[An update?? From JDWasabi-Studios?? I know, it must be the apocalypse. With ReadCon soon approaching, I wrote this article/ memoir on what it's like working for the company! -Nina]
All nighters. A bloodstream consisting wholly of coffee. Learning to program engines that were so out of your skillset, you had to pull all nighters with blood consisting wholly of coffee just to learn, and get the job done. The life of an Indie Game developer, weeks before a con, is hard.
…or so i’ve witnessed. Because I am a script writer. My job is finished months before, and then my skype meetings are spent giving moral support, laughing at hectic artists, and scrolling down my tumblr dash (…sorry guys). But when the Facebook group pings a notification, it’s more likely than not our frankly insane boss, who’s devoted even more of her dwindling free time on pounding out our first demo for our first game, Hungry Whispers, for our table at ReadCon this July.
This demo is technically not our first; there have been two previous attempts at this Act of the currently five Act game, precisely because of that ominously placed word, “currently”. As an Independent Company, JD Wasabi Studios is an ever changing place in the corner of the internet, depending completely on whoever is free. Entirely volunteer operated, and founded around our boss’s dissertation project, the game is whatever you make of it, working on a “in the name of our portfolios” policy.
We’re all young, generally inexperienced gamemaker-hopefuls, with little free time, infinite desire to see the project through and a thirst to fill out those too-thin Cvs. So when a member gets a job, or their “real life” job gets in the way, the art-style changes. The story changes. The engine changes. It’s annoying, it’s stressful, but hey, I got promoted to lead script-writer, the engine isn’t quite so buggy, (and has upgraded from Renpy to Unity,) and the art is steadily becoming consistent as the artists become an integrated, working team.
At the time of writing, there are currently nine of us “on duty”. With six artists, four admin staff, two writers, two sound designers and two programmers, the nine of us do sixteen jobs. We double (and, in the case of previously mentioned madman boss, JDWasabi
, quintuple) up our jobs. Two “officially” two hour meetings a week can, and often do, stretch to four hours, hours more each week are dedicated to “homework”, and then there’s the occasional London meet-up planning sessions. Even for a simple script-writer-come-artist-come-procrastinater like myself, the work can be arduous. But it’s fun. Oh is it fun.
Because our portfolios aren’t the only things we’re developing. Of course, with the project’s motto a very direct “we are a stepping stone to improve our creative skills”, and with the hours like they are, easily forgotten are the final words: “and to see whether we can make something awesome.”
We’re making a puzzle-based, horror visual novel. A clanky, extremely niche genre, but one that showcases our love for our story, for our characters, for our artwork. In the two years I’ve dedicated my life to the game, I’ve tried my hardest to steal the game’s protagonist (pros of being a fan of the game you’re working on: attempted canon fanon,) I’ve rallied with other members for a “Horny Whispers” spin-off, (make of that what you will) and am on chapter five of a fanfiction with a character not yet even written into the game. This may not mean much to the outsider, may indeed inspire the “oh she’s one of those” eye-rolls, but if that doesn’t show we love our game, I don’t know what does.
So is it worth it? Is working hours, unpaid, every week, with people you’ve met off the internet, worth the blood, sweat and tears that goes into developing an Indie Game? We’re hardly Ubisoft, Capcom or Level-5, and maybe our production quality, our feeble team size, our current following shows it. But if some day, somebody completes our game and enjoys it, maybe the life of being an Indie Game developer was worth it. Maybe the inspirational effort people like Jade and the rest of our team will be not only seen, but admired, will rub off on others. It’s certainly worked for me.
And hey, even if Hungry Whispers flops, we’ll still have our Horny Whispers Empire to fall back on, right?
JDWasabi Studios / Hungry Whispers links:jdwasabi-studios.deviantart.co…
Original Teaser Beta Demo:
Hungry Whispers © JDWasabi-Studios
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