Blog posted by Ste Pickford on Fri, 27 Sep 2013
Subject: Plok comic strip
We started the Plok comic strip about two months ago, and since then we've had a fantastic response from both fans of the original SNES game and new readers of the comic strip. It's been a really enjoyable experience for John and I.
In addition to trying to get a new strip drawn and published each week, we're going to start an occasional series of blog posts giving a bit of background the comic strip. Sometimes the comics look better in pencil, or in just monochrome inks, or sometimes the layout sketches turn out to be better than the actual comic strip, and sometimes there are little references in the comics that might not be obvious. We'll talk about all those things here.
I've also had a lot of people ask about what techniques and equipment I use, and there's been a lot of people asking about whether the comic is a prelude to a kickstarter for a new game, so we'll talk about all that in future posts as well.
To kick off though, I really wanted to talk about why we started making a regular webcomic, as it relates to both the comic strip, and to indie game development.
The number one reason we started the comic strip is to complete a project once every week. To actually finish something, and put it out there in front of an audience.
We've never been the fastest of game developers. We've had two finished games released since we turned indie several years ago, which is well over two years per game. We've also made several half-completed prototypes in that time, and done contract design work on a few other games, and we currently have three games at about 75% complete right now, but the way we work (inventing new, original video games, rather than making familiar genre products like most of the smart, rich devs do) means there's a fairly high chance of any project we start not working out, and not making it over the finish line, which means despite working all day every day, we don't actually release new games very often.
That can get a bit depressing at times, and a bit lonely.
We work from home, so we don't have any of the in-the-trenches developer camaraderie of seeing other projects released by our work colleagues or sister studios, so we go for unusually long periods without any feedback whatsoever from our work.
We scratched our heads and tried to work out something that we could do to address this. We're not really able to work any faster than we do, nor do we want to switch to making knock-offs of other people's games instead of inventing our own, so we decided to do something completely different instead. Thus, the Plok comic strip was born.
The comic production is a strictly evenings and weekends project for us, with most of the day still spent working on our new games (although we chat about character and story ideas all the time).
A couple of evenings a week I come back to my home office room after my tea, and instead of sitting by the computer I sit at my little wooden drawing desk and sketch a layout, or pencil or ink the next Plok comic strip. It's a nice break from being sat in front of a computer all day, while still feeling that I'm working.
Then, one day a week we post a new strip on the website and pester everyone on Twitter and Facebook with links to it, while enjoying the satisfaction of actually publishing something.