The Year of Verus

Happy New Year!

Well, it's been an entire year since Nicholas and I began work on what is now Verus Games.  Last year at this time it was little more than an exercise in making a video game.  We agreed on our first project, TimeGem, which ended up being nearly unplayable, but the important thing was that we finished it.  We didn't know that at the time, but it really was probably our most important lesson: Just Finish It.

After TimeGem we accomplished "a game a month" for two more projects, LightMaze and Calculated Risk, respectively, before moving our goalposts a bit further back and completing Spell Bound in three months.  Spell Bound, it could be said, was our first actual "failure," perhaps not personally (as we've had personal failures before) but professionally.  We invested a lot of time and as-then-accumulated technical and artistic experience into it, and it didn't do well at all once it was released.  Going back and playing it months later now, it is a very bad game, by the standards we've set for ourselves since.

At the turn of 2014, we're now at the tail-end of our "final" project, Shibe Warz, that Nicholas and I agreed would only go until the end of the 2013 calendar year.  When we began twelve months ago, you see, we agreed that 2013 would be the year that we dedicated specifically to "figuring out how it all works."  There would be no attempt at profit because, frankly, how can you profit from something you don't understand at all?  Don't get us wrong, we're not greedy and we have no aspirations of becoming a Triple-A industry titan, nor a multi-million-dollar Notch.  But we do have a collective dream of working on video games, GOOD video games, full-time.  We want to do this as more than a hobby.  We want to help add to the industry, to the unique experiences of all human beings like and unlike ourselves.  And the only way to do that in the manner that we wish is to ultimately be able to make enough of a profit in order to survive outside of development.

And so here we are.  We're very close to wrapping up primary development on Shibe Warz and to put it out into the public for beta testing, followed by bug fixes and polishing.  The Indie scene that is already growing around us has been hugely positive and helpful in our endeavor, and we're trying to be just as helpful as well, and we already have a mailing list for people who have extended their hand to help beta test with us.  And for that we are very grateful.

But as we inch our way into 2014 we are coming to a few forks in our path which only a year ago we never knew we'd be faced with.  How do we continue?  How does this business actually work?  There are so many people who want to work with us, especially considering we've "gotten projects done" and we have formed the infinitely-important habit of finishing things.  Who do we bring in?  Do we need this many developers this early in the business?  Do we even know how to make a good game?  What is our niche?  What are our strengths and our weaknesses?  How do we find them and understand them objectively?  What is our brand?  What do we bring to the "table" of the video gaming community?

These questions are new to us.  Really they're just a macro version of the questions we ask ourselves in everyday life, in the backs of our minds as we go through the world individually.  But once you form a dyad, or a triad, or a tetrad, these questions become immediate and overwhelmingly essential to answer if the group hopes to progress creatively.  We're really trying to answer them as best that we can, but 2014 will ultimately be our "proving ground," as we begin to explore our strengths, weaknesses, biases, and our ability to adapt to this strange new world in which we find ourselves.

These musings are all I really have to say for now.  The past few weeks, alongside both my day job and development at Verus, have been fraught with introspection.  Before I finish this first post of the year, I'd like to give you 4 things that I've learned through developing in the year 2013:

1.  Get It Done!! Nicholas and I recently did an interview (yet to be published) wherein a question posed to him was "what's something important that you have learned through development?"  And "GET IT DONE" was his answer.  He is absolutely, 100% correct in this, and I cannot think of a better piece of advice.  The habit that you need to form; the ambition that you need to have even for the smallest project; the discipline that you need in order to keep your blinders on against all of the distracting things that try to get in your way... these must be developed.  The lesson that you learn through finishing your first project is more important and more powerful than any of the creative or technical lessons of the project itself.  I still remember how I felt upon completing TimeGem, and I have long-since forgotten anything I did for that crappy game.  I barely remember what it even looks like, but I remember the elation and euphoria of Nick messaging me "We're done."  That feeling sticks with you for a very long time, and it becomes a piece of the puzzle, it becomes a "drive" in every other project you do.  Not only do you want it to be fun, to be playable, to have this-or-that mechanic... but you now also want to get it done.

