Grind! Craft! IA!

So I’m getting back on the horse today, officially beginning development on the Grindcraftia prototype.

How I Deal

I made a tribute game for my wife. It’s a point-and-click soft horror game with jumpscares.

https://jetspice.itch.io/two-are-in-the-mist

She died of cancer 3/1/2020. I tried to capture the mood of what it was like – surreal, fearful, glimmers of hope. You might be afraid. You might cry. You might feel beauty.

After she died, the world went into lockdown.  The coronavirus spread like a cancer, like a dark mist.  Today, people stay indoors.  Waiting it out.  Wondering about food.  Worrying about health.  And for some, struggling to breathe.  It feels a lot like what my family just went through over the last 2 years.

Proceeds from donations toward this game go to offset the costs my family faced while battling cancer.

My wife, Natalya Spicer, passed away today, March 1, 2020, at 7:12 am Pacific time. She leaves behind 3 young boys, CJ, Leo, and Alex, myself, and her parents. She was their only child. If you feel led to contribute to our GoFundMe, please do so here: gf.me/u/xjfyjn . We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Dan 3:17-18

I wrote the below post the day before. But I felt like there was a reason to not post it on that day:

My wife is dying. I find it hard to focus on development. When I started this blog, I talked about passion, and how a person’s passion is formed by the events they go through in life, and at some point, the sum total of all a person’s experiences kind of hits a critcal mass and you find your passion. When you are young, life changes your mind. When you are older, your mind changes life. But sometimes something happens that resets your whole person. For me, if my wife dies, that will reset me. I don’t know who I’m going to be after that. My core character traits – my bones – will transfer over to that new person. But I don’t know what skin and muscles are going to be on that new person.

I believe that my wife can be healed by the power and the Name of Jesus. But I don’t know the future, and should she die, I don’t know what will happen to me. Will I be half the man I used to be, or will tragedy refine me in some unpredictable way?

I usually keep my personal affairs out of my developer’s blog. The primary reason I make games is to have some sort of impact on the players. I have a compassion for my players. I love listening to them, answering their emails, and thinking about them while I design games. Even though I run it like a business, designing games is a matter of the heart. And so including the news of my wife’s disease is also a matter of the heart. I can’t really keep it separate. It will affect Grindcraftia in some manner.

Thanks for reading.

Some heavy news.

I have some heavy news today. My wife has stage 4 cancer and may not live too long. We have 3 kids. This is why game development has been so sporadic. If you can, please support us in this fight: http://gf.me/u/xjfyjn More details here: http://jetspicegames.com/spicers I am still working on the Grindcraftia prototype for a spring release.

All the Kids

It’s been a little over a month since actively developing Grindcraftia. The main characters in Grindcraftia are referred to as kids. Grindcraftia kids. Here’s a celebration video of all the kids made over the last month:

Time

I never thought I’d see the year 2020. Coincidentally, I recently worked out time measurements in Grindcraftia.

1=1 One second in Grindcraftia equals one second in the real world.

Based on 8 An animation frame is 125 milliseconds, or 1/8th of a second. The standard “walking” animation, has eight frames. It takes a Grindcraftia character exactly one second to move through a walk cycle.

Time and Space Not only is time based on eight, but also space. When the standard Grindcraftia character walks, it moves forward eight voxels. Not all characters will do this, but the standard “kid” model does. A block in Grindcraftia is made up of eight sub-blocks, and each of those is made up of eight voxels. Voxels are themselves made up of materials, cells, molecules, atoms, particles, and singularities — the timespace continuum of Grindcraftia. Mostly it’s inspired by Tetris, which used the rule of four to create all possible 2d combinations of four squares, called tetrominoes, which, falling from the sky, made one of the most significant games ever.

Here’s a Chart

game
time

game
time
real
time
1second=1second=1 real second
1minute=8seconds=8 real seconds
1hour=8minutes=1 real minute
1day=8hours=8.5 real minutes
1week=8days=1 real hour
1month=8weeks=9 real hours
1year=8months=3 real days
1decade=8years=24 real days
1century=8decades=half a year

Time in Grindcraftia starts tomorrow, January 1, 2020. Happy Time Day, Grindcraftia. You won’t have a body yet, but you’ll exist. We aim to launch the prototype within a few months, meaning that early adopters will be starting the game three or four decades after time started. But don’t fret. If you want to go back to the dawn of time in Grindcraftia (and see what happened), you need only craft a time machine.

Skin Tones

In all my games, it’s important to me to get skin tones right. In Grindcraftia, the pallete is purposefully limited to 64 colors, and 4 of them are used for skin.

Here’s an image I got from a cosmetic company. The middle row is the original image. The top row uses only two colors, which is great for a 16-color pallete. The bottom row uses four main colors and a few accent colors, perfect for a 64-color pallete.

Character Designs

Here are some character designs for Grindcraftia.  Our goal is to have a working demo this winter.  Some of the below characters are rendered using a building block toy.  We purposefully designed the characters so they would be easy for players to make clothes and hair for, and to make into toys.  Fingers crossed, we’ll have a toy deal some day.

