Surviving after a long fall

So in a crazy turn of events this weekend, my phone fell about 250 feet  off a theme park ride and somehow, managed to survive unscathed.

Skyscreamer, 242 feet tall.

It was this ride, the Skyscreamer. So I had no idea this thing went that fast- the momentum literally ripped the cellphone right out of my pocket and sent it hurtling down to the ground below. This was when we were at the very top of the ride!

I honestly did not think it could survive, so we left the park, with me REALLY steamed. Surprise surprise when a good Samaritan called be back on my phone! I was frankly, amazed. She found it landed on a patch of grass near the ride.

After a long hassle with the Six Flags Lost and Found department, I managed to get the phone shipped back to me. I expected to be pretty beat up, but..there isn’t even a scratch on the thing! The back cover’s a little sticky from sitting in the grass where it landed..but that’s it!

That’s a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Folks. Somehow they’re like indestructible. Get one if you’re prone to dropping things off roller coasters..

An allegory for life

So it’s been pretty radio silent at Robotic Potato, mostly because we’re recovering from something of a similar fall. At GamesCon I met an agent of Floyd Mayweather’s who proposed commissioning a game from us in time for the big fight in September. He promises me a BIG advance if I can do the game in a month.

I was more than ready for the challenge. Our due date was September 11th, so I started working as soon as I got home. I informed the whole team, promised and paid them extra advances for the work.

Here’s some of the artwork I commissioned ahead of time

concept Floyd

concepts

BG1finished

And then it began. A really long drawn out contract negotiation, where the guy was pretty much giving me a contract he wrote himself, while I was trying to do things properly through a lawyer. I mean it was hilarious. Here we are working for Floyd Mayweather, a guy whose motto is “The Money Team” and this guy can’t even spare the money for his own lawyer!

Long story short, the negotiations fizzle out after we’ve showed him a lot of work, I hire artists to do work, and he basically bails on me after I show him a greybox test. He says “The art isn’t ready”. Well, of course the art I showed him wasn’t ‘ready’, it was placeholder art! We had concepts and animations lined up to import after concept approval, but apparently this guy had no idea what greybox testing meant.

If you’re greybox testing, actually use boxes. DO NOT use anything that could remotely be construed as ‘finished’.

I’ve been burned by this more than once. People get really fixated when you implement art just half way, so when you’re just doing it just for a test, they get REALLY agitated. Often in game development artwork is the LAST thing that gets implemented. Keep your shit in grey box as long as possible. Like, literally just use boxes and squares.

Otherwise, you’ll get trapped in a black hole constantly explaining “It’s just test art.”

So now we’re out 2-3 weeks of work and a lot of money I paid to artists. I’d never felt like more of an idiot. I never secured the contract, but I invested a lot of time and money trying to chase down that Mayweather money.

Lesson learned.

Never do ANY work before a signed contract, and never trust anyone that asks you too.

We’re not dead yet.

The lost time and money from the Floyd Mayweather debacle hurt A LOT. I’m not ashamed to say I probably spent more than a few days just being stressed and depressed after that.

But we’re going to come back. In September we’ve got a lot of events (FA United, Unite Boston, and PAX Australia) and I’m going to focus the time left I allocated to the Floyd Mayweather project working fulltime on Space Cats.

Hopefully the next demo release of Space Cats will have a lot of gameplay improvements, including new weapons! 

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