Guidance from the elders (you all)

Discussion in 'Indie Related Chat' started by Evil Dan, May 8, 2014.

  1. Evil Dan

    Evil Dan New Member

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    Hello fellow game developers, I've been a member of the forums for several years and have been pretty quiet - but now looking for guidance.

    I've been building little games outside of work (day job = media specialist) for the past 8 years or so and want to go full time independent. This has always been my dream and it has finally gotten to the point that I can hardly stand not building games during the day. It's like a boiling pot of water that is starting to overflow.

    I had worked on some commercial games as an Artist, so I have an idea of the quality needed for a finished product. I've got the skill set to complete games (at least some of the time) but have family/mortgage obligations so can't jump ship willy-nilly. The current plan is to hang tight one more year until the little one goes to kindergarten - freeing up daycare $$ (and a couple of other $$ streams as well)... But I'm simply chomping at the bit to get started in earnest.


    So now I turn to you all for guidance:


    What do you wish you knew when you went indie?

    Do you think I wait out this next year until cash is freed up some?

    Any general advice for this process?




    Thank you in advance, wise sages of the Indie community!
     
  2. lennard

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    This is a topic near and dear to my heart. I'd be happy to share my experiences off line if you want to email me directly. What I will share online is probably predictable given things I have said here before on these boards.

    1. Indie. game dev. can be a brutal business. For every project that breaks even or makes real money there are probably 1000 that don't. Especially with little ones involved you need to take baby steps into this.
    2. Is there a niche product that you could make that you could be best in class at?
    3. If you were to start today and managed to execute your dream game... Do you have a plan for discovery? Lots of the big companies are spending a lot of money to acquire users - how will you?

    and something to watch:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pqhvtFcALgo
     
  3. Nutter2000

    Original Member Indie Author

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    Oh yes same here very close to my heart.

    My background is I was full time indie then ended up in corporate (non-gaming) hell due to a growing family and a deepening recession.
    I'm also desperate to get back to full time again and get out of this brain dead zombie job, so yes very close to my own heart ;-)

    I must echo lennard's statements, it is a very brutal business so as an indie I would recommend release small and often so you can find out what works and can recoup your investment quickly then build up when you can afford to spend more time and money on developing bigger indie games*.
    With kids, I would highly recommend building up your business before jumping in, that's what I'm attempting although it's is extremely difficult with young kids as you don't have much spare time and when you do you're more likely to fall asleep.

    On the other hand, if your wife/significant other has a high paying job and is willing and able to fund you, then I'd say go for it.

    Regarding now or in a year, only you know your financial situation so do the hard maths and decide if you can afford not to be bringing in a salary for a year or more while you build up and work out your discovery.

    I was reading this article earlier, it may be of interest http://gamasutra.com/blogs/CasperBodewitz/20130801/197193/Dont_give_up_the_day_job_yet.php


    Hope that helps :)



    *note: others may disagree with this approach and I don't always follow my own advice but imho that is the best way to offset risk as an indie developer.
     
  4. bantamcitygames

    Administrator Original Member Indie Author Greenlit

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    I'm in the same boat. I want to be full time, but have two little ones, a mortgage and a bunch of other bills that I just couldn't possibly support as an indie (at least initially). I don't have an answer for you because I haven't figured it out myself yet, but if you can stockpile some cash from your day job that would definitely help. Start living like an indie (eating ramen for every meal, cut any unnecessary phone/tv bills), and start saving up some serious money... because you'll need it!
     
  5. Evil Dan

    Evil Dan New Member

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    Hey - thank you all for your interest and wisdom!

    It sounds like the consensus is that Indie development is a difficult road to prosperity.

    Although it had been my plan to build my business outside of my day job, I'm finding that there just doesn't seem to be enough time during the day to do everything that needs to be done - at the quality that it needs to be successful.

    And last weekend I had a jarring moment: I was at a BBQ and chatting with a friend, explaining this burning desire to go indie. Her response was "Yeah, I know - we've been talking about that for years". I had first talked about my plan with her 7 YEARS AGO.

    This is the only life I get, and there is only so much time I can wait for things to be 'safe'. And (perhaps foolishly) I think I can make it work.
     
  6. Evil Dan

    Evil Dan New Member

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    *Update*

    I have committed to go independent in roughly 12 months time - and the plan has gotten the seal approval from my awesome wife.

    Here's the roadmap:

    September - A major loan will be payed off in full
    October - complete the book project I am working on. This is an obligation that I plan to fulfill at almost all costs and *should* create a financial buffer.
    November - Make any changes or updates the publisher needs
    December - May - Begin working in earnest toward my game project
    June - Youngest kid goes to elementary school and the monthly daycare $$ is lifted. Save up through the summer
    September - pull the trigger and jump ship

    Nothing is in stone, but this is what I've been looking at.

    Comments? Suggestions?
     
  7. bantamcitygames

    Administrator Original Member Indie Author Greenlit

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    I haven't taken the plunge myself, so I don't have any words of wisdom, but that sounds awesome so good luck!
     
  8. Evil Dan

    Evil Dan New Member

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    Loan paid off -- Check!

    Now I've put in to take significant time off from my day job to finish my book! It's due to the publisher in October and I'm starting to get very excited but there's still SO MUCH to do!

