This is a bittersweet post to write. For the past decade, Pyrodactyl has been not just what I do, but who I am. Things were roughly the same throughout, but that changed about six months ago. In short:
The college I was teaching at shut down very suddenly (😢)
A couple of other opportunities didn’t quite work out (😒)
I got engaged (😊)
In the backdrop of all this, I was working on The Red Stone as much as I could. Unfortunately, a couple months ago, I entered a stage where I was working but not really making any progress on The Red Stone. I tried pushing through the rut, but that only made things worse. Having read approximately fifteen thousand indie game postmortems, I realized what was happening. After a lot of pondering, brainstorming and thinking twice, I decided to step away from Pyrodactyl for the near future.
While this is not goodbye forever, this is a goodbye for now. I hope the games we made had a positive impact on you, even if it was just making you smile for half a second. Perhaps we’ll meet again!
As for the future, I have a great opportunity to join the team at Ubisoft Abu Dhabi. I’m really excited to be working on I’M NOT SURE IF I CAN REVEAL THIS INFO SO I WON’T SAY IT and I can’t wait to get started!
Before I sign off, it must be said: Pyrodactyl and I won’t be where we are today without the help of a lot of kind and amazing people. My family, friends and colleagues have given me way more love, support and patience than I deserve. I can’t thank you all enough.
P.S. Special shout out to my students for being the best performing better than expected! (jk I love you all)
I delivered a talk at the NASSCOM Game Developer Conference 2017 about some techniques that can help developers finish their game. It’s fairly fun and accessible, and I talk about my experience releasing several games in the past decade.
If you’re thinking about making games, I recommend you check it out!
(And yes, the moustache is gone. It will be remembered fondly.)
The last blog post ended on a slightly depressing note, so I thought I’d share something more positive.
(Warning: This article may contain rants about the Indian education system and coaching institutes.)
Even though I had been into programming and game design for the better part of my life, a part of me had always felt that I could be a good teacher if I wanted to. When I realized I needed a break from Pyrodactyl, I thought the time was right for me to dive into this new line of work and see what I could contribute.
I’m very lucky that I got a faculty position at a university that allowed me freedom to experiment with the curriculum. So far, this has been a surprise in a very pleasant way.
What I learned by teaching (so far)
Adaptive Curriculum My biggest peeve with my education was that it was 100%, Ambuja Cement style rigid. The curriculum was decided in advance and nothing you (or the teacher) could do would change that.I’ve been trying a more flexible curriculum that changes based on the strengths and weaknesses of the students, and while it is very early to definitively tell, I think it is having positive results. (More on these findings as the semester progresses).
Showing (not just telling) students how they will use this knowledge in the future helps a ton. In my case, first I got freshman students to analyze their own favorite games, and then I slowly explained how the games in question use the game design techniques that I taught them. While I am still figuring out how to improve my speech and ability to explain things, I think most of them became very interested when they realized they could learn how their favorite games worked – even though I was conducting a dry flowcharts and game states lecture.
Subject (and self) Discovery I’m learning a lot more about my subjects and myself as I give more classes. Even the games that I made appear in a different light with some of the things that I learned while researching my topics.This is exciting – like Eat Pray Love except someone pays me a salary to do it.
I hope this different style of article is cool with the usual readers of Pyrodactyl. I’ll share more as I finish my first semester of teaching!
If there’s any teachers out there in the comments, what did you learn when you started teaching? Any tips to help out a new guy? 🙂
Ten years ago, I opened up Google and started looking for tutorials on programming video games. While some folks on the Steam forums might argue otherwise, I think it’s fair to say that I have learned a lot in these ten years. I have worked with some incredibly talented people, traveled across the world, met some of my heroes and most importantly – had thousands of people tell me they liked my games.
Left: My hostel room, picture taken on a Nokia brick. Right: My home office, picture taken on a slightly better brick. Both: Bad fashion sense.
Due to being busy with real life, I completely forgot the four-part Good Robot postmortem (which I contributed to) on Twenty Sided. If you’re interested in learning how we made Good Robot and the fallout after its launch, visit the links below to learn it first hand from me, Ross and Shamus.
The Good Robot team has been working to update and improve the game. The update is currently live on the public beta branch and will go out to all users probably in the next day or so.
I have to say, I loved coming back to Good Robot. There gets to be a point in a long-running project where you’re sick of the whole thing and just want it to be done. Than you get the post-release feedback and you start thinking about all the ways you could have made it better.
I may not like what Lucas did to the original Star Wars movies, but I can certainly understand the temptation to keep “polishing” something forever. Hopefully these are net improvements for people.
Partial list of changes:
The Refrigeration Unit – We’ve added a whole new level with new artwork, new enemies, and a couple of new bosses. I was sad we missed out on the “ice level” motif in our original release of the game, and so I’m glad we’ve finally made that happen. This also smooths out the rather abrupt jump in difficulty people experienced between the breezy Junkyard and the rather unforgiving Neo-Jaipur. The Refrigeration Unit is designed to be a midway point between these two levels in terms of difficulty.
The new Refrigeration Unit in action.
New hats! – Highlights include Seymour’s hair, VR Headset, Pyrodactyl head and last but not the least, and an “Iconic Cap”. Eat your heart out, Ubisoft.
Hey guys, I’m Ross. I have a strange job that involves wearing a lot of hats, and recently just involves a lot of hats. I’ve been with the gang since Unrest, usually handling scripting and level design. I also edit together most of Pyrodactyl’s trailers with the same technology I use to play Terrible Terrible Video Games (Glass Houses – Ed.). I’m here today with some insight into the latest update for Good Robot, and hopefully our thought process as game designers to boot.
With QA teams that number in the ones of dozens (baker’s, if you’re exceptionally lucky), esteemed indie developers like ourselves soon become incredibly adept at one crucial step of the modern video game creation process: making mistakes. But perhaps more notably – making mistakes and fixing them quickly. It’s in this spirit that I present you with a commented list of the major changes this time around.
So sometimes ideas don’t pan out. This is one of those cases:
Looking at the feedback on YouTube, I can see there’s a divide between, “This joke totally made sense to me” and “This was awkward and dumb”. Maybe that would be tolerable for an early teaser, but when it comes to a launch trailer you want clarity and a wide appeal.
A common complaint was that the stock footage of robots conflicted with the in-game footage. That’s true, although I don’t know how that could be fixed. For the first half of the trailer you need slow-paced shots. There’s only so many slow pans you can do over the Good Robot, and there’s no way you can fill 40 seconds with that. The game doesn’t have a supporting cast or dialog scenes, which is what you’d use for the slow build in the first half of the trailer.
Maybe that should have clued me in that this idea was flawed and unworkable, but… I dunno. I’ve had a lot of projects that began with a single fun idea and were fuzzy on the details. DM of the Rings is a good example of something that began half-formed and then came together later during production. Sometimes when you’ve got an idea you have to run it up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes.