Saturday, 5 July 2014

Icey Games... the story so far...

Ooooooooooh dedication
That’s what you need
If you want to be the best
Want to stand out from the rest
Oooh-ooooh dedication’s what you need
Dedicaaaaaaaaaaaation’s what you neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeed
If you want to be a Record Breaker

I’ve never forgotten the theme song to Record Breakers, and the words have always stuck out to my as explaining just why I’ve rarely been successful at anything in my life – I’ve lacked the necessary dedication and stickability (not to mention having a scatterbrain mind).  I guess as I’ve got older, I’ve improved a bit, and my childhood dreams of making a living from being a game designer are getting fairly close to becoming a reality.  But still there's always that question hanging over me... if I'd really put my mind to it, what could have been?

In the respect of having big dreams when I was young, I see a lot of similarities between myself and a certain young man called Isaiah Sweeting (whom you may know by his AGS forum handle “Icey Games”).  The big difference seems to be that he really does have dedication to achieving what he’s trying to do, even though like me he initially had dreams far bigger than his actual ability to achieve.

Yes, I know.  Not the best editing job in the world... 

A well-known member of the AGS community whom it has to be said has sometimes had a rough time of things there (some of his own making, but from my own perspective what seemed to be a somewhat unnecessary level of hostility from some established forum members – I say this with the caveat that I perhaps don’t know the full story, but I’m just saying how I see it), Isaiah has just kept right on doing what he wants to do.  Definitely AGS was not the best choice of engine for creating the Final Fantasy style of RPG that he so clearly has a passion for – although making an RPG with AGS is certainly not impossible – and releasing a dozen or so “concept demos” that could barely be described as games at all didn’t exactly help his cause, but “Icey” as he is affectionately known does seem to have a clear vision of what he wants to do and has continued to work towards it.

One of the biggest problems (and I can relate to it!) was his constantly skipping from one project to the next without finishing the first one to any acceptable level.  With the passing of time this tendency seems to have abated somewhat, which will be key to him actually achieving his dreams.  

Recently he and the small team that he has assembled, using Unity now because the main focus is a Wii U release, had their game in production Pub Master Quest – Portable Knights” appear on the “Square Enix  Collective”, a pre-funding site where games are put up for voting to see if SE think it would be worth helping to support an IndieGoGo campaign for the game.  PMQ ended up with 69% voting in favour and 31% against, which  wasn’t enough for a Square Enix backed funding venture.  It does show that there is at least some level of positive feeling about the game though, and of course Icey is free to go ahead with launching his own crowd funding campaign.

It shows an increased maturity that Isaiah and his team are not simply going to rush into this.  At the time of writing this post, the team are working on 3 small projects designed to help with raising some funds so that they’re not starting from scratch.  (Incidentally I have no idea how old Isaiah or the rest of his team are - though I get the impression they are or have very recently been teenagers - but thinking back to my own mad plans when I was in my late teens… well Icey and co would have a hard time being as naive as I was back then!!)

The team he’s assembled seems to be a good one, and vitally, Icey himself has taken on board some of the advice that others (including even myself!) have given him in the past, namely that while he is undoubtedly a talented artist, perhaps he should get help in areas where his skills are lacking, especially coding.   (In fact this is a little similar to myself – my coding and graphical skills suck but my writing and game design skills are – I hope! – pretty good, so as part of a team I can make good games, but by myself…)

So, anyway, here is the core team at present:

Icey: Story and artist
Lex: Artist

Victor: MusicSchematist: Music
Keith: SFX
monkey_05_06: Programming
Iain: Programming

His penchant for traditional JRPGs means that his storylines do seem to be somewhat on the generic side, but from what I've seen there are so many players with a huge affection for this style of game that it probably isn't going to be a major problem for him.  What does the future hold for Icey and his team – Wii U success, or unfulfilled dreams?  No-one knows yet, but one thing’s for sure – he’s not short of ambition or enthusiasm, two key ingredients of a good indie dev.  He has similar dreams of being a dev that I did years ago… but while I didn’t start to get near achieving them until recently (and I’m still not there yet), I have an inkling that Icey may just be determined enough to get there sooner.  He may have grand designs and not very much to show for it yet, but why not reach for the stars?  He just reach the moon instead.

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