Bi-Weekly update 7

Creativity, good intent, and how much of it

As the weeks start rolling by the escaperoom project gets shape. With the 1th of June as the deadline for the product being ready for testing, and the 27th and 28th of June as the release date.
Well, things do not work out as planned. I think we are halfway were we should be. Releasing on the 27th of June still is possible but with much less testing done.

I’m not trying to look good, but I foretold the team this would happen because of how work is structured. The idea was that if everyone showed his best intent and worked in his own productive ‘zone’ everything would be OK.
At first I thought “well what do I know I never have build creative works like games in a team so my experience probably doesn’t translate”, but it turns out building games looks almost similar to how I’m used to do software development. People need to work together, know what is expected of them, how much ‘quality’ the work has to have in the phase it currently is in… and if things get off track you want to have a way of knowing the impact and fix it as soon as possible.
That we needed some process definitely took the others by surprise.

Last week we all agreed that there needs to be a balance between creativity and speed on one hand and some process on working together and a shared goal on the other hand. I like it that we as a team decided to make the improvements (and not just me forcing stuff on others) so from here on things will get better.

Networking animations

I won’t go into much technical detail here, but I was working on getting all moving stuff synced and working well over the network.

The idea is that as you change the letter rotor you get a sequence BAAAA and then the drawer opens. My task is not to get the puzzle magic happen, but make it that other persons can see you doing your bit on the puzzle and that this networking thing is easy to add into the puzzles. As you can see it is a bit laggy and unresponsive, so that is the next thing for me to work on.

Bookkeeping

I finally decided to get a bookkeeper to look at my books and keep them updated.

RvdW Finance

When I started my business on December 2019 I had the idea of trying to do things myself, but for safety get a bookkeeper to look at the numbers halfway 2020. This to know if I was on track and doing things according to best practices and laws.

Funny thing is that I’m good with numbers and forecasting, but just keep making mistakes when it comes to the details. I have had my share of f*ckups already, just by not paying enough attention.
For instance, I have to phone with the ‘belastingdienst’ on Tuesday because I received a letter stating something strange. I have to tell them that something did go wrong on my side and therefore probably also on their side and now things are lost in their administration…

Yeah I definitely need someone looking over my shoulder when details matter and there is not much room for error.

Job cultures

While working on my escaperoom project I’m already looking for the next project to take on. Last week I did some intakes for consultancy jobs. One stood out from the others in that I walked out at the end, baffled by what just happened.

I want to stay classy with talking about what happened because I’m just a specific person with my own believes and my own working ethics, and it could be that someone else would be very delighted to work in a place like that.

I had an appointment with the owner and the head of the software department. The head of the software department was a nice guy and I had a nice time talking to him about all the good technical stuff they had, so technically I found a match.

But the owner was a special kind of person. I talked with him for 45 minutes just enjoying his view on working and be amazed by how he run the business. It was totally not how I would do things but I liked hearing a businessman talking passionately about everything he build up. 5 minutes into talking with him I discovered this wasn’t going to be a match at all. But hey why walk away if you enjoy the talk? I managed to avoid specific questions of him but I think my reactions gave away that I doubted some of his statements…

What I learned from this is that although I enjoy talking I have a business to run. I think I was a bit vague because I wanted the talk to go on, but if it is so clear there is no fit I should just state that.
I want to do work to my liking, he wants to have people that work to his liking: no match, no hard feelings. That is where intakes are for.

In hindsight I think I hoped he magically turned out to a good fit if I just understood him more or he sees my added value. But in contrary, as the talk continued the strangeness of the questions increased and I just could not hide being amazed by the boldness of his requirements.

Bi-Weekly update 6

A question

I have a question for the frequent reader of this blog or the email campaign: in what type of update are you most interested? I started with these game project updates with pictures and a few personal reflections, but ended up talking more talking about business stuff.

Escaperoom project

I’m 2 weeks into the project for Escaperoom071 now, and I’m getting the hang of it. I have helped the team setup a project with GIT repo in Azure DevOps, I have setup a Unity3D CI/CD pipeline in Azure DevOps that builds our game and my local computer is configured as an Azure Build Agent to save on build costs.

