Dev Blog #40: White Rabbit’s a Finalist! Excellence in Visual Arts in the Pavs

Hello dear readers! I have been champing at the bit to tell you our bit of news ever since we heard it, and the day to announce has finally arrived!

We are thrilled to announce that Wonderland Nights: White Rabbit’s Diary has been selected as a finalist in the category ‘Excellence in Visual Arts’ in the NZ Games Festival’s Awards known as The Pavs.

Congratulations and big thanks to our artist Rose Northey! @whenpoetsattack

If you’re in Wellington April 19-25th come and play the demo version!

Now obviously we’ve known about this for a while, but honestly the shine has not dulled off for me at all. I mean, what a thing to help me not feel impostor syndrome about my role as a game dev, right? We’ll be down in Wellington for the exhibition and the awards ceremony, so hopefully see you there if you’re local!

I am also please to announce that the first test build of The Nine Lives of Nim has been sent off to Grand Vision in China for them to take a gander. It was an epic workload, getting 6000 lines of translation in, and the work isn’t over, as I need their approval on font and layouts and to redo any text in the artwork, and there’ll be tons of testing after. But for those of you who only speak English, we’ve just got one more actor’s lines to master (around 150 files out of about 2500) and then a few little sound effects to throw in, and it’s done! Well, except for the testing, which I like to be particularly thorough about, so I will be going through and personally making sure every line of dialogue is correct! And that’s not to mention the code changes that mean huge improvements to gameplay, including the ability to play the whole game more easily from your keyboard now if you wish.

James and I did a livestream of an old gamebook from the 80s last week, which was flirty and fun if you want to laugh/be disgusted, over on our twitch and youtube channels. We’re recording our next podcast episode tonight, and we’re doing another Ravenloft special because we’re in a gothy mood and Ravenloft has been the most popular topic on our youtube channel for getting views and subscribers. Unlike here on the blog, and twitter, which are havens for Dragonlance!

Other than that, we’re just keeping on keeping on between this, parenting, and our day jobs. I’ll keep working on Nine Lives, James will keep working on Dragons and Tirenia, and we’ll keep you posted!

Dev blog #39 – Back at it and loving it

Before I get into how my week has been, let me just advertise right up front that James and I are doing a livestream tonight at 7pm NZ time over on www.twitch.tv/skybeargames . Please join us for a live reading of the game book Ring of the Ruby Dragon which is bound to be a cringey experience of what TSR in the 80s thought would appeal to girls.

I am very happy to say that last Friday I finally managed to knuckle down and get some work done on The Nine Lives of Nim. James could see I was freaking out, so he made some arrnagements so I could focus in the evenings, and now I can say that 10 out of 12 actor’s voices are completely in the game now, all the code changes I wanted to make have been done and tested, and I am now in the process of creating the translation build. There’s some 6000+ strings or lines of dialogue to be copied into the code, so it will take a few more evenings before I have a working build ready to send to China for a first pass. And not only is it a relief to get back to all of this, but I am actually just loving the act of coding again after being far too busy to do any!

The next steps for that process are: to finish getting all of the voices in, and the few sound effects I have decided would enhance the game; finish putting in all the translations plus the Chinese font and the ability to switch languages; await feedback on the Chinese translation build because there is always changes in something like that, you never get it right first time; once all the voices and sounds are in, do a full regression test of the English version of the game, which at the very least means running through enough times that I hear every line of dialogue spoken, and through every new line of code that was added or changed; then when the Chinese team is happy with the game, a full regression test of the Chinese version, which for me means making sure I hear every line of dialogue again, since I can’t read Simplified Chinese!

And then finally after that, hopefully the multiple European and Japanese White Rabbit versions will be complete enough for me to do a full regression on them too! There is a lot on my plate for the next while! And eventually, goodness knows when, I’ll get back to Her Jentle Hi-ness! One day, I swear…

James meanwhile has reached 91,500 as of yesterday. He’s optimistic as he gets closer and closer to his target! But it is a little bit like climbing up a sand dune, as he does delete chunks out of his previous work every time he sits down to start writing. Still, he’s nearly made it!

Hope to see you at the livestream tonight, otherwise catch it later on Twitch or our Youtube channel, which has been gaining subscribers every day since we talked about Magic last week. I should have known that would happen!

