2017 is coming … A look back and forward
I’ve been making this kind of post since 2013. You can check the one I made last year here: http://www.over00.com/index.php/archives/3015 (each post link to the previous one).
2016 objective: Not look for another day job – Success
March of the Living was released this year and made enough money for me to not have to look for a day job. That’s the good side.
The not so good side is that it’s still not enough to fund on my own a game of a similar scale. It’s true I’m currently working with my friend Brian on The Humanity Hypothesis but we had to be resourceful to get this project running and the financial context could be much better. For this reason, I invite you to check Brian’s Patreon page and consider helping him up: https://www.patreon.com/psychochild
I never quite thought about how successful one of my games would need to be for me to become the type of full-time indie dev I always thought I may become one day. I mean, I always knew it wasn’t easy for trying for a couple of years now but I never quite sized what would be needed exactly until MotL became the kind of success it is.
So while I succeeded here I guess this objective was a bit short-sighted. I was so busy working on MotL and was carefully pessimist about its success that I didn’t really have a solid plan on what I should be doing the day following its release. I thought only two scenarios were possible (success or failure) but I forgot that there are many shades of gray in the word “success”.
The need to plan two steps ahead – Looking for a job
This is the lesson I learned about indie game development in 2016 when you’re trying to do this full-time. It’s not enough to plan the next project, you also have to plan for what will come after that unless you made a ton of money and can afford to spend some time planning each project at once.
For this reason, I have secured for February a deal similar to the one I had when working on March of the Living so you can at least expect one more game from me following The Humanity Hypothesis.
Also for this reason, I’m planning to look for a day job at the same time. If I find a job while working on the game then I’ll complete it part-time, much like a hobby.
Am I giving up game development? I don’t know. Probably not. I’m simply giving up the idea of doing this full-time as the ultimate goal for happiness.
The fact is even with the success of MotL, I still wasn’t really independent. I made a salary just like when I had a day job but still didn’t have much of budget to plan the next project on my own. Having plenty of time to work on games without a budget just isn’t my idea of fun.
Looking back I probably should have look for a job after the release of MotL. I sure wouldn’t have quit my job if I had one when it was released. I would have used the money to work on a slightly more ambitious game without having to rely on a publisher instead. Now that would have been true independence or at least the one I figured that I really want.
2017 objective: Work on a game of the same scale as MotL that I’m able to fund myself
That’s the only thing I want related to game development and I don’t care if I have to do this while having a day job. For once, I’d like to take $20,000 or more from my bank account, put it on a game I want to work on, don’t have any strings attached to a publisher and don’t sweat it if the game isn’t a success.
The “full-time” thing sure sounds fun and all but the truth is that I never felt more miserable. Revenue dropped a lot really fast and after 6 months, 80% of my revenue were made during the first month after the release of MotL. Having my hands tied by the fact that spending the money I made on a game would mean I wouldn’t be able to finish said game before running out of money was a bit depressing.
I tried to get a few ideas funded much like MotL but failed. Not being free to work on what I really wanted to just killed the whole concept of being able to say “I’m a full-time indie”. For a moment I forgot what I really wanted from game development and held on to this “full-time” concept instead.
2017 objective: Travel
2016 is the first time I went on vacation on a plane. I want to repeat the experience before I turn 50 (I’m 37). This is another reason why I’ll be looking for a job. I’m the kind of person who is really careful with money so when I know that by April I won’t have any left unless this game I’m working on gets the same success as the last it means that I don’t spend money on things like travels. I did this year anyway but not before accepting the fact that I’d be looking for a job soon.
I posted this year on this blog that I realized I didn’t have any hobby. I was only defining myself as “the guy who released one successful game” and it felt a bit empty. I didn’t have much to tell people this year as most people I know are really far from anything about games so it started to feel quite lonely in my little bubble. Traveling is one way to be more than “just” a game dev working alone all day long. I plan to explore, try other stuff as well so game development might start to take less and less space in my life.
And if my next game is a huge success? Well, I’ll be able to travel a lot more…