A little under a year ago I was playing around on Itch, exploring what it had to offer and trying to figure out how I wanted to engage with it. I found the Game Jams and I got a wee bit addicted , signed up to a bunch I never completed, but there was one I really stuck with for the whole year. Each month, there was a themed jam for Bitsy, a small HTML game maker. I decided to tell a three act story with it in twelve parts. I’ve learnt a lot about being flexible within the constraints of a platform in order to tell the story I want to tell. I usually had an idea of where the chapter would go next, but the month’s theme would then sway that idea either completely, or just in a little way. For this twelfth episode, the word ‘Candles’ made me think of the room pictured below, and inspired the entire ending, so that’s the sort of sway the themes had on me. Meanwhile, even once I had the theme and my story, the other thing that would sway, or even completely change what I made as the final game was the restrictions of the platform itself. You have to be careful with only three colours to work with. You have to be clever about how you make locked doors when the platform itself has no support for it (except they added support for it halfway through the year [too late for Episode 1, of course!]). So all in all, I have no regrets about my time with Bitsy, but I am looking forward to not stressing out about it every month and just focusing on the upcoming re/releases. Please enjoy the final chapter, and I recommend replaying the first eleven first if you have the time: https://skybeargames.itch.io/street-rat-xii
And by the way, the ending you get could affect our long-term campaign, so I am keen to hear what happens to you if you play it!
I’ll try not to double up on information that I gave on the podcast the other day, but it is time to reflect and think about what the next year holds in store for Sky Bear Games.
DRAGONS OF TIRENIA – James will continue to work on this, as will I where needed. I have a bit of a goal to get it on Kickstarter by at the very latest October 2021. But I also am flexible on that. No point just creating stress for myself and James.
WONDERLAND NIGHTS is wrapped for now! I might need to lend additional help for the further translation releases of course, but until I hear more from the company I’m working with in Europe, nothing is happening there. And of course I may need to make small corrections on the Chinese version when asked, but I have done that so many times now that it’s easy.
NINE LIVES OF NIM however is back in full swing, or at least back in full swing for me, because it has been playing second fiddle to Wonderland for a while now. I’m doing additional coding and helping with voices and translation, Lauren’s on the voices side of things, and Britney is translating. I expect to be able to release the voice acting update in Jan/Feb. I would estimate a second quarter release for the Chinese version but that’s pure speculation based on how fast Wonderland Nights was.
HER JENTLE HI-NESS will sadly not get focus until Nine Lives is thoroughly out the door, let’s just be honest. I have been doing bits and pieces for it here and there but there is only so much time in the day! But a major question I had for it is now solved, thanks to Lauren, and if you want to hear what she came up with for the problem of what to do with the voices, you can hear that on the most recent episode of the podcast.
SPEAKING OF THE MOST RECENT PODCAST, if you haven’t listened to it, we are running a competition there. On the episode, we cover 7 different game ideas for what I could do next after Her Jentle Hi-ness. If you would like to win our back catalogue (Nine Lives, White Rabbit and the Dragons of Tirenia intro guide) then write to us here or on any of our social accounts before 8th January with what you’d like to see next out of those options, and you’ll be in the draw!
SMALLER PROJECTS, HOME CAMPAIGNS etc. – I am about to finish and release the final chapter of Street Rat. That’s the game/s I have been making since January as part of the monthly Bitsy Game Jam. I have learnt a lot from working with a limited platform and engaging with other people’s creations on the same platform, but now is the time, at the end of the 12-part story, to call it quits. The monthly jams have been fun but they have also been a source of stress as other things in my life have often lead to me leaving it to the last minute and working until the wee hours of the night/morning to get them done. Speaking of other things being a source of stress, James has made a resolution to stop starting new RPG campaigns (haha, good luck!) but rather to finish the ones he has started. I for one am looking forward to getting back to Dirwin, now that baby is sleeping better at night. We won’t be streaming that, but I will be keeping up the Dirwin blog as I always have since the start of it, right here!
PODCAST, STREAMING AND OTHER PERIPHERAL MEDIA – we’ll see how this all goes. James and I have been having fun doing the podcast, but if it becomes a hassle, we might drop it after reaching the one year mark. We’ll see, because he’s got a lot of RPG content he can talk about (we’ll be doing Dark Sun sooner or later!). We have vague plans to do more streaming, especially bi-monthly charity streams. But we do sort of want to wait a bit to improve our production quality a bit before we do any additional dedicated streaming. I dunno, it’s a chicken/egg problem, because what’s the point of expending time on money on improving the stream when there are few viewers, but then also there are few viewers because of the low quality of the stream… But basically the end of that train of thought for me is always that James and I are more interested in doing creative work first and foremost, rather than streaming for the hell of it. If I was able to work on Sky Bear Games full time, perhaps we would become a lot more serious about streaming.
