Getting Back to Business

It has been quite some time since I've posted on here, so I feel the need to provide some updates and some perspective on what has been going on and what is to come.

2019 was supposed to be a big year for Thought Reactor. I had plans to remaster some older jam games, re-design PARABOLA, patch IGEO, and release Temples of IGEO. Ambitious, for sure. Had the health scare I went through in May not happened, it still would have been quite the challenge to see through.

So, at this juncture, where do we stand? To put it simply, a lot has changed. My personal life has taken some very lovely turns these past few months despite the financial hardships I've endured. I'm in a growing and loving relationship that has lit a fire in me to propel myself into a better mental and economical situation.

Through all this, my passion for game development has not wavered. One of the things I think about daily is game design and development. Constantly, my head is filled to the brim with that pursuit and there is nothing I can see that will ever change that.

However, game development, especially as a solo developer, is really fucking hard. Running a business is also really fucking hard. Doing both alone (statistically speaking) is almost impossible. The amount of us who have succeeded in that endeavor are a minuscule fraction of the whole of independent developers.

Thought Reactor, by industry standards, is an absolute failure. By my standards, though, I've never been more proud of what I've done and where I'm going. Things will always be rough. This is not my full-time job - it is my hobby and passion. I'm thankful to be in a relationship with a loving woman who shares a passion for art and has inspired me to take a different look at what Thought Reactor is and can become.

This studio has always been an experiment for me. It has always been something that kept me going in the darkest moments of my life. It has always been something to pursue, giving me a focus to fulfill the part of myself that I've clung to desperately since I was 10 years old and scrawled my first game design ideas out in a composition notebook.

I just want to make games. I don't care who likes them. I don't care who plays them. I don't care if I never see a single penny from my endeavors. Money doesn't fuel this passion - pure and simple artistic desire does.

This is the final time I will 'reboot' this studio. From here on out, I have no more expectations other than to keep on pushing to make the games I want to make.

Given all this, I want to break down what's changed and what's on the horizon. Everything is subject to change. Each of these things may disappear and never see the light of day - and that is okay. Progress is all that matters at Thought Reactor. Not industry success. Not review scores. And sure as hell not revenue numbers.

First, here is what happened in the downtime:

  • Participated in my first ever Extra Credits Game Jam - with a team: in late May/early June I participated in the Extra Credits Game Jam with a team that I assembled via Discord, Reddit, and Crowdforge. While things didn't quite turn out the way we'd hoped, we did manage to get a build submitted for the jam - which you can play here.
  • Began updating IGEO with QOL improvements and bug fixes: earlier in the year, some bugs in IGEO were brought to my attention on Itch. Since then, I've been slowly updating the game with a Version 1.1 super-patch. This patch will include an updated Settings menu with better options and resolution control, updated post-processing effects, an updated title screen, and a new underlying animation system which addresses the bugs I mentioned. A portion of that is already implemented and I'm smoothing out some kinks - but I intend to get the patch up ASAP, alongside taking another look at IGEO's shelf life (detailed below).
  • Temples of IGEO will be shelved: in the wake of updating IGEO, I've really come to realize that a reboot of the game is a waste of my time and resources. I will be better served by patching the existing game and upgrading it with new features for a Steam release sometime next year. It's a solid game, with loads of potential - and I don't need to reinvent the wheel. So with that, Temples of IGEO is canceled.
  • Started designing a new 2D game concept: in my free time over the last couple of months, I have been working on designing a 2D adventure game. At this point in time, the gameplay is solidified and I am starting in on the narrative direction. In the coming months, I hope to have more to share regarding it.

Given all this, what are my plans for the remainder of 2019 into 2020? In this time, my financial situation is going to be drastically improving and while most of that money will be directed towards securing my future - some of it will find its way to Thought Reactor for some contract work. Here's what I have planned on the horizon:

  • Game Jams: next week I will be diving into the Game Maker's Toolkit Jam as a solo developer - more news on that to come. In October, it's once again time for Ludum Dare, which I will attempt with a team (perhaps the same crew from Extra Credits, plus or minus a few).
  • Continued work on PARABOLA redesign: it seems I can never be truly satisfied with my pride and joy puzzle game. As things stand currently, the game's scope has been drastically reduced and the concept is being turned on its head in some really interesting ways. I will be gearing up to re-announce PARABOLA by year's end, with development resuming in early 2020.
  • IGEO Version 1.1 and beyond: as mentioned before, IGEO will be receiving a great QOL patch and a future release on Steam. I will start with regular updates on that in the coming weeks. Version 1.1 will be considered the long-term release and will remain free on forever. The Steam version will come with added functionality, new levels, and a level builder and will go for $5.
  • 2D adventure game: the concepts behind this game are short and sweet and development will begin in earnest after the release of IGEO 1.1. More info to come.

As you can see, not everything had come to a screeching halt. I just knew given the shift in my life at that moment that this blog and the general direction of Thought Reactor needed to be set aside. The winds of change are picking up and updates are going to start streaming in more and more as the year goes on.

Thanks to all who have stuck with us over the years. Thought Reactor is my pride and joy and I really want that to be reflected in how I make games and communicate with you. 

Now, let's make some video games!

Michael DeLally

By Michael DeLally Last updated July 26th, 2019