Where is Optera?

As anyone who has visited this site recently can guess, there isn’t really any work being done.

I could keep putting together artwork or try to get a programmer on board but there would still be the same difficulties I faced before. I think that in order for me to move forward with what i want to accomplish, both with this game and outside of it, there are certain hurdles that i need to get over.

I work a full time job with an hour commute both ways. Free time is a scarce commodity. I’m not in the position to not have a job- I’m married, have expensive rent, I just turned 30 blah blah its just not an option. My job has nothing to do with game design. I’m a carpenter. But the main problem isn’t my job, its my lack of involvement in anything related to game design. None of my friends have any interest in game development of any kind, no family members are interested in what I want to do – I have literally no contact on a daily basis with anyone that does anything even remotely close to the sorts of things I would like to accomplish long term. There is no support group, no structured learning, no contacts, no events. Spending an hour before dinner trying accomplish some super small thing for a game this complicated several times a week just wont cut it.

Back to the whole programming thing: I don’t expect one person to program a game like Optera. Its just way to complicated. It involves networking, server and client type stuff, game play programming, and lots of complicated UI stuff. However, with my current inability to program even basic game play its difficult to get this out there and generate interest. I need to learn programming for two reasons: I need to be able to prototype stuff. Just designing and doing art for big ideas will only get me so far as we have seen. The second reason I need to learn programming is that I need to be able to work with programmers! How can one collaborate with someone if they know absolutely nothing about what they do?

I have been messing around with c# the past few months and watching a bunch of videos and playing around trying to write basic stuff, but it isn’t easy. Its not easy to find time to keep pushing forward when your daily life pushes you in every direction except the one you want to go in. I’m considering going back to school or at the very least taking classes to keep moving forward. Being in that environment around people who share the same passion would have to be beneficial. I need to be challenged by people who are better than me and are accomplishing great things. I need some sort of structure and direction. A path to go on. Without it it just feels like being lost in space.

I need to throw something visual up here to counter all this text:


This is the first image I ever created that looked like what I envisioned for Optera. This was probably about three years ago. After I finished it I couldn’t stop looking at it.

If you are unfamiliar with Morrowind and the Tamriel Rebuilt community then take a look at it: http://www.tamriel-rebuilt.org/?q=content/about

The content is created entirely by excited volunteers and its free to download. I don’t think Optera has enough interested people to function like that but I always thought that would be the best scenario for it. I added a new poll to the site. Please check it out.

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Its been way too long since I posted anything here and for that I’m sorry. The programmer that had joined the project turned out to be far too busy to work on a project like this and ultimately left. Real life is important and people have to do what they have to do.

I got pretty bummed out during that period. It turns out that if you don’t know anything about programming, its pretty difficult to work with one and try to explain these difficult abstract concepts. Axel was an excellent programmer and no doubt would have created amazing things.

It was shortly after Axel left that I let the composer know how things were going and that he might want to rethink working on Optera. I didn’t want Jose to be led into thinking there was more progress than there really was.

During this period my wife and I also found out we had to move! Well things got kinda hectic for a bit and Optera got totally neglected. It actually felt great to let go. After all that work and stress and thinking, I just stopped.

Although it felt good to let it go, I now find myself thinking about Optera more and more. It really should be made. Whether its free, costs money, or has annoying adds to support its server, it really should exist. Where else can you witness the evolution of an ant species in real time? What other game can insects evolve just as they do in nature, where a player can evolve to exploit the characteristics of an environment that otherwise may have killed it? What else would I want to play, in the heart of winter, when its bitter cold, gray, and lifeless outside, just to sit there and listen to the insects, the rain, see the beams of sunshine hitting the leaves on the warm forest floor. When I forget what the crickets sound like in later summer I can play Optera, and hear the summer sounds all over again. When I need to fantasize and go off on an adventure – I can go deep underground into the heart of my species’ colony. I can move eggs, dig tunnels. A little adjustment of this tunnel here, make this room slightly larger, its getting too warm. Maybe block off this tunnel, its too dangerous.

I spent so much time designing this game, but I’m not sure I’m equipped to manage programmers. I’m not sure I have the time to do what needs to be done. If I could just get some basic prototyping done, it might relight the fire. Just some basic programming. Should I take a class? Should I just go back to doing the art? I don’t even know if the art will work the way I want it to.

I don’t know what the purpose of this post was but I needed to get some thoughts out.

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Back to my roots… leaves, whatever

So I’m going to take a break from animation for a bit. There’s only so much I can do of that before I really start to loose it. Working on plants is relaxing for me. It centers my Optera chi.

The plants in the pictures in the media section were thrown together hastily in Unity and were not the models that Optera will use. Maybe I’ll work on 3d assets for a bit. This model will also include its own custom navigation mesh.

Here you go. The image on the right side is the actual render from the correct viewing perspective. I think the illusion works out pretty well.


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Slow week, dirty workspace

This post totally sucks but I cant leave you guys hanging no matter how busy I am.

I feel like this week has been a total wash. I have been super busy, Axel has been super busy, I’m not sure which artwork to work on because there’s a bunch of  R & D to be done in order to figure out the direction things need to move, yada yada yada. The awesome weather here on the U.S. east coast has had me out in the garden a bunch as well. Those seeds have to get planted! The wife also has two jobs now so I’m doing most of the cooking at night. (which btw she’s got classes tonight so I’m eating cereal for dinner to get this post and some other work done- Optera needs it) I have also been working a little farther away than usual so the commute is taking its toll as well. Optera time is all messed up right now.

At first it felt good to not work on stuff for a couple days but I’m starting to get antsy. The spring weather has ants all over the place outside and every time I see one I feel like I’m getting kicked in the shins by myself because of my lack of progress.

There’s only one thing to do. Clean this shithole up.image (2)image (1)


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Axel has joined the project!

Well, after floundering around like a fish out of water for many months worrying about how I was going to find the perfect programming mastermind for Optera, it happened!


Axel found Optera via my cry for help on Gamedev.net. In the short amount of time we have been working together, he’s been awesome. He brings a wealth of knowledge to the project and I feel like we are headed in the right direction. He also has a ton of patience when it comes to my ridiculously stupid questions. There’s a lot of them so that’s important.

Theres a lot of work to be done before we’ll have ants cutting each others heads off, but things are moving. Currently we are hammering out all the little details when it comes to this whole “ants cutting heads off” thing.  Drawing ants is one thing, making them come alive in a 3D environment in a believable way is a whole different animal.

I don’t know about anyone else but I’m excited.

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I’m getting to work on these in between angles now. This particular one is the 22.5 degree angle bite. This guy falls right after 0 and just before 45 degrees obviously. if ants were short and stubby I could get away with doing only 8 directional sprites. Being the lengthy insects they are there’s going to have to be 16 directional sprites so rotations are smoother. BTW, I still talk about image angles according to Game Makers way of handling sprites. 0 degrees is directly facing to the right (3 o’clock) and numbers go up counterclockwise. I’ll show both 22.5 and 0.


I really want to start animating some ant deaths but I need to stay the course. Self control…

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