Episode One

The last few years have been trying for various reasons, and it seems that other things in life have demanded my attention more and more. This is fine as life is known to do, it changes, but when we cease to change with it, we become stagnant and static, which eventually leads to lack of progress, standing still, or death.

As my roles have continued to change and I have had more responsibilities, one thing I have failed at, is changing my approach to my current project. I have been able to make large leaps in development at certain times, but the rest of the time I have found myself lacking, to move forward, for one reason or another.

This next year will mark the thirty third year of me being measurably alive on this crazy orbiting rock we call home . Since I was 26, 33 has been the target to be completely self reliant on income. Game development, while a very enjoyable and interesting hobby, I have always had in mind to fuel other interests. 33 is the age I wanted to have a completely sustainable business, so that I could concentrate on a studio, and eventually branch out into other technology areas, such as energy conservation, and solar tech.

I still have the same goals, however I realize that with the other obligations in my life, and a lack of time, I am going to need to restructure my development plans into something that is realistic and attainable. The bottom line, in order to have a successful business, I need to have  a product.

Since it’s first inception, I have played with the idea of doing an episodic release of the game. This model isn’t one you see very often, a few games have done it, and done it well. Most notably the folks at Telltale Games seem to have this model nailed down. As well as other titles like Kentucky Route Zero.  It’s something I’ve thought of doing , and with the current level of resources, lack of help, and time it seems to make the most amount of sense for continuing development and to attempt to get a product out.

I still work full time to support my family and right now, it isn’t viable to leave my current employment until other revenue is secured. I did the freelance thing for a couple of years, but in Iowa, game development contracts are hard to come by, especially if you can not travel and hit the cons and festivals to meet contacts. Web development is another story, but the cost/benefit to being employed full time vs contracting completely out weighs contracting, except for the area of time, but with contracting, you spend a lot of time looking for work, a double edged sword there.

One point of conjecture that I have, is that I am currently attempting to do everything myself. For a guy who only has part time availability to work on a big project, this is definitely a down fall. I am not actively seeking help, simply because I can’t afford to pay anyone right now, and don’t know of anyone who is interested.

So, I am going to do an experiment in 2016. I am going to attempt to build a platform for episodic releases. My development plan has been structured for this type of release from day one in case it made since to move like this. I think where the challenge is going to come is in producing decent believable and unique models and animations. I have been experimenting working on developing those skills over the last few months, but it has been slow at best.

I suppose the real experiment is going to be, can I do episodic, alpha type releases, enough to generate enough interest to have the revenue to focus on the project full time? Can a single person with time constraints, and in a development vacuum succeed? Can I keep sanity and push myself to get this done without compromising too much of my original vision?

If I fall short of my mark in 2016, I will continue to work towards my end goals, and at least I’ll be able to say I released something. Good or bad,maybe it will lead me out of the rut that I have been in development wise, and perhaps open up other areas and opportunities.