Upcoming livestream: Choose your own adventure but giiiiirly

Choose your own adventure and find love because you’re a giiiiiiirl! uwu

If you didn’t already know, James loves game books and they influenced him a lot as a child. He found a set of the girly game books that TSR published back in the 80s and he is going to subject me to it on Thursday night 7pm, NZ time. I look forward to cringing a lot.

Join us on Thursday night 7pm for a livestream of the giiiiirly romance game book ‘Ring of the Ruby Dragon’ at www.twitch.tv/skybeargames

Livestreaming LEGO Lord of the Rings tomorrow!

To celebrate the birthday of JRR Tolkien and raise funds for Project Northmoor, James and I will be playing LEGO Lord of the Rings from start to finish (probably just story mode finish, not 100% collectables completion) on our Twitch channel starting from 10am NZT on Sunday 3rd January. It could go from as little as ten hours, to seventeen, or even longer… So come and join us! We’ll be counting up any swears for the swear jar, and if you challenge resident Middle Earth expert James to a trivia challenge, if he gets it wrong we pay $1, and if he answers then you pay $1 to Project Northwood. Can’t wait to see you there!

Also here are the videos we made to promote this over the last week, if you want to see them 😀

Dev blog #29 – Resolutions

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!

Many blessings for the new year from us!

Dev Blog #27 – Half a year gone!

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!

Dev Blog #22 – Join us in a good cause!

Before I get started on how our week has been, let me first point out that tonight, for 24 hours straight, James and I will be livestreaming kid-friendly games as a part of Gaming for Charity. If you donate at www.gamingforcharity.nz/skybeargames , that donation will go to Heart Kids NZ, supporting Kiwi kids with heart conditions and their families in their time of need. You can also suggest a game for us to play, and if you take part yourself, we will donate to your cause too!

So, what has been up all week?

Well, James is feeling like he’ll get back to work on the Kickstarter drafts not this week coming, but the next, because he feels like he needs more of a break (I agree). As for me, I am actually on a little bit of a break too, and that’s only because I am waiting for the last few things I need to finish implementing and testing for the re-release of Nine Lives. I can’t do anything while I’m waiting. And I have pledged to myself to do no more work on Her Jentle Hi-ness until December!

Is that pledge going to last the month? We’ll see. I’m going a little bit crazy without any major project to work on. There are three things I am waiting on other people from. Nine Lives is one, and the other two I can’t speak about just yet. But I am champing at the bit to know about those ones so I can tell you what’s up, and so I can know what my month is going to look like!

There’s really not a lot else to talk about, sorry. Hurry up and wait, that’s the current status! We are continuing on with our livestream D&D for potentially 3 more weeks, as I have at a minimum 3 more cities I need the characters to visit. We’ll see if we get around to a podcast this week, because we are a little busy with the livestream. I would really like to. I really enjoy doing the podcast, especially when the conversation is on a roll and people really know what they are talking about.

Anyway, that’s enough dithering. I hope to see you at the stream tonight!

Dev blog #21: Some rest for the weary

We’ve had a little bit of a break after Armageddon. James has discovered the joys of the Pauper format of Magic: the Gathering, and I’ve gotten back to video games, finally finishing the main story of Final Fantasy XV after 10 months of playing, and getting back to Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey after… good god, I started it two years ago XD

We have not be completely idle though. We’ve been:

  • Looking into avenues to sell the leftover copies of Double Cross
  • Planning a little event in Takapuna, more on that when it is official
  • Tinkering away at the website www.skybeargames.com and keeping the social media up to date daily
  • Planning a future release schedule for Dragons of Tirenia and at this stage just talking big ideas, not actively working on it
  • Getting everything set up for our charity stream next week (donate to HeartKidsNZ at www.gamingforcharity.nz/skybeargames )
  • Preparing a test build of Her Jentle Hi-ness (basically just the demo on itch.io, but with the new art and a few usability improvements) to send to a testing company to get an estimate from them – a first for me, as I am pretty happy to test my own games, but if the price is reasonable, it could be worth it

Livestream tonight 7.30pm NZT, wrapping up season one of Apprentices of Tirenia so we can take a little break. There’s still more story to go, but we need to look at our scheduling for it, as Thursday nights might actually be better spent with James getting out to local games stores and networking over cards and/or roleplaying. Also with the big charity stream next week, we need to take a break anyway.

