State of The Bagel | March 2023
Here in lies the first ever “State of The Bagel” address.
The title may sound silly, but I want to write out some goals. Even though I've been off and on with game dev, I still am hopeful some amazing things will come out of this. Someday.
The what and why are coming up next, but let me first show a table of contents since it is a long post.
Table of Contents
- Upcoming Projects
- Ongoing Work
- Final Thoughts
What is the State of The Bagel?
Think of this as a road map mixed with a dev blog.
I'll share about the projects I'm looking to complete next. They aren't dated or have deadlines, so they are not like a complete road map, but it is still an important step to state the goals publicly.
Why State of the Bagel?
Well, to state the obvious, to let people know what I've been up to and planning on working on next.
Are people eagerly awaiting this or will a ton of people read this?
No, of course not, BUT…
I've realized it is always a letdown when you work on anything privately and wait to release it until you finish. It is way more fun to share the journey.
These are also projects I want to stick to. If you know me, I get easily distracted starting new projects and learning new things. I have been thinking about what I want to focus on for a while, and now I want to write them out and share them publicly.
A look back 2.5 years
Before getting into the upcoming projects, a quick retrospective.
In July 2020, I released Dave-Man.
Of course, I made some updates in the following months, took some time off, monitored sales (or lack thereof), questioned life decisions, and played some games myself.
Seriously, it is kind of rough post-release if your game doesn't get much attention. I knew it wouldn't get a lot, so I thought I'd expect it, but it just seems to come and go as quickly as a tweet. The difference is investment - a tweet can be made in seconds; years can be spent on a game.
I should probably do a post-mortem post, the classic “why my game flopped,” but I was just getting at taking some time off and not being excited to jump to the next project.
I have been getting back into a few things and doing some things behind the scenes. I have been organizing my Survive The Day art to find items when needed. It has really helped out when working on anything Survive The Day Related.
In your face, lilou_cormic!
Also, I've been working on my website, which I guess isn't technically “behind the scenes.”
So a look back doesn't have much to list, but I want to focus more now.
Here are the upcoming projects I am looking to work on, in this order:
- Heartache Music Video
- Survive The Day Level 1 (remake)
- Dave-Man: Update and Contest
- Survive The Day Level 2 (remake)
- Start New Survive The Day Game
Heartache Music Video (Unofficial/Fan)
I've been intermittently working on a music video for the last two months. It is almost done now, with just a few final tweaks and touches remaining.
It started about six months ago when a friend released a new album. I wanted to think of a unique way I could support him.
From my experience releasing Dave-Man, I realized the main thing is attention. Not in a vain way, but when you put a lot of energy into a creation, you primarily want people to enjoy your creation.
I tried to make a music video as simple as possible, as I wanted to share something with him soon. It wasn't polished or finished, but he seemed to enjoy and appreciate it.
Life got busy for a while. A trip to Europe, the holidays, and then a cross-country move. Four months later, I decided to work on the music video more.
It was one of those things where I just wanted to finish it for myself. I want to be able to say I've made a music video with my pixel art. That is way more satisfying than saying, oh well, I started something once but quit because of XYZ.
I've added a lot, so it isn't quite as repetitive and has more going on. Maybe not as much as a professional one, but I'm pretty happy with it!
It has also stretched my animation skills. I have been lazy in the past, taking an easy or clever way out when I can. But by giving more complex animations, this will carry on into future games.
To wrap this section up, I showed the artist, and he said I could share this fan music video (as I don't have copyrights to his music, of course). So I will share little clips soon and then share the entire video once wholly finished.
So look for that soon!
Survive The Day Level 1 Remake
For those unfamiliar with it, Survive The Day level 1 is Dave trying to get his coffee without Chatty Cathy catching him. Yes, the same premise as Dave-Man, but instead of Pac-Man mechanics, it is more Metal Gear Solid inspired.
Survive The Day Level 1 is not currently uploaded anywhere. There were integrations with Facebook to register your high score and other integrations with the page to load and refresh the high score table. Since neither of those is active, Facebook login or the high score database, I didn't want to upload and confuse people.
Heat map for where all of you "Daves" got caught by Chatty Cathy!— Lou Bagel (@LouBagelCombo5) November 10, 2017
How do you feel about #indiedev collecting data on you? 🤪
...in Level 1 of Survive The Day (#STD), for those unaware pic.twitter.com/BXaPJegY4p
I completely forgot about all the stats I was keeping on the game. Another thing I can't implement easily in my new setup, but it was nice remembering this!
The good news for this remake is twofold:
- I had already started a new Survive The Day project in Construct. I added the art and started implementing basic mechanics. After doing so, I realized this takes care of much work needed for STD Level 1.
- Second, I hope to re-use this work in future projects. I will test using the same project file for multiple Survive The Day projects. Or, at minimum, start from the same file, so I'm not starting from scratch.
When making SunnySide Smash, I created a high-score system that I can implement on multiple games. Therefore, I plan to implement that here as well. The backend and core code are easily re-used, but I'll have to tailor the UI to each game.
