeable name changes throughout their histories.  Here’s what I learned through the process.

Make it Original

First off, I started thinking about me.  I wanted to name a company, and therefore wanted the company to reflect my name.  That was a mistake.  Growing up, my nickname was Fish.  Since I am of a larger stature, I thought Big Fish Studios would be perfect.  I filed the paperwork, and shortly after discovered, that there is already a company named that and they are quite popular.

Make it Easy to Spell

Thinking that video games should be fun and entertaining, I decided that I needed to next use a fun name.  Still stuck on the idea of fish, since that’s what I’ve always been called, my buddy called my Fishopotamus one day, which is a cross between a fish and a hippopotamus.

My issue at the time of the name change, was that I didn’t know how to spell hippopotamus, so instead of a simple to spell name that people would remember, I wound up with Fishapotamous.  Where did the ‘a’ after fish and the o in the ending come from?  I don’t know.

If you don’t know how to spell it, other people won’t know how to spell it, let alone go to the website.  So instead of a clever name, I got an idiotic name.

Make it a Meaningful Company Name

Naming a company after your own name isn’t very cool I’ve decided.  It’s focused inwardly, instead of outwardly.  By the end of the previous two name changes, I no longer wanted it to resemble my name.  I wanted it to have meaning.  My corporation will be making Christian Themed games, so I wanted it to do something with Christ.

 

A picture of a Lion Coming out of Roots
A Lion from Roots

Lion of Judah, Root of David, are other names known for Christ.  I personally like Lions and find them to be majestic, and I grew up in the woods and love the wilderness.  LionRoot felt like a perfect match, and is a name I can go on with for a long time.  It’s the perfect match.

What other aspects do you think should go in a Company Name?