A More Purrfect Union

Cat PresidentI just added this dude to the game yesterday, but I’m preeeety sure he’s my favorite character now.

Look, look! I’m working on a new game! And, like 50 other games (my whiteboard is running out of space), but this one’s yuuuuuuge. It’s (currently) called Cat President (I change my mind like every other day about whether I like that title*), and it’s a full-length visual novel about a world where the American political system has gotten too corrupt and all humans have been banned from politicsleaving, of course, only cats to run for president.

Also it’s a dating sim. You can draw your own conclusions about what that enTAILS.

I’m teaming once again with Michael Gray (of Francy Droo and My Nigerian Prince) fame; he’s writing the story, and I’m coding the game in Ren’py and handling all the art.

You probably noticed that I’m doing something weird with the art—for this game, we’re using real-life photographs for all of the characters and backgrounds. And they’re not (all) just random stock photos; each of the main characters is an actual pet that belongs to one of our friends and family, and a lot of the backgrounds are from places I’ve visited and homes I’ve lived in. (It’s also possible that I’ll make an appearance as one of the human characters in the game, because I’m the worst and physically cannot pass up an opportunity like that.)

I don’t have a release date or anything like that for youif my time with Mirror has taught me anything, it’s that if you announce a release date, you’ll miss that date by at least five yearsbut for what it’s worth, I’m about two-thirds finished coding Michael’s script. So who knows! I’d like to push it out the door before the actual, real-life American presidential election is over (and specifically before President Trump causes Fallout to just be real-life).

A few other projects that’ve been keeping me busy:

doomsday

  • I GOT TO WORK ON THE NEW DEPONIA GAME! …I’m sorry for shouting, but this was big for me. When I reviewed the original Deponia for GameCola back in 2013, I described it as one of the best adventure games I’ve played, not just since Monkey Island and Day of the Tentacle, but INCLUDING them. (And I don’t toss around terms like “Monkey Island” lightly.) So it was a pretty big honor to get to proofread the English-language version of Deponia Doomsday. (For this project, all the voice-overs had already been recorded, so I didn’t get to tinker with the dialogue like I did Night of the Rabbit; but boy did I drag those punctuation marks through hell.)
  • Production continues on our second Francy Droo game! …It’s taken a bit of a backseat to Cat President, but I’m still making time for it a few days a week. Actually, this would be a great time to talk about how I, as an Official Grown-up Indie Developer, manage my workflow processes; lemme just break out of this bulleted list for a bit…

Much better.

I wasn’t kidding when I mentioned having a whiteboard to keep track of all my game-development projects—and I’m old enough that it’s an actual, physical whiteboard, not some fancy Internet thing that all the cool kids are talking about. I have a regular weekly schedule that I stick to for my projects; right now, it looks like this:

MONDAY: Cat President / [unannounced project]
TUESDAY: Cat President / Francy Two
WEDNESDAY: Cat President / [unannounced project]
THURSDAY: Cat President / Francy Two
FRIDAY: Cat President / Beard in the Mirror
WEEKENDS: Cat President

I work on Cat President every day, and each afternoon, I spend a few hours plugging away on a side-project. The Beard in the Mirror is sort of getting the short end here, mostly because there isn’t a lot of work left for me to do, while I wait for the…*checks documentation* one background that’s left to make. Whoa, wait! That’s it??

Of course, this schedule all gets tossed to hell, if and when I pick up any contract work; for example, when I was working on Deponia Doomsday, that was basically the only project I was working on until it was finished, because it had a tight turnaround time. But for the most part, planning out my days like this allows me to make big gains on the game that’s the highest priority, while still moving forward at least a little with everyone else.

Back to the bullet points.

caravan

  • Deponia Doomsday wasn’t the only Daedalic game I’ve been helping with! I also proofread the English-language version of Caravan, a game that strikes me as a combination of Oregon Trail and, like, Fallout, but I don’t think that’s how anyone official is talking about it.
  • I’ve been doing a bunch more continuity testing for Choice of Games, on projects like The Sea Eternal and Choice of Alexandria, and I proofread The Lost Heir 2: Forging a Kingdom. It’s immensely satisfying to see the things I’ve brought up in testing actually implemented in future iterations of the games. I know that’s sort of a “Baby’s First Freelance Gig” thing to say, but whatever, it makes me happy.
  • I also have a new FMV project I’ve been working on for a few months, but I’m still at the point where, every time I open up the design doc, I either think it’s the coolest thing ever, or complete garbage and I should burn my hard drive to avoid anyone ever having to see it; so it’s unclear yet how or if I’ll be moving forward with it.

I also recently redid the Oh, a Rock! Studios’ website. …Not really because I wanted to, but because our previous webhost was hosing us on fees, so I decided to switch everything over to WordPress (which, at the very least, I have like eight years of experience wrangling, thanks to GameCola).

* I’m open to suggestions if anyone has any cool names for a romantic visual novel about cats running for president. (What if we called it Cat President: [subtitle]? Like Cat President: A More Purrfect Union.)

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