This was an exciting week for development. The biggest changes is that I added support for multiple creatures and a few ways for them to interaction. Creatures can latch onto each other / the ground with suckers, and cause damage and disassemble body parts with stingers (first step towards predation).
There’s also now two introductory levels that teach the basic of how to weave and control muscles. The learning curve and UI still have a lot to be desired, but I’ll be adding more tutorials over the next few weeks.
All this led to me needing to change enough things under-the-hood (I was up til 2 last night fighting with the coordinate system for rectangles UGH) that the old saves no longer would work (and it broke some of them? oops. 😐 not unexpected though) so I’ve bumped up the version number to v0.2.
Development during a Kickstarter campaign is fun (immediate feedback by invested players!) but dang does it split my priorities. I’m so excited to be moving towards the ability to have an ecosystem of user-created creatures, though!
So, it’s been an exciting week! We still have a long way to go, but my spirits are buoyed by the fact that people have been making some really amazing creatures (though I think they’re *all* beautiful).
My first and foremost concern is to keep getting the word out on CL. If we’re gonna pull this off, it’s gonna need a big boost. There’s so much noise out there (re: world on fire) that it’s been more of an uphill struggle than it would be in less interesting times.
However! I am happy to just keep working on development and engaging with people and teaching about hella cool neuroscience! Serenity to accept that which I cannot control, etc.
I’m going to be working on adding introductory levels that guide people through the basics of creating a creature. I uploaded a skeleton version of the first level last night; you just have to weave the brain of a pre-made creature and then control it to have it reach a beacon on the map.
Once I have a bit more of a structure in place, I’m going to load up a Greenlightcampaign on Steam — hopefully by the end of this week.
Oh! And I spent like five hours yesterday adding font support to the game! Totally the best use of my time.
That is to say, ah, it’s been a busy couple days. Weeks. I don’t even know any more. @_@ I’m tired and sleep-deprived but it’s coming together and (despite the wretched political situation) I have a spark of hope and excitement in my heart.
This’ll be a bit of a pre-mortem.
Video editing has taken up the vast majority of my last few days. I dunno if I’m just really slow, but I think the final time-spent-producing / length-of-video ratio is around 10 hours per minute of footage. Blender, you’re wonderful, but I think we need some space. The result seems to be a video that is pretty but spends maybe more time with me excitedly talking about neurons than the game.
Reaching out to press is a skill I seriously need to work on. I spent days setting up a press kit for Crescent Loom and writing a press release for the launch of the campaign, then only ended up sending a dozen emails or so (rather than the hundred-plus that really excellent marketers send). I’ll keep the hustle going throughout the campaign, but it is usually a lot more effective to make those contacts ahead of time. Let’s call this an area of potential growth.
The alpha demo still has a few glitches (and the save-load feature isn’t quite at 100%) but is very pretty and gets the idea across. If kids picked up and enjoyed the really early tech demo back at OMSI, I think the current version will do just fine. I also made a subreddit as a place for people to share links to the creatures they create with the demo. We’ll see if that’s something that interests people.
I dropped the project goal from $20k to $16k after a night thoroughly researching the numbers on other people’s completed campaigns. A surprising takeaway for me was how little it seemed that reward tiers actually mattered — the biggest correlate for the campaign’s funding was simply how many people backed it (at least at the scale Crescent Loom; it separates out a in the megaprojects).
I’ll need about 700 people to make $16k, which means about 200 within the first 48 hours (you get about a third of your backers at the start and end dates and the rest spread out in the middle). The CL facebook page has 50 likes, which means that I probably have at least that many friends and family who’ll end up as backers, which is almost the right order of magnitude, at least. Fingers crossed.
Having a few solid high-end tiers add up fast, but really can only push you above the average for how many backers you have. As a consequence, I added a few $100+ tiers for an art project I’ve been wanting to do for a while: laser-etched Ramon y Cajal illustrated wooden panels.
Whatever happens in the next few days is gonna have a huge effect on the course of my life. Making an interactive neural circuit game has been a dream of mine for almost a half-decade. I believe that Crescent Loom has an enormous potential to teach and do some good in the world.
Fingers crossed, into the breach we go. See you on the other side!
Putting together the video for Crescent Loom’s upcoming Kickstarter (IT’S IN THREE DAYS AAA); realized that I haven’t posted a link to the announcement trailer here yet. Here it is in all of its piano-youtube glory:
And here’s a sneak peak at the Blender timeline for the Kickstarter video: