Dev blog #32 – The times they are a’changing

Today I got a nice message when I logged in to make this blog post. It’s the six year anniversary of my making this blog site! Where were we back then? January 2015, James and I had left high school teaching and were working frankly rubbish part time jobs while we tried to figure out what it was we wanted to do with our lives. We tried for a few months to get this whole Sky Bear Games thing going. In February we got in touch with Julia from Cheeky Parrot Games and kicked off the process of getting Cat Capers published, and by the end of the year, it was. In March 2015 I started making The Nine Lives of Nim, or as it was known back then Prince of Cats. But we had no real idea what we were doing when it comes to getting our games out there (nor do we still, really), so soon enough we went back to regular jobs and this stayed being a side thing, taking various shapes over the years.

For the most part, before my decision to do a weekly dev blog last July, this was just an occasional RPG session report blog. Will it go back to that after a while? Well, to be honest, I am not sure. Things are changing rapidly in our lives. More on that when I have more concrete things to say.

In the meantime, what have we been up to? James in still on his break from Dragons of Tirenia, and is starting a new Star Wars d6 roleplay on our discord, so please join in if that sounds interesting to you. He is also steadily making his way through the Dragonlance canon to make his reviews – one coming up this Sunday!

As for me, I am currently a bit stalled, waiting for the extra translation work needed for the Spanish and Japanese translations. But it gives me more time to work on the future podcast episodes, and tinker with the voice work for Nine Lives as it comes in. We recorded something rather exciting with some new friends from overseas, but I don’t want to get into that too much as we had some technical errors. We’ll likely have to re-record, so I don’t want to hype it too early!

There is actually more news, as I said before, things are changing rapidly. But I don’t want to jump the gun on anything before it’s official.

Dev blog #31 – Conejo Blanco! ホワイト・ラビット!

That’s right, it’s time to talk about the Spanish and Japanese translations for Wonderland Nights: White Rabbit’s Diary! I am currently working on those, helping the company who are implementing these translations and other upcoming versions to put all the translations into the code. It’s faster for me to do it, rather than them, since I have done it once before for the Chinese release. Currently I am waiting on more translation work to come in and then I’ll have a fully testable build.

Bit of work to still do though! Title still English, and left hand side too small for the Spanish word for Settings!

James meanwhile is taking a bit of a break from Dragons of Tirenia still. Last year he got very burnt out not just on Tirenia from having run almost every game in that setting, but also just being burnt out on the mechanics and drama surrounding Dungeons and Dragons even more so. But he is planning his next steps to move forward: he needs to do a bunch of research into some Italian Renaissance cities he knows little about so he can be re-inspired. Also I might play Assassin’s Creed 2 to help inspire him!

Meanwhile, I hope you are enjoying his Dragonlance review from the other day. He’s busy reading the rest of that first trilogy. Even though I have much less of a connection with Dragonlance, having not grown up with it, I am really getting into how excited he is about it. I might have to read the first trilogy after all! But in fairness, James is trying to get into Elder Scrolls, which is a big thing for me from my late teens. Maybe you’ll see us streaming Morrowind, or even Daggerfall Unity sometime soon!

Exciting podcasts coming up! We just released one, as you may have seen in our earlier post. The next one we have slated for Monday after next is with special guests Alex and Eric aka the Bundle Buddies! Check out their podcast here, and stay tuned because we’ll be guesting on their podcast too!

Dev blog #30 – First week of the new year

What a week! We had a fun time livestreaming LEGO Lord of the Rings, and in the end it was just under 12 hours. In the end we raised $110USD for Project Northmoor. We would have liked to get more attention around the cause, but we made a couple of new friends on the stream, as well as from our #DwarfNameChallenge videos. We’re making a few plans to get into streaming more, but it’s a balance between what we’re interested in streaming, and what people are interested in watching. We had some requests for various Star Wars games though, and that we are happy to do!

Efforts with all our usual projects continue as normal. There is further movement on Wonderland Nights, aside from the success of the Chinese version – the Japanese and Spanish versions are well underway! I have contributed to that a little this week.

I was filled with inspiration last night and came up with lots of ideas for the next game, the one I intend to do for the Nanoreno Game Jam this year. If you listened to the last episode of the podcast, you might remember this as the one with the working title ‘Demon Summoner’. At this stage I am only allowed to write notes to myself to plan the game, and not actually do any creation of code or assets, but I have a good start on the notes. The better my initial design ideas are outlined and laid out clearly, the better the actual design of the game goes – as anyone who works in computer programming knows!

