Sprout Resprouted – And other springy news

You may recall, in the last major news update, I received an unexpected invitation to join the faculty of ArtCenter College of Design, to teach in their just-launched Game Design program. There wasn’t really time in my schedule to create and teach a new class, but it was a great opportunity, so I agreed to do it anyways. This made me a more-than-full-time teacher for most of the past fourteen weeks, working 6-7 days per week to create, manage, and teach various classes. Yikes.

As of last week, my first term at ArtCenter is now happily concluded. The class had some lumps, as all first-time endeavors do. Yet, it ended well. Overall, I think this faculty position is a good fit, and a win-win for both ArtCenter and for myself. I look forward to continuing. Come fall, when the program returns from summer break, I’ll know better what’s coming, and be able to organize a better balance of teaching, making, and living.

And! That’s not all. In the scant bits of in-between time, we’ve managed to wrap up some long-running projects.

Most notably, Sprout is finally all done and finished and published and done and done! Last year, we successfully published to Itch and Steam. After some months of experiment, and adaptation, and pauses while I digressed into other projects, we finally finished the iOS and Android editions of the game. As of last week, Sprout is available to the world (free) on iOS (Apple Store) and Android (via Play Store). With Sprout published and working on all four target platforms, we have finally achieved a full and happy conclusion to this project. Go us!

In a smaller but still worthwhile win, Exploring Matter In Space has been updated, and is now available in the sort-of-intended design. You may remember that it was officially published last October, in heartbreakingly flawed form. Discussion and anger ensued, updates were made, and the book is now in acceptable shape. Which is nice.

Also. The Rose Valley Game Jam happened (photos). It turns out that the Pasadena school district has a games/programming track for their high school students. I hadn’t been aware of this, but it turns out to be a pretty cool program. As part of that, a partnership of various groups (city of Pasadena, ArtCenter, Caltech, and others), planned and hosted a weekend game jam for these high school students. Representing both ArtCenter and myself, I volunteered as an “industry mentor”, and spent the weekend helping students to turn their ideas into a working, digital reality. The students were capable and creative, and I was overall really impressed with them. While necessarily rough, every game also had at least a spark of brilliance. It’s worth saying again – I was impressed.

Last and least, but still notable – I finished the final revision of the Fire Tag chapter for the third volume of Learning, Education, and Games book series: 100 Games to Use in the Classroom & Beyond. The whole anthology of 100 chapters is now off to the publishers for final editing and whatnot. The book should then be out later this year.

What’s next? With three major projects wrapped up and done (Sprout, Exploring Matter, and LEG3), there is time for something new! I have a long list of things I wish I could do, of projects that could be awesome – if only someone could do them right. This summer, I’ll take one, build it out, and see what we can make of it.

My first choice of projects would be DROMP – the game of tactical cloud combat. I think there’s loads of potential here. The problem is that bringing it to fruition, to the point that it could bring fun to players and earn revenue for us, is likely a 6-12 month project – whereas summer is just three months long. This means that, from an economic and production perspective, DROMP isn’t the best choice. It may be that a different, smaller project would be a better option at this time. So I plan to spend the next few weeks exploring possibilities – dreaming dreams, writing design docs, creating some rough paper prototypes, and consulting with friends. Based on this work, we’ll then pick the next project, give it a summer of serious attention, and see where it goes.

As always, this work is both joyful and difficult, with challenges that are technical, financial, and emotional. Because of this, success is only possible with the kind support of many fine folks folks. Thank you.

As an extra special thanks to those of you who supported us at the $10/month level and above, I’ll be sending you a set of silly feature stickers. Think Mr. Potato Head, but flatter. They’re a simple, silly pleasure for the young-at-heart.

Happy spring!

– Tim