Thoughts on the choices I made: Day job VS indie
For over a year I’m working 4 days a week for my day job with every Fridays free to work on my games. It’s a choice I made after being unemployed for about 6 months and sleeping about 4-5 hours a night before that while I was working on MMOs.
You don’t clearly know what’s coming up
I have no idea if in 1-2-3 years I’ll say that it was the right thing to do but at the moment I’m starting to have doubts. Sure you can’t get very far by sleeping only 4 hours per night but I was doing that when I didn’t know much about game development. I tried it, didn’t work and stop it when it became unhealthy. Then the whole thing about being unemployed and working full-time on games wasn’t much of a choice. I tried it, didn’t work for many reasons, I stop it before going broke.
When I found a job again I made sure I had some time to work on my own projects. It seemed like a good plan. I can sleep a bit more at night, I have learned a few things so I can focus on maybe less crazy projects and just my past experience should make me for efficient. Well part of it was true. I think I have now a better idea of where I should be going and how I should do things. But making games for a living ain’t an exact science and my whatever choices I make I might always end up making a bad choice.
You can’t order ideas from a vending machine
My dilemma right now is that I’d like to maybe hire artists or even voice actors but … when you said no to 20% of your paycheck it changes things. Sure I got more time to work on my own stuff and make better games but you know, I still have to get the game idea that fits these parameters. Sometimes time isn’t enough. Maybe I can do on my own my next game but maybe to make it really work I need to invest a bit.
Some games were awfully cheap to make and had great success and others still required some kind of investment to get that “special thing” about them (time, money, contacts, etc.). I can’t order my brain to get a “successful and cheap idea” whenever I want. I have plenty of ideas but all require something different.
My investment in game development in the last year
Is working 4 days a week such a really nice deal? Well take your paycheck and remove 20% out of it. Now consider that I still manage to put some money away for my old days (8% + employer benefits) and that here in Quebec about 45% of my salary is gone to government before I get to enjoy it. I don’t spend a lot on luxury stuff but I do enjoy drinking wine and smoking cigars. I almost never go to the movies and even less in bars but at the end of the month there’s not that much left in my account. I could surely cut every single small pleasure I pay myself but then it’d be like when I was almost not getting any sleep.
So I’m thinking … maybe I’m at that point where I could go back to working 5 days a week just to have some kind of money to invest in my games since I feel I became wiser when it comes to the way I work on games. My projects are smaller, I have some experience, maybe I’m now at that point?
Oh right. There’s a big BUT! When you started to work 4 days a week it’s a really big burden to go back to 5 days a week. Yes I first did to work on my games but I found that it hugely improved my quality of life. Almost half of my time (I count weekends here) is dedicated to doing something I really enjoy to do. It made me happier, made my wife happier and improved many aspects of my life. So going back to 5 days a week, while it could provide me with financial means to achieve some ideas I have in mind is not to be considered lightly.
And then there’s of course the risk that by even doing so it still doesn’t bring the expected results. I mean I’m no stranger to doing sacrifices while hoping something and that what I hope for still doesn’t happen. For 6 years now I tried to adjust my life to make sure I could work on games and I have yet to get what I want which is … really just more time to work on my games … In a perfect world doing so full-time without hoping to get rich.
Having nothing to complain about after all
Maybe I should just leave things as they are right now as frankly it’s the best situation I have been so far when it comes to my personal life. It’s not all that great to my secondary-professional life but still. So really my main question right now is “How long will it take me to maybe find that breakthrough idea that might give me any kind of interesting result considering my current situation”.
It’s a question I have no answer to as it all depends on what this brain of mine gets me next. AND how long I think I can deal with my current situation. There are a lot of factors here. Do I want to stay where I currently work? Do I feel motivated enough to work on another game? Are my financial needs met by my 4 days a week work.
So for some I have a dream position. Me I see the good and the bad of it. It’d be great if I’d be working on that perfect game that match my current situation but you can’t order that on command. Much to think here.