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PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2016 3:47 pm 
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D'aaaaawwww. Can you feel the love? :lol:

The latest saga has only just started to unfold. Moar awesomness in the next few days.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2016 7:39 pm 
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Slightly ranty post ahead.

So I didn't intend on spending the last two days of my week talking real estate. I was more happy to spend it working on the audit for the major capital raise that we are working on.

At precisely 2pm yesterday, the company that we sublease our office space from told us that they are going into receivership and that we have nine days to get out. We are currently on the tail end of our production of Symphony of the Machine and the timing is terrible. Could have been worse, we could have received the news while we were at PAX and unable to act on anything, so we dodged that bullet.

So my business partner and have spent yesterday afternoon and today wrangling real estate- enough to fit ten people and desks, space for our development HTC Vive setup, and of course the 100Mbps bi-directional internet connection that works at the backbone of our business. We need to be able to talk to the Unity servers, we need to upload builds for testing and anything less costs us time, which of course directly equates to money I am paying my developers while they are effectively not being productive.

I have been to several site locations today as well as grabbing stuff from our office and taking it home to store in my garage. As the firm we were subleasing off has gone straight past administration to receivership, it means that soon enough, collectors will be around their office to start seizing assets. The worst part about this is, it seems that one a receivership manager has been appointed, they can simply come into the office and start indescriminently taking stuff, and then we have to make a legal claim as a creditor, which can take up to six months. If once of our development consoles was taken, this would near end our relationship with that particular vendor and I cannot have that under any circumstances.

Hence my garage.

We now have three possible locations- one is the place we were eventually aiming to move to, but the internet installation was going to take too long and we are at the end of a production cycle. They are telling us there's a possibility they can wrangle the connection so we don't have to move twice in the next year- both of which is lost production time. We have two other backup options.

This is business. This is startup. It never stops being chaotic.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 26, 2016 10:01 am 
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Update to the above.

We seem to have found a new home pending internet installation. The thing that always kills us is the uploads as we are forever pushing things up to offshore servers- but this is typical of many content creators.

So we have landed at a premises in Northbridge which is an old character building, but we really like it. We have an installation of a suitable microwave internet solution which will be enough to power us for the next three months while we try and ship Symphony.

All the while, I am working with our auditors ahead of our major capital raise and trying to fix another ongoing issue (it involves shares and ASIC requirements and let's just leave it at that).

Our friends at FTI are meant to be taking over the premises at the end of the next three months and we will then become their sub-lessors as they are very interested in creating a new hub for games and digital creative professionals, similar to what has been done with the Arcade in Melbourne, albeit with our local flavour. This is what they have done for over twenty years for the film industry, so for them to take over the lease and manage the space would be ideal.

The good news out of all of this is that finally we have our own space. We weren't one hundred percent compatible with the other company we were sharing with culturally, so it led to occasional awkward moments. At least with our own space, we can put up our game posters everywhere, the people who talk a lot in their work (me and the social media manager) can have our separate office room and we can generally settle in. The location is great in terms of food, access to function areas etc. and there's parking available on site which is going to save me around $85 a week, which is awesome.

Good times. I hope this internet install goes off without a hitch. We're using Vivid Wireless at the moment in the interim and obviously it's not adequate for the day-to-day rigours of our production.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 26, 2016 10:50 am 
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Great to hear this has worked out Vee. Perhaps a blessing in disguise?!

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 26, 2016 12:14 pm 
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Oh absolutely. The timing was terrible but we were planning on moving anyway. Since I am now a boss, I find myself spending a lot of time time paying attention to my employee's needs and no-one was particularly happy in the last location. Well, at least the shared-office aspects of it. With our own offices with doors that can be closed, the programmers can swear to their hearts content when bugs turn up.

It sounds like a bit of a hippy boss thing to do, but my business partner and I have worked very hard to create the right culture in our company. In creative businesses, if people feel good enough about their surroundings and the right vibe is there, that's when the magic happens. And I am always encouraging my staff to reach for the highest possible goals in the time budgets of our projects.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 05, 2016 6:08 pm 
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A day in the life. So this is where thing are at at the moment.

