Good ol’ Boy Games 2017 Recap & Reboot

First off –  I will be posting weekly or bi-weekly updates to this site,, starting with this one.

Beginning now – I will be creating solo indie games and animation assets, as a non-coding artist. I use Unity and Playmaker, 3D Studio Max, 3D Coat, Amplify Shader and a number of other common software applications.

Please subscribe and follow along if any of these topics interest you. I will often provide artist slanted advice and tips on improving solo projects, marketing suggestions and other helpful tricks that I hope can be useful to other aspiring artists and solo game developers like me. 🙂

2017 was a year…

Early in 2017 I started work on Fantasy Tac#Tics Toe, a game of Tactical tic-tac-toe Combat with game board Destruction and Fighting game visuals!

A close, personal friend had joined me to work on this game.  We lived in different regions but were both in the same time zone so we could meet remotely when needed without much hassle. He was responsible for the programming duties while I handled all the other duties of game development.  I wanted our efforts to be successful and I quantified success as – releasing a game that I’m proud of and is enjoyable to play by more than just the people I know.

In order for success to happen – two main components were required.

  1. The game needs to be created and it has to be engaging and entertaining. There has to be compelling reasons for people to want to play the game.
  2. People need to know about the game.  For people to know about the game honest, purposeful, marketing efforts are mandatory, and in my opinion marketing efforts are at minimum a 25% time commitment for indie developers.

Since we were both full-time employees we could only dedicate off-duty hours to working on the game but we made solid progress during the first couple months of 2017.


In April we decided to present a demo of the game at PixelFest, a small local game development conference that was perfect for our presentation. We were pretty confident the game was intriguing, the game was fun and had sound core mechanics that expanded on the easy to understand rules of tic-tac-toe. What we found most compelling about the game was how fundamentally easy and it was play and the replay-ability within the core loop of the game that made it enjoyable to play, but we wanted to get confirmation about our feelings on the game from real gamers. People who purposefully planned to visit PixelFest on a week day and weekend afternoon. We wanted to see if the core concept of the game was fun and resonated with gamers or if we were just delusional about it.


The game was a resounding success at the conference, little kids, teens and adults alike really enjoyed playing the demo. It was great to see people’s reactions to the game, when they were able to attack their opponents and see the board shuffle when a successful attack was made. They were instantly drawn in – with the revelation that this was more than just tic-tac-toe with nice looking 3D models, it was tactical and required more strategy than regular tic-tac-toe.

I was so excited to see the reactions of the players and the overall reception of the game, I wanted to replicate the reactions we received at the conference to confirm the game was worth going forward with development. So I put the game online to see how people would respond to the game devoid of face to face interaction. I put the game on Newgrounds, Gamejolt, and presented the game on a Feedback Friday thread on the Unity forum. I also began starting initial marketing efforts including restructuring this site, looking into which type of facebook page worked best for showing off indie games and setting up a twitter and youtube channel.   From those efforts we received pretty much universal consensus on the core mechanics of the game – and this, to me, was confirmation that we should pursue developing the game 100% (part-time).

Unfortunately – soon after receiving initial feedback through online channels, my close friend was unable to dedicate the time required to continue working on the game, so in late May we had to part ways.

This was a difficult moment in my fledgling indie game career. Never in dispute, I retained all the rights to continue development of the game on my own, but to be totally honest, I was kind of de-motivated to continue at that point. I had just lost my programmer, and basically all the future work I was going to have to do with my friend – had now just multiplied.  In addition to that – all the work that had already been created was going to have to be re-created. Since I’m not a programmer, I do not have the knowledge/ability to just pick up the project file and continue working on the code base that had already been created.  I was going to have to re-create everything in the visual programming tool I use.

I’d originally planned to do all (visual) programming myself initially, but as a rookie, solo, indie designer I wanted to work on several other smaller, less complex games before starting on Fantasy Tac#Tics Toe. I knew FTtT was out of scope for my current knowledge, ability and time dedication for a first game, so when my friend joined up I was excited and motivated to move forward with FTtT.  I now had a partner I could share experience, knowledge and time commitment with. He was genuinely excited and interested in the design also so there was no reason not to proceed with working on FTtT at that time.

Now alone, on my own, with a demo of a game that was beyond my ability to complete in a reasonable time-frame, I found myself not motivated to jump back onto the same game I had spent the past 4 months working on with a partner, knowing I was going to be working on the exact same elements of the game that were already created. Likely I would spend the next 3-4 months recreating the core mechanics of the game and not get back to where the game was until near the end of the year. That realization was very demoralizing.

There were two suggested options from other indie developers which I respect and listen to. Either learn to code (not an option) or partner/hire another programmer who could pick up where my friend had left off.  After going through the process of acclimating myself to working with a partner on this project, I did not want to spend more time and effort on turning right around and doing that again with a new/different person who may or may not fit the role I needed. So partnering with another programmer was not a desired option for me either.

And then an unlikely proposition presented itself.  I was approached online by a prominent asset provider from the Unity asset store.  The asset creator had run into a scheduling conflict and needed a competent 3D Max animator to fulfill a support ticket with a client.  He asked if I would work directly with the client creating some custom animations using his assets. I knew the asset provider had quality products on the asset store so I presumed working with his assets would be a enjoyable experience. Coming off of the let down of losing my programmer I jumped at the contract opportunity.

In less than two months I had experienced joyful excitement about the reception Fantasy Tac#Tics Toe received at the game conference and online, which quickly turned into soul draining disappointment when I had to part ways with my programmer.  Directly followed by some unexpected recognition from one of the top asset providers asking me to work with one of his clients because he knew I delivered quality animation results.

I instantly contacted the client and got up to speed on the project which was a great distraction away from the drastic emotional pendulum swings I had recently experienced working on the game.

I had previously thought when I began work on Fantasy Tac#Tics Toe, working as a part-time contract animator was behind me.  I wanted to work on my own creations, become a real indie game developer. Even though at this point I had developed animations for 4 commercially released games, one of which had just released on PS4, I still felt I was not a game developer. I wanted to create my own games.  But after feeling such a good feeling from the reception of the game, then feeling so down about loosing my partner and the realization I’d have to re-do all the work again, disconnecting from the game completely and throwing myself into another contract was just the right antidote I needed to clean the slate, refresh myself, and to re-energize to begin – again working on my own designs.

Before completion of that contract I received unsolicited requests from four other indie developers who all wanted me to work on their projects.  I could not turn down the opportunities to work with some inspirational indie developers so I choose two additional projects to work on back to back and just recently completed the final tasks on the last contract.

I am really excited about 2018!  I have several things planned for this year.  I have one animation asset pack currently in development and several others planned for the first quarter of this year.  After those assets are compete and available for purchase I have 2-3 games planned for this year. These games are the original smaller scope, less complex games I had originally planned to develop before starting on Fantasy Tac#Tics Toe.

I do not know if I will get to develop all the games I have planned before the end of this year, but I have a plan and I will be making games this year as a solo indie developer.

Happy Indie Game Dev New Year – throughout the entire year – to everybody who is aspiring to push their own boundaries, to create something that might be slightly beyond their own ability. Aspire to do and do not let anything slow you down or get in your way.


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