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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Unknown Future

My current projects include reworking the Kyn Creations website to reflect recent changes with how I want to display myself as a game developer. Ideally, I would allow visitors to one-click download the game demos I have available, instead of requiring a name and email. Since I'm using WordPress and the Easy Digital Downloads plugin, I am not given the option to easily organize and display those downloads with all of their related content (most notably the nicely laid-out thumbnail grid) without sending visitors to the cart to checkout first. This is a detraction from my site since I don't want to charge for unfinished products, and requiring an email is still technically charging. At the very least it's a waste of time.

So I'll have to create my own page with the thumbnails and manually lay everything out myself, and then create download buttons in a similar style. Not difficult, but certainly tedious - especially since I'll probably end up taking most of those off the site when I start finishing projects. I'm also fairly certain there's some add-on someone's made that I could just download into WordPress and use, but at this point in my professional opinion most of those things end up requiring a similar amount of time in their documentation learning how to use it compared to just doing it manually. Any time I run into intuitive design nowadays I try and point it out.

Part of the plan for reworking my website includes coding examples. This is an exciting challenge for me, because I typically write a type of hastily thrown together code that functions but is otherwise lacking in commenting and flexibility. For example, I wrote some code that dynamically handled sound clip creation for independent sounds - like gunshots and explosions - so that they would overlap, reverberate, and react to the environment, and generally sound as realistic as possible. That code has to be tweaked every time I reuse it because each situation requires a slightly different set of rules. Things like pitch modulation for footsteps and volume reduction for sounds that happen frequently. I'm hesitant to show that off as a representation of my skills when it is observably flawed.

The other part is including information about my game concepts. This is somewhat controversial, and here's why:
Many of my compatriots believe that good game ideas are entirely too common, and I agree. The execution of a good game idea is what makes the game actually feasible. The problem with that logic, though, is that then we're basically telling ourselves not to openly advertise good game ideas, and I think that is wrong.
A good game idea that sits on a shelf forever is a tragic missed opportunity, especially in the ever-changing political environment we occupy. For all we know, our way of life could come to a screeching halt and suddenly any form of video gaming is now outlawed for its distinct lack of productivity (or whatever argument may be the most believable and misdirecting). The flip-side to that argument is that a good game idea that gets overproduced, that is to say, multiple games get made on the same subject matter, are observably worse quality. I'm sure there's some psychological theory that explain things in a rarity-makes-quality kind of way, but that's beside the point.

What I want is to show people who have the opportunity to invest in other young talent, to actively build an educated middle class, a potential product that could not only make money, but also initiate people on journeys that are otherwise impossible without our computer technology.

By including game concepts, even if they are simply excerpts of a bigger design, I want some intrepid investor to say, "Wow, yes that's a good idea, I want to help make that real." The difficulty is to pitch an idea. Most entrepreneurs take a product and sell it. Video games are different. You can't just make a bunch of games and sell them and then go to an investor and say, "I've made ten games that gross $267,000 in a year and that's why you should give me an additional $150,000 to make one more that's bigger and will sell ten times what I made last year!" Video games aren't that simple.

During my time in Game Lab at UTD, three to four months making a vertical slice, or a demo, of a game wasn't nearly enough. The best we ever got was usually 60-70% of a finished product. That's one game. So, speaking for all game developers out there, we need a bit of a push from the investor side - either in educating investors as to the worth and risk of a single idea, or in getting investors to understand that a single product can take months (think of it as R&D) before sales are even possible.

One of the main problems is inherent with this post - it's a wall of text. It's not an 800 page report, so there's a much lower chance of misdirection, but I know no one willing to spend more than 60 seconds deciding if an idea is good AND putting their money behind it. It's like there's a reverse correlation of the amount of time spent deciding something to the amount of money put towards it

I've also talked with people who are clearly capable of investing thousands (if not tens and even hundreds of thousands) on solid projects, who simply shirk a good idea because it wasn't presented perfectly. I've also seen some of those few go on to invest in clearly bad ideas. That's a major and fundamental flaw of capitalism. No matter how free your market is, there's no expectation that good ideas will actually prevail - just the ones that work temporarily. And by work I mean make exponential and unsustainable profits and problems.

I've seen my peers dump hundreds of hours into side projects that are clearly bad ideas, and even I have not seen some of my better ideas through yet. That's my fault entirely, but I do wish quite often that I had someone mentoring me while I'm still young and telling me that thing I haven't finished is more important.

So the reason it's an unknown future is because I can't see past my decision to simply give up - and either teach or join the computer programming industry, games or not - or to keep moving forward with my ambitions and keep being poor until I either finish a game and make it popular or find the funding to expedite the process.