About this project
For easy access to things mentioned in the video:
You can start doing pixel art for free with GIMP.
Follow C-jeff, who was kind enough to create the intro track and allowed the use of his existing library of songs:
If you like chiptune music you should totally check out his music label Ubiktune!
Finally, Retronator is all over the internet too:
If you haven't yet, consider signing up for my mailing list. I will anounce bigger project updates there. However, if you back the kickstarter, you will receive everything—and way more—through backer updates as well.
The project's source code is available on GitHub.
Risks and challenges
In software development we have something we call the bus factor. It's the number of developers that would need to be hit by a bus to essentially halt all development. As a lone wolf developer, that number is alarmingly very low.
For any extreme circumstance, it helps that the project is open source (and decently documented). The community can take over at any point if there is desire. It also enables modding, running private servers etc.
A thing I'm personally paranoid about when developing online systems is losing live data. Allowing people to use a system while it's being developed is a tricky thing. To prevent the worst, the system will be backed up daily so we can always rollback the data. You would lose any progress since the last backup (a couple of hours or a day), but that is a small price to pay.
I want to also develop a way to download what would be essentially your save game. I need to spend some time designing the system so that loading data hasn't been tempered with and gets correctly linked to your paid account. Owning the data yourself is one more reassurance in case the system dies and you'd want to transfer the data to another server.
Speaking of servers, if the system becomes super popular it might be an interesting challenge to scale with the larger load. But that will be a good problem to have. Luckily I've worked with people that can tackle such problems in case they prove to be too big for me. And it won't be a problem to bring new people on board with the increased funds.
The biggest risk of course is not having enough time to develop the planned features. The project is set relatively open ended with the low funding goal and a conservative amount of features, so the risk is that the project will simply stay very bare bone at the end of first year. This is somewhat mitigated with the fact that Pixel Art Academy is my Master's project. I NEED to make this project. I'll be studying in the Learning, Design and Technology program at Stanford's Graduate School of Education and I've accepted their offer with great deliberation. The program is very project oriented and will allow me to work on Pixel Art Academy as part of the courses. The whole year is supposed to lead to your Master's project. My own fear is that this will not turn out to be so in practice. Taking into consideration that Stanford is a pretty good university, I'm not suuuper worried about it, but in the very worst case scenario where all hell breaks loose I can always drop out and put my savings into full-time development instead of burning them on tuition. On the optimistic end though, being at Stanford might very well be the best thing that could happen to this project.
There will be no stretch goals, no matter how much the project gets funded. As I'm already committed to a set workload next year, getting more funds doesn't allow me to produce more content. It will, however, let me do more next year, hopefully full-time, and potentially even teamed up with somebody. Current pledges will all benefit from this, but without putting more time strain in the first year.
As far as knowledge required to pull such a project together, I am 0% worried. I already have a Master's degree in Computer Science and I've been making games pretty much all my life, My day job in the last 2 years has been web development, which will come super handy for realizing the system the way I envisioned it (multiplayer online, played through a browser). The software I'm using (Meteor) has a very active community so major roadblocks are unlikely. I will definitely run into problems, but I anticipate solving them through the community. Every computer problem can be solved in one way or another and I have a lifetime of experience to back that up.
One of my small fears is that the game will totally suck at teaching art. Although my GIMP tutorial keeps receiving praise, the new super concise format is pretty experimental. That's why I'm happy I'll be studying education next year, at one of the best universities (ranked #3 in US for their grad program in education). While this might take me off the planned path I've presented in the campaign, I believe such deviations can only be for the better and will be based on well thought-out reasons. Communication with backers is key in such cases.
I've backed almost 50 projects on Kickstarter and my biggest pet peeve is when developers drop off the face of the Earth as soon as the project gets funded. Now that I'm on the other side of the table you can bet I'll do everything to run a project that will combine all the best things I love from the campaigns I backed. I've pretty much lived and breathed Kickstarter (and Patreon) for the last two to three years.
I hope constant updates with insights from my graduate studies and development of Pixel Art Academy will help everyone be on the same page with what's going on and why. That usually goes a very long way. Plus I'm super accessible through Facebook and Twitter so you can always directly ask me questions. And maybe soon we'll be able to meet and chat directly on the streets of Retropolis. ^___^Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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