I'm ridiculously lucky to have been supported in making games full-time for a couple of years, and before that to have had a flexible enough occupation to spend a lot of time dabbling, and before that to have had a childhood with plenty of leisure and access to technology.
I consider that I've made some things that are worthwhile. But if not for these opportunities, I wouldn't have. If I'm any good at what I'm doing now, it's only through having had the chance to devote an incredible amount of time to it. I'm fortunate. Being able to put years of unpaid full-time work into something before seeing anything back from it is an incredible privilege.
It's still very unclear whether I'll be able to make a living from this. I hope I can. But now that I've gotten over a certain hurdle in terms of recognition, more opportunities are appearing - the IGF, interviews, people writing about my work. Opportunities that wouldn't have happened if I hadn't been able to work on this for an extended period. Just being part of a community of mutually-respecting artists; that's incredibly valuable and it's a place I've had to earn. I've been lucky to have lived in the UK for a while, where there's a thriving community of game developers, and where I've been able to meet many successful and interesting ones. I wish that everybody could have such opportunities.
Thank you for speaking honestly and decently. I've had a fairly successful career in non-indie game development, having enjoyed no small amount of privilege on my own, but I've never had the financial means to make being indie work - except as a spare time thing - and I constantly feel this is a failing on my part as a game designer. Your words remind me I'm not being very fair to myself.ReplyDelete
As far as making a living from your work: I see you've got your stuff on the app store, and maybe all that's needed there is just more promotion. I don't have an iOS device but I would definitely pay to support your development for PC platforms. Your website seems like the main place where people can find out what they can buy from you. Maybe feature it more prominently from this blog here - put a link up top that says "My Games" - and on the site itself, put the games that have a for-pay version under a heading like "Support Me". Don't be afraid to make it clear you're trying to make a living doing this. Far less talented people are doing fine because they promote themselves really aggressively; trying out different approaches won't suddenly make you less talented.
You might want to try a buy-direct type deal like Jason Rohrer did with Sleep is Death, Inside a Star-Filled Sky, etc. Your IGF nomination gives you enough of a profile that you could probably get a fair amount of interest in a new game of Corrypt's scale.
You could also try submitting games to Steam Greenlight, though right now it doesn't seem like strange+thoughtful games do particularly well there. Probably still worth a shot though. (Edit: gosh, I'd forgotten you put Vertex Dispenser on Steam!)
Yeah, I think I was extraordinarily lucky to get that game on Steam, but it wasn't much of a success (too weird, too unknown, I was too burnt out to promote it well) - still it wasn't nothing! I do expect now after Vesper.5 and Corrypt have had heaps of attention that I have a very good chance of one of my next games being financially successful, but I don't count on anything.Delete
I would love to see what you'd come up with if you ever do manage to make indie work - Purity looks like something amazing that I'd be really bad at.