Any ideas for a Survive The Day High Scores Interface? A DOS-looking screen?
It has been over ten years since I first made this the first time. Hopefully, I've leveled up my game dev skills in that time and can finally getting to address Retronator's issues with the game.
Dave-Man: Update and Contest
I haven't touched Dave-Man in a long time. There hasn't been a reason to handle it. Because sadly, it rarely gets played.
Every game has a list of things the developer wants to add or implement. So even though I wanted to add plenty, I think I can feel done after this update.
There is one thing I already had implemented but removed before release. I wanted to flesh it out more, so I thought I'd pull it and add it back shortly. It was also an area I could have a bit of fun with, so I didn't want to rush it.
Along with the update, I want to have a contest.
A new achievement will be added in the update. To simplify it, I figure the first person to get that achievement gets a prize. Cash. I am thinking $250.
Why give away cash?
My goal with Dave-Man was to release a game. I didn't focus on marketing and promotion.
After the dev work was done, though, I had more time. Even though it was too late, I started taking a look at marketing and promotion. My focus was mostly to learn for next time, but that also meant dabbling and getting my hands a bit dirty testing things out with Dave-Man.
I say this to mention one type of service. There are services that try to get Streamers and YouTubers to play your game. There are a few different ones and they work differently, but I tried one. I think I put like a bounty of $50 up to play Dave-Man, or maybe my budget total was $50. Anyway, I don't remember how it worked exactly, but I wanted to give it a try to see if anyone would stream Dave-Man.
Honestly, it was more despairing than the lack of sales. Now I was trying to pay people to play my game, and still no bites!
With marketing, you typically need to invest the money up front and hope to get a return on your money. Maybe hope isn't the right word, but in my case I think it is.
Instead of throwing that money at a marketing service, why not throw it straight to the players? Or, a player, singular. Basically, cutting out the middle man.
Getting to watch even a handful of people streaming Dave-Man again and to make one person's day, it sounds worth it.
Worst case, no one cares about the contest. I will be sad, but at least I don't have to pay the money.
More Details Later
More details will come on the contest when it is all figured out. I don't want to give anyone a head start.
...or should I drop hints along the way? A reward for following my updates? Ha!
Survive The Day Level 2 Remake
Survive The Day Level 2 is in almost the same boat as level 1. Therefore, I don't need to cover the same things.
The biggest issue with STD Level 2 was the size of the office. Most of the game was pointless walking back and forth to get where you needed to get. I will make the office smaller, increase the movement speed, and see what other clever solutions I can add to mitigate this.
Maybe have Chatty Cathy follow you the entire time? Just to entertain/annoy you while walking?
The game was Clue inspired, so the other big issue was keeping track of previous guesses. A few people wrote down all the clues and prior guesses. Most people, though, I assumed, randomly guessed until they got it correct.
Adding a sheet similar to a clue to keep track of everything would make it more enjoyable and fun to implement. People still have the option to randomly guess if they want, ha.
Besides that, implement the high scores table and see what else I can enjoy adding, like additional animations or little details.
Start a New Survive The Day Game
I have been planning my next game for a bit now. Primarily working on the story aspect, which also involves much googling and YouTubing on properly crafting a story.
Though the game's narrative is driving the planning, I've also considered gameplay aspects and mechanics. I definitely want anyone that doesn't care about story or hates reading dialouge to still enjoy this game.
My current thought is to hit all the genres in various aspects. Okay, not ALL, but definitely a variety.
Definitely not as random as Mario Party mini-games, as they will be related to the plot, but I like that concept. What if, to advance the plot, each chapter or obstacle has a mechanic crafter specifically for it?
Instead of finding a universal game mechanic to fit everywhere, each plot can have a mechanic crafted.
It sounds kind of crazy and all over the place, like that won't work, but here is what made me think it is doable.
When I was young, I really enjoyed RPGs. I believe it was because of the plot, open world, and kind of having to figure things out or puzzle solve based on dialogue clues. So I want to keep that vibe.
But when I analyzed whether I like the combat system, it really doesn't do that much for me. There is a rush —-- when you level up your character or even win a fight, but overall, that isn't that exciting.
Also, that RPG combat system doesn't seem to fit into my game - think my office characters, ha.
Looking back at Final Fantasy 7, my favorite thing was Cloud on the motorcycle with that sword. That did not involve the central RPG combat system. It made you feel way more immersed in the escape than if you were fighting random encounter enemies while escaping a building or whatnot. It also fits perfectly into the plot.
I'm sure that the escape sequence and mechanics took a lot of work from the developers. The combat system used in the rest of the game was already set up - it would have been the easiest thing to use. But they decided to elevate it, which I obviously agree was great.
So instead of figuring out a universal mechanic that is fun, balanced, and grows throughout the game, what if I tailor new mechanics to each plotline? I'm not so great at the former, but with most of my dev experience making little prototypes, I feel I'm not so bad at the latter.
