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What has Gone Before

We are a community, and that means we should share in the highs and lows. When we rise, you rise, when we fall, you fall. In this case, I feel you really do deserve to know why the Kickstarter’s delayed.

It’s getting closer every day, but it’s going to be a few days more, and it’s just time we lifted the curtain and said why, because to do anything less is not the behavior I’d expect of a project I run.

So, I’m going to try to tell the story as simply and as clearly as I can, without laying blame, and with as much objectivity as I can. I will skip over a lot of things, because I’m only going to hit the highlights.

It all started long, long ago, but it all came to a climax right at the end of July. There were two factions that had developed in the project, and they had very different visions. And, unfortunately, no matter how hard everyone tried, we just couldn’t keep them together.

We lost our Creative Director that day. The fallout from that took a while to shake out, but we also lost our Art Lead, and her second in command and third in command, our Gameplay Lead, and a few other people. Also at about that time, our Composition Lead was struck down by a crippling seasonal migraine attack.

At the same time, we were undergoing a reorganization, moving from Missouri to Washington State, as an incorporated entity.

Things got very messy for a number of days. Among other things, in an effort to make sure that the artists who might leave could maintain control of their art, the version tracking software that we use to maintain commentary and context for the art had all of the above commentary and context wiped out. We still had the art, but it was now unlabeled except by file name. So we had to figure out what it was for all over again.

The thing is, being a community is what saved us. People stepped up when the call came. I can’t thank our new Art Lead and Composition Lead enough for the simply heroic effort they’ve put in to recover what we have. I also am incredibly grateful that our game system designer has decided to stick with the project, because I’ve seen his work before, and I know we’re going to get something that is packed full of fun and interesting design.

It wasn’t over, though. Nothing ever is. We have come together, and we have worked long and hard. But things do continue happening, as they always do, and the bad ones hurt. Discovering the name we had planned for the game belonged to someone who made their living suing people for use of their trademark stung, but we could live with it. But when we looked at the Kickstarter Art and discovered that, while it was complete, the name that we no longer could use was essentially baked into much of the art, and needed to be carefully removed… Well, that one took a lot of time to fix.

And that’s not counting the predictably unpredictable disasters. People getting hundred-plus degree fevers. People falling down and hurting themselves badly. Family issues popping up. Burnout from overwork, as most of us are pulling 50 hour work weeks in our nine to five life, and then doing the same once we get home. Computer failures from being pushed too hard, too fast.

The games you get are optimized. In developer mode, you have textures that aren’t pruned, volumes that try to count infinity, and I’ll never forget the time I attempted to render a city block that I accidentally made five times the size of Manhattan. Obviously, it was completely unusable, but it _did_ finish three days later.

Other things happened. I’m skipping a number of events, including the ones that wound up with me ascending to project lead. They’re neither important nor urgent to know, merely administrative. We simply had some things go wrong, and some things go right, and many of them were just another blow to a boxer. But we can take the shots. We’ve gotten pretty good at it.

Still, by the 4th, we were ready to submit to Kickstarter. It was down to the line. I honestly don’t know if we submitted it on the 4th, 5th, or 6th, it’s all one of those blurs in my mind now. Some of you saw the partially uploaded version of the Kickstarter, and it was pretty okay. But not perfect. Well, we kept uploading things before the submit, and it kept looking better and better, and then we submitted it.

It took a while to come back. And there were changes Kickstarter asked for. And they were good changes. Our bios were a bit on the silly side. And the avatars we put in were far too large. But then, well, then they asked for something that was a real issue.

They asked for a gameplay trailer.

Now, I’m sure you all know our first release was supposed to be the costume designer. We don’t have the tools to make the tools to make gameplay yet. Or rather, we do, but they’re highly inefficient. But Kickstarter asked, and we said, “Well… you know what? We’re heroes. We’ll rise to the challenge.” And we are. We had to pull our efforts off the costume designer. We now have a hodge-podge of rigged pre-made character models, some better than others. But they work. And they’ll work well enough to show gameplay off. We’ve learned a lot from using these inefficient tools. Mostly that we would really like better ones, mind you. But it’s getting done. We’ve had to do things we had planned to do in the upcoming months, right away, push harder, and work smarter.

Still, it’s good for us.

Of course, as the course of things go, this means that the computer rendering the video is in a house in Texas that had the central air blow. And then promptly decided to die from overheating. But really, do you think that’s going to stop us? It’s back up, and running, and so are we.

We will have gameplay in our trailer. We will have a video for you, for our Kickstarter. We will make you proud of us. We are not pre-alpha. We are so far pre-alpha that alpha is a dream we all share. But still, there are things we can do, and things we will do.

All we need, really, is for you to open your heart and dream. We’ll do the rest.

- Warcabbit, Project Lead, City of Titans.