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The story of the emotional development of Cool-B in Search of Floyd.

Game Developer, Staff

June 5, 2012

8 Min Read

When I was much younger, I was going to the state fair. The shuttle bus was extremely late, so my mom got a newspaper. In the newspaper was an advertisement for the adoption of two cats that had been together their entire lives, Cool-B and Floyd. Soon, we decided to adopt them both. Floyd was all grey and Cool-B was white and grey.

Sadly, Floyd was very sick. After helping him with medicine and fluids for months, the day came when we had to take him to the vet for the last time. We took Floyd as Cool-B watched, and took him to the car. It was one of the saddest moments of my life to see Floyd pass away. The memory still easily brings tears to my eyes.

After Floyd was gone, Cool-B of course changed. He would wander the house at night, making a certain meow, crying for Floyd, searching for him. I would often cry with him, missing Floyd.

It was then that my idea began...

My name is David Klingler, and I've recently released a game called Cool-B in Search of Floyd. I was the only person that worked on the game, and while the idea was in my mind for about 10 years, it took a little over a year and a half of many hours a day of focused development to complete. I did all the design, programming, music, artwork, etc... Cool-B in Search of Floyd is a platforming game for PC, and the levels are different every time you play.

How the Development Went:
When I did the original prototype, it took just a few days, and it was in a language that I had begun teaching myself, C#. I chose to try C# after reading some commentary about it in another developer's post-mortem. The prototype was completed at an airport.

At this time, it was the end of 2010. I had started losing my health pretty badly a few months prior, and it didn't stop there. This was not just my physical health, but also my mental health. Not going into much detail yet, I'll just say that I ended up having to ask myself, "Well, what will I do now, now that I'm just here at home?" ...I decided it was time to just go full-time into independent game development.

As I moved along through the schedules I created, I came to find that I had a lot of assets to make (images, sound, etc.), and began focusing on trying to get the assets done for the early parts of the game and then to put it together in the program. I would do artwork for maybe 15 hours a day, and then a couple more hours on other aspects of the game. When I came to programming a further prototype, I found myself realizing that certain things would not look or feel the way I had envisioned if I was just programming a straight form in C# (such an obvious thing, too). I searched a little bit for what might work better, and moved into WPF. That didn't work either (ended up going to XNA), but during all of that experimentation I got further along with the assets and design, so I wasn't all bent out of shape that I felt I was getting behind.

Unfortunately, this doesn't mean I wasn't bent out of shape because of other things. My mental health continued to drop rapidly, and my physical health as well. I was really, really just not doing well at all. I continued to trudge through the game development, always trying to look forward and focus on the game. The relationship I was in at this point in time had been going on for about a year so far. It of course was waning as well, among all the pressure I put on myself about the game and my failing mental and physical health. She still didn't know yet what it was I was working on, mainly because I was afraid she wouldn't understand all the time going into a game, but also because I was trying to keep it a secret from everyone except my parents, grandparents and my uncle. My uncle was the one that a few years prior had originally pushed me towards the idea of having my own company instead of working for a big game company.

As the due date for the Independent Games Festival submissions came closer, I was feeling a lot of pressure. Looking back now, what I ended up submitting wasn't anywhere close to what I wanted. I was not a finalist. I kept going, anyway, and in a way, having that set due date that I couldn't change was beneficial for me in terms of further learning about project management.

Around the time of not being a finalist, I had an emotional breakup in my relationship at the time. It was disheartening, to say the least, and did have an effect on my work. There began to be even more display of a slight underlying sadness in some sequences of the game, even though in general there was a lot of "jolly platforming" going on. Really, the relationship had been waning dramatically, and under the pressure of game development coupled with just plain bad mental health, there wasn't much to hold it up. A once very strong relationship had fallen apart. ...but I continued working on the game.

Indie Game: The Movie came to screen in the nearby city of Raleigh, and I was extremely excited to see that. The film displayed the emotions of game development absolutely perfectly, and became my favorite movie of all time. I was lucky to be able to talk to the audience after the film about my game and give out some business cards. I had given out some business cards before at the Twin Galaxies video game festival in Iowa in November 2011 (long drive, but worth it), but this was different, since everyone had just seen a movie about indie games. I was "within weeks" of finishing the game at this point. Soon, something horrible happened to me, but after, I started going even more hardcore into FINISHING THE DANG GAME TO JUST BE DONE.

I finished the game, submitted it to Indiecade literally within minutes of the late submissions deadline, and then soon released it on my website on the internet. So now the game is out yay

What went right:
I stayed focused, and had an incredible amount of support from my family the entire time. In terms of game development, I got the game to my vision. It worked correctly, looked the way I wanted it to, was easy to learn and hard to master, etc...  ...and C# was nice to use. I feel like, even though you can't be too much of a control freak with C#, it was a good choice, especially since I took the time to learn how to manipulate the language and the XNA framework to control more than what you can at the surface of the language. I was lucky to have all the sites on the internet that had tips on game development, and those were very important to my success. I was also able to meet my "secondary goal" of creating it all completely by myself.

What went... not so right:
I pushed myself too much while dealing with my bad health. This DID NOT have a good effect on development. Sure, I got more hours of work in, but those hours were not at my best level of productivity. Also, the early prototypes were not close enough to my vision, and therefore were what caused my to have to restart certain things multiple times (such as switching from a straight form in C# to WPF, and then to C# in the XNA framework).

Finally, what I learned:
I learned a lot; and I knew I would learn a lot, but dang, I learned A LOT. I learned C#, how to use a lot of programs efficiently that before I couldn't use efficiently (ex:art programs), how to use a tracker (for the chiptune music), how to manage a project, and on and on. What I would say most importantly though, is that I really did not benefit from pushing myself too much when dealing with my bad health. As I said earlier, this absolutely DID NOT have a good effect on development. Game development is stressful, but don't kill yourself.

Thank you for taking the time to read this wall of text, and I hope you try out and enjoy the game! I feel proud to have finished the game, but there is of course more to come through updates and add-ons. If you're an indie developer, or just like to support the indie part of the industry, I give you a digital high five and handshake. If I see you in person, I would be glad to give you a real high five and handshake.


~David Klingler


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