2.  Network! - Your goal in development should not be to make games for yourself.  That can be your goal, but don't expect any kind of social success if you only develop things that you can play and nobody else understands.  If you make games for yourself, then you're a hobbyist, not a developer.  If you hope to even have a glimmer of outward success, of having other people use what you've developed, then you need to start Networking with people online.  Twitter and Facebook are the two favorites of mine that I use, and beginning this year we will be expanding into IndieDB and a few others that I've only learned about through networking.  We have been introduced to really incredible people through only the few avenues we've been using so far, and cannot wait to be introduced to even more.  Every person we meet is a potential player, and likewise for everyone meeting us.  We learn something valuable from literally every interaction, and that is probably the most important part of networking.  You cannot skip this part.  Do it early.

3.  Failure is KEY! - On the television show Kitchen Nightmares, chef Gordon Ramsay often repeats his mantra "You learn from criticisms, not from people blowing smoke up your ass."  This is absolutely true in any creative or technical endeavor.  We have learned more from what we've done wrong with each of our projects than from what we've done right, and each successive game we've developed carries with it the marks of our previous failures.  You cannot be afraid of failure.  You must welcome it.  For the first few projects it is essential that you prefer constructive criticism (basically mini-failures, as far as I'm concerned) over praise.  This is the only way you'll begin to develop a self-critical thought process that will innately force you to look at creative and technical decisions from multiple angles, because you will no longer trust your first decision and you will begin to objectively self-check your own biases.  This is crucial.

4.  Love What You Do! - It is very, very important that you absolutely love developing, and that you love what you're developing.  We have had a few people slip away from helping us develop because they weren't as dedicated to the project as we hoped they were.  This is no fault or flaw of their own, but it's an unfortunate fact of working on a project with no financial reward or stability.  If you're doing something for free, then you must be in love with it, otherwise when more pressing matters come up involving financial decisions with your rent, or your day job, then those will take precedent over your project.

5.  Do NOT Give Up! - Especially when you're beginning your journey into development, it's very easy to lose hope in the first few weeks before you finish a project.  The lack of experience you most likely have is a huge part of the overwhelming burden on your shoulders.  But it absolutely does get better.  Take a look through our "Games" section and see how far we've come.  TimeGem was absolutely hopeless.  If we were to place our bets for the two know-nothings who developed that slop, we would surely be losing our money.  But we had hope.  We learned so much from it, and from each failure since, and we've developed a working confidence through it.  And if you stick with it, if you welcome failure and learn to finish your projects, if you fall in love with the entire process and with your individual projects, then you just need to remember to not give up.  I cannot promise social success, but I can guarantee an inward personal success that is not achieved in our common hours.


Thank you for reading, and I hope some of this helps you on your journey into Game Dev, or to better understand the journey if you're not actively taking part in it... yet.  Happy Holidays, and make 2014 one that charts a new path in your life.


Video Games: Why?

Chances are, if you are reading this, you like or even love video games, or at the very least, you can appreciate them. If you accidentally found this post by mistake, I still invite you to stay and read about why video games are so popular. For you gamers reading this, I expect you’ll already know what I’m presenting, but perhaps you never quite thought about it in this manner.

Why are games fun?

So why DO we love video games so much? Why can we spend countless hours in a virtual world tirelessly? A quick but naive answer would be, “because they are fun!” But what makes them fun? It isn’t just one thing, and there is no one size fits all for games. I know personally, I enjoy games that offer a great story with good three dimensional characters and a deep plot. Others, such as Anthony and Nick, prefer games more as a test of skill - something easy to learn but difficult to master separating the men from the boys, so to speak. For some, it is the element of competition between human adversaries, such as those who play League of Legends. I could go on, but the bottom line is: video games mean something different to each person.

Are there any common factors between all of these different interests? What aligns them all in a way that allows us to neatly package the whole experience as, “yes, I like video games?” The answer is rules. Yes, rules. Specifically that our brains love rules.

