Where are we going from here?
New year, new endeavors! I started two things:
One aspiration for 2021
I hope you had a happy new year and a holiday season where you got to actually relax.
I took time off between December 24 - January 4 and completely broke out of my routine (where I usually try to be productive every day in some sort of way); I pretty much just napped, ate, and played video games. Although I didn't take that many days off, I think I took a proper break so this month I spent a pretty good chunk of time thinking about what my next drawing project would look like (it will be significantly bigger than my previous projects I think). I'm not sure when I'll get around to actually starting this, since I am gearing up for an Early Access Release of "Derelict Void" for mid-March, but ideas are brewing. Hopefully I can keep my momentum.
2020 (not so much) recap
I hope you are safe, wherever you are. I realized I couldn't write that much of a detailed recap or 2020 here (because TMI), but I did take the time to actually journal about it - not for an audience, but just for me to put my feelings down somewhere so that I don't feel obliged to carry it around all the time. This year I am finally starting to understand the meaning of writing (and drawing too; I started doing some doodling occasionally) for myself, and no one else.
Wishing a happy and healthy new year to you and yours,
Derelict Void has a Steam page now
Thank you for everyone who supported Stirling Games' first Kickstarter Campaign for the game "Derelict Void" through backing the project directly or sharing it with people who may be interested (or both!). The project was brought to life by 148 backers and was 111.8% funded!
Now we are working towards an early access release in March 2021 (early playtesting begins in a few days), and the game has a page on Steam now - it is starting to feel very real for us.
If you have not heard from me yet - Derelict Void, a game we've been making over the past year (read the full story here), is currently running a campaign on Kickstarter. I thought I'd elaborate a bit the different kinds of pledges and what they offer because I realized I never explained that before:
Shuttle ($33 or more)
In addition to getting a copy of the game and getting a backer skin for your starting hull, your name will appear in the credits because you will also get to be a playtester (if the first thing you do after starting a game is to try and break it, this one is for you!). Personally, I would love to have more people help us fine-tune the game to perfection. There will be things that players can see that are difficult for the devs to see (since some of us have been looking at the same stuff for over a year now).
Cassini-Huygens ($80 or more)
Okay. This one is important. (I am biased.) Starting THIS pledge tier, in addition to getting a copy of the game, an upgraded backer skin for your starting hull, playtester access to builds and Discord, and your name appearing in the credits, you get a digital ART BOOK! You wouldn't want to miss all of Irene's concept art and illustrations, like this:
You can also suggest a name for a hull (spaceship) name pool. Derelict Void is a game about travelling to different places and scavenging resources. Some of those locations will be spaceships. You may run into the hull you named!
Voyager ($200 or more)
Will your story be canon? If you are a sci-fi writer, this one is for you. In addition to the rewards from all the previous tiers, you can write a story (in a text-based adventure-like format, where events, decisions and outcomes are conveyed in the form of reports) that will be featured in a community-content mod that is enabled by default. "But how would my story get incorporated into the game?" you might think. We've got you covered - you can build your custom story using the Derelict Void Content Editor. Another perk: You can also suggest a name for the character name pool. Someone who you named might show up in your ship!
Mir ($400 or more)
Buildings play a critical role in Derelict Void (a resource management game): resources are produced / consumed / stored by different buildings. This backer tier allows you to work with the art team to design a building! This is an example of a building that you will see in the game. (Thank goodness we have a warehouse to store all the goods.)
ISS ($650 or more)
And this one is BIGGER - in addition to designing a building, you get to design a hull (like, the spaceship itself!). I mean this when I'm talking about hulls:
How cool is that!?
Lastly I will mention that not all backer tiers are pricey! There are many more pledge tiers starting from $15 and above which gives you a copy of the game and a "backer skin" for the initial hull you'll find yourself in. Have a look at the entire list below!
The birth of Stirling Games
Derelict Void goes live on Kickstarter TOMORROW! If you know of any space enthusiasts and/or rogue-like (or rogue-lite) game enthusiasts, let them know that there's a new game in the works that may scratch that itch! It's never too early to go to the Kickstarter page itself; you can set a reminder to get notified when we go live:
Today, I feel compelled to write about why I'm going bananas over Derelict Void.
