Monday, June 2, 2014

Realizations and Level Setting

I had a bit of an epiphany lately that I think is worth sharing at this point. I am following someone on Twitter who's handle is @HobbyGameDev (his G+ is +Chris DeLeon (HobbyGameDev)). It was through the work Chris has been doing that I've started realizing that maybe I've been looking at Otto Von through the wrong lens. In particular, am I truly committed to making Otto Von a "going concern" that could provide a career for me - with all the associated risks - or is it more of a "hobby".
I think the answer that I've been leaning toward, at least presently, is that it's more a hobby than a career. Would I like to do Otto Von all day, every day? I think I would probably say "not really". Not that I like having a job and I would love to work for myself rather than someone else, but all of the uncertainty around being an actual indie developer may be more than my risk-averse situation allows for at present.
When I think about doing that, I realize there are some prerequisites, skills, and connections I need that I don't have. First, I would need several months worth of savings available to really take a stab at doing this as a career and right now I have several years of negative savings available. It's been a very rough year financially. In all honesty, we weren't really able to afford to send my daughter to Waldorf for as long as we did, but we've finally figured it out. It's also a great time for her to transition out as she's going to be starting middle school next year.
Secondly, there are definitely some skills that I don't have (some very well documented here), nor do I have connections with people who DO have those skills. Or, rather, have connections with people who have those skills and are willing to do this kind of thing as a partnership with profit sharing. Maybe I just need to find some HS students who have tons of free time and lots of drive. Regardless, it's been challenging and while I can put out some apps, they're not going to have the kind of polish and "oomph" that I'd like them to have. Will they be "good enough"? Probably. Will they provide the kind of income I need to make this a career? Probably not.
So, given that Owen Goss (of Streaming Colour Studios and Milkbag Games fame) did a survey a couple of years ago and learned that the average lifetime income from an indie game is $1200, I would need either a TON of games out there, or I would need to be better than average. And that's the mean, which means that 49.9% of games earn less than that. And that would require a lot more games.
So, what does all of this mean? It means that I'm not an indie trying to make it in the bigger world. What I really am is a hobby developer enjoying what he does.
Happy coding!