All within the free 5-user limit of Azure DevOps of course!

But that is just one of the ‘side things’ I got to do. As another side thing I also had to make some architectural decisions on how to structure the game internally, what networking stuff to use and how this all comes together when someone pays somewhere and magically gets into the game.

I got hired for fixing the networking part. Like: getting players to see each other in the game, and see what they are doing and interacting with. So with all the tooling setup and the raw outlining of the product in place, Monday I was finally be able to start on the networking part. I finished syncing player movement today, Yay! It was actually more easy than I initially thought. I am using Photon BOLT, it has good support with great tutorials, and it does exactly what is should do.

Multiple instances of the game, with multiplayer sync handled by Photon

Business stuff

As always, there was business stuff to think about.

For instance, I have to get a new project when this project ends on the 30th of June. I really like the gamedev for hire thing, working remote, talking English with other team members. The real deal!
But can I get another game project by then? Or do I signup for another business software development contract that will last at least 3 to 6 months?

Or another thing that kept me thinking: how to setup a contract?
I got written confirmation that the escaperoom project will pay me at the end of the 2 months for a given amount… but I want to have more certainty like weekly payouts or milestone payouts, short payment terms, and more certainty of what I am supposed to do so I can more easily show that I indeed finished work.
On one hand I want to start fast and show them that I am a likable person, but on the other hand I cant live of the smiles of my business partners…

Personal motivation

This week I tried a trick to get more productive. I read this trick somewhere a long time ago and finally gave it a try.

I work in blocks of half an hour, on a predetermined part of work, and have to stop at the end of the block. During that time, if I find myself distracted, I add a mark to the ‘distracted count’ on a paper next to me and carry on with the original planned work.

It turns out this helps 2 ways: get more focus on the task at hand, but at the same time it limits the energy burn when getting to deep into a certain task. At the end I manage to do more work in a single day, and can handle a workload with more diverse tasks in it.
I allow a minimal of 5 minutes between blocks to just do whatever I want. Walk, game, browse the interwebs, things like that. But I determine on forehand at what time the next block happens and what task to pickup.
That moment of relaxation is surprisingly rewarding and fun.

Sooo… with that said that’s it for this update.
What parts of this update did you like, where do you want to hear/see more from? Leave a comment below, give me a call or mail me.

Socials

Are you on Twitter? On Facebook? Or on Instagram?

https://twitter.com/GameFeelings020
https://www.facebook.com/gamefeelings2020
https://www.instagram.com/gamefeelings2020/

Thanks for reading, see you in 2 weeks!

Bi-weekly update 5

Dream coming true

My goal for my first year of being independent was to create a few games of my own and hopefully find 1 ‘real’ payed project. But I didn’t count on finding a payed project, especially not this early…

So I’m very happy to announce my first payed project! I’m in advanced negotiations to create a digital game related ‘thing’ for Escaperoom071 from Leiden (Netherlands).

It is for a 2 months payed project with some other developers, and I’m in for the whole network/backend part.

For me this is a dream coming true: being able to develop games and at the same time doing what I’m good at. It feels so natural and good at the same time to be responsible for backend stuff and make architectural decisions about how to start and where to head to. Apparently a lot of my experience does translate to game dev.

Business side

With my work at Strukton wrapped up, I’m free to start something new.
And the new thing is the above mentioned game project, that will run for 2 months. It also is for 32 hours/week so I can still spend time developing my personal game project with Bart.

In the previous update I mentioned that my motivation lacked. I think I have found the root of the issue: I have too many different things at hand. I think more people can relate to this, so here a bit more depth in what happend:

  • First of all I am a father and husband and I have a family to attent to. Due to COVID-19 the kids are @ home and a lot of the daily family business and household chores are now shared responsibilities to keep things manageable.
  • With me running a business now I have to do administration, acquisition, and define business goals.
  • The consultancy project at Strukton required 32 hours a week (excluding travel) and consumed a lot of my mental energy.
  • And because I want to get into gamedev I had to make sure every week contained some progress on gamedev too.

