One of the things I have appreciated most while going on this journey to start my own Game Development company and publish my own games has been the ability to study and learn from those that have come before me. Through books, podcasts, interviews, blogs, and other means I have been able to find discover so much knowledge and wisdom from so many different individuals from all over the gaming industry.
I certainly have a long way to go on my game development journey but I figure since I learned so much from my predecessors that maybe someday somebody will learn a thing or two from me. I plan to keep a public developer diary to share my experiences and some of the challenges that I face along the way. There has been quite a lot that has happened already so I will try to use this first post as a summary to set the context and provide a timeline up until my next diary entry.
So with a bit of the pomp and pretense out of the way, going forward I will attempt to capture the important events as they unfold and maybe even have a bit of self-reflection in these posts as well. There has been a lot that has happened prior to this post but I will make sure all the good stuff makes it in here.
Read in my deepest, coolest narrator voice
It all started...
About 20 years ago I met one of my best friends: Dustin's cousin Nick, playing one of our favorite games: Ultima Online. As it turned out Nick lived in Florida, which is sort of far away from Texas but that distance meant nothing in a digital world. Shortly after Nick and I met and had numerous adventures together, Nick introduced me to one of his many cousin's: Dustin. Dustin and I got along well enough but our early relationship didn't really take off until a few years later when we all started playing World of Warcraft. Our gaming group's bond had started solidifying around our mutual love for Ultima Online and Ludacris' music, but our adventures in the realms of Azeroth are what truly set the group's bond in stone when we branded ourselves ALLCAPSNOSPACES. We spent a blissful few years together, having seemingly endless play sessions and raiding into the early morning hours. However, with time and age, habits and priorities shift and our group found less time to game together but still kept in contact daily through group messaging.
Years later Dustin and I both found ourselves pursuing Computer Science degrees and wound up working in the Tech Industry. We each have spent a few years at this point working on various projects for work and building up our technical skillsets, but feeling unfulfilled creatively. Both of us have long held a dream to make games for a living, and were starting to realize that we might just be able to make it happen if we applied ourselves and pushed ourselves to learn new things.
While I was in school for Computer Science at the University of Houston, I stumbled upon an elective class for Game Programming & Design. My stomach dropped because I knew I just had to get into that class. It was in that class that I was able to focus and put together the very first build of Spacedude with Dustin's help remotely from Florida. It was the project that I was the most proud of during my time in school, but after graduating it just sat there for years. It didn't seem practical to pick it back up and work on it when there were so many other things going on in my life.
In the next 2-3 years after graduation Dustin and I had a few game ideas that we documented and designed. All of which have yet to really coalesce into anything other than an exercise in creativity, until one day I decided to open Spacedude back up and see how it felt to play. As with any good software project you revisit after many years it was broken because my master programming skills were too much for the test of time and so I had to make a couple of changes to get it working again. But after seeing all the old artwork and listening to the original music I knew we had to revisit the project and take it to the next level. I threw a demo of it up on a website and shared it with Dustin and some close friends who seemed to enjoy it as well, which gave us even more motivation to push it even further.
Side note - I say that I just 'threw a demo of it up on a website' but in reality I had never built a website by myself before. I had some minor experience from group projects in school but ultimately was starting from scratch. I spent a good chunk of time working out some early issues but luckily the biggest skill I had gained over the years was how to problem solve and find answers for myself. After some googling and tutorials I was able to stand up a very basic webpage that fit my needs at the time, and build on it from there. I point this out to show that with determination and asking the right questions you can find the answers to almost any problem. Do not let something so small as "I don't know how to build a website" stop you from at least trying. It is so incredibly easy to talk yourself out of pursuing something you want when things get tough, but if you want it bad enough you have to push through.
Gathering the Group
While the re-focus on Spacedude was happening, I was working as a technology consultant for a company called Pariveda Solutions. At Pariveda, my first project was working for a Retail Energy company and there I met CJ, another member of the Pariveda team on the project. CJ and I discovered we had a lot in common, we were around the same age, went to the same school for Computer Science, and at the time had both just recently had young daughters born within a year of one another. We became fast friends and remained in touch long after that project ended.
CJ and I had always had a shared interest in game development, but had different priorities that always tended to take precedence over working on game development. A couple years later CJ's life had opened up some space for game development and he was ready to jump on board. After some back-and-forth and introductions, we brought CJ into our circle and from then on began working towards a common goal of working on our first game: Spacedude and getting our business off the ground.
Starting the Studio
One of our biggest desires as developers is to maintain a constant connection with our players and community. We will have a live demo of our game available throughout our development process to give players a real feel of what we have to offer. We also plan on releasing our game on Steam, but before we would be able to make a Steam Developer account we needed to make ourselves official. And so it was time to formalize ourselves as developers and commit to creating a company, and so ALLCAPSNOSPACES STUDIO LLC was born on January 1st, 2020.
Shortly after filing for our LLC we took care of some of the other basic drudgery such as setting up a bank account and filing for an EIN (Employer Identification Number). After several days of waiting for verifications we were finally able to get into Steam to make our developer account. But the joy of that was short-lived when we hit the next waiting period. Since our company was so new, some of the Texas Secretary of State databases hadn't been updated and so Steam took about a month before they were able to verify our Tax identity to say "ya, these fools is legit" but hey, better late than never!
Now we get down to business. We will be releasing our first alpha demo soon and have a lot of work to do. I will do my best to make these diary updates on a regular cadence and maybe somebody will end up holding me to that.
If you haven't checked us out yet you can do so at https://allcapsnospaces.com/
Hopefully I didn't miss anything...
See ya next time!