Year Two in Brief

Has an entire year really passed since my last post? Wow. Yes it has. Let's catch up, shall we?

I'm still hard at work on Sentris. It's been available on Steam Early Access since last August. It's almost done, I promise. I've continued to update and improve the game as much as possible. The current version is code-named "Glacier", and it allows you to export your loops to .WAV file. There's just one more update to publish before it's the final version 1.0. I'm also really excited that Sentris was announced for PS4!

I started a project called Invisible Arcade. It's a pretty cool event, where you can come play games and also watch people play (or perform, rather) them on a big screen. We've done five of them in the last year. It's been growing, both as a community and as a team. We're about to do our sixth show this weekend in Chicago. This is the first show outside of Seattle, and it's hosted by Cards Against Humanity. If you like, you can follow @invisarcade on Twitter or join the mailing list on the website.

Another thing that happened/is happening: PAX Wrestling. Somehow after defending myself from a vicious onslaught by Run GFB, I became the People's Champion. Watch out, Dwayne The Rock Johnson!

I've also been on the road a lot with Sentris. Lots of conferences, lots of demos, just trying to tell more people about the game. Sentris was accepted to Bitsummit, which means I'll be in Kyoto later this month. Here at home I was lucky enough to be featured on Microsoft's LevelUp program, which I've embedded for your convenience.

Basically it's been an incredible year. I'm amazed to have reached this point. I'm really grateful for all the people who have started to follow me and my work. Hopefully Sentris, when released, will enable me to remain independent and do even more work. (I hear VR is an upcoming thing...)

One Year Indie Anniversary

As of today, it's officially been one year since I took the leap into creative and financial independence. They say that surviving the first couple of years is the hardest part of going independent, and this year has been no walk in the park. In the last twelve months I've developed several prototypes, committed myself to Sentris, developed the concept into a more robust proof-of-concept, and executed a Kickstarter campaign to keep the project going.  I actually ran out of money before the Kickstarter ended, so if it had failed, I wouldn't be having this anniversary right now.

It's been a year of hard work. I've been working 6-7 day weeks for the past twelve months. I've only taken a single weekend off in its entirety. I've been incredibly devoted to maintaining my independence, and creating something totally new and amazing for the world to enjoy. I'm not done, I have a long way to go. But I've come so far, and I want to celebrate my accomplishments.

In April 2013, Sentris was still an idea. Its predecessor, Sen, had failed in 2011. The evolution from Sen to Sentris was a logical leap, but when I committed to it I had no guarantees that the concept would resonate with people more than Sen did. I worked all summer to build the protoytpe. I started from scratch and rebuilt every system in the game. I obsessed over the little details, the grid, the gaps, the atmosphere, the soundscape, the logo. I wound myself up over ideas that seemed critical to the game but were taking too long to code. I've fought with the constant tension between the speed at which I can design mechanics and the much slower speed at which I can implement them. I've learned how to write better code than ever before, and how to make the code work for me instead of against me.

I demoed Sentris at an expo for the first time: the Seattle Indies Expo on September 1st, 2013. I had no idea how the game would be received. I was overwhelmed by the enthusiasm for the idea by the people who played. I launched on Kickstarter because I had to, otherwise I would have continued to develop and polish for months. The Kickstarter was the most exhausting 30-day period of the year. I'm still recovering from all the stress. That campaign was also a huge leap of faith -- I had to believe that music game fans wanted a new kind of music game even though I had no data to back it up. Somehow, it worked. The community that emerged around Sentris because of the Kickstarter has been incredible. 

Doors have opened. I've spoken twice: at the Queerness in Games Conference, and the Game Developer's Conference, and I expect to speak more this year. Somehow I've become an "expert" in running a Kickstarter campaign, and I'm able to help other creators with their own campaigns. People are talking about Sentris. I just demoed the new version at the Game Developer's Conference. I'm demoing it again next week at PAX East (it'll be playable at two separate booths). The game is evolving and finding its shape, just as I've been hoping. It's still evolving. It's still shape-shifting. I'm working through all the design challenges and getting to the inner core of my vision to help everyone make music. The design challenges are changing, and getting harder. It's a really good sign that I'm on the right track.

I've learned so much about the difference between being an artist and running a business. I remain committed to being an artist that runs a business. I remain committed to creating the best possible game that I can. I won't ship something that I'm not completely happy with. And so my work continues, and I will keep doing the work that's required of me. This is the path I chose. Even though it's hard and risky and will continue to be for a while, it's the most fulfilling work I've ever done. So I thank the universe for presenting me with this opportunity and I recommit myself to creating epic shit in my second year as an indie.


Still Spinning

It's been three weeks since the Sentris Kickstarter campaign ended. Everything is moving. After a little bit of time and friction, I've successfully shifted my work routine back into designing, programming, and creating Sentris. It's like jet lag, quickly shifting gears between developing and marketing and developing again. Now that I'm in the coding groove I need to stay there. The time for lots of talking about Sentris will resume, but now is not that time. I'm working on plenty of other things.

The list: T-shirt design. 3D printing of the game's interface. Tracking of reward fulfillment. Project management & collaboration tools. New game features. Web servers. New prototypes for December and January. Ramping up with Ouya. Conference planning. Taxes.

In many ways, it's all still sinking in. Sentris is funded. I'm going to finish it and ship it next year. I have a team. I don't remember most of the month of November. It's all a big blur of emails and sleep deprivation.

Going forward, this blog is going to remain a personal blog. I've decided to centralize all the Sentris news on my company website: All the personal, ooey-gooey, and soapbox-y type chatter, well that's going to be here. But it probably won't be as frequent.