So my working weeks ranged from 60 up to 80 hours a week including travel, and is spread across at least 4 different types of responsibilities…
The ‘funny’ thing is I always thought this would not happen to me and I would make sure everything could fit in a 40 hours working week. Well, turns out that’s not easy to do if you are responsible for your own business and still have a lot to learn. It takes practice to become efficient at it 😛

Hopefully this focus on gamedev helps having more mental energy. And the project is on a remote position so way less travel is required. We’ll see.

Socials

Are you on Twitter? On Facebook? Or on Instagram?

https://twitter.com/GameFeelings020
https://www.facebook.com/gamefeelings2020
https://www.instagram.com/gamefeelings2020/

Thanks for reading, see you in 2 weeks!

Bi-weekly update 4

Nothing

I have not much progress to report this time. Working on the game projects didn’t work out these weeks.

It seems I have some difficulties getting myself motivated to get working on stuff, combined with some minor health issues. I think it is probably due to the whole COVID-19 thing making life so much different.

But things are getting more bright. Because we currently have literally warm and sunny days. A few days in the sun and I am feeling much better already!

My games

So while feeling better I want to shamelessly plug my own games 😛

Check out my first game ‘Find the Gnome’. I am still working on plans on how to improve https://store.steampowered.com/app/810420/Find_the_Gnome/ so your advice on how to move on would be appreciated.

And it seems Gearful is actually quite entertaining, so help me spread the word about this game. Maybe enlighten the lives of your relatives by bringing this game to their attention.
Play it on https://gamefeelings.itch.io/gearful
Or get it at the android playstore https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.GameFeelings.Gearfull

Business side

Well, it is official for me now: due to COVID-19 things didn’t go as planned at Strukton and my work here is done.

It was expected tho, because I was brought in to do a specific project that would end on the 31ths of April. But right before the whole pandemic thing they asked if I would stay a few months more. So I was hoping I could sit this whole thing out with some more projects at Strukton. But some of their own projects got delayed and thus they now have enough capacity to manage all projects themselves.

I do spot new opportunities though. I recently signed up on Upworks.com to see if there are international projects I can work on.
And I worked out our finances and we have ample room left. Maybe this is the time for me to try some work I normally wouldn’t accept because of the rates. But I rather do some great projects that pay not too great and get some more broad experience, than sitting at home and doing nothing.

Socials

Are you on Twitter? On Facebook? Or on Instagram?

https://twitter.com/GameFeelings020
https://www.facebook.com/gamefeelings2020
https://www.instagram.com/gamefeelings2020/

Thanks for reading, see you in 2 weeks!

And yes, from now on it arrives on Thursday 🙂

Bi-weekly update 3

New game

The collaboration with the designer and graphics artist Bart Metselaar takes shapes. Over the past 2 weeks we had frequent meetings to get an idea of the game we wanted to make.

The main character is a fox, in search for food, and winter is coming.

Here are some initial drawings to get a feel for the characters and their surroundings:

The next question is: what kind of game will this be? We don’t fully know the answer yet, but this is what we got so far.

  • Multiple animal-like character with each one specific abilities to get around obstacles
  • Different seasons that influence the gameplay
  • Progression mechanics: an increased toolset to complete your objectives
  • Full 2D with sprites or 2D sprites in a 3D world
  • Direct character control, with side view or 45-degrees 3rd person view

Here is a video of one of the prototypes that resonated the most with Bart and me:

Stay tuned for more updates! Follow me on twitter to receive the latest updates, you get an update every day I work on the project and that’s 2 or more times a week.

Post release: Gearful

With the new game idea’s getting shape my just launched game ‘Gearful’ isn’t on top of my own mind anymore, but that doesn’t mean that its forgotten!

I got a lot of positive feedback on the game. It seems to be pretty funny and quite challenging at times, more than I imagined. Thanks for playing!