To understand why that is, we’ll need to take a step back and examine the biology of our brains. First of all, what is a brain, other than a mass of fat-sheathed neurons all excitedly firing at each other. The brain, and not the heart, is also the seat of our consciousness (sorry Aristotle, you got that one wrong). Brains have evolved to be decision makers, and their job is to think about things and direct the body to the best course of action. But in order to make good, informed decisions, we need to understand the world around us, and sort all of the information that come to us through our senses. Because of the brain’s desire to make these good decisions, it loves, and to an extent, demands rule sets, or, more abstractly, patterns.

If you think about it, you’ll realize that our brains are constantly filtering noise looking for patterns. An interesting side effect of this mechanism is demonstrated with coincidental occurrences; sometimes things that are purely chance related seem much more significant to us than they really are. This may happen to you when you learn a new word -- afterwards, you suddenly start hearing it “all the time,” when in reality the frequency of that word’s usage hasn’t increased, and all that happened was your brain added more significance to novel knowledge.

Great, but what does this have to do with video games? Well the answer isn’t just related to video games, but games in general. Human beings have been creating and playing all kinds of games for thousands of years. Everyone generally agrees that it is fun to win games, whether against another player or even playing by yourself. There is a certain satisfaction that comes along with creating an imaginary game space in which the game’s rules are that game space’s laws of reality, and then successfully executing actions to achieve your goals using the framework of the rules.

Successful execution of the rules is probably so satisfying because we are programmed to want to succeed at “the game of life” (not to be confused with Hasbro’s Game of LIFE), where the rules include actions such as eating food, finding a mate, etc. Playing and winning games in this way is a micro-model of “winning” real life. No wonder we love games so much!

Video Games Solve the Complexity Problem

But what about video games? What appeal do they have that your standard board or card game doesn’t? This time, the answer lies in the complexity. Most board games have few rules compared to today’s video games, not because the people who created them were less intelligent, but because adding complexity either adds costs on the players as additional rules to remember, or adds complexity to the board game itself, which could be manifested by adding additional pieces, additional point scoring, additional boards, etc. It simply becomes more of a hassle to manage the game space’s laws of reality than it is to actually utilize the framework. In addition, solving more complex problems ends up being more rewarding, especially when you reflect on the work you did to get to that sweet point of victory. Video games, in all of their virtual glory, do not suffer from this physical problem of complexity and therefore offer all of the rewards solving a complex challenge entails.

Because video games rely on a medium that is transformative (IE your computer monitor or television set), they are able to keep track of the game space rules as well as present additional complexity at relatively low cost to the user. For instance, a Nintendo controller consists of a whopping 5 separate buttons (counting the directional pad as one button). That’s not very many inputs, however, since different buttons performed different actions depending on what screen you are in (the game screen, the menu screen, the battle screen), you are now able to interact in a much more complex manner with the game space without having to utilize more buttons.

While it is true that video games offer more comprehensive rulesets, no video game ruleset encompasses everything. It’s fun to play different games with different styles because we are offered different rulesets to conquer. And now we come to the advantage that Indie games offer over commercially driven games: unique and novel rule sets.

Commercial Games Vs Indie Games

First, though, let’s examine what I’ll call “commercial games,” which I don’t want you to confuse with commercially successful games. They are usually produced by large studios with large budgets, and are ultimately driven by profit. Yes, the game developers are working there because they love developing games, and creating fun, interactive experiences for their customers. Yes the artists and composers and writers are all there because they love what they do and want to produce quality material for the masses to consume.

It’s their bosses, the leaders of the companies that employ them who are the ones demanding profit. That’s not to say they are a bunch of avaricious penny-mongerers, because in order to run a successful business, well, you need to make sure your business is making profits! In the end, however, this constrains the total creativity of everyone who works on the game as a whole. None of the higher ups will approve wholly untested concepts for games because those represent the riskiest ventures; spending $100 million developing a game that could potentially see no return is, at its core, a very stupid idea.

