Developer Diary – 86 – What I Do

In this video, I talk about what exactly it is I do at Infinitap Games.

“So in this developer diary I’d like to talk a little bit about what I do with my time. I guess I’m a “Gameplay Programmer” type of guy. That’s where I started my career, I really enjoy gameplay programming I think there are a lot of design elements to it and you know programming is enjoyable and it needs to get done by someone. So I did all the gameplay programming on ‘Retro/Grade’, the game design, some effects and some miscellaneous stuff. But on Neverending Nightmares we have a larger team and so I spend surprisingly little time gameplay programming which is a bit of a disappointment but I thought it’d be worth talking about what I actually do.

Firstly I’m the “Creative Director” on this title, on a small team you don’t want to sound pretentious and I think we get a lot of good ideas from everyone but I think probably a fair statement to say that I’m pushing the creative direction of the project. So I figure out the story, the levels and the design ideas which take a fair amount of time, then I work with the artists to creative the compelling world and so mostly we use ‘Bugzilla’ for our task management so I spend a lot of time there. First, they update the bugs thing and say “Oh I did this, check it out” so I look at it and I think about then give feedback which goes back and forth as well as write up tasks to get to the end result that’s in my mind in the art. But again not all the ideas are mine and the artists will have some really good ideas that I don’t want to take credit for. For example it was Joe’s idea to have the teeth in the sink as the new interaction in the first level which I think was a really great idea, but I mean I do have the final say and sometimes someone will want to do something one way and I’m like “No it has to be this way”. I mean I try not do it that much but you know I probably do it a lot haha, so I’m probably not that great to work for.

Part of the problem is that this game is so personal to me and so close to me, it has to be exactly right otherwise I just feel like I’m doing it wrong and I’m not really being true to the source material and that source material is my mind, my thoughts and my experiences. I mean obviously I wasn’t alive for the turn of the 20th century/late 19th century and I haven’t been through those experiences but it’s really about creating the feelings that I’ve struggled with and I think this is the best way to create them. So in turn I’m very particular about that.

So yes I imagine that it’s hard to work for me in that respect and so I talk to the artists, musician and sound designers. There’s a lot of co-ordination and a lot of opinions that need to be given, I’ve actually been working some extra hours and doing some consulting on top of that so that I can get some more money to pay for some more art so we can have more content and even the everyday tasks of running a business can sometimes be a fair amount of work. Tax season’s coming up and I’m not super great at accounting so I’m trying to work with my accountant but then I’m trying to take on some of that rather than just saying “Accountants do everything” in order to save money, which is frustrating.

There’s a lot of work. It’s not easy running a company and I still find time to do some gameplay programming, although as of late I haven’t done that much which is a little disappointing. But yeah it’s definitely a balancing act with a lot of juggling and some days I feel like I haven’t even touched the keyboard, haven’t written a single line of code which is frustrating. I think to some extent I have to come to terms with the fact that my main job is not gameplay programming anymore, my main job now is “Creative Director” which again sounds rather pretentious on such a small team but I wear a lot of hats. I’m the final say on any aspect of the game and there are a lot of decisions that need to be made and I’m working on the design with Joe so he helps with the level design and the placement of objects, which is great because I’m trying to delegate everything I possibly can. It’s sort of become my new thing, like if I can give it to someone else I try to which usually works out because I just don’t have very much time. I mean I only barely have enough time for the things only I can do so yeah it’s pretty stressful!

So that’s how I spend my days, while it is stressful I do enjoy it and I do feel like we’re doing something really cool and special.