If you haven’t played it yet, I even have a Google Playstore download now! Due to the worldwide Corona pandemic the store rollout got slowed down by Google, but nevertheless here it is:

And, in case you just want to play it in your internet browser, for free: https://gamefeelings.itch.io/gearful

O, and for those wondering: hey in the Google Playstore it is called Gearfull with to ‘ll’. Yeah, that wasn’t supposed to happen 😛

Business side

On the business continuity side things are still going well. My main source of income is showing no signs of problems so I will be able to continue working on my games in 25% of my time.

However the business project is getting ready for the final phase. In 1 or 2 months the project is over and I will need to look for a new one.

Depending on the situation in the world and progress on the new game project I can choose to spend some dedicated time on the new game or to get another business project.

  • Dedicate time to the new game: due to the Corona pandemic gaming is facing all time highs so releasing a game during these times could really pay off. Financially I can already sustain a few weeks without income so it is a viable option. I could even use it to search for a new project without the need for hasty decisions, so this option is the most likely for me if the game is at a viable stage.
  • Get another business project immediately: there is a lot of uncertainty in the economy currently but even now there is a search for developers. What I fear more is what will happen a few months later because a recession is very likely. So saving money could be a wise move, especially because I’m a starter.

So overall I am optimistic of the prospects of my company. I have a lot less to worry than a lot of other freelancers at this moment. I am very grateful that I still have payed work, my wife can make a difference as a nurse in the lung ward, and I don’t have serious ailments in my family at the moment.

Socials

Are you on Twitter? On Facebook? Or on Instagram?

https://twitter.com/GameFeelings020
https://www.facebook.com/gamefeelings2020
https://www.instagram.com/gamefeelings2020/

Thanks for reading, see you in 2 weeks!

Bi-Weekly update 2

Release of Gearful

Play this game for free in your webbrowser on Itch.io: https://gamefeelings.itch.io/gearful

As you might have noticed on the GameFeeling socials: Gearful has been launched. I am really thankful for everyone helping, like Ben and Tom (Auroriax) during the globalgamejam in January this year, Ben for motivating to continue developing, and Tom for advising on the game design.

It was supposed to launch on google playstore too but due to the google reviewing process being delayed by Corona the itch.io release is where you can start playing. So head over to itch.io and start playing! (Ps. even Roan did design a puzzle, can you spot it?)

Next: collaboration

With Gearful released it is time to move to the next challenge: collaboration with the great artist Bart Metselaar and finding out if we are able to inspire each other and create a great game together.

Bart Metselaar and me (Erik de Roos) go way back. We even tried starting up a game project 18 years ago. In the coming weeks I will post an article with a background on Bart, and the updates on the socials will be part mine and part Bart’s.

The base idea is to get a worthy game out in 3 months, approximately in June 2020.
We will keep you updated on our collaboration!

Business side: corona

Currently things are going well with me on the business side. My freelance job is at Strukton, doing work on all kind of transportation stuff, so they are marked as an ‘essential’ part. And in addition to that, my job can be performed from home quite well and I have already everything in place to be efficient at it.

On the other side, I spot some opportunities too. With everybody at home now over almost the whole world, the popularity of gaming is increasing rapidly. I think a lot of game companies want all hands on board to get new games out while there is so much demand for it. Maybe this is an opportunity for me to get a part-time freelance job in the industry?

Socials

Are you on Twitter? On Facebook? Or on Instagram?

https://twitter.com/GameFeelings020
https://www.facebook.com/gamefeelings2020
https://www.instagram.com/gamefeelings2020/

Thanks for reading, see you in 2 weeks!

Bi-Weekly update – 1

Progress on: Gearful

We have decided to give Gearful a finishing touch, fix some low hanging fruit, and bring the game to Android (mobile). ‘Gearful’ is a game that Tom, Ben and I made during the GlobalGameJam last Januari.

GIF of current gameplay on mobile

Things that have been taken care of past 2 weeks are: level management, mobile UI, dependency injection (Extenject), Mobile optimization: URP.

I really like to hear from you if you have idea’s on how to improve this game, especially the visual part because it is my major weakness!

