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PostPosted: Thu Mar 09, 2017 9:22 pm 
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I should probably say something about the state election. This is not a political post, this is a statement around the work I have done over the past three years around the West Australian Game industry as a whole, but hey the state election is this weekend. If you care about games being produced in this state, you may want to take note of what I am saying here.

During that time, I have taken my company to compete in various business, screen and game awards around the country. As I travel with my business a fair bit, I have seen what Victoria and recently Queensland are doing to support the game industry. I am also aware of what the West Australian government is doing to support this industry currently- nothing.

Regardless of what industry or political persuasion you are, new industries happen in a place for two reasons: Because private companies want to go there and because government creates the conditions to make it attractive to be in that location. Even in the hyper-capitalist USA, new industries have always happened because governments of state and nation have supported it. It's economics.

If you want to take support of the West Australian game industry into account when you cast your vote, here's a brief rundown of a few of the parties you're likely to encounter from my perspective:

Liberal: Myself and Dr. Kate (formerly of FTI) have lobbied two Liberal ministers face to face. No movement. No promise of any action, ever.
ALP: Myself and Dr. Kate compiled the information that has formed the basis for the support package that is now part of the the WA ALP's industry policy.
Greens: My wish list has become their policy, although they costed it independently.
One Nation: ... I am not sure they know what games are.
National Party: Same as One Nation.

I'm not telling you how to vote, but here's what it looks like from where I am standing.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 14, 2017 5:13 pm 
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I haven't said much about game dev in a bit, so here's a round up.

We are in the final stages of QA (Quality Assurance) with Symphony of the Machine. It's at this stage where the production team is really donated to bugfix and polish passes, plus finishing work on trailers and whatnot. It can be a difficult time to keep everyone motivated because the end is in sight. That's one of the funky things with creative projects- that last duration is always a grind, no matter how long a project runs for. It's just because everyone is at the end of it.

The results of the State Election were really pretty fantastic for WA game dev. The ALP have a robust, costed policy that I helped contribute to, based around the Victorian model and elements of the old Australian Interactive Games Fund that was killed by the federal Coalition on Budget Night 2014. So we will have to wait for it to all even out- the minister needs to be nominated, and then the state budget needs to get worked through, so I doubt we will see any action before 2018. But it's policy now, for the governing party. So all we have to do is keep lobbying to remind them that they have committed to it.

The state Greens have also committed to an industry seeding policy, so we can use their help to keep the pressure on.

This means within the next few years you will see more games from WA hitting the market. If you're a PAX-goer you will see more WA studios in the PAX Rising area. More of my friends will have good jobs and businesses. More people will be attracted to our industry which makes hiring easier and hiring is one of my massive concerns for the next twelve months. And our industry will throw more money back in tax at the state government and we are not influenced by mining trends at all. Economic diversification is good- for the economy and the state.

Submitting the materials needed for my major capital raise is within the next few weeks. The body of work has been huge and relentless.

So what does this mean for yours truly? Well, this: One game gets shipped, a few weeks later we get the team together for the next (D3BUG) and get them going on the spin-up time. Once that is going, I am putting together a small, experimental team for a large, longterm project with a lot of technical and narrative questions that need to be worked through. We will manage our contract jobs to one side of this. I will be hiring more people over that time. Hopefully some of the R&D tax incentives I have been proposing will come through and that will lower my costs.

Oh and I am going to be doing a bunch of talks for schoolkids at Scitech on Thursday. Should be a good change of pace.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 17, 2017 9:47 am 
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Here's a launch trailer. And a launch date. April 11th. Enjoy. :D

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pdMbhbQ ... e=youtu.be

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 30, 2017 6:57 pm 
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What's the scariest word in the English language?

"Submission."

It's submission night, kids.

If anyone needs me, I will be having a few stiff drinks.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 31, 2017 11:43 am 
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I almost can't believe it's finally happening!!1

Image

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 01, 2017 10:01 am 
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Okay, so now I get the time to make a proper blog post.

The week just gone is one of the hardest I have ever had since we founded Stirfire over six years ago. To put that on an order of magnitude, we simultaneously had builds of the game shipping off four different Sony regions (each with their own processes), Oculus and Steam VR/Vive. It is just insane what we have been attempting to do and now I know why indie companies tend to stagger their release schedule across platforms, despite it not being the most commercially sensible thing to do from a customer perspective.

I have had three staff members crack under the stress and I have spent a fair bit of the week with my councillor hat on trying to keep everyone together. Last night we had the first part of our post mortem on Symphony. Considering back when we started the project we didn't even have reliable funding and were still operating as a group of friends putting it together, I am stunned at what we have achieved and ever so proud of my team.

I know right, we don't cure cancer or save lives or build infrastructure. We have made a beautiful toy that you step into and inhabit. A sculpture that communicates back with you. Doesn't mean it's not important. Doesn't mean that people haven't poured their souls into this project. Doesn't mean that it's not a massive step commercially.

