[I've decided to go indie after years of working for bigger studios. It's going to be a huge undertaking to make Seven Haunted Seas on my own - and I want it to be completely transparent. As part of that, i'm going to keep this blog.]
tl;dr - the link to the public GDD is at the bottom, sorry for my rant. :OP
I've been in the industry for 13 years now. It's been a passion for as long as i remember. I've been lucky that I've gotten to work for some of the best developers in the industry, and they've taught me alot about how to make great games, make them on time, and make a great living while doing it.
So why am I fucking miserable doing it?
I fought to get here. I moved back and forth to California like 8 times in my 20's trying to wedge myself into the industry. I lived out of my car, i ended half my relationships because of it, i avoided relationships to dedicate my time, hell i gave up alot to be here.
Maybe it's because I worked a lot on the management side of things - As an executive you see all the dirtyness that goes into it. I'm not talking about illegal things, but really just the things that sap your creative will to even be a part of this business. Decsions that have to be made about money, about time, about pleasing a publisher, about pleasing Walmart, about pleasing ingame advertising. The biggest hurdle sometimes is just selling your game to your own marketing department. Say What??
So i'm done with that. I'm an artist by training. But my passion is to tell the stories i want to tell. One of those stories is Seven Haunted Seas.
A few years ago I left Activision to start Titmouse games with the animation studio of the same name. I brought some ideas to the table, one of which was SHS and everyone loved it. So we decided that we were going to make a trailer to release at GDC that year, and we worked our balls off for two months to get it done.
The response from the press was awesome. People liked the story, the character, the art style and we got a lot of great coverage both online and in print.
but then it came down to meeting with pubs to get it done. Maybe i was naive at the time about how the whole process worked, but over the course of the next 6 months we met with EVERYONE. And everyone wanted to change this, or change that, or liked it overall but there's just this one little thing we don't like so.. no.
Then the dilution started. We started changing the game, we started throwing shit into the game just so one publisher might like it. We made 80 budgets. it was a buffet of budgets and a la carte features. WHAT THE FUCK? How is this creative? We ended up chasing our tail, and in the end the game looked NOTHING like i had originally seen it in my head. Then we ran out of funding - after a whole year. Chris and Shannon stuck through it, they wanted it too, and bless them for taking the risk. If I knew now what I knew then I would have said fuck it and just pushed that entire year to make it on the iOS. But that would have been shitty.
Because it's a console game. And making it on iOS at the time would have been a disaster. it would have looked shitty and played shitty. So it put it on a shelf.
Until OUYA. The minute i saw the OUYA i thought that the walls were gone... no more big boys club standing over your head telling you what to do, or how to do it. I can make this game on my own. For the last two years while I was Art Director at Magix Pixel Games i used my spare time to make a fighting game with the band Coheed and Cambria on a shoestring budget. I didn't pay myself out of that bduget and i ended up kicking in my own money to get it done. I had to call in alot of favors and it was a tough uphill battle but it's ready to ship in a few days, and it actually turned out OK. it will make a good first title for Man Vs. Games.
But the best thing is did was teach me that I can do this on my own. My vision, my game.
i also want to do it publicly. I want people to see the creative process and what it does to the people that undertake it. How things come together and fall apart, I think it will be as entertaining (for some) as the game itself. Sail or fail, I'm going to make every part of the process public. the Google doc is live so you will be able to watch as i write it, from shitty thought vomit to polished writing. All the art i do will also go up publicly in all phases from napkin sketches to finished art.
if you never saw the original trailer, here it is.
Think of it as a super early public beta.