Business side: GameFeelings

I have come to the conclusion that I posses skills that are of value in the game dev industry, but I lack much needed industry specific experience. That’s why I have decided to boost my experience by committing to a variation of projects with a short timespan (1 month to 3 months) for the coming year. After a year I think I have a good understanding of where to go next.

My current project is to polish Gearful and get it out on mobile on March the 21th.

Socials

There are a few more ways now to follow my progress. Twitter and Insta have been added. I will post something about my progress every day I work on a project for GameFeelings!

Link to Twitter
Link to Instagram

And that brings me to a question I have for you: can you share advise with me on what content to post and how to post it? This is actually the first time I’m using those socials… 😛

For those that are more into the ‘slow’ media, I made some articles the past 2 weeks. Especially this article is worth reading.

Business side: Erik de Roos Software

During my working week most of the time I spend is on freelance work as a software engineer. That is roughly 80% of my time spend during the week.

Strukton Systems Hengelo

I’m currently on a project for Strukton. Things are going well with the project. Only downside is the daily commute, it keeps taking up a large amount of my mental energy and I keep wasting 2 hours/day of time on this traveling.

The bright side is that I am always building a few minutes or hours/day on GameFeelings. In 20% of my week I have complete freedom to do whatever I wish, and even money is less of an issue now.

The Decade in Games

Me @ the main floor

This article touches a talk I attended at Amsterdam White Nights 2020 conference. The talk is about statistics of the video games market in the past decade.

Numbers like these are often not available for starters in the industry because they require connections to acquire or a lot of money to get.
I Understand there are business reasons why numbers like these are often behind paywalls, but that way it is hard to get a picture of the opportunities in the game industry.

White Nights is a 2 days b2b event for game development related business to meet and do business. For more details on the White Nights conference and what it is (and not), I wrote this blog post.

The talk, ‘The decade in games’, is given by Oleg from the website Game World Observer and is all about trends and data in the last 10 years. There is a lot of data in this talk, almost all of is comes from Newzoo. Use the data to your advantage, but know that Newzoo has a lot more data and insights to share with you and they even have an Indi subscription coming up soon. And fav Game World Observer in your browser, if you didn’t have it already.

The total game market now is 49% for mobile, 30% console en 20% PC. From 2016 on China surpassed the US in having the biggest gaming economy. Google-play vs App-store market share is now 75% vs 25%, or 66% vs 33% if you look at spending. And if you look at distribution channels in general, last year AAA games like Borderlands 3 are doing 70% of their sales digital now.
Don’t be fooled by the looks of the PC market share: despite its low market share this sector is still the driving force behind most of the innovation taking place.

Interesting are the numbers of the top 10 sold games. It gives an insight in what the current market cap is for the biggest and baddest companies out there, so you know how relatively well you are doing as a small studio with smaller numbers.
Game units sold in the past 10 years ordered by the highest numbers, show the no 1 to no 10 doing from 180 million to 27 million units sold. Top 10 gross mobile games do 7 to 2 billion, top 10 downloads go from 2.5 billion to 300 million.

This was for sure the decade of gaming on mobile. The mobile platform did go trough a lot of changes: midcore, hyper casual, premium games, multiplayer, console-level graphics, AR games, synchronous multiplayer, hardcore shooters.
And there was the monetization evolution on mobile: from paid to freemium to free-to-play with IAP, going to subscription (VIP) and free-to-play with ads and now ending up on platform based subscription (on mobile platforms like google introduced recently). One thing to note: premium games are struggling as a model.

Digital distribution is the next subject. This decade has brought us a couple new marketplaces. The storefronts versus the first-party platforms. Steam, GoG, Humble Bundle, Itch.io and Epic as storefronts, accessible by studios from all sizes. The Microsoft Store, Origin, UPlay, Rockstar and Battle.net are the platforms with more stringent rules. All the platforms introduced subscriptions models in the last 10 years: UPlay (UPlay plus), Origin (access) and Microsoft (Game passes).

