I was thinking about the fact that it is just 6 weeks shy from being a whole year since I started working on my own. And I really wish that I had more of a game to show for it. The fact is, that is takes a lot more effort to create something of value than most people would like to admit. I don´t have a game to sell yet, but I do have a small operating game company with a single employee that is working for money half the week and being able to fund the continued development efforts along with working quite actively on it for the rest of the week.
I don´t have the security of normal employment, 3 months notice or a nice salary. I only have the drive to finish this and make things work for me in the long run. Just as any serious adventurer that wants to climb mountains or reap the rewards of difficult challenges, they are working on making themselves durable in difficult situations. Growing skill and confidence.
This part of the economy feels a lot more like a jungle than any company culture I have been a witness to. The serious effects of mistakes within it makes you more calculated and more aggressive towards getting what you want or need.
I started off at the end of last September by handing in my resignation. I had been tired and frustrated for months at that point and got to a point where I did not debate this with myself any more. I just sat in front of the computer and the muscle memory in my fingers wrote more of the resignation post than I did. The did not at any point regret my decision or want to revert it. I knew I wanted to make my own games, but I had not quite decide what game that would actually be.
I had about 7 different ideas for games, all with different game mechanics and different kind of graphical feel to them. It does not take me long to come up with ideas I find interesting and I knew that whatever I would make, would grow organically.
I had a rough plan after a couple of months and the gist of the plan was to become very skilled with all aspects of making games and producing games. It involved art, programming, sounds, music, business, marketing and production in general. That would make me also valuable to be able to do contract work and adapt to any dynamic trendy situation the world could throw at me. Create a game that revolves around your interest and hobbies, making it fun to work on and to play. My hobbies include art, music, programming and puzzles.
Also being able to work on any aspect of the game, would mean less risk when dealing with people, cheaper to produce and more control. No big risky social commitments or financial commitments. Float the game for the most part from your own pocket. The most valuable piece for making games is having competent people working on it. So if you are competent in all regards, you have affectively the cheapest development studio available.
Keeping motivated was not very difficult. I had not been this content in years. I would wake up very early in the morning, continue working until late at night and there has nothing to this day stepped in my way to convince me that I need to stop what I am doing.
Keeping productive is often a swing and a miss, but you have to be very conscious about where you are spending your efforts and how to minimize the overhead in the long run. Take the time to build systems that assist with your workflow, but do not make it too easy. I at least want to feel the work instead of knowing that all my batch jobs are operational. It also forces you to minimize some things and keep manageable for humans. The backup generator being the only human working on the project.
Progress of the game has been slower now when I am being a lot more serious about where it is going and I know what I want. I make things to last, not just to impress. My initial estimates were very optimistic and wrong, grew into being very conservative and wrong but I hope they grow to be more accurate and wrong. Point being that I can´t give you an estimate of when it will actually be finished. I can tell you that I hope I will finish it within the next 2 years.
What happens when this game is done, is that I have accumulate a lot more of ideas and will create some other game that I think needs to be made.
I will only keep getting better at this, and as long as I can keep myself floating, I will keep swimming.