    Still trying to stay on track with my roadmap. I actually got a job offer which has the risk of screwing things up. The job sounds cool --> I'd get to do some nifty Oculus stuff which would be really exciting... But I'm thinking to turn it down and just focus all my effort on getting my ducks in a row so I can go full-time in the summer.

    Still looking for o any advice or guidance from you all -- What say you?
     
  9. Evil Dan

    Evil Dan New Member

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    Here's an update on the state of things as I inch towards independence:

    Turned down the job offer - which just about gave me a nervous breakdown.

    On Friday I finished my book (a month late in to the publisher, which is really not that bad) and continuing on my timeline toward going full time indie. Here is my updated timeline:

    December - Make any changes or updates the publisher needs
    Jan - May - Begin working in earnest toward my game project
    June - Youngest kid goes to elementary school and the monthly daycare $$ is lifted. Save up through the summer
    September - pull the trigger and jump ship

    I'm staying the course!
     
  10. mythro

    mythro New Member

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    Why not join a small game company to get your feet wet?
     
  11. Evil Dan

    Evil Dan New Member

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    I had worked at a game company for two years - and have done contract work for game devs on and off for the past 7.

    My feet are so wet I'm starting to get wrinkles.
     
  12. Sali

    Sali New Member

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    I`m not an elder at any point, but i feel that i needed to share this. I`ve been listening lately to a gamedev oriented podcast, in which a few indie developers have been sharing their paths. Basically, they were saying that experience thought them that it`s better to, at least double the amount of time and cash you have initially planned for your development. Because, as the Murphy law says, if anything can go wrong it will, so it`s better to put those risks in the initial plan.

    From my personal experience - i would recommend to build your game`s design in modular form (core features, less important ones, bells and whistles, etc.). So in case if something goes wrong, you can leave less important things for the post-release support, and concentrate on main features.

    P.S. ignore if it`s all obvious to you (i just needed to be sure).
    P.P.S. i`m not a native speaker, so please excuse any mistakes.

    Cheers!
     
  13. Evil Dan

    Evil Dan New Member

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    Hey Sali,

    Thanks for the input! A modular design is a very good idea.

    I've started a ton of games independently but only really polished one to the level that I'd think of as finished - and that one was created quasi-modular. In that case I had built each (very small) level as it's own contained design so I could scale the total amount of levels to be as many or few as needed. It ended up being 30.

    So I think I will try to use modular design (not just modular code) to limit my suffering....

    Thanks!
     
  14. bantamcitygames

    Administrator Original Member Indie Author Greenlit

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    We're rooting for you Dan! If you can pull it off you'll be my new hero! :)
     
  15. Evil Dan

    Evil Dan New Member

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    Thanks BantamCity! It is going to happen (barring any major life surprises) - the real question is whether it'll be sustainable.

    OMG! I just visited your website and nearly freaked out when I was Invadazoid, because I've been working on a game that is super similar (at least superficially, I haven't tried yours yet) click here to take a look - you need to hold down the left mouse to make it work (it's emulating touch control)
     
  16. Evil Dan

    Evil Dan New Member

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    Considering to go part-time at my day job rather soonish - jumping the gun on my timeline.

    That is all.
     
  17. Evil Dan

    Evil Dan New Member

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    Got the blessing from my wife to start working part time so that I can work indie biz part time (what an amazing supportive human being!)

    Unfortunately my boss said no - so I will continue to be full time at my day job for a while. Oh well.
     
  18. Nutter2000

    Original Member Indie Author

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    Oh well, at least you know your wife is behind you all the way.
    Not really that surprising that your boss isn't so willing to help you quit either ;-)

    Good luck Dan, just stay on target, focus on completing the core game as best you can.

    Also, once you have something polished enough to show, even as work in progress videos, I would recommend that you pull the trigger on your marketing, get a blog running / indiedb area, press releases, etc
    Because successful marketing is going to be at least half the battle.

    A good recent of how to do it, example is Shallowspace by James (fieldrequired) on this board, he has a built a very nice following for his game using places like indiedb.com, videos, etc going from zero to Steam Greenlight and Top 100 2014 indiedb.com in less than a year.

    Stay on target, and remember we're all counting on you ;-)
     
  19. Evil Dan

    Evil Dan New Member

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    Hey Nutter - thank you for input! It is fairly easy to feel alone and isolated, so I'm super appreciative of the support.

    In terms of the marketing --> I agree with you but at this juncture I should be doing exactly what you are saying but with the book rather than the current game project. The issue is that I have only a finite amount of time (and even more finite amount of energy) to do things; and for me marketing is super draining.

    Although to be totally honest I'm a little hesitant about marketing any of my games too early --> because once I know others are interest/excited for something I'm working on, my motivation takes a major hit. It doesn't feel nearly as free, and there becomes a much higher risk that I won't finish the project at all.

    Weird, I know - but I'm becoming aware that this is my pattern.
     
  20. Evil Dan

    Evil Dan New Member

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    Well it turns out that I mislabeled all 400 images in my book - so I had to go through and rename them all, as well as each time the image was referenced in the text. That was a pain, but I got it done.

    Now I owe the publisher a number of forms and additional material and I just keep dragging my feet. All I want to do is continue to iterate on my game -- which is making pretty consistent progress (play the latest build online here). Any suggestions about how to actually get myself to finish these documents?

    BTW - the book is called 'Pixel Art for Game Developers' and might be useful to a few of you.
     

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