3 months being indie – report and thoughts

So basically I’m after 3 months being indie. I can tell you that I needed that but it’s challenge. I respect every single developer who is working at home. Want to share some my thoughts and plan for next months to come.

Working alone in home

Last time I have worked by myself in home was like 2 years ago. In the beginning it was really fun – I was able to work all the time and my productivity was impressive. 2 months later it was much harder to focus because:

  • If you don’t have working hours you may think “I will watch this movie and then get back to work” and basically you are working like 14h a day,
  • You have a lot of distractions: create dinner, go to shop, clean apartment etc basic stuff you do after work,
  • You can’t basically rest. Even when you are watching something your mind is thinking you are in work,
  • You have weekends? Don’t think so 😉
  • One month of this and I wasn’t sure if I’m at work or not. Wasn’t able to focus like earlier,

Thankfully then I was working only 2 months alone, after that I moved to studio and everything get back to normal. I was working in job and after it 😀 but still balance was there.

This is something a lot of freelancing friends told me. Working by yourself isn’t for everybody. For sure not for me.

This time is different. I thought I’m prepared for longer run. First month was smooth. I was working 10h a day and then go out of apartment not event looking at monitors. I had a sheet with each day planned. 2 days in week planned for rest and exercises. Was really bad ass.

Second month was different. A lot of changes to prototypes more stress which came from:

  • Am I able to do more? Am I working for 200%? I came to conclusion that not. I can do more and better,
  • But the other side of rope in my head was whispering: “dude, you are working you ass for like 15 years without even a break. Take some break!” Not so good feeling when you need to do stuff,
  • Was trashing a lot of game prototypes. Which basically is really good thing, but you need to have some demo for presentation in time,

During this month I changed my “weekly plan” to sinusoidal based. (great name I know 😀 ) basically I was working like that:

  • Rest, go somewhere, travel – but not to much, you are not at vacation,
  • If I work I work hard – straight 10h without dealing with apartment stuff,
  • Have time for shopping, creating dinner etc, but in days I’m not working,

So as example my week was looking something like that: 2 days of rest. 4 days of work and 1 day for improving new skills or exercises. In beginning it was working great. I felt great.

Third month (actual month) is again different. I have chosen prototype which I want to polish and send to publishers/investors. This means a lot of stuff need to be done and I need to involve other people more.

I started to feel I’m not giving 200%. I don’t know if I’m at job or not. Basically my head is working 24h a day. My weekly plan went to trash.

My friend told me that I can come to his studio and work from there – and I was there once, just to drop my laptop… there was (and is) to many things to be done and it’s easier for me to do it at home.

I needed to come out with new weekly plan that fits my actual mood.

  • I’m still doing resting for 1-2 days without computer, leaving apartment,. This is the most best thing you can do. Thanks to that I can do stuff 3x faster than usual,
  • When I work I don’t work 12h straight. When I’m in home I’m using it like office and home the same time. This means I’m working out -> then working -> creating dinner -> then working -> watching GDC -> then working. So basically my head thinks I’m at work 100% of the time, but I’m doing other things during this time. This approach is currently effective but I don’t think it will be effective to long as it’s feeling like I’m crunching like hell. Basically I think we were grown to have some rhythm in our life. This isn’t rhythm.

I need to change my plan during next weeks. I need to start going to my friends studio and have work -> after work rhythm. Still having vacations without computer in pipeline. This is my goal for next iteration.

No job

Another thing which is constantly in my head and will be more during time moving on is that I don’t have regular pay checks.

I have trashed a lot of prototypes which can be done and shipped in different circumstances. From one hand it’s great to not to create things that doesn’t fit your requirements but another is – you need to be able to send something to publishers/investors before you ran out of money 😉

During this month it came to me I can sell stuff on UE4 Marketplace. Maybe it will increase my time frame for creating demo and presentation. So I have created 4 packs which are currently in review.

3 months summary

I made playable game prototypes. Each one with couple of iterations:

  • 2,5D steampunkish ship management game where you are fighting with other ships and need to command your crew. Was really hard to do and I needed to create game framework from scratch. (movement inside moving big ships, commands, actions system, custom physics for moving ships in 2D space etc) Was trashed,
  • Isometric team based aka baldur’s like roguelike with active pause. Was trashed,
  • Isometric “auto play” team based with ghost which can possess others, Was trashed,
  • Clash of morons almost week long game jam (was working 14-16h a day) made just for fun,
  • First person ranged/melee team vs team where you can possess characters from your side, (comes after jam) Was trashed,
  • Third person action with “click on rythm” fighting mechanics. Was trashed,
  • Third person action slasher with possession. This one wasn’t trashed. This is the one I’m doing gameplay POC.

I made 4 marketplace packs:

Blinking Lights
Room Builder
Advanced Trigger
Health Component

They are in review. Will let you know when they will be live. If you are in need of something as marketplace package just let me know in comments.

And most important I learn a lot:

  • Animating in Blender. All of the animations (and they are core of gameplay) are done by me. I don’t need to buy animations, can iterate quicker. I want to change timing or recovery/preparation I can do it in 5seconds,
  • Using Blender. Earlier I was using Maya for creating prototype stuff. I really love Blender 2.8 and was able to move from Maya. Currently I can create my prototype assets without a problem,
  • I learned how to use my experience with UE4/Programming/Design to create playable games prototypes from scratch using modular frameworks,
  • I learned more deeply systems for action games, navigation and debugging.
  • I’m still learning how to work in home and deal with 100x things in the same time. I think I have 10% idea how how hard it is,

Basically I did a lot but still I have a feeling that I could do more. It is really hard to work by your self.

People need interaction and constant feedback. For sure I need it. But that’s not actually the way for me. This is challenging and it is something thats motivates me. I have never been in such position.

Next months plan

Next month will be blast as my best friend is visiting me 😉

What I want to do as soon as possible (when ready basically) I want to send combat POC and project/studio presentation to Epic and other companies/investors. A lot of work in front of me and in this state others as well…

Another thing I want to create are marketplace packs. Hope they will give me more time for gameplay POC but I’m not counting on it, still need to try my best. I know you need to have really great or a lot of packages to have income. But I will try.

Will be posting to you guys with updates and I’m really sorry I can’t finally finish the book 🙁 this is still in my head and I think I messed this up… hopefully when everything ends as I’m planning I will come back with lot of stuff.

Thanks for your support for ShooterTutorial!

One thought on “3 months being indie – report and thoughts

  1. Got in this mess 2 years now, by self publishing indie crap.
    Hopes for a Lotto are gone as my gave up playing :p
    Hope things turn better for ya 🙂
    Cheers!

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