Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Phase 3 - Deficit

Dear diary,

In my last entry we'd got to the second half of 2012. I'd formed C117 Games but was having a little trouble sourcing additional employees. Before we begin I feel it's only fair to issue you a warning; phase 3 may be a bit of a downer. No kittens were killed but it wasn't the most enjoyable part of the process.

Phase 3 - Deficit

The last half of 2012 was a shocker for me. It all started when Mum died in June; she never even heard Julian's Rosebrooke theme :(. Emotions aside I was executor and, as my Dad died in 2006, this meant all the paperwork and "headfuckery" was left to me. Luckily I get on real well with my family so there were no internal hurdles... just the usual back and forthing with banks, insurance companies, the super supreme court, etc. Actually I have an interesting story about that. Do you mind if I digress? Of course you don't, you're a diary!

For one of the documents I had to declare that I was who I am and that everything I'd written was true. I sat down with the legal witness who passed me a bible and asked me to swear on it. I told them that would be pretty pointless as I didn't believe in a god to which they responded that it was just a formality really. I should have just left it alone but I was annoyed. I asked what the point of having a legal binding process was if the "deal sealer" was me swearing on something I didn't believe in! I also didn't see why they had a verbal swearing on a bible as part of the legal system in the first place. Religion and state? Not on the same plate! Anyway the short of it is that I ended up making a declaration instead of swearing an oath but the whole thing took 2 hours instead of 15 minutes and I missed lunch!

Funny thing was, when I signed my name in the Super Supreme court for probate, the judge didn't even ask me for proof of who I was! So the verbal swearing on the unsigned document was critical but written confirmation to ensure probate is granted justly is irrelephant!?

Anyway, back to the story. In addition to the 10 months of document back and forthing that was to occur I also needed to sell, empty and store the contents of a house, disperse assets, and a bunch of other stuff I won't bother going into detail about. As well as that a few of the essential servers at work bit the dust so I had to convince the financial powers that be to purchase new ones... actually we upgraded them but that's not important. Unfortunately this meant months of meetings whilst I spent a few hours a night doing maintenance to ensure they'd stay up another day.

Add to this a few more family deaths, 7 day work weeks with around 4 hours sleep a night, and financially supporting my family of four...well... it suffices to say that I was a very and tired and busy boy indeed. What's absolutely amazing is that my wife put up with and was supportive of me the entire time! With three kids to look after and dealing with the emotional side of the family deaths herself! She's pretty damn awesome (and that's not just me sucking up coz I KNOW she'll never read this blog)

Now back to C117 Games... you thought I'd forgotten hadn't you? Work had slowed to almost nothing as everyone had loads of stuff happening. I understood this 100% as our gratis/fun job must come second to things that actually pay our bills. New team members would join but then submit no work or not participate in discussions... one person even joined, submitted work, then asked for a ton of cash! It was all very depressing as I could feel the team drifting apart but was too brain fried to figure out what to do.

It was at that point I decided that money was the answer. I figured that, if I paid my existing guys, then I'd feel better as I'd not be ripping them off. Their name in the credits and "game art" for their portfolio was good but hardly decent compensation. I also thought that providing a monetary incentive for new staff members might be the draw card I needed to get some keen, dedicated new workers.

So I trundled off to Bendigo Bank to see about getting a loan... well, probably not trundle. I don't even know how to trundle. If someone has a vid of a person trundling please link it below for me. Any lawyer will tell you the right way to do things is to create a holding company and take the loan out in that name. That way, if things go pear shaped, you're not directly liable and your assets are safe. That just felt morally "wrong" to me... which seems kinda stupid now I write it down.

After a bit of back and forthing we nutted out a basic contract everyone was happy with. I changed the name of the company from C117 to C117 Games, got a new fancy pants logo and we were away. As I owned the artwork now I was able to do a little bit of merchandising so a bunch of T-shirts and things went on sale. Surprisingly we've sold around 12 T-shirts and 5 baby grow suits. I only get just under $2 a shirt but it's nice that people want 'em! If only I'd remembered to put the company name on them...

I'm not sure if you're aware of this but, in order to get money in a business name, some financial institutions ask for this thing called a "mission statement". Now I know mission statements are important however, in my experience, they'd just been airy fairy marketing nonsense that didn't mean much. I was determines to make C117 Games' mission accurate and indicative of the company I wanted us to be. So I put a lot of work into it, ran it by the guys and here it is for your viewing pleasure. I'm quite proud of it so, if you don't like it, bugger off.

Anyway, with tentative contracts in hand, I went on the hunt again. After a bit of searching, and a few more failures, I found Morty, an illustrator who posted work on deviantart. A PM followed by some email back and forthing resulted in a sample image for my lead character Shae and, before long, Morty was part of the team. Great work aside Morty was a perfect fit and has been active in our conversations and idea discussion.

This was a real turning point for me. The game was starting to look how I'd imagined, we were all working well together, my programming was improving and I was figuring out more efficient ways to do things. I felt like a "real" business able to sufficiently reward team members and with a unique, marketable image. 

As the game was "feeling" different the way I'd set it up wasn't working any more. Something felt "off" so I decided to start over and re-write the whole thing from scratch. After brainstorming a bit and reading up on some scripting I was able to make most of the ideas we had happen. It's mostly little stuff like having drawn maps instead of generated, changes to sprites in battle so, when you're dead, your character looks like they're lying down, picture fading in and out instead of popping... all basic stuff that people probably won't directly notice... but that makes the game complete.

Believe it or not that's the summary version of how C117 Games was formed. There's a bunch of other stuff in there about how I tried to get the C117 Games name out there, how we got and lost an interested publisher, and so on but they weren't overly crucial to the crux of the story. I'll tell about my marketing ideas and plans once we reach Stage 4 : Kickstart!... which will probably be "Stage 4 : Anything pozible" as we don't have Kickstarter in Aus :)

The plan from here is to work our asses off and get a demo ready. Once the demo is ready I have a bunch of marketing ideas which we'll put into place and start a crowdfunding project to see if I can get enough money to finish off the project. I could do that now but I want to make sure there's plenty for you all to see when we put it up there. No point asking for your help if we've got nothing to show right?

In the meantime, follow us on Facebook or Twitter if you want to see snippets of what we're up to. I'll keep updating this blog as well and, hopefully, some of the other team members will post a bit about how they do their bits of work too. If you're going to PAX Australia be sure to keep your eye out for people wearing the C117 Games T-shirts. Simon, Michael and myself will be there so, if you see us, feel free to come say hi :)

Goodnight diary


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