My Sabbatical is over

Well, my one-month long Sabbatical is over. In fact today (Sunday) is the last day before I get back to my professional work tomorrow. Did it work out as I planned? Was it a "success"?

First of all: The game is done. All things I had as cards in my Kanban board have been moved to the "Finished" bucket. And will it release now? Can you play it? No. All scenes, all puzzles, all cutscenes, all characters, animations, dialogues and all coding is done and final. I even rewrote the whole last chapter of the game and it is a much more pleasing ending to the whole journey now. But there is still a lot to do.

Music and sound effects

Most of the scenes still need background music and sound effects. Those are things that require a lot of time searching and listening to tracks and sound files, to find the right one that is fitting in a certain scene or event. Maybe there are no fitting files in my repertoire and I have to record new ones. A very time consuming task, that I avoided during my Sabbatical intentionally. This is something that you do with a cup of tea in the evenings, this is no assembly-line work.

Bug hunting

No matter I consider the game done - I didn't play it once in the whole time. Of course I tested all the new scenes and puzzles and so on on their own, but never played "the whole thing". There will be bugs, tons of them. And to be honest: I don't really have a whole lot of motivation to play the game over and over again. I spend so much time with the game and as you know a classical point and click adventure like Wormventures - Barrier 51 isn't something that will surprise you as the developer. It's quite linear and I know all the puzzles and in which order they have to be solved. And I know the next gag that comes when doing whatever. You can not play the game with friends to test if the balancing is okay or something. It's like watching a movie over and over again. I will need help from others to get this game in good shape quality wise.

Voice overs and translation

And of course all the german voice over recordings have to be done and even if I said earlier that all dialogues in the game are done, I won't start recording until the whole game is play tested and there were no complaints that something is logically wrong, or something could be better explained in game to have a chance to solve a certain puzzle. During playtesting I will collect information like "What item did you try to use with what hotspot and what result did you expect?" to see if there are some cases missing that I didn't think about, but are completely logical to others. Those cases should at least have a nice reaction from Looky that is tailored to the case. And after that the dialogues are "really" final and worth to be recorded and translated into Englisch and maybe other languages.

Polishing and optimization

There is still plenty of possibilities to make things look and sound better. Be it scene lighting, some more trees or grass here and there or the sound of a river floating. One more thing to keep in mind is optimization to gain the last bit of performance to make the game work on the worst hardware possible. The two main areas to get better performance of is combining graphical assets in scenes to the least possible amount (mesh combining) and baking lightmaps to have as little as possible realtime lighting. This reduces draw calls when rendering and the less draw calls the more frames can be rendered in the same time.

Did it work out like planned?

The answer is: Yes and no. My original plan was to work on the game in the time I usually work for the company I work for and then have time to do things apart from developing the game in the evenings. To have something like real spare time. That part didn't work out very well. I worked 12 to 16 hours every day, including weekends and holidays. That was not what I planned and it seems that I am not very disciplined when it comes to stop working after a certain amount of time. When I roll, I roll. This made the whole last three weeks a crunch phase as it is well known in the games industry. But on the other hand the game wouldn't be in the current condition, if I'd worked less and this is the part that worked out: I got done what I wanted to get done. Even though I encountered several problems, that made my life not easier like breaking hardware, re-installation of operating systems and software and of course the oh-oh-it's-getting-colder-outside-Sniffels (the infamous "Men Sniffels" - the bad stuff ;) ). And it was a narrow victory, as I'm still working on the last things while writing this.


It was a wild ride. And one of my goals that was the most important to myself and I didn't talk about until now was: To get my Mojo back. And I got it back. Yeah, that worked out, too. And I'm very thankful for this. What is Mojo? I can't explain. But I needed that kind of therapy for myself to get back on my track of inspiration, creativity, motivation and self-confidence. I'm mentally in a good shape again and that is thanks to the month off I treated myself.

If you are interested I will keep you up to date here in my Development Blog. Thanks for your interest and patience. Not much longer and there is this beautiful adventure waiting for you that I believe I can be very proud of.

I close off with one of many GIFs I recorded the last days:

Le Docteur

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