The speaker also touches on the Steam marketplace evolution as Steam being the market leader. And because of the much talked about Indiepocalypse, caused by Steam it’s policies. Steam is still busy transforming, with the latest addition being Steam Labs. Over the years the Steam platform has grown from 1000 titles in 2010 to 30000 titles now. But change is on the rise: the amount of new games added in 2019 is declining. A research ‘No more robots’ did when comparing 2018 sales on Steam with 2019 sales: games are selling for less now. The average price has gone down from 12 to 10, average sales down from 5000 to 1200, and average revenue from 30k to 16k.
However, the market for games that do over 1mln dollars is growing too. More people are failing, more are succeeding.

Another thing to mention: new genres that emerged this decade. The slides show nice pics from the games in their new genres. Looter shooter, Souls-like, Walking simulator, Survival, CCGS (collectable card games), Battle Royale, Clicker games, Auto battlers, (and MOBA –> added after a question from the audience).

Consoles this decade had 2 deliveries: the 7th generation and the 8th generation saw daylight. Currently PS4 is leading with 106mln units sold, Nintendo switch follow with 50mln and Xbox one has 41mln units sold. (So you know what the market shares are when you have the luxury to choose between those big platform/publishers)

And at last a quick review of cloud gaming. Playstation started it all with Playstation Now, Xbox is trying to catch up with project xCloud probably coupled to the Xbox game pass. Google (and other parties) are delivering cloud gaming. We are seeing more cross device sold games than ever. Are we going from hardware exclusive to ecosystem exclusive?

So, that’s the recap of the talk. I hope you can use it to make better informed decisions!

Jagex and Community decisions

This article is a summary of a talk I attended at Amsterdam White Nights 2020 conference.

White Nights is a 2 days b2b event for game development related business to meet and do business. For more details on the White Nights conference and what it is (and not), I wrote this blog post.

The announcement

Most developers and publishers claim to be “player-driven” and that “community is at their core” but few truly manage it. Jagex, the makers of the evergreen RuneScape franchise, have taken building and engaging with players to the next level, most recently bringing their PC MMOs to mobile. A 13 years veteran at Jagex, Neil will talk about how the studio has over time truly become player obsessed – the good, bad and ugly of doing so, and how you can successfully apply key learnings to your games.

The audience

I have moved to the green hall. In this room the atmosphere is bright with vivid green colors projected on the walls.

The talk

Neil is from Jagex, mainly known from Runescape. They are mainly based in Cambridge (UK) and have 400 people on their company. Player obsessed or community communication is a buzzword and a hype nowadays, but at Jagex practice these things for a long time already. They have a big community, 1 bln revenue, 240mln active users, 7 years average consumer lifetime, and 1.5mln people on social platforms.

At Jagex they identify a trend that is going on right now: publishers are de-risking. Games are seeing extended life-cycles. Players are putting down roots. Long time dedication is being rewarded. Gamers are playing fewer games, it its harder to get hold of players.
The main problem nowadays is product adoption. (He shows a nice picture of the Technology adoption life cycle.) Games have this this problem too. The part before the chasm is ‘relatively’ easy: just buy yourself into this part of the market with bribing of friends and relatives. But then comes the chasm to mass market. You need serious money to scale this large. But the risks are much bigger on that side of the chasm. this part of the market is a numbers game. You need to maximize ease of use and do large amounts of testing.
This picture identifiers a lot of the risk aversion we are seeing lately.

At Jagex they think you can overcome the chasm by being player obsessed. Player obsessed @ Jagex: amazing experiences by combining empathy with insights. Key ingredients: interpret needs, get rounded feedback from multiple resources, accept that there are a variety of play stiles within your game, address specific needs of your players (instead of generic) and verify these with testing.

Empowering players is hard to do right, but at Jagex they take this seriously. Players want to have visible impact on shaping the game. Runescape has seen 17 years of evolving. Back then the average players was another player than he/she is now. The average player now is a 22 year old US male. Things change over time of the game. But the world and the lives of the players themselves change too over the lifetime within that game. The key is to give players a voice: be able to listen and engage at scale. (Deep dives, dev stories, feature feedback, etc).