A few years ago, my boyfriend (at the time) showed me a video that is very dear to me: "My Life of Starcraft - Day Daily #100" by Sean Plott, also known as Day - funsmith, streamer/caster and Starcraft Broodwar player (I'll refer to him as Day).
(I still come back to this video every half year or so because it is so energizing to watch every single time.) From then on, I started watching Day's videos on YouTube here and there, and in the summer of 2019 I discovered the "DayKnight 30 Day Project" (DK30).
What is a DK30? (Excerpt taken from https://day9.tv/dk30-about)
Have you ever told yourself “I’ll do it someday” and later realized that someday may never come unless you make that day today? Want to clean out your garage? Get in shape? Learn a new skill? Write a story? DayKnight 30 day projects provide a place to commit to a personal project and share your goals, progress, and delays with a supportive community. Get started today!
Here is a video of Day himself explaining what a DK30 is, what the DK30 website does, and how to set up a DK30 project for success:
In Fall 2019, in addition to the usual DK30 projects, they were also running a DK30 Game Jam (like the Fall 2020 video shown above), where programmers and artists and designers can sign up, get assigned into groups, and work together to make a little game in 30 days. The theme for the 2019 DK30 Game Jam was "Day/Night."
In 2019, my fiance was wrapping up work at a logistics company because he was burnt out from corporate culture. He had been doing data analysis-related things in various contexts for nearly a decade at this point, and started to consider switching into a different industry... like the videogame industry. It had always been in his mind to do something more creative - like writing a story or designing a game, and eventually founding a studio. So I said to him: Would it be worth signing up for the game jam? It would be a good experiment - if this game jam turns out to work well, that's potentially one step towards joining a game studio, or even building one.
After much encouragement (read: convincing), my fiance (I will refer to him as "inertious") signed up for the game jam. His teammates were Korius (designer and engineer), Berndy (engineer), and AsterPiano (music composer). They created Stirling Eclipse, a puzzle/driving game where you need to manage hot and cold to propel your stirling-engine-powered vehicle.
You can download Stirling Eclipse here by the way! https://berndy.itch.io/stirling-eclipse Personally, I am eagerly waiting for a remaster and more levels :)
During the development of Stirling Eclipse, inertious and Berndy realized that they were both space nerds and started to discuss developments with SpaceX and other space news on a regular basis. At some point, they discussed space game ideas, and the idea of a ‘space salvager’ came up. inertious and Berndy decided that since they had a good experience working with everyone on Stirling Eclipse they would try and pitch the idea to AsterPiano and Korius and see if they would be interested in pursuing it as well.
As inertious and Berndy started to piece the 'space salvager' game ideas together, ZoidbergTheGreat showed up; Zoidberg had seen Stirling Eclipse and was interested in the team that had made it. Berndy (who is an amazing natural recruiter... talent just gravitates towards him) brought Zoidberg into the team. It was around this time when AsterPiano gracefully bowed out and Korius came on board.
The next DK30 (January 2020) was on the horizon and two new faces showed up: SmokingOkapi (artist and animator) found the budding team on the DayKnights discord server with Berndy bringing him in. Juan (3D modeler and cinematic director) was introduced to the team by Zoidberg. The team's supporter Glademist also came over from the DayKnight community to weigh in on game design ideas. For the January 2020 DK30, the team embarked on a very ambitious task - to put together a prototype of the game that would eventually grow into Derelict Void. (Meanwhile, I was doing my own DK30 project that got this website going.)
In the Spring of 2020, Juan introduced Irene (concept artist) to the team, and then I was introduced to the team by inertious (who became my husband), to help out with whatever in my free time. Eventually I ended up spearheading the UI design of Derelict Void. :O
In short, Stirling Games and Derelict Void would not have happened without Day and the DayKnight community. THANK YOU! We will continue to work to make you proud <3
My favorite view so far
Two years ago in 2018, I visited a B&B with the hopes of celebrating a 5-year "anniversary" with my boyfriend at the time. It was a weekend, I was out of town, and yet my phone was getting "emergency" text messages throughout the day (and into the night) from work. My vacation was ruined, and I was feeling beyond burned out at my job at the time. I precisely remember one evening during that stay - I was sitting in a hot tub, just staring at the water, the boats, the mountains and the trees changing color... and thought about nothing. The first thought that came into my mind after that moment of nothingness was: "fuck it."
