This article is part of our ongoing series of Indie Dev Diaries
This week we have Kristian Andrews & Sam Chester, developers from Studio Owlbear, giving us a behind-the-scene look into his life as a game developer.
Below is an unedited extract as written by Kristian:
HAPPY TUESDAY SUCKERS!
I’m standing in the kitchen, in my pants, food processor in hand.
A dark purple sludge spins in front of me as I ponder why I spent the last year of my life on a bad pun …’BARBARA-IAN’?
It’s too late I remind myself, Barbara-ian was unleashed on the world on 16th July 2015 and now the pressure’s on to make her bigger and badder with every Steam Early Access update!
I down my smoothie.
At 8:30 am, fuelled up with breakfast, I start my commute towards the Studio in
The Owl and the Bear are based in separate cities (Bristol and London), therefore Barbara-ian’s development has taken place almost entirely remotely.
Like many other indie developers, both Sam and I, enjoy a superhero existence holding down sensible jobs during the day and developing our first title Barbara-ian by night.
There is no typical day for Studio Owlbear.
BARABARA-IAN BATTLES HORDES OF UNDEAD COMMUTERS IN THEIR SUBTERRANEAN LAIR!
By 9:30 I arrive at the studio. I fire up my machine so I can log into Slack to check the latest news from Sam and make a coffee. He tends to be a nightowl, making huge strides and solving big problems in inspired coding binges through the night only informing me in the morning.
Sam and I struck up a working relationship way back in those heady, hopeful days of June 2014 after I played one of his gameplay prototypes and decided to woo him into making a game together with this Comedy Central sting:
Fast forward 8 months of solid development:
We started the Owlbear one cold, lonely Valentine’s Evening in 2015.
As we completed our Steam Greenlight application for Barbara-ian, there was a big gap in the field marked ’Developer’.
We were in a rush to make the Greenlight page live so we got out our D&D Monster Manual and whittled down all the rad Monsters that we’d earmarked for inclusion in the game, the conversation went something like:
‘Mind Flayer?’, ‘Nope.’ ‘Beholder?’ ‘Been done’, ‘Rust monster?’ ‘Nope,’ ‘Owlbear?’ ‘Nah’, ‘Mimic?’ ‘No’, ‘Rakshasa?’ ‘Huh?!,’‘… ugh, well what then?’ ‘I hated Owlbear the least’ ‘…cool!’.
…I come back to my machine, coffee in hand now, to see that indeed there is no activity from Sam because, as well as being an exceptionally gifted programmer, he is lazy.
Although Sam seems happy to leave work on our next update hanging, I’m not.
I have to take advantage of this quiet morning at the studio by making some headway.
Although it’s not been discussed properly, I really want to go as BIG and AMBITIOUS as possible with the update. So I browse our huge list of ‘in an ideal world’ features we’d love to add…
But I know Sam will l take some convincing, I can already hear him complaining about “behaviours …flame collision …path-finding…AGH” but I start rigging them anyway.
Hell it worked for Skyrim!
I start up Softimage XSI (I know it’s outdated, but I started using it before Autodesk ditched it, so I intend to finish Barbara-ian before moving over to Maya).
I manage to envelope the Dragon successfully enough to do a quick capture and post the results as a GIF on twitter to canvas support for ‘The HOT Update’ and to bully Sam into accepting them as our next update.
Our followers jump straight on the bandwagon, they love the Dragon and join me in encouraging Sam to help make them a reality.
Finally Sam enthusiastically agrees!
As we’ve developed as a studio so has my role within Owlbear.
Generally speaking I do the modeling, animating and sound design. I export animated models as FBX files and upload everything to Dropbox, then I leave all the really clever stuff to Sam to do in Unity.
However, today, I can tell Sam is going to need more convincing about the HOT Update so I decided to start tinkering around with Unity.
What’s the worst that could happen!?
After seeing my hopeless floundering in Unity, Sam relents and we agree to a Skype call later tonight to discuss Dragons!
So development on Barbara-ian continues, our guiding light through the fog of development is the simple agreement we made when we embarked on Early Access:
‘HOW DO WE KNOW WHEN IT’S FINISHED??
The game is complete if 2 or more of these is true:
- It’s 2016
- No-one’s playing
- We fail to deliver bi-weekly updates
- We stop having fun
- We complete The Task List
So far only one of these is true so I guess tomorrow is another atypical day for Barbara-ian and Owlbear…
Check out Barbara-Ian on steam early access
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