Meetups and Updates

It’s been a thrill and a motivator hosting a monthly meetup group of indie developers in my area.  Each month, I am treated to new and interesting works of art, games, video & music, all produced by people who are largely spending their own time and money doing something they love — creating games.  I try my best to take notes each month and update the larger community we have on meetup.com, but I also present some of my own work when I have updates worth sharing.

A couple of months ago, I dragged my VR hardware out to the meetup and carefully walked as many as I could through some of my prototype demo projects.  It was a lot of work — I had to break down the hardware and pack it, unpack it and set it up at the meetup, then break it all down again, pack it, bring it home and set it all back up again.  I’m now thoroughly convinced a dedicated traveling set is a better option, if I do it again.

I got the most positive reactions from an Archery mess that I’ve been adding on and playing around in while I educate myself on developing games using Unity.  It’s incredibly easy to build an archery game using SteamVR components — in fact, there is a sample project already set up when you import the full SteamVR package.  I used that as my base to start, and have been iterating on it as I am learning.  It’s a fun way to develop, certainly, but there’s not much of a coherent start-to-finish feeling to it.  I am learning a lot at a fast pace, though, which is my priority right now.

Since I first demo’d the archery game at the meetup, I made a few updates to improve on some of the negative things I heard and added in some more content and then presented a gameplay video of the new build at the next meetup.  Not as impactful as experiencing it with the full setup, but it sufficed and it was a lot easier for me.  It was a good feeling to be able to show progress on things I am doing, and to show the group how their feedback positively affected progress on the “game.”

This weekend, I am participating with some of the meetup group members in Ludum Dare 38, a 72-hour game jam.  It looks like at this point there will be 5 of us working together to build something…anything that qualifies as a playable entry.  I participated in Ludum Dare 35 with just 2 other group members and I enjoyed the experience.  I expect no less and am excited to see what the end result is this time.

The following week will then be our monthly meetup, where I’ll likely recap what happened during the game jam and present some updates I have been working on for Hoppy Naut.  I have previously presented Hoppy Naut, but since I have been working on learning Unity and VR development, I have not had time to work on updates to it.  After my son found some bugs in the current release, however, I decided it was time to dust off the code and fix the bugs and finish off some updates I started a while back.

The meetups have been a great motivator for me to keep progressing on my projects and keep them in a presentable form so that I can keep that feedback cycle going.  I’ve also met some really talented people who are using their knowledge and skills to help me in areas where I need it.  In addition to all of that, I get the privilege of seeing some creative ideas coming to life and evolving.  If this sounds like something you’re looking for, I highly recommend you find a Meetup in your area and if you can’t find one, start one!  If you’re in the area, be sure to drop in on the OC Indie Devs.