So I landed a new job (one that I seriously believe that I was reared/raised/brought up for). Yesterday, my husband and I (we also got married) visited this place for the second time to celebrate our first anniversary. And this was the view of the water, the boats, the mountains and the trees I was talking about:
Mmmm, what a view.
Also: bonus eagle!
GUI design for Derelict Void
I have not been writing so much in my journal recently because I have been working on game development (!). I'm part of Stirling Games - a team of 8, spread out across the world (Canada, Germany, Israel, Spain, and the United States), and we're making the most out of 2020 and the working-from-home-because-of-a-pandemic situation by pushing towards a release early next year. The title is Derelict Void, and it may pique your interest if you like the following concepts together: rogue-like (or "rogue lite") + colony simulator + spaaaaaace
Earlier this year my involvement with Stirling Games was tangential, making placeholder 2D assets for a playable demo of Derelict Void. Then I got brought into the team more officially to help out with designing the graphic user interface (GUI) of the game. I have not designed GUIs for games before but I figured I might have the pieces to make it work: I love making diagrams of everything, I used to do research on visual perception, I am familiar with talking to team members from various domains. So I decided to roll with it.
My GUI design process so far has looked like this: First, I gather requirements from the game designers. Then I start drawing pen-on-paper wireframe sketches...
Once I have enough evidence that the concept is roughly captured, I move onto slightly higher-fidelity interaction design sketches.
Once the interaction ideas are more or less finalized (of course there's always iteration, so I'm aiming for something like 80% certainty that we're in the ballpark of where we want to be), I move onto making mockups that involve fancier colors and typefaces...
Then I communicate my ideas of how things should work to the engineer, the engineer communicates the sprite requirements to me, I make the sprites, and then the engineer makes the sprites come to life!
Hopefully you will get to see the full extent of my work in a few months! In case you feel so inclined to follow the progress of Stirling Games and the development of Derelict Void... there are couple things you can do right now:
September 2020 update
I did not get the chance to write or draw much this month because of the gong show that is the start of the academic term (in the times of COVID-19 - a very different year for everyone involved). But this post is not about disruptions. Today is a day where I celebrate the accomplishments in my work in user experience design over the past year. My title does not have the term "User Experience Designer" in it but it turns out that the need for good design creeps up in various places.
When I first started my role as a program advisor/administrator in university, I was flooded with inquiries from students in the program regarding degree requirements and course registration. It is understandable since the program has complex degree requirements (there are five degrees offered through two Faculties / four Departments so the requirements for each degree are unique, and there are many requirements to fulfill), but I was forced to think about how to improve my students' degree navigation experience: if everyone is asking me the same question, something must be unclear...
It dawned on me that the questions kept coming to me because the information was not easily accessible. So I decided to make the information more accessible by doing two things:
Over the past year, the number of emails arriving in my inbox that have to do with degree requirements and course selection decreased by 40% (that's... pretty darn close to HALF). An added bonus: a larger proportion of the questions I receive tend to be the questions that need to be directed to me (i.e. the best kinds of questions). Although there are more things I can do to further improve the degree navigation experience for students, at this moment however, I think I'll bask in this favorable outcome.
August 2020 update
I'm not writing much these days but it's because I've been drawing a lot more!
Over the past couple months I was working on a series of illustrations that describe the things that helped me move forward in my career search (and more fundamentally, self-discovery): "Advice I wish I had" in my late teens / early 20's). In the near future I hope to start another series that explore emotions (one of my favorite topics to think about and talk about, so I thought I'd draw about it too). This will be a fun one.
One huge improvement over the past year or so (that I'm likely the only one who cares about, but I'm broadcasting this to the world anyway): When I first started drawing my not-quite-stick people, it took me over 50 tries to get a nice circle for the head. Now it takes me around 5 tries; less than 3 on my good days. Practice makes... maybe not perfect but pretty close!
I'm Candice and I doodle with the intensity of the doomguy.