I think that about covers it? But basically we are keeping on keeping on, and hoping that 2021 brings us a little relief from some of the stressors of this year. What were those, and how can we avoid them? Well, I have spoken already about shedding some of the extra commitments, so that will help. Sinking a bunch of money into Armageddon was a rookie mistake, but we have learnt that the hard way. I feel like finally we are starting to bounce back from that both emotionally and financially. I think for both of us, we need to be a bit more serious and say no to each other, especially when whatever grand scheme we come up with involves too much money or time used. We are both waaaaaaaay too good at coming up with exciting new ideas, but I hope that the negative lessons we learnt this year will help us to mature a little past the drive to immediately launch into weak or ill-conceived projects.
But make no mistake, or enthusiasm to get our projects out there for your enjoyment has not diminished. Hopefully we have just improved our ability and capacity to do these things and do them well!
That’s right, Wonderland Nights is about to be released in Chinese! The release date is the 28th, or rather then 29th for me here in little Aotearoa.
I’ve actually got nothing left to do for it so far as I am aware! So I have been focusing on the next thing, which is the Nine Lives of Nim re-release with voice acting. I’m helping Lauren by cutting up some of the larger uncut voice files, and she is editing the cut files to make them sound more uniform and nice on the ears. Once I’m done helping her I will be making a few improvements to the code and general user experience, and then importing all the voice files in once they are ready to go.
Starting to look more and more like I’ll miss my February goal for releasing Her Jentle Hi-ness because of how much work I still have to do on Nine Lives. Oh well, these things happen.
Later on this week, the final Bitsy jam begins. The theme is candles. I’ve got to let that sit with me and let it inspire me for the content of the final chapter of the Street Rat story. I think I know a few things I have to include, but as always the jam theme has to inform where I go with that.
James is sick, so he hasn’t been able to progress any further with his word count on Dragons of Tirenia this week. I think he needed the break anyway, but I wish it could have been for more relaxing reasons, rather than bronchitis!
So my usual partner for podcasting is missing in action, and tonight is recording night. What will I do instead… well, I think I’ll get my friend, and someone who has been very involved in the process of many of our games, Lauren Wilson, to come on the podcast and we’ll just chat about what we think the year 2021 is going to look like for Sky Bear Games. I’m really looking forward to it! Especially because I feel like I need some outside guidance for my future after the current three games are wrapped.
Hey, it’s been half a year since I started doing this whole weekly blog thing. Has it been helping? Well, not yet, seems to be my feeling. There’s a little bit of awareness of who we are and what we do, we get a little bit of love from followers/supporters every week, and I appreciate that. Thank you! Like I say to James, I believe that if we just keep being ourselves and posting our blogs, podcasts, and livestreams, our audience will find us one day. If we can have a proven track record behind us of regular content, then new audience members coming in will see that they can have a certain level of trust that we won’t just vanish next week. It might seem pointless at times, but in time I think we’ll thank ourselves.
Well, there are important things coming up which are going to expand our audience. Obviously, Wonderland Nights: White Rabbit’s Diary coming out in less than two weeks in China is going to be potentially quite big. I’ve never done anything remotely like that before, so we’ll see how it goes! I have high hopes, but perhaps I need to tone those hopes down a little so they don’t get dashed. But the latest update with White Rabbit is that I have finished my testing 100%, so now it’s up to the Grand Vision team to finish their testing, and then we are good to go!
The translator I am working with there has gone straight into The Nine Lives of Nim, and I need to go straight into that too now that White Rabbit is well underway. I need to do a bit of sound editing, pop the finished sound files into the game, and I need to make a few fixes and improvements. I need to hurry up and do that so I can give my translator any new strings I come up with!
Meanwhile, James continues with Dragons of Tirenia (17,000 words until he hits 100k!) and I am continuing with adding slowly to the new Jentle Hi-ness storylines. We’ve got a new podcast episode out: https://www.spreaker.com/episode/42497198 , in which we dissect James’s childhood nostalgia for Dragonlance. It’s a good time!
What else is going on… we’re almost wrapped on the Discord, and have an announcement about what is happening next there coming up once that is done. We are wrapping Apprentices of Tirenia tomorrow in a daytime livestream! The final Bitsy jam I will take part in will be very soon, if not this weekend then the next presumably. And I think that about does it for this week. Thanks for reading!
Everything is back on this week. James is back at it again with the drafting of the Dragons of Tirenia campaign guides. He’s aiming for 100,000 words for the draft, then he’s going to peel back a bit of that in the editing and redrafting process.
