iFest Booth

Progress on my VR game has been going great! Some actual art has been made (previous builds were all cubes and spheres). Some actual levels have been made (previous builds just had a single room to play in). And the heart and soul of the design is finally starting to show up!

This makes iFest just that much more exciting. I will be able to share all this new progress with lots of new players, and hopefully find that they are having fun with it. Best of all; it's free of anyone to attend and check out some awesome indie games!

GE2 Booth

A couple weeks ago I stumbled upon a great opportunity to have my VR project shown at the GE2 event (http://www.ge2.live/).

It took a bit of last minute scrambling to make it happen, but I sure am glad I did it. The whole thing went great. We had a lot of people lining up to try out VR, and everyone walked away amazed. Hopefully at least a little of that was because of my game ;)

Steam Partner

I officially became a Steam Partner earlier this week! This allowed me to put up a private build of my VR game to download, install, and play through Steam. It's a small step. I still need to actually, you know, make an actual game. But, it was exciting to see one of my products come through the Steam pipeline :)

The magic of VR

A few weeks back I was lucky enough to attend Steam Dev Days 2016. I was looking forward to learning all sorts of new lessons about launching a 2D indie game on Steam.

The keynote presentation spent a lot of time talking about Valve's Vive hardware. It was very obvious that Valve was all-in when it came to VR. I had tried out the Oculus before. It's pretty amazing, but it never really gripped me. My years as a game dev have made me into a skeptic when it comes to new tech. I have heard enough times how device X will "change the world!". And, so I had pretty much dismissed the Vive outright. I skipped all the panels about VR. I didn't bother looking at the Vive demo stations. I spent all my time at Dev Days focusing on my 2D game adventures. Dev Days had come to a close. I had enjoyed the after party, and was getting ready to head home when someone convinced me to try out one of the Vive demo stations.

It only took 10 seconds before I was converted.

The Vive's sensors and controllers give you a physical presence in the VR world that I hadn't experienced before. No longer was I just looking around. Now I was actually there in the world. I could walk around. I could pick things up. It was 100% mentally teleported to this new world.

2 days later I found myself upgrading my work PC, purchasing a Vive system, and starting out on my new adventure.

I am now making a VR game :)

Why I am a hypocrite

I talked a bit before about how I have built my own custom game engine. I started that somewhere around 2011 or so. I spent a few years worth of Saturdays building the engine, editor, and pipeline, and I have been happy with the results.

About 2 months ago or so I started to consider dropping my custom engine and moving over to Unity.

I weighed the pros and cons for a long time. I tried hard to ignore the personal attachment I had to my own custom engine. In the end I think there are a handful of things that I think my engine does better, but there are hundreds of things Unity does better. I evaluated Unity a little bit back around 2010 or so. It obviously didn't grab my attention then, but the powerhouse that it has become is truly amazing. I am confident that the few things I don't like about Unity now will not be issues in the coming years. Ultimately, I realized that there was no way I could advance my own engine nearly as fast as Unity is advancing.

So, yeah, I am eating my words now. I have dropped my custom engine and moved over to Unity. To be fair, I am pretty sure I never said "never". Oops .....

My New Project

I have talked a bit about my Strategy game. I have been working my Saturdays on this game for something like 7 years. It has come along nicely, and a lot of other projects were completed along the way. For example, my custom 2D game engine, and my editor pipeline. I have come to a point, though, were I really want to ship a game.

I spent a few months going over various ideas. Could I speed up the process? Could I shrink the scope? Could I do both? Then, I started thinking about making a smaller game instead. I contemplated on the idea for a while. I didn't want to make a drastic decision just because I was getting antsy. After creating some timeline projections for a few different game ideas; I settled on my current project.

I am making a Vertical Shooter; think the 1980s airplane shooting games you would find in an arcade. Of course, I have a few tricks up my sleeve to make it interesting.

I have already spent a few Saturdays working on this game, and it's been a lot of fun. I have been spending most of the last 3 years working on my engine and editor. It's nice to actually get into some gameplay development again. Also, it's felt good to be able to validate my editor work. I spent a lot of energy to make my editor as easy and quick-to-use as possible. Until now, it had never been tested, and I am quite happy with the results.

Why I Roll My Own

I use my own custom game engine for my projects.That's right. I am not using Unity, Unreal, or any other packaged game engine.

There are a number of reasons why I chose to do this. My most common answer is "Because it's fun!". I only work on my projects on Saturdays. That means my development is really slow, and it's going to take a long time for me to finish anything. I expected to spend years of my Saturdays working on a project before it's finished. I realized pretty early on that if I wasn't having fun on those Saturdays, then I would probably end up quitting before anything was ever completed. Also, I really like programming. It's much more enjoyable for me to make my own code then to use somebody else'.

To date, I have spent about 255 Saturdays working on the Strategy Game in one form or another. One more Saturday, and some might just roll over and quit. Luckily I have more capacity then that. I can happily say that I am still having fun and I look forward to next weekend.

The Strategy Game

There is one project that I have spent more time on then any other. I dabbled with ideas in high school. I tinkered with the concept in college. The project really started taking shape, though, in early 2008. I have spent a majority of my Saturdays since then working on the project.

That project is The Strategy Game. Catchy name, right? It started off as a CCG, but eventually turned into something else. It's turn based, it has resource management, there are deck building aspects, and it borrows from miniature games. It's a bit of jumble of concepts that all end up fitting nicely together. But calling it a TBRMDBM game doesn't work too well, and so I just refer to it as The Strategy Game.

Who is FunnerSoft?

FunnerSoft is an independent game studio. Also, though, FunnerSoft is me as I am the only employee of FunnerSoft. And, FunnerSoft is a side business. Who am I? My name is Lester Bloom. I have a regular gig where I help to make a video game, and I have done so since about 2002. I usually spend my Saturdays, and only my Saturdays, working on this side business.

FunnerSoft is more then just a side business, though. It's my outlet to work on the types of games that I like. I can work the way I want, and I can sink or swim based on my own decisions.

 

Most importantly, FunnerSoft is about making games fun again.

2015 FunnerSoft, LLC              LBLOOM@FunnerSoft.com