Keen eyes may recognize the design from long ago.  Can you find the woodsman below? 

 

Phase 1 Post Mortem

This is a look at the last five years of my studio, JeTSpice Games, good and bad.
January 30, 2015
JeTSpice Games publishes GrindCraft on Kongregate. It wins Game of the Week. Fans like it, offering ideas on new levels.
Spring 2015
More levels are added to GrindCraft. The player base grows exponentially.  We (Seth and Jeff) are very surprised and excited.
Summer 2015
Players push GrindCraft to 100,000 daily plays.  We start thinking about long-term goals for the game.  Jeff (JeTSpice) is tied up in a day job, leaving development for weekends and vacations.
January 2016
The one-year anniversary of GrindCraft.  In celebration, more content is released. Daily plays approach 150,000.
2016
For the next year, we design an idle MMO based on GrindCraft called Grindcraftia, and look for funding. Simultaneously, JeTSpice starts coding an idle game engine called GrindCraftEngine in HTML5. Several grindcrafty games are made with it.
Spring 2017
GrindCraftEngine is complete. Jeff welcomes his third kid, but he also loses his job. Seth successfully sells copies of GrindCraftEngine, which keeps the studio afloat.
Summer 2017
After a year and a half with no new content, daily plays drop below 50,000. However, the original GrindCraft has been pirated by a few online game portals.  All-time plays for GrindCraft reach 30 million world-wide.  JeTSpice begins development on isometric support for GrindCraftEngine.  Seth dubs it The Ant Farm.  With The Ant Farm, the studio can create idle dungeon crawlers, idle world-building games, and idle RTS games.
Fall 2017
Grindcraftia alpha is released for PC, built on GrindCraftEngine and The Ant Farm. In spite of the studio’s good metrics, highly-rated games, and reliable track record, no long-term funding can be secured.  Updates to actual games are few and far between while Jeff jumps from contract to contract to make ends meet.
Spring 2018
After four years, GrindCraft reaches the 50 million mark. Using those numbers, JeTSpice makes a deal with a coder and marketer to get the game onto mobile and add multiplayer. In a push to fund Grindcraftia, JeTSpice announces The Wither Expansion, and solicits crowdfunding. However, no marketing is done and no money is raised. Additionally, one of the coder’s family members contracts serious health issues, and he must bow out, multiplayer unfulfilled.  Additionally, one of Jeff’s family members also develops life-altering health issues. By summer of 2018, daily plays dip below 20,000.
Summer 2018
Jeff decides on an overarching design theme for all projects going forward, based on 80’s retro-futurism.  All games going forward will fit into this paradigm.
Fall 2018
Work begins on a new game to showcase GrindCraftEngine and The Ant Farm to investors.  JeTSpice Games teams up with graphic illustrator Tom Lintern (creator of the manga series Girrion) to realize a video game for his new graphic novel, Death Mall!. The game is an idle dungeon crawler set in an 80’s retro-futuristic shopping mall. A Discord is set up for JeTSpice Games to better connect with fans. Outlook is hopeful, but the very next month, another one of Jeff’s family members falls ill, diagnosed with cancer. He spends a majority of his time in hospitals and clinics.  Development once again slows to a crawl.
January 2019
Despite five years since the original GrindCraft was published, fans still wait patiently for the next iteration.  Jeff’s car is totalled in a freak accident.  The following six months are spent driving to clinics, sharing a car between two families.  Development time is at a standstill.  The studio’s credit is almost depleted.
Spring 2019
The studio wins a small grant, and Seth sells some more engines.  Its enough money to keep the studio afloat a bit longer. Jeff’s septic system goes out. Repair costs are in the tens of thousands, and he is forced to make due for the next nine months.  He calls it GrindCraft in real life.
Summer 2019
The car drama is over, and the studio decides to use the recouped time to develop a second game in order to showcase the isometric capabilities of GrindCraftEngine. The game is called Dungeon Sweepers, and follows a B-team of heroes tasked with cleaning up a dungeon, armed only with mops and brooms, only to realize that the A-team left quite a few monsters alive. Simultaneously, a joint-venture is forged with another studio to create other grindcrafty games, and also to bring the games to mobile. At that time, an unknown third party successfully launches the original GrindCraft on mobile, causing daily plays to quintuple.
Fall 2019
A third idle isometric game, called Gaunt is undertaken by the studio. Inspired by the 80’s arcade game Gauntlet, Gaunt follows 4 undead as they make their way through forests and villages to get back to their graveyard. Gaunt, Dungeon Sweepers, and Death Mall! become the Phase 2 of the studio’s universe. As world-wide plays of the original GrindCraft approach 60 million, JeTSpice announces that work will begin again on Grindcraftia in the winter.
December 1, 2019
Work begins on Grindcraftia.

26 Days

I’ll begin coding Grindcraftia on December 1, 2019.