I’ll give you an example: Grand Theft Auto is a great game developed by a great company. In its first iteration, we had a top down view in which you control a little man who can steal cars. Fast forward to Grand Theft Auto V, and the game is radically different, but if you really had to boil it down, you control a guy who can steal cars. It is one of the game’s central concepts, and yes it is recycled because it is a sequel, which by definition would only offer iterative changes at most. But my example goes beyond that: if you compare Grand Theft Auto V to Grand Theft Auto IV, you won’t see much of a difference in terms of the ruleset. The world is different, the detail is higher, the story is longer, but it still follows the same formula, because that formula has been proven. Rockstar knows it can afford the $200 mil on that game because of how successful the previous versions have been. The ruleset remains the same.

Conversely, Indie games, which are NOT driven by profit, offer a realm of total creativity from the creators. We are free to explore concepts not previously explored, and to offer unique rule sets to our players. In a way, we can offer experiences to our players that commercial games cannot. Remember, the brain places significance on novel information, which in turn leads to a more intense experience. That intense experience coupled with the satisfaction of successfully utilizing the framework we present offers something wonderful to our players. Remember, just because the interaction is virtual, doesn’t make it any less real!

Having said all that, I’m not trying to bash commercial games, or say that Indie games are better, but I do want to say that the continuation of the creation of Indie games can only be a beneficial thing. It should never be something that is scoffed at, because if you think about it, Indie games essentially constitute research and development of gameplay. This is cutting edge stuff, folks, and that means you may encounter failures, but like scientists, all we need to do is modify our hypothesis and try again.

After all, games bring people joy in the world, and who could argue with trying to find new ways to bring joy to those people?

Merry Christmas


I Dreamed a Dream of Devs Gone by...

Well we missed a week of updating last week, but I suppose there's a first time for everything.  And hey, if Ed McMillen can miss a week, can miss one, alright?

Our hard deadline for content freeze in Shibe Warz development was the last day of November, which was about two weeks ago.  But we drastically underestimated how long development on certain aspects and mechanics would take, and due to a few other previously unforeseen circumstances that arose for one of our programmers, Nick and myself had to double-up on our crunch and extend our development of Shibe Warz into Mid-January.  We're also reverting to a "soft deadline" approach (or as I like to call it, the "Duke Nukem Forever" approach) for Shibe Warz, as we're no longer going to lie to ourselves.  All of this is giving Nicholas enough time to handle the rest of the coding workload and get a few office builds out to us in order to begin QA testing.  We've already overwhelmingly rearranged the game's GUI to be more user-friendly and intuitive but there's still so much more work to do.

This is definitely the largest and most comprehensive learning experience for me/us to-date.  Except maybe TimeGem which was our very first project, and taught us what it even means to "make a video game," which was an arduous and mammoth process from standing still to taking that first step.  That first step was like a leap off a chasm, but with Shibe Warz we're definitely catching ourselves and learning how to glide.  It's giving me, personally, a lot of appreciation for graphics artists in general, more than I had before even when I was knee-deep in other earlier work and knew less than I know now.

But I must digress.  There is more work to be done.  Rest assured there will not be another lost week of dev blog updating (remember: Every Wednesday!).  Stay tuned for more updates on Shibe Warz and Verus as the days progress, and be sure to follow us on Twitter!

Thanks for reading, and keep playing!

What am I Doing?

It's been a very long week these past seven days, but ironically a very short month since we began development on Shibe Warz.   I realized since my last blog post that I'd like to add a little more insight into Verus' unique history/development routine, as well as insight into my own thought and work process.  Even if nobody really reads this, I can still have it for chronicling of my future endeavors.

We've come a long way in three years.  I first moved to Philadelphia from Los Angeles in early 2010 after making tentative plans, over the phone, to develop video games with my brother Nicholas.  Even then we had absolutely no idea what we were doing.  But we had ambition.  Lots of ambition.  We've played video games all our lives, including an absolute boatload of 2-player co-operative games (of which there are relatively few today), and we wanted to bring our own stamp to the industry even if only in some small way.  We instantly began doing what all amateur and aspiring game designers, who know nothing, do: began designing an MMO, i.e. the largest and most difficult project in the industry.  