As for me this week, there are a bunch of new things for you to check out:
I have just finished editing the podcast and the videos for it, you can check it out here: https://www.spreaker.com/episode/42274048 or on our YouTube channel. Our topic this week is Capitalism in roleplaying games.
I’m resuming work on Her Jentle Hi-ness now, adding extra storylines, locales and characters, improving the stuff that is already there, and getting the game mechanics just right. I’m hoping to have everything done by the end of February so I can join Nanoreno 2021 and start the next one!
Meanwhile, work on the Chinese translation of Wonderland Nights is going really well! All that we are waiting on is converting any text in the art, and then we can test in earnest. So exciting!
Well, it feels weird to finally be able to say it, but Armageddon is over, and we came out the other end. I’ll do a bit of a recap here, but if you want to hear how the weekend campaign went storywise, you’ll want to tune into our livestream tonight on www.twitch.tv/skybeargames or after that on YouTube. If you want to know what went on behind the scenes in the campaign e.g. mechanics, cause and effect etc, then stay tuned for our podcast episode which will be released on Monday. And if you want to know the inside baseball, besides just the little bit I am going to say below, then sign up to our Patreon for the real goss.
What I will say here is this:
It was utterly exhausting and we ate waaaaaay too much fried food and spent more money on merch than we should have
The weekend campaign went really well and James delighted players all weekend long
The viral marketing idea with the stickers and the voting was all right. Many people found it more confusing than it should have been, but some people got addicted to it and would drag people over to us to vote. So mixed result there.
It was lovely to spend the whole weekend with our board game publisher Julia from Cheeky Parrot Games. Pretty rare for me to be able to spend a weekend with someone in a high-pressure situation like that and not get a bit annoyed by them, but I never felt annoyed at Julia, she was a perfect stall-mate.
I think that’s all I’ll say for now, here, and for free 😀 If you want to know the more brutally honest reflection, you can find our inside baseball episode on our Patreon in a day or two.
So what’s next?
The next three things on my plate are: make a Bitsy game for the jam which is due on Monday; add in all the voice acting, do a regression test and re-release The Nine Lives of Nim; and do the charity stream. Not sure I’ve mentioned that before, so check out this little ad below, or www.gamingforcharity.nz/skybeargames
For James, he is taking a break, and when he is ready he will get back to developing the campaign setting guide for the Kickstarter. He has some really exciting ideas of how to publish it. More on that closer to the time.
There’s more planned, but I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself for now. Maybe next week, we’ll see.
Anyway, I hope you’ll pop over to our livestream or podcast to see what happened on the weekend campaign. It was epic. James will break it all down for you so you can understand what happened. See you there!
Coming to you live from that holiday we kept promising ourselves 😀
Well, to be honest, it has only been a holiday in some ways. We keep working hard as always. But we’ve made a lot of progress. James has reached 75,000 words for his Tirenia campaign setting, and is taking a break from that to make a Quick Start Guide in time for Armageddon Expo Auckland.
This week I got my Bitsy finished, as you can see in the last blog post. Then I spent three days working hard on new scenes for Prince of Cats. This is to address one piece of feedback I got on a Steam review, saying they wished there was more to the romance plots. So I’ve added more depth into each of the minor marriageable options.
Also happening this week with Prince of Cats… I’ve got voice actors recording away! Exciting times. Everyone who owns the game already can look forward to getting these new romance plots and voice acting in a free update. But there is still more to come… watch this space!
Today I’ll start rework on the code of the demo of Her Jentle Hi-ness. I’ve got more plots to add in, and more depth to add to the mechanics. Later tonight we’ll record our podcast episode. Since we’re on holiday we’re going to make it easy on ourselves and just talk about something we know already and don’t need to do too much research into, and that is the Ravenloft campaign setting: its history, its different domains, and then a deep dive into Curse of Strahd. See you there!
James hit 66,667 words the other day – 2/3rds of the way through his arbitrary 100,000 word goal for writing the Dragon Princes sourcebook. Will he have enough topics to cover to hit that goal? Probably! The dude knows a lot about history and roleplaying, so this is the perfect amalgamation of that.
Recording the next podcast episode tomorrow! You can probably expect it to be all edited and finished by Tuesday.
The next Bitsy jam starts tonight at 7pm, and the theme is frog. Will Ratto be spending the entire episode in frog form? I dunno, maybe 😀
I can’t wait for our creativity holiday starting next Friday… in which I will hopefully finish Her Jentle Hi-ness code-wise, and then it will just be a matter of testing, refining and getting all the art from Sean.
See you… well, sooner than next week, I’ll be letting you know once Street Rat VII is done, and the next episode of the podcast, whichever comes first!