I think this also is using what I learned from releasing Dave-Man. I took a gameplay loop that worked for a small or arcade type of game. When making the game longer, I tried to spice it up with tons of different side mechanics - buying upgrades, the whole home life, and basically quests from co-workers. But the players still got tired of the core mechanic. It wasn't enough.
Maybe I just lack experience in making larger games, which involve creating a mechanic that grows and keeps the player's interest. Or perhaps this is kind of a novel idea. Either way, I'm tempted to try it, and it sounds fun to work on.
The above were big projects that I wanted to do in order and focus on one at a time. The below are smaller investments of time that will be sprinkled through.
This one is pretty self explanatory - I've had a list of updates for my website, and I probably always will.
Here are just a few pages I want to add:
- Pixel Art Tools
- Comics Page
- Survive The Day Page
- Merch Page
- Portfolio Page
I don't even have an about page - I'm crazy.
One that I want to comment on - I've been interested in making a few pixel art tools. Some have already been done in some fashion, but I was still interested in doing them.
I made this one in the past: Pixel Art Analyzer and Color Palette Assembler (pictured above). Someone suggested that it could be used as a rogue pixel detector. The purpose would be to check your art for pixels not in your palette.
So I bought some Land in The Sandbox a while back.
Many people I know in the pixel art and game dev community are not fans of crypto and NFTs, but give me a second here.
The concept is you buy land, allowing you to upload your own game or creation to the land. They have their own game dev engine. You can either let people play for free or charge them.
After releasing Dave-Man, I realized how difficult it is to get users to your game. Just getting eyes on your game is a challenge. Even free games aren't easy to get in front of people.
So I figured, if there is going to be a game, essentially, where people wander around the world and can happen upon your land - I'll give the free set of eyes a shot! Even if I just upload a huge Lou Bagel billboard to my land, ha!
I haven't followed the progress on The Sandbox much lately. They believe they have been in Alpha for a long time and are not sure they will be released soon. I'm pretty skeptical about me gaining much from it, whether the project does not do great itself or my land just not getting visited or whatever.
Still, I figured I'd shout it to get on people's radar. In case you ever see it, stop by my land!
The to-do here - I need to get familiar with their game engine and actually make something! Might need to make my own voxel assets, too!
Spooky Bricks is a game I started with a friend and co-worker, Steve Kerber. It is a Halloween-themed game with brick-breaking style mechanics.
We both want to work on it and finish it, but we have a lot going on. That is why it is under this now and then section instead of the projects in order.
The Steam page has been live for a while now, so feel free to add it to your wishlist!
Survive The Day Comics
I've been doing Survive The Day Comics more lately, partly due to simply organizing my art files better.
When I was young, there was a time I wanted to be a cartoonist. I loved Dilbert, though not sure why since I couldn't relate to office life then.
I was never great at drawing, and I still am not, but I just realized it was a practiced skill at the time. I thought it was a talent I didn't have, and I gave up on that dream.
I enjoy drawing now and then and have bought a few books which I enjoy going through the lessons. But it is merely a hobby, as I enjoy it in a relaxing way, and I don't want to pressure myself to reach the next level.
But the Survive The Day Comics have filled that void in a way. They are comics made with art that I have created, simply digital instead of hand-drawn. It is also lovely how reusable digital art is, so I don't feel like they are as big of a time commitment when I get an idea.
I've realized that I might not be as funny as I thought! Lol
As art isn't the hold-up now, I don't have funny ideas come to me that frequently.
Anyway, look for that now and then. New Hire is my latest few, and I plan to make a dedicated page on my website for Survive The Day Comics.
This was a long post so I don't want to say too much more. Maybe I should give a cash prize for reading it all.
I guess I just want to end on two things: advice and thanks.
Advice: I think no matter where you are in the journey, it can seem like so far and yet still so much to go. If you look at my pixel art or game dev skills and aspire to do the same, I can tell you that I still remember the time where I couldn't program and thought I had zero art skills. So in a sense, I have come a hell of a far way. A way that I never thought I could, but by taking one step at a time I'm here. On the flip side, I look at where I want to go, compare it to how long it has taken me in the past, do the math, and feel like none of this will get done in the next 15 years! If I don't quit before then. So I have to remind myself, one step at a time.
Thanks: Thanks for all the support. Whether it is simply following me on social, playing my games, and especially for anyone that chats and leave feedback. Sometimes, since I don't have millions of followers or have a hit game, I can start thinking that no one cares and nothing I make will get seen. But I can definitely say that I would not be to where I'm at without the support and motivation I've received. I mean, I got my first Kickstarter successfully funded. Who cares if it wasn't a high dollor goal, not everyone can say that. So again, thank you for the support. I will try to keep that all in mind and not rely on the support as much - as in, not get discouraged if things are getting a lot of likes or views. I need to put in more work and not chase the thrill of likes and views as often.
Of course that was way longer than I thought, so I'm just gonna leave it as a couple ugly blocks of text.