MMO's require giant studios, years of time, decades of research, bathtubs of money, and basically everything else that our rookie two-man group lacked.  As a matter of fact, we weren't even rookies.  At least a rookie is working the field after some training.  We were hot out of our childish lives with absolutely 0% of our lifetime devoted to game design.  We'd only ever *played* games.  Sure, we paid attention to them and what made them fun for us, and talked naively about the "designs" of a lot of those games, but never had we even downloaded any of software necessary to *make* one.  Before moving to Philadelphia I'd never even *looked* at an online rendering of something made in Blender, the freeware 3D modeling program that I would come to depend upon for literally all of my work today.  Now Blender is the third program in my workflow when I'm developing character models, but first in line when modeling everything else.

But now I'm getting ahead of myself.  Back in 2010 Nick and myself began with a pencil and a notebook and attempted to begin design work on our massively multiplayer online role playing game without having any experience in game design.  We covered a lot of bases, we believed, including all manner of gameplay mechanics for each character "class," what we would and would not include in the world, all the way down to the individual rivers and tributaries on our game's world map.  But only a few weeks into designing it began to unravel because, as we quickly discovered, we knew absolutely nothing about implementation.  Between our designs and a finished product there was a great, yawning chasm of darkness and oblivion which required a bridge we knew not how to build.

And so we scrapped that idea. 

For the next few months we were both disillusioned with the notion of developing video games.  I fell into a day job in the city of Philadelphia while Nicholas (a few years my junior) worked on completing his bachelor's degree at Drexel University.  In this interim we both, separately, began attempting to build a semblance of a bridge over that mammoth void between idea and product.  I started earnest work in learning 3D modeling with Blender and eventually applied my very amateur ability toward a completed "Verus Entertainment" intro video, which can be seen here:

At the same time, Nicholas was starting to branch slightly away from his original college major by enrolling in Game Design courses (without branching too much that it would hurt his credit accumulation) and working on projects with his peers, gaining some valuable preliminary knowledge.

A few months later, while still gaining some ground within our respective "specialties" (Nicholas with coding and myself with art), we decided to try our collective hand at a 3D tower defense game.  I developed quite a few assets for this project, but even still we had no idea what we were doing.  I knew nothing about rigging, skinning, or even the absolute most essential piece of 3D development, UV wrapping (although it can be argued validly that *all of these* are essential pieces).  My understanding of something even as simple as texturing was reduced and chained to the default layered textures that Blender could produce for me.  This is, of course, useless without UV wrapping and texturing.  And texturing is useless without rigging and skinning the model in order for it to animate within a game engine.

I knew nothing, but thought I was doing well.  In reality I had merely cracked the door ajar.  I didn't even know how badly I was struggling to open that door further, because I thought it was enough to slip through.  It would become clear to me later, much later unfortunately, how wrong I had been.

At this point I do realize how many questions are most likely whizzing around inside of your head, or even questions that you're screaming aloud at your monitor.  "HOW DIDN'T YOU KNOW ABOUT UV WRAPPING," or "WHY DIDN'T YOU SEARCH YOUTUBE FOR TUTORIALS ON THIS??!"  And now I absolutely agree with you.

But back then I was walking completely blind.  The only thing I knew, with any certainty, was that I wanted to make video games.  Actually, to be more clear, what I knew was that I *needed* to make video games.  Nicholas and I both attested to this, time and again, over the course of several months of struggling to get anything resembling a game off-the-ground.  We could not, and I was so ignorant of what was required of video game artistry, both technical and creative, that I didn't even know what to search for.  I was so ignorant I didn't know I *should have* been searching for any answers to questions that I did not yet have. 

And so, with a few dozen useless assets along with a fully modeled (and blandly textured) Home City for a hypothetical 3D tower defense game, we again fell into non-productivity.  We shelved the idea "for good" as we became disillusioned, once again, in developing video games.  We simply knew too little, understood even less, about what it takes to make games.

I personally suspect that this is probably the point at which most people would give up pursuing a certain avenue, no matter what the subject matter is.  An aspiring architect, a young biology major, an artist in his late teens or early twenties.  Encountering such personal failure after several months of hard "work," even naive and undeveloped hard work, exacts a toll on the unlearned.  I do not have a history of art composition in any form, whether material canvas or CGI.  I do not carry a degree in the arts.  I have not used Blender, or any 3D modeling software, for even a moment of my 29 years before the year 2010.  And here I was (here *we* were) with two massive projects built in our minds but failing to achieve any kind of traction.  Failing completely.  I knew nothing but wanted everything.