Meanwhile on a personal note, I got back in Pokemon GO this week. Wow, the game has come so far from where it started back in 2016, which was when I last played. There is way more incentive to do just about everything that the game offers. This is good, as I remember getting quickly bored of the first iteration of the game. In general I have been getting back into Pokemon in a big way lately… who knows, maybe I’m going to end up streaming Sword and/or Shield one of these days…

Keep your eyes peeled for another post later this week… James has a review coming up that should be highly entertaining!

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!

Wonderland Nights: White Rabbit’s Diary… or rather, 仙境之夜:白兔奇幻记 , out now on Steam!

That’s right! Last night my first translated work was officially released. And since then I’ve had to fix a bunch of minor things, sorry about all the updates!! But the achievements should all be working now, and there have been a minor translation improvement. There are even some reviews on the game now, which is very exciting for me. Thank goodness for Google translate so I can get an approximation of what is being said 😀 The link to see it is here: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1408540/_/

Big thanks to Grand Vision, and especially the people I worked with most closely, Britney and Ruby, who made it a very pain-free experience!

Episode 14: SBG’s plans for 2021 with special guest Lauren Wilson

This week we have our special guest Lauren Wilson – producer, voice actor, sound engineer, work wife, cheerleader, you name it! – talking with me about the plans Sky Bear Games have in store for 2021. I’ll break it all down here as well on Thursday. We had a fun conversation, but unfortunately large chunks of it got corrupted through me being terrible at all this recording guff. I’ve learnt a few lessons, that’s for sure! But I have stitched together what I could, so please enjoy! https://www.spreaker.com/episode/42689001

Dev blog #28 – Countdown to China

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.

We finished Apprentices of Tirenia last week and wrapped it up with an epilogue and retrospective. Here it is in its complete state: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLv-uX03VmexJxjHebLgo-tCNDKtGX3vuQ

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.

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 #26 – Go time

Hiya folks, another week and it’s still all on! What’s up this week with all the projects…

DRAGONS OF TIRENIA: We have the penultimate episode of the Apprentices of Tirenia live play happening TONIGHT 7.30pm NZT on www.twitch.tv/skybeargames . Check out the map I am planning below. I have been looking forward to this for A LONG TIME. Also, James is working away at the first draft, and our current Discord adventure is wrapping up. We’re probably going to be instituting some major changes to how we roleplay on Discord after this, so watch that space.

WONDERLAND NIGHTS: WHITE RABBIT’S DIARY is now being tested by Grand Vision and myself for release in China. That’s right, the translations are done, the art with Chinese text is all done, so we’re just testing now and making any small changes we need to make. It should be out in China by the end of December!! So exciting!!!

My next focus after Wonderland Nights needs to be THE NINE LIVES OF NIM: FORTUNE’S FOOL, especially because they are now translating the dialogue for that! Lauren is chipping away at the recordings and getting them ready for me to import. I’ve got some art additions from Jade to put in, and I want to make some small improvements to gameplay, especially around the introduction of the game, as was pointed out by the guys at the Bundle Buddies podcast. It’s actually a wee bit intimidating! But that might be because I am deep in White Rabbit brain right now, and I just need to shift my brain back when I can.

Last but not least on my list of work to do is HER JENTLE HI-NESS which, believe it or not, is still being worked on despite being lower on the pile. I am writing the extra storylines I want to put in. There’s still a lot of overhauling to do, especially in terms of UI, gameplay difficulties, and other feedback I’ve gotten. If you’d like to give me more feedback and get into the credits of the final release, playtest the demo here!

After that, well, we’ll see. I would still quite like to Androidify the back catalog – remember when that was briefly my main thing back in July? Haha, how time flies. I want to get back to that in time. In the meantime, though, thanks for reading, and catch you tonight at the livestream!

Dev blog #25 – All on

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:

The eleventh chapter of the Bitsy adventures of Ratto is now up. Only one chapter to go! Check it out here: https://skybeargames.itch.io/street-rat-xi

There is a new demo of Her Jentle Hi-ness up on Itch, and if you give some feedback on the current state of the game mechanics, I will put your name in the credits! Visit it here: https://skybeargames.itch.io/her-jentle-hi-ness

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!