The trailer for Symphony is being filmed tomorrow and I am super-excited to see the outcome. This is the first time we have done anything like this and filming a trailer of this type (super-secret-special-stuff) is going to be amazing. With my marketing hat on, I am really looking forward to seeing how that performs in the PR channels.

We are settling into the new office, the microwave link internet got installed but wasn't performing up to standard so the techs were doing their thing to work it out. This is an exciting time because if this all comes to fruition the way I hope it will, it will be the start of the Perth equivalent of Melbourne's Arcade- the shared space for games professionals albeit with our local flavour. Shared spaces where a variety of games-related professionals are doing their thing have so many benefits as they give us an instant community vibe, we can share skills and advice, support during launches and of course it makes hiring a lot easier.

My major capital raise is chugging away. Being audited is a bucket of fun as you might think :roll:. It basically means a crack team of hyper-accounting nerds go through every aspect of your books for the last three years. Every. Aspect. In order to make games, apparently I have to spend my life talking to accountants, lawyers, investment peeps and shareholders. Correction: In order to allow the people working for me to make games, I have to do the things that get them the money to do that.

It looks like I am going to be hitting the road in January a fair bit to go and do some more investor talks in Melbourne and Sydney. Next year looks busy for travel with expos and investment-related travel. Going to places, talking to people about videogames that we're making and then collecting money? If you insist...

What I do is not easy. It's really not. By the time 2017 is done, my company will have achieved several industry firsts in Australia (I'll announce them when they occur as plans change and stuff happens etc.). But it is exciting, fulfilling, scary, amazing, frustrating, stressful and rewarding all at the same time. Every day that I spend doing something that is hard and I wish that I wasn't, I still come home with the attitude that I work in game development and another thing got achieved that gets me a step closer to my goal and it's a *#&@ing amazing ride.

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Current Status: Being a fierce game dev warrior.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2016 11:26 am 
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I'm just going to leave this here if you want to know what shooting a trailer in mixed reality looks like:

https://twitter.com/stirfirestudios/sta ... 6738505728

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2016 10:07 pm 
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This is a snippet of what it looks like when you are literally inventing a new filming technique for mixed reality media. This turned out to be a lot harder than the team expected. But once it's done, there will not be another piece of film ever recorded in the same technique as this trailer.

https://www.facebook.com/QCumberGreenSc ... nref=story

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 12, 2016 11:11 am 
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More updates as everything is going at an amazing rate at the moment.

Trailer Shoot: So the trailer is super-ambitious and the team had originally planned to shoot all the green-screen sections on one day. In retrospect everyone is shaking their heads over that decision and we have had to go back and book the studio for another two days and bring on a professional post-production company to do that work. So it will end up costing a bunch of money we didn't expect, but hey, when it's done it will be amazing and sell us a bunch of copies. The trick really is to make sure it's the game itself and not the super-cool mixed tech trailer that gets all the attention.

Directors and Company Secretary: Something that I am having to do at the moment is get our company board sorted out. It's one of those adulting jobs I have to do as managing director. When going to investors and trying to part them from their cash, you need a couple of names with some serious street cred on your board- it's reassuring to the investors that the company won't make any poor decisions as a whole and of course, the expertise someone who has lived in corporate life for years can bring to your company, particularly around compliance with bodies like ASIC or the ASX if you're going down those roads is invaluable.

Investor Management Firm Negotiations: Yep, we're doing that at the moment. Hardcore.

