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An incubator (Stugan programme) internal exposé on Planetoid Pioneers

Learning media savvy

Indie games developers have to wear a lot of hats. The breadth of skills one needs to bring a project successfully to fruition do not all come naturally to us and may exist firmly outside of our comfort zone. Project management, brokering publishing deals, marketing, team management and recruiting - all these skills are outside of what many developers would consider their forte.

The Stugan programme is trucking a holistic approach. With only a small amount of time to really impact upon the participants (a couple of months flys by!) it makes sense to touch on a lot of important skill areas that traditionally developers might be a little weak on. This maximises impact and growth.

To that end the Stugan mentors are helping participants plan and execute a video exposé on their title. As it turns out Planetoid Pioneers was first cab off the rank. This was the result.

Locked in a cabin, he was forced to paint

Really? You are going to curse the interwebs with that title.

A few weeks back the Planetoid Pioneers team was accepted into the Stugan incubator and mentoring programme for games developers. Run by a combination of private organisations in tie with the Swedish government it is a unique programme which brings with it advice, expertise, exercise and intense collaboration. The venerable Polygon 'zine did a little piece covering it over here

It's a fantastic opportunity and one that brings with it very tangible benefits. The first of which being that the majority of the team is going to get to meet each other for the first time! One that sadly I will not experience first hand due to work and family commitments. Slack has been our friend.

Applications were open to teams from all around the world and I was very happy to see a couple of Australians from Melbourne who made it into the incubator. Issy Gramp and Laura Stokes are building Intergalactic Space Princess. Not only are they the only all Australian team, they're the only all girl team and they are a quite a hit over in Sweden.

Team Planetoid Pioneers is making some serious headway being able to collaborate so intensively. For me that is the real reason these programmes are such a boon. Our Chief of Stuff; Arne yesterday recorded a whole day of his efforts in the form of a speed paint. I liked it so much I'm showing it to you!

Planetoid Pioneers Ahoy

A new beginning

It has definitely been a slow start to the year. Even this is retrospective, this is not now. It's not the present. This is the past. Not the distant past, but the past none-the-less.

Deciding on a next project has taken longer than expected. I say decision loosely. More a chain of circumstance. I had in fact already decided on what I would be doing next. I set off building a game titled Daemon but efforts have been halting.

I didn't really talk much about it (which I think reflects some doubts I had) and my coding efforts were little more directed than building a splash screen and loading a single character. It was a decision in a vacuum, and in that way not a decision at all. Nobody was going to hold me to it and in the end not even myself - at least not in the time period I had set myself. I had always fancied I'd be able to plug on with a lonesome project but I've begrudgingly come to admit to myself that I would benefit having somebody to bounce ideas off of; and to carry the torch a little when you're not feeling motivated. I did try a few times to bring others in on the project. Being a bear of little artistic talent I had always set my heart on finding an artist with whom there was simpatico. I spoke to a couple; and indeed even had a trial run with one but as fate would have it, little eventuated. I have a particular aesthetic in mind for Daemon and that probably hasn't helped.

Almost all the talented artists I've worked with in the past are exploring their own ideas, and rightly so, who wouldn't want to do that. Especially as we are talking about passion projects here. It is not going to pay the bills on time.

Something I have noticed about artists of which I am rather jealous; their artistic ability and skills frequently makes them adept at communicating their vision.

Unmotivated and adrift I toyed with some web stuff, almost like killing time.

Then Dan from Data Realms got in touch with me. Even though Dan and I have become firm friends I had rather studiously avoided getting in touch with him. I somewhat subconsciously and stubbornly avoided talking to him so I wouldn't get sucked into his vortex of enthusiasm. I wanted to push on with my own creation. He fired first and I didn't put up much of a fight.

Dan was tooling up for his next project. What's it called? Planetoid Pioneers. What's it all about? Colonisation, exploration, side scrolling shooter, builder, physics. You know the deal. Is it the sequel to our last gig Cortex Command? ... no... kinda. not really. Spiritually perhaps? I don't know. Check it out.

Well I did and I was drawn in. It carries a kind of painted aesthetic. It features a completely new and in-house physics engine called Crush2D, so this time around its polygonal physics rather than per pixel physics.

Dan had already brought on a couple of other folks, all with strong skills and bubbling with enthusiasm.

I took a week to think about it and then jumped on board.

I've had to put Daemon on backburn but I do plan to revisit it someday. Hopefully this time with art support.

... for now I will leave you with an early concept piece for Planetoid Pioneers courtesy of Arne Niklas Jansson.