It’s pretty easy to tell when Lewis and I are bored. When we’re bored, we post on the blog and try to entertain ourselves and YOU, the reader! From the number of blog posts, you can probably infer that we’re not often bored, which is both a good thing (hey, we’re really focused!) and a bad thing (aww, look at the poor neglected blog). It’s not a great way to use a blog, but tough beans, kiddo.
As I’m writing this, I’m waiting in a wireless cafe for Lewis, who slept in this morning by accident. My moral code doesn’t let me spare any opportunities to embarrass him, and I expect the same in return. So next time you see Lewis, make sure to remind him about the time he stood me up!
There’s a couple of special reasons that we’ve been so “focused” lately. Firstly, the crunch leading up to our first internal release on June 29 was pretty intense. I’ll let Lewis tell you about the video editing process, but I will say that we still have a couple of shots to tape and probably a good week of editing left to do. Once you guys see the video, you’ll understand why we subjected you to the torture that was our first media event.
The second (and infinitely better!) reason we neglected our blog last week was because of your overwhelming and favorable response at the media event. We walked away with a list of a dozen or so names of people who talked to us individually and wanted to help out. On that list are three artists and two composers, which we weren’t expecting to find in our close circle of friends and family. I guess that goes to show, you’re always richer than you think!
Because of all of this frenzy of volunteering, Lewis and I are putting on our thinking caps and assembling job descriptions, interview questions, and audition tasks so that we can better express to our volunteers our vision for Tainted Sword. For this task, we’re trying to fit ourselves into the role of Art Director – a role which neither of us are qualified to take. A real Art Director would have both a vision in his/her head about how the game is supposed to look, AND the requisite artistic experience to communicate it to the artists using their VERY specialized lingo. Art is just as complicated as any programming task; how the industry gets by paying artists a fraction of what it pays engineers, I will never know (or for that matter, condone).
Since Lewis and I can’t communicate art using art language, we’re taking a different approach which we have lovingly termed “Ghetto Concepting”. Pretty much, we draw upon our experience of other media and present a comprehensive list of pictures, music, video clips, descriptions, etc. along with explanations of what they mean to us. To avoid information overload, we’re rigorously pruning the list and matching list entries with direct parallels in Tainted Sword.
The result should be sparse enough to allow creativity but focused enough to communicate our collective vision. The problem with this method (which I will discuss further in a future rant) is that the quality of our list depends directly on our combined media experience, which is fairly extensive but at times is at conflict with each other. For example, Lewis’ RPG experience is mostly from the console eastern JRPG perspective, while my RPG experience is exclusively with western RPGs on the PC. Our best chance to unify our vision for Tainted Sword is to force each other to enjoy as much of our personal media collections as possible, but that’s a process that could take YEARS. Personally, I tend to bow to Lewis’ judgement while presenting important western RPG elements (like mouse control and orchestral sound tracks) whenever possible 😉
We’re still looking for an Art Director, but we’ll make do for now with what we have (i.e. ourselves). Let this be a lesson to you other indie hopefuls – programming skills are important, artistic skills are (arguably more) important, and a unified artistic and technical vision developed early in the project is the most important of all. When you’re assembling your initial team, try to close as many of these gaps as possible and come up with strategies for mitigating the rest.