Audit: Nearly finished. THANK THE CHAOS GODS, I AM SO DONE WITH THIS. *Flips table*

Decisions: Something that I have always known is that people don't like making decisions. However sometimes in business, you have to make some really tough calls. We had budgeted to send some staff to run a booth at PAX South at San Antonio at the end of January. This was stretching our staff and budgets to the limit, particularly in the face of getting both the trailer done and the game shipped. On Friday, I had to make the decision to cancel the trip as we simply do not have the resources to do everything well. It was a decision I am still not happy with, but in the end, I know why I have made the call- I would rather have my staff concentrate on making the best trailer they can and the best game they can over looking over their shoulder at the thirty-six hours in transit it would take to get between here and San Antonio and back. I also don't loose several staff members and we weren't going to send a tech because we couldn't spare them. Even with a shipped game, that was still giving me the heeby-jeebies. We've learnt from experiences that you always send a tech to an expo presence. We were also stuck because we could only send one media-trained person to the expo which means our ability to give interviews (one of the major reasons for going) would have been severely limited. For personal reasons, I do not feel safe to visit several of the Southern US states and well, Texas.

This was my decision in the end. Certainty of a quality trailer being delivered on time versus PAX South.

Trailer > PAX South. Done.

Because ultimately that will sell me more copies of the game once it's done and it looks amazing. And in the face of the trailer cost blow-out, I've just saved us ~$16,000. Yes, exhibiting at PAXs are expensive exercises, kids. (As if I haven't grumbled about this before.)

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Current Status: Being a fierce game dev warrior.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 15, 2016 9:30 am 
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This article popped up just after PAX AUS in November but keeps bouncing around the place.

I'm just going to leave it here: http://mashable.com/2016/11/07/5-indie- ... australia/

When people from credible sites or publications make statements like "Symphony of the Machine made the most innovative use of VR mechanics of all the experiences at PAX.", well it gives me a lot of confidence heading into the launch phase.

There's a whole lot of coverage out there about our game at the moment but posting it all would be time consuming and there's only so much you can read the same sorts of things.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 15, 2016 11:49 am 
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That's really great to hear such praise from your professional network. Well done to you and your team at Stirfire; I'll look forward to seeing this launch next year. I normally play games that involve dishing out digital/miniature death and destruction so it will be very refreshing to play a game that has a peaceful objective. Good luck with the final tweaks and the launch and keep the posts coming.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2016 10:37 am 
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Thanks!

What today looks like:

I started with an early conference call with my PR company based in the U.S. as far as planning the launch trajectory of the game is concerned. We are still targeting release in Q1, 2017 but have had to jiggle the dates slightly to deal with the time slippage caused by our move and the issues with the trailer production. Everyone is super-excited about the trailer and I need to check if we can actually patent anything to do with the trailer production.

My trailer director is currently hard at work sitting across from me and looks like he has steam rising from him, he's concentrating so hard. As I have said, the whole production is significantly more demanding than expected and also the post-production work is not going to be easy, so we have had to hire a gun studio to finish that or we won't make our deadline.

In the production room, the team are still polishing the game. More content is being added to extend the length of the play time, polish passes are still occurring on the art assets and testing is more or less constant.

While all that's going on, my recently-hired artist and one of my programmers are smashing through a third party project for a Serious game (entertaining game but with serious real world outcomes to affect behavioural change or provide education). That stuff keeps the lights on.

I am taking a breather, as I have been reviewing employment contracts, sorting out more directorship details and going back and forth with my lawyers.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 20, 2016 3:23 pm 
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I did this interview for GrabIt Magazine around accessibility and VR and how we approached it with Symphony

Astute readers will notice there's an error in the article which I have asked them to correct (hopefully soon). :roll: :wink:

http://www.grabitmagazine.com/blog/post ... achine-vr/

Edit: GrabIt made the corrections. Woohoo!

The journalist- Chris Stead is a cool guy.

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Current Status: Being a fierce game dev warrior.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 22, 2016 11:33 am 
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If you are interested in different aspects of game dev and game biz but want to listen to someone other than me ramble on about it, here are the videos from Game Connect Asia Pacific (GCAP) 2016. There are a bunch of things from all aspects of the game dev business (tech, art, programming, biz etc.) and culture.

I recommend going straight to the Plenary Sessions and listening to the opening and closing keynotes as they are both amazing and captivating.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEr66F ... 2MnvbBn4OQ

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

Current Status: Being a fierce game dev warrior.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 22, 2016 7:52 pm 
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Sweet! Been looking forward to watching these. I must be blind though, which one is the keynote?

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