At the beginning of this year, I posted a set of goals for the first half of the year. The idea was that a public commitment would help me stick to them. With that period behind us, it’s time to see how I did. Ranked on a scale of 0 to 1:
Finish and publish 5 products: 0.4
I decided to count Rocket Mail, despite its launch in late 2015. The other game that I launched was obviously Twistago. I made good progress on Dragon Attack, but it needs a week or two of fulltime attention before it’s ready for an early launch, only including the free content. I’m not counting it for anything because the point was to learn to finish things.
There are two reasons why I didn’t finish 5 games. The first is simply that this goal was ambitious; I knew that going in, and 3 would have been a more realistic goal, but I wanted to force myself to avoid scope creep and just get things out there as soon as feasible. The second reason is that Twistago ended up taking more time than I expected. Part of this was that the AI was a lot harder to write than I expected, and part of it a lack of experience releasing for iOS.
Launch a web game across at least 5 portals: 0.0
Getting more experience in making money from web games is still something I want to learn, but either I’ll have to optimize, or I’ll have to make a different game for this purpose.
Spend at least €100 on one or more paid advertising campaigns: 1.0
I didn’t actually spend a cent on advertising, but I’m scoring this as a success anyway, because I did gain experience running an advertising campaign with someone else’s money. The reason I wrote this goal in this way (rather than just “get experience with advertising”) is to give myself permission to spend money on it.
Creating and managing an advertising campaign effectively is as much an art as a science, but I have a better idea what is involved. That said, I’m not nearly experienced enough yet.
Hire at least one freelancer: 0.5
Working on it! I found someone to do sound effects for Dragon Attack and know roughly what the contract will look like and what it’ll cost. I just need to finalize the feature set and send him a list of required sounds.
Blog at least once a week: 0.9
Outside of planned vacations, I missed only twice. From now on, the blog might become a bit less regular, for reasons explained below.
Attend each of the monthly local gamedev meetups: 1.0
I skipped one of the regular meetups, but made up for it by going to several talks and other events.
Have at least three people play one of my games at each of these meetups: 0.5
While Twistago was still secret, this was hard to do. And at the last meetup, I was having so much fun talking to people that I simply forgot to push any game onto them.
I did get a lot of feedback from the few times I could watch people play, and I’m more comfortable showing early work, so this goal has been a success from that point of view.
Give a gamedev tech talk for the local community: 0.5
What, did I give half a talk? I arranged a talk for June about the Twistago AI (similar to the blog series you have no doubt noticed), but a scheduling conflict by the organizer meant that it couldn’t go through. I have most of the slides prepared though, and am aiming for the August slot.
Averaging out the scores, I end up at 0.6. I could have done more to increase this (e.g. not taking on Twistago but instead pursuing solo projects), but I’m really happy with everything I did, even if it was not in line with these goals. As a famous person once said: “Plans are nothing; planning is everything.”
So what’s next? Am I declaring a new set of goals for the second half of the year? Not just yet. I’ve recently stumbled into another freelance gig, developing games for interactive squash courts (check out the video, it’s a really cool concept). It’s a lot of fun and it pays the bills. I decided to do it part-time only, so I can keep working on Twistago, Dragon Attack and whatever next project I fancy.
All in all, I declare my first half year as an indie a huge success. When I first showed up to work on squash games, I had a brief sense of impostor’s syndrome. “Wait, I’m just a coder. What are you expecting of me?” But then I sat down, threw around some ideas, prototyped a bit, saw that it was fun, and realized: hell yeah, I’m a game developer!