What am I doing?  What *was* I doing? 

After the 3D tower defense game, we gave up for a year.  During that time Nicholas utilized his time spent in one of his Design courses to gather a few of his peers into a small group of aspiring game designers.  We arranged a scant few meetings over the course of several weeks, about six to eight of us gathering together to discuss certain aspects of game design but in no certain terms and with really no actual experience to speak of.  As it turns out today, even the game design courses that Nicholas and the others had taken were no match for *actual* game development.  After a few weeks, and perhaps a total of three meetings amongst ourselves, our hodgepodge group faded into nothing and we were left with nothing in our hands.

The year finally passed,  I had been working in the restaurant industry for about half a decade by this point and was inundated with its demanding schedule.  In early 2012, Nicholas approached me again with a renewed offer of starting developing (again) on our original idea for an MMO.  Although it was doomed to failure due to the very nature of development, and although we still did not understand this, something magical happened as we relit the torch: we began to research. 

Oh my... god, that's it.  We did not know the questions to ask, but we both knew that we needed to ask questions.  We needed to begin probing the fabric of game design, and this included, quintessentially, all of the technical aspects.  I learned about ZBrush.  Mudbox.  UV wrapping.  Rigging and skinning.  Texturing.  I had never before heard of these aspects of technical artistic digitization.  And now I was surrounded with these terms.  I had creaked the door ajar a few more inches and could finally see the darkness indicative of the depths that stretched down before me.  For the first time not only could I see the horizon, but I had spotted something disappear beyond the vanishing point, and realized that more lay beyond it.  I was loaded with information.  I was not privy to my brother's personal growth in his own realm, but I knew that he had researched game engines and fundamental coding techniques.

And then we stopped working on our MMO.  Not because it faded away like before.  But because we deliberately halted our own progress due to the overwhelming knowledge that assailed us from every corner of the internet tutorials.  We began to sense ourselves in this "place."  And this place was far too large for us, and we far too small.

We halted this progress on the MMO after about 2 months of "pre-development" and spent a few months reeling from the shellshock.  Eventually my Zbrush demo ran out after 30 days of running it through its paces, and I took what I learned from there and applied it to my endeavors in Blender with much better results than ever before.  While Nick was very busy taking time to complete his final semester at Drexel (incorporating a rather demanding schedule up until the very end that summer) I was busy attempting to learn how to UV wrap and make textures, however poorly designed and executed all of this was.

While Nick was busy with school, and in between my increasingly spotty study of art development, I read about my passions in my off-time (mainly scientific works, astrophysics, philosophy and literature) and delved into physics as a back-up plan to our game design dreams failing.  Nicholas helped me through all of this, and although this is a rather strange tangent, he was, and has always been, the other half of my strength and ability through these past three and a half years.  And for that year in particular, 2012, I thank him endlessly for helping to show me what I can accomplish.

Some more time had gone by as we sped through the remainder of 2012 without working on anything game-related.  Both Nicholas and myself had to move out of our respective apartments and into new ones, set up new lives in different corners of the city, re-align to new day-jobs, and many other nuances.  But by January of this year, 2013, we were both very much ready to approach game design and development with a new pair of lives.  It was Nicholas who approached me first with the idea of starting small, on a very, very small project for the month of February just to get our feet wet.  This is something that we should have done since the beginning, and not coincidentally something I had heard countless developers say in interviews on YouTube (including, most importantly, Ed McMillen and Tommy Refenes of Team Meat).

START SMALL.  Your first game is going to be *incredibly disappointing*.  It will probably be nearly unplayable.  And our first game, Time Gem, was unplayable.  It had basic movement and attacking functionality, but was horrible in every way that a video game can be horrible.  Empty plot.  No narrative.  Horrible graphics that get no message across.  Terrible GUI.  It showed us, in no uncertain terms, what we actually, positively, do not know about game design.  That project threw our ignorance directly in our faces.

