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YEAH, I’ve released my game! Here’s a link to the landing page. You can also get to it via the Games section of my blog.

That’s what’s UP! Many of you who know me well know this is a pretty big deal for me. The rest of you probably know little to nothing about the game, or even that Growing is a game. That’s my fault! I’m going to be more open about future game projects.

I started Growing at a game jam in May 2011. The theme was “Motherhood,” and the idea was that I would give this game as a present to my mom when I completed it. By the end of the jam, I had a working prototype that I refined over the next few months.

I threw myself into the work in my off-time. By October, I had an almost completed game that I felt pretty good about. But all that changed in an afternoon, when my backpack get stolen with my laptop, wacom tablet, and all my game’s design notes inside. I hadn’t bothered to keep my project up to date in source control (a decision whose stupidity is only really considered in hindsight) and as a result the only remaining copy of the project I could find was from the beginning of the summer, not long after the game jam.

To say I was devastated would have been an understatement. I couldn’t stop crying. I’m really lucky I had Kyle around because I had some pretty violent and irrational reactions. Growing had become a part of my identity, a bright spot while I was going through some major life troubles. The worst was knowing I had brought it all on myself with the lack of source control.

When I calmed down, the most difficult decision was whether to quit the project forever or keep going. The thought of continuing work on it was so fatiguing.

Ultimately I chose the decision that would make me happier in the long run, and damn has it been a long run. The scope of the project has grown significantly from its earliest stages. I’ve gotten quite a bit better at drawing, but that also means making assets took longer. And motivation to work on it swung between the extremes for seemingly no reason. It’s been a 2-year nonstop roller coaster ride. (If you want to hear more about the motivational side of the story, you can check out the talk I gave at IGDA Phoenix a few months ago.)

In any case, I’m so happy to be releasing my first independent game! 😀 Here are a few more fun facts about Growing:

  • ALL sound in the game is thanks to 3 incredibly talented individuals.
    • Initially, my music choice was “Through the Kaleidoscope” from Steven Cravis, a musician I’ve tremendously admired for over a decade now. I first found the song on Orisinal, a flash games site that captivated me as a kid. I was listening to it at the game jam when I first thought of the idea for Growing and it’s been my inspiration since.
    • When I brought the game to GDC this past year, Alec Holowka played it for the first time. We’ve had some pretty long conversations about what the game means; in fact, he’s known the story behind it longer than anyone outside of Arizona. He offered to compose a counter-melody that could run concurrently with “Through the Kaleidoscope.” I’ve been hooked on his music since the Offspring Fling OST, so I was THRILLED. The counter-melody eventually evolved into a full song and became the second track in the game. I seriously couldn’t ask for better music to represent Growing.
    • All the sound effects were done by Ryan Roth, who I got in touch with through a mutual friend. He’s a crazy talented sound designer who’s been on a lot of indie projects. How he had the time to make sounds for my game, I’ll never know, but I’m so glad he did!

    Scene setup (in Unity)

  • The game was made in Unity with C#. I made extensive use of two of my friend Dave‘s libraries: GoodStuff, which is a collection of utility functions aimed at conciseness (such as iteration and integer operations), and the iTween visual editor. If you’re a Unity programmer, I highly recommend you check these out!
  • Most of the game is rendered in a perspective camera despite being 2D. I like the impreciseness the perspective camera affords. (The stopwatch timer and Plant Journal are both in separate orthographic views.)
  • All text is handwritten. (There are no fonts in use anywhere in the game.)
  • I made a short timelapse of some of the more labor-intensive art pieces. I’d like to start doing this more, because it’s fun to look back and see how you work! I used Chronolapse which is an EXCELLENT piece of free timelapse software. I highly recommend it. Let’s make some timelapses! ^o^/
  • Despite having no official “budget,” this game has cost me hundreds of dollars in coffee. Changing my work environment has a powerful motivating effect on me, so a lot of the game’s development was done in coffee shops and various other places with free wifi.
  • The game has a boolean “momMode” which is turned off for the public builds, but it basically enables extra art and messages that are specific to my mom… basically it’s the “gift” build of the game.
  • I’ve held 3 different full-time jobs over the course of Growing’s development.
  • For Mac users: The icon in the OSX build is actually NOT the default icon. If you open to the app in Finder and turn on Cover Flow, you can see the icon up close and it’s nice and crisp! This can be accomplished using a little tool called makeicns to make a new icon, then going into the app and replacing the Contents/Resources/UnityPlayer.icns file with the one you just made. Pretty cool, eh?

Here’s that link once again: http://coreynolan.com/growing.html. To play, just download and unzip the file for your OS of choice, and run the exe or app inside. Cheers!

    Congratulations! I can’t wait to get home and play it!

    Very cool game. Thanks for finishing it!

    Sounds like a great games! Never heard of a Motherhood theme, interesting. Perhaps you could use also use a free cloud storage alternative. I use bitbucket.org, it allows for a free private repository alternative, five free ones in total.

    When you’ve finish a programming/design session just git push your changes up to bitbucket while you’re ordering your next coffee.

    Yeah, thanks! I’ve yet to use bitbucket, but I almost certainly will at some point.

    At first I was using SVN on my hosted space, but I’ve finally switched up to git. I don’t mind most of my work being open-source right now, so I’m a big fan of github. 🙂

    the game wont work for me maybe it some type of glitch but can somebody help me?

    Hey Corey! I think that you made a great game. Just one question: what were those plants that choked my purple plants called? Keep making games I love them!

    Love,
    your supercool, video-game addicted cousin,
    Regan

    Thank you, Miss Regan! 🙂 I’m so happy you played and liked it!

    There are a handful of different types of plants, but the ones that are dark and thorny are weeds. They won’t give you negative scores, but they will cause the flowers around them to wilt, like you saw.

    But there are also some plants that will cause other plants around them to grow more! Feel free to email me if you want some hints (your mom and dad have my e-mail).

    <3 see you at Christmas!

    Any chance at a sequel? I’m a little biased, but I love the whole concept of this game! And maybe it’s about time Mario had a little competition 😉 Keep Growing growing!

    hehehe. What, starring in one game isn’t enough? 😉

    Yeah! Plus Mama Mario has such a nice ring to it, don’t you think 🙂

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