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  • Joshua Wise

2019 and the road ahead into 2020

Greetings everyone, what a year it has been! Time for our yearly look back report and plotting our course for the coming year.

I'm sure you've noticed something already different with this post. We're using the new blog manager that Wix has developed. It is designed to better streamline the experience and tackle some of the bloat. It's amazing what two years of blog entries will do to bog down a site.

So to start off, lets give a brief overview of December. We had a little shift of priorities in this month as we reached out to Muse regarding the decals we submitted earlier in the year. They unfortunately got a little lost, part due to Muse being under a bit of a grind to release Hamsterdam and developing Embr. But, they've been received again and only needed some minor revisions. In fact, Muse changed their decal policies and is allowing color on decals.

Because of this we're going to see if we can get versions with some color added for the January patch in Guns of Icarus Online.

We've temporarily shifted artists back onto this and we're going to try to see if we can get these amendments finished in time. The decals will then be distributed to the backers.

For those that missed our Indiegogo or didn't back, the decals will be put up for sale. However, timing of when they get put up for sale will be discussed with Muse. We'd like some period of exclusivity for backers however, we know not that many backed for them.

Schedules were tight the rest of December but we have chipped away at a few other backend tasks. Some of which has been preparing for our focus going forward into 2020.

2019 saw some fantastic gains in terms of development on Dust and Air. Our intern program churned out some wonderful additions to the team, and we've seen the music development go from lagging far behind, to surpassing art development.

For the first half of the year we really got to see development when it is firing with all cylinders as they say. More in game assets were produced in a short span than we've had in the past.

But while those gains were fantastic, as the seasons changed, so did our team. Real life situations spiked majorly as summer hit. The heat was on and it was beyond what would have ever expected.

Losing Eric Sellman (To the right is a more recent picture of him than one we posted back in July.), one of the original members of Broken Hammer who helped found it, was a blow indeed, but little did we know at the time how many blows like that would come in the course of a couple months.

It was a struggle to maintain forward momentum with at least half the team tackling something major in real life. If you're a baseball fan, you know what happens when teams with all the momentum suddenly suffer a string of freak injuries. A winning season can turn into a losing one very quickly.

We're glad most got through this year but, we realized that changes would have to come for the future. As the CEO and Founder of Broken Hammer, as well as managing this project, I've been working on something for the past few years that is hopefully going to resolve some of the current and future problems Broken Hammer will have to handle. Here is what we are currently dealing with:

A. The biggest and most pressing need that always comes up, is talent recruitment. The intern program has helped alleviate this a bit, but we need to be bringing people to this project who want to be a part of it, not going out all the time to find people to fill in.

B. Financial constraints. Because we didn't hit the funding total for the Indiegogo, being able to even hire temp talent when needed is limited. Simple, we need a more steady cash flow to be able to really move forward. I've been talking with potential investors over the course of the last two years. However, some aren't able to commit yet due to assets tied up elsewhere.

C. Time management and changes to management. Frankly, I do a bit of everything right now. So I have to trade time between company, creative, and member management. A restructuring is going to be necessary moving forward. This means distributing responsibilities a bit more. Something Yohana has been beginning to get more involved in.

Really these aren't all that new. We've tried a few things to resolve them with some marginal success. It just hasn't been enough to say they aren't a major issue anymore.

The upside here is when looking at those three, they are all things that can be resolved. In fact, with the decals finally getting into Guns of Icarus and going up for sale, we'll be getting our first real product to market. Granted, it's just a small one. However, funding from it would go directly into development.

How to resolve these issues is where we're about to make a drastic move...

Earlier in the year, after one of our music meetings, I met with Sean and discussed a bit of what I've had brewing on the back burner for awhile. It was a side project I started writing but didn't fully flesh it out. Originally I saw it as more of a long term goal for the future. However, as this year went, I started to see it as a bit more than that. So I thought about it, prayed about it, and discussed it with some close friends before I committed to reviving it.

Now of course we aren't scrapping Dust and Air. Far from it. I caught an article on George Lucas recently and I think he said it best, how he regretted not finishing what he started. Even if the fans would have continued to be merciless, part of him now wishes he had seen it through. Course selling it to Disney and watching them turn it into what it has become, would certainly do that. However, I can understand his feelings. This is sentiment I share with Dust and Air. My goal has not changed since the moment I finished the first story outlines. What is changing and improving is how Broken Hammer can deliver Dust and Air beyond the neutral arc. To take this from a small team that no one knows about to something that is generating a buzz in VN communities. In other words, recognition. We've got none at the moment because we have no game released yet. During the course of Dust and Air's development there have been numerous times where I saw it would be incredibly helpful to at least have one game launched. Hence the push to get the initial story released.

Granted, the neutral arc is getting very close to having all it's assets finished but, looking past that, it is going to require even more to attract the talent we need to finish the rest of the game. To show that we're more than Guns of Icarus fans but that we're serious about VN development. A complete stand alone VN that is smaller, more easily accessible and quicker to develop. Project 2 is just this.

We've learned a lot from the development of Dust and Air. Both from developing assets and working in the Tyrano game engine. One of the major slowdowns of Dust and Air has been the overall higher fidelity we were trying to accomplish with the character models. Granted, they look great and even better in game, but they make developing art assets much more time consuming. Project 2 will be the culmination of all we learned so far and, a test bed for what we'll make in the future. All by adopting a quicker to deploy approach that we haven't been able to do before.

Assets will be going from three model poses with expressions to a single model with fewer expressions. The story will be tasked more to the developing of the major key images which can be easier to attract artists to. This allows us to bring in artists who might not be up for working on a large project like Dust and Air, but can do something smaller. Meaning we can better handle the project from a intern basis if needed.

Currently the story for Project 2 is in draft format and has been sent to parties who have expressed interest in working on it. We'll be having a meeting in January to go over it and do a little design stage processing. Here we'll discuss potential edits needed and move forward to solidifying a plan to get Project 2 launched. This will all be happening in tandem as we continue to finish up the neutral arc in Dust and Air.

So how will we handle two projects at once? Yohana's visa was approved in November and she'll be coming to the US this spring. She has been the mastermind of the intern program, and has been getting a lot of experience in the game engine lately. As such she's going to be transitioning into a project manager role. Meaning she'll be helping carry the burden. In fact, pending how the transition goes, she could be completely managing Project 2. However, a lot of ground work has to be done first before she steps into such a role.

So what can we really reveal about what this project is about? You know the story is done and in draft form. I can also say that this includes all alternate endings. We've also included a teaser on this page of the setting the story is in. However, for now, we'll be holding off on revealing more until at least after we have our first meeting. 2020 we're looking to keep advancing and shake up development in ways beyond what we have done before. Announcing Project 2 is a big gamble. I'm well aware of the potential criticism of it. However, the decision needed to be made for the sake of Dust and Air. Time will tell how this all plays out. Hopefully by the end of 2020 we'll be standing on better footing than we are right now in 2019.

Till next time, see you in the skies!

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