But I have never been more proud of anything else I have done.  You can find Time Gem on Games page of this website and take a look for yourself.  It's awful.  But I learned more in the two months we spent on that project than in the two previous years combined.  Personal lessons about UV wrapping, texturing, rigging, animating, and asset creation were daunting but exceptionally rewarding.  Seeing what you *don't know* is as important as knowing that you don't know.  You need to know how ignorant you are.  It is not enough to simply know that you're ignorant.  You need to do research into what it takes so that you can have a working hypothetical model inside of your mind of spaces you need to fill with understanding.

After Time Gem I began spending weeks' worth of free time at the local Barnes N Noble on Walnut in downtown Philadelphia, sitting in the Starbucks, sipping on Chai Lattes and scouring dozens of graphics design magazines for hours at a time.  Reading on latest tips, both technical and abstract.  Getting inside the work on the pages.  Without a technical background or intimate knowledge of the 3D modeling tools used to create those works (or works of my own) it is impossible to be that creative.  I first needed, and still need, to master the technical aspects of Blender, Sculptris, MakeHuman, GIMP/Photoshop, and Unity 3D.  But that time spent examining composition after composition, reading interview after interview, witnessing creative tutorial after tutorial, was invaluable to my understanding and building of my own personal future goals and aspirations within Verus Games.  It instilled within me my own boundaries and horizons of creative expression and is helping me every day to develop new artwork and vistas that allow me to pour myself onto the screen.  I am barely through the door, but I have an idea of where I want the darkness to lead.  And that is a powerful thing.

And now here I am.  Here we are.  I still suck, and I know that.  But I can honestly say I know *why* I suck.  I no longer feel powerless against my own ignorance, but rather I strive every day to be better than yesterday.  And the more I understand about my technical limitations, about how to use the tools of my own expression, the more that ignorance fades away into the grey of the past three years.  And this leaves me more confident in myself than I've ever been.  The ability to look back on the projects we've accomplished in the past, no matter how amateur, no matter how terrible, is equally as helpful in enabling both Nicholas and myself to focus on what we've done wrong and what we've done right, and in moving forward with even greater clarity.

I don't know how to end this.  The story of my life shows how atrocious I am at ending anything satisfactorily, but I do want to narrow down what I've learned in order to pass on to you in case you are also struggling your own way through Independent Game Development:

Never give up.  Keep moving forward.  But don't do it blindly.  Ask questions about your goal, your purpose, and then ask yourself what you need to achieve that goal.  Then ask Google and YouTube, because they will have most of the technical answers you are looking for.   And you need that technical information before you can hope to lay your creative imagination to the canvas of reality.  You need to know your tools before you can use them effectively.  Otherwise you're just slapping paint onto the wall.

With love to everyone, especially my family, biological and chosen. 

~ Anthony. 

Never happier to be anywhere but here

I can't quite explain how excited I am to be doing what we're doing at Verus.  It's been nearly a year since Nicholas and I began our personal projects just to see how technically savvy we were, how quickly we could progress without too much collateral damage.  I can say objectively that we have progressed exponentially since our first attempt at a video game (TimeGem), and that takes into account not only our ambition, but also our willingness to work.  Throughout my life I've met a lot of ambitious people, many of whom have not known how to take the first step to realize their goal (whatever it had been), and their ambition remained nothing more than ambition bearing no fruit. 

We are not far at Verus, by the standards of so many other Indie developers.  We are barely out of the jungle as far as our evolution of game design, art direction, and personal technical innovation is concerned.  We are garnering years worth of experience within mere months of time, and are progressing earnestly, honestly, and willfully into the future of ourselves and the realization of our dreams, which is unified under video games that make a difference in the minds of those who play them.  Video games that unite people together co-operatively rather than competitvely.  Game design that challenges and satisfies, rather than rewards.  And an experience that grows with you as much as it helps you to grow.

We're still learning.  Please learn with us, and become a part of who we are and what the next stage of video game evolution will be. 

Thanks for reading, and thank you for playing.