What I can say about the project is that this has been a transformational game for Stirfire. It's the game of which our investment pitch was based around and has given me five fulltime employees and a small army of casuals. It's the game which has lead us towards our major capital raise which will be happening in the near future. But because it has been such an evolution, the scope and the budget have been highly variable. To give you some idea, I was originally told this would be a $100K project, but in reality, it's more like $240K. Why is that number even important? That's people's jobs and livelihoods and security. It's taking something and making it beautiful, which is very much what our aim has been with Symphony, to create a beautiful, serene experience and something that uses VR not as a novelty, but spatially and as an integral part of the game play. Symphony is in no way, "just another VR tech demo." In some ways I feel a little frustrated when I see complaints on our social media "another VR exclusive, that's so stupid." I want to run up to them and shake them and say "but this game can't exist outside of VR! It's as much about the movement of your body in the space as it is about the puzzle mechanics." Thankfully those complaints are rare.

Is it perfect? Is it finished? No. Games are never perfect or finished. There's just the point when it is time to ship and that time is now.

Releasing on the 11th of April is not what I would have hoped, but it is a clear release date and hopefully enough of the players, media and content creators will have got Mass Effect: Andromeda out of their systems long enough to give us a shout out.

For those of you who want to know what the team that went into this game, here's an idea:

Lead Artist/Designer
1 3D Artist
1 3D Modeller
Programming lead
2 Gameplay programmers (one fulltime, one part time who specifically handled the Robot.)
1 Particle Effects Artist/Programmer
Outsourced music and sound (the amazing guys at Syntone)
3 QAs
1 Producer (really should have been two)
1 person that pays for it all, does the legals, commissions the marketing, is the councillor for when the leads all need a gripe. I.E. Me.

During the project time, we exhibited Symphony BitSummit in Kyoto, PAX AUS in Melbourne, Perth Games Festival and of course, multiple PlayUp Perth's while testing stuff out. I also wrote and consulted on game industry support and industry policy for two political parties, and I am please that it's now WA Government policy. Once the dust has settled over there, we will start working with them to bring it all to reality.

So now it's release and we are all eagerly waiting to see how this rather bumpy ride finishes up and pays off.

See you all again for the next one. D3BUG is coming.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 05, 2017 9:07 am 
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Aaaaaaaand we had to move the release date.

Because reasons. Reasons that are ultimately caused by factors outside our organisation. Sigh.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2017 11:15 am 
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While I am waiting on some lawyers to do their lawyering, here is an article I wrote on LinkedIn this morning. If you're not tired of my blustering on the WA games industry feel free to read it:

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-shou ... Hl1g%3D%3D

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 13, 2017 4:28 pm 
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Starting the scoping work on a production that your company has never attempted at this order of magnitude is scary. Just sayin'.

Developers: "We want some of these and one of those and five of them and wouldn't it be cool if...."

Producer: "Okay these are core elements so we have to include these in the base gameplay, these are the nice-to-haves etc."

MD (Me): "Oh god am how in the hell am I going to be able to afford all this?!"

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2017 1:35 pm 
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So after most of a week in Melbourne, this happened.

http://store.steampowered.com/app/540010

We are in the last few days! It's all imminent! Hang on to your trousers, kids!

Simultaneous launch across all four Sony regions, plus Steam VR and Oculus. It's going to be a wild ride.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 24, 2017 8:14 am 
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Launch day tomorrow and I am feeling it right now.

That feeling when you're going too high on the swings. That.

If you want to support us, you can buy our game if you have a Playstation VR, Vive or Oculus. If you don't you can gift it to someone who does.

Or just share our announcements at https://www.facebook.com/StirfireStudios/ or https://twitter.com/stirfirestudios amongst your socials.

What we are doing is proving that games can be made in WA and be successful. When we are successful, that means that other small developers also get a leg up, as it proves to them too that it can be done. It also proves to investors and government that it can be done, and that's really important if we all want to see more games made in WA. And I do- there are so many talented developers currently doing this part-time or as a hobby, when this is what they should be doing.

As an aside, April 2017 must the first month ever where two polished, professional-looking games have shipped from Perth. I am talking of course of Paradigm by Jacob Janerka and Symphony. That's a pretty stunning event in it's own right.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 24, 2017 2:49 pm 
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Actually... Oculus are being a pain and won't release on time. But that's not far away and it's the smallest platform.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 25, 2017 9:04 am 
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RELEASE DAY!

The game goes live on Steam and the US Playstation market at 3pm our time.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 25, 2017 3:05 pm 
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And we are live! Mixed reality gameplay trailer here: https://youtu.be/KyxJL0bYU1Q

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2017 10:01 pm 
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HUGE CONGRATS!! This has certainly been a long time coming. People - check this game out! It's seriously awesome and you'll be supporting the great stuff we've got coming out of our home state in games development. You won't regret it.

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