So ah… yeah! Weird to not have as much to say as usual. But we really are trying to take a break, honest!

Dev blog #19 – White Rabbit’s Diary Released!

Hi all. What a week! Let’s start with an announcement…

Wonderland Nights is now re-released with full voice acting, new art, and quality updates. Check out our instagram and facebook as we profile each of the actors in the game.

WHAT ELSE…

New podcast episode out – just a short one, about our favourite games, here: https://www.spreaker.com/episode/41519578 . This weekend at Armageddon we’ll see what the sound quality is like in the hall, but we’re thinking of recording some content there. It also depends on how busy we are and if we run into any interesting people there (certainly, we’ll be sitting with one, our board game publisher Julia from Cheeky Parrot Games! We’ll see if she wants to talk 🙂 )

Our third episode of Apprentices of Tirenia went well, you can check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLv-uX03VmexJxjHebLgo-tCNDKtGX3vuQ

How is the Armageddon prep going? Well… it’s actually almost done! After freaking out at how large the list still was one week ago, it turns out there were a lot of little tasks, and doing them was faster than I thought! James is still perfecting his characters and adventures that he’s running on the four days, but he said to me this morning he could run it now if he had to. So there we go. Besides a bit of shopping and picking stuff up tomorrow… we’re actually ready!

I also really only just remembered in the last 48 hours that we’re selling stuff tomorrow. Like, I’ve been so head down in the work that I forgot about how we might be making back some of the literally hundreds of dollars we spent on this. Cross fingers… to be honest I don’t expect to make a profit, but breaking even or near about would be awesome. We’ve got my two PC games for sale together at $15, the Dragons of Tirenia Introductory Guide at $10 physical or $5 digital copy, and our board game Cat Capers at $25. All of this is cheaper than you’ll find anywhere else. Hopefully the pledge and get a sticker campaign is going to get a bit of buzz going around our stall.

Oh and by the way, you can check out our new website at www.skybeargames.com , designed by our niece Lauren, and also www.dragonsoftirenia.com which I just finished up today.

Finally, I expect to be wrapping up The Nine Lives of Nim by 12th November. Fingers crossed for me! I’m pretty sure I’ll get it done, after seeing how Wonderland Nights went.

All right… tomorrow, into the breach! Wish us luck! Next time I write you, it will all be in the past!!

Dev Blog #18 – Super busy!!!

Tomorrow it’s a week until Armageddon Expo. AHHHHHHHH! How much of the last week can I remember to write this blog entry…

Tonight is our third episode of our Apprentices of Tirenia livestream. It’s going really well. Last week was great. I ended up dropping way more of the metaplot than I thought I would. But that’s ok! I have plenty more of the metaplot to go. This campaign might last maybe 6 sessions in total. We’ll see. Join us over on www.twitch.tv/skybeargames at 7.30pm NZ time tonight!

We’ll record our podcast tonight too, and because we’re so busy it’s just going to be a short and easy topic this time. Hardly any research needed, because it is our personal all time greats!

DRAGONS OF TIRENIA – My work is mostly done on this for now, except for daily advertising on Instagram and preparing everything we physically need at our stall. Meanwhile, James is slaving away on the expo campaign and the pre-gen characters for it.

THE NINE LIVES OF NIM – So I am dropping a mini-update THIS WEEKEND. Why? I’m running out of time to implement the voice acting for this before the expo, so I am testing the art changes, additional content and the quality upgrades, and then releasing this update, with the promise that the voice acting update is coming in November.

WONDERLAND NIGHTS – I am halfway through importing the voice acting for this, and then I have to test it, but this is going to be fully updated in time for the expo. Yippee!!

What’s next? What’s the big thing I am not talking about? Well, there is something else HUGE in our gaming world right now that I don’t want to talk about in case it comes to nothing. Unless you are a Patron! In which case I will dish over on the Patreon page later today. So come on over if you want some secret gossip.

Next week will be go time… if there ever was any other kind of time!!