About that visible impact: Jagex implements player decision gates to allow players have real impact. The players can vote on content, where 75% of the votes need to be ‘yes’ before a decision is made. (FYI: The example showed 3 options per question: ‘Yes, no, skip’). The decision range from minor things like ‘what should a boss drop’ (reward) to big things like level scaling.
They have implemented over 2000 in-game updates this way over the past 7 years.

Celebrate your champions. In games that live as long as Runescape the games has been part of many lives for a long time. Award the developers and the community that have dedicated a portion of their life to your game. Give fan made stuff official support. (He shows an example of fan made Runescape-themed jewelry that is on sale now in the official store)

The benefits of player obsession. What does this focus bring you? Loyalty, lapse and return, advocacy, resilience. Resilience is needed for when markets shifts, at Jagex they have good results with their user-base being resilient.
An example is that they talk to players that left, and they think it is OK for players to leave. They accept that players come and go, but the thing is that a lot of these players get back after 8 months.

At Jagex they have a few activities you could too organize or support. Conventions, cosplay, game competition events (just for the sake of having content and a conversation with your community), player generated content all over the internet, merchandise, promote memes and other online visual/viral stuff.

The presentation has nearly come to an end. In conclusion. Offer amazing experiences by combining empathy with insight. Cross the chasm. Interpreted needs. Real empowerment. Lifestyle.

Questions of the audience

Q. Doesn’t this make you vulnerable to trolls?
A. Trolls are just very engaged and passionate. You can flip a saboteur to a champion more easily than someone in the middle.
A. How does this talk apply to an Indie?
Q. You have to scale down and just start interaction. You have to carry your product over the chasm.

This article was also posted on Tweakers as a reaction on them being sold.

Revenue expectations

How much income do I think my game dev will make me? To be honest: I will be glad if 2020 makes me 1000 euro.

In comparison. As some of you know I am a Freelance software developer for a max of 32 hours a week. My projection is this will get me roughly 75k in 2020, but that’s not what I can call my own because I need to deduct costs and taxes from that. After cost and taxes that would be 44k, but I can’t spend that all at once because I have to set aside quite a few thousands to manage risks and to pay back loans. It turns out this max 32-hours Freelance work is netting me slightly more than my previous job when I was employed by a company for 3300 euro a month.

Why all this numbers? Well, here are revenue numbers from other solo game developers. Thanks to a new movement more people are sharing the numbers, so a more realistic view can be achieved.

The first one: a mobile game with ads and in-game items. The numbers date oktober 2019. Made by a developer in his spare time besides working on a fulltime job as his first game, in 8 months. To me this really resonates because his journey, circumstances and revenue looks like mine during ‘Find the Gnome’. He had 800 downloads and a total revenue of $20 gross after a month. (Yes, twenty dollars) He had invested like $265 on accounts and stuff so he is on $-244 for this one. He had build up a YouTube following of 2000 subscribers, so that also a ‘revenue’ he got.
He is hoping for the so called ‘long tail’ to build up when he releases more games in the coming years and this will eventually provide him with enough income.

Here a bigger one from a guy that is doing this 7 years now, and this is his 8th game. The numbers date december 2019. He sold 3700 units on steam giving him $27k gross revenue in the first months, and $120k in the total lifetime. But after tax cut and steam revenue cut $50k is what he can take home (but he has yet to deduct his own costs from that). This guy has a a YouTube following of 112k subscribers. He worked 17 months on this game.

Here A guy on mobile games making them for years now, he has a lot of games with numbers in this talk but I cite the two most recent ones. November 2018: a free game with ads and in app purchases, in 5 weeks it made $2150 with IAP and $4550 with Ads, and in 7 months approximately $50k. March 2019: a premium (paid) game, in 5 weeks it made roughly $7000. This guy has made some major connections over the years and has developed a feeling for the mobile promotion system over the years that give him the required exposure to get these numbers.

Another guy, married and with 1 child, doing game dev in his spare time besides his job. (But I was relieved to know his background is from withing the game industry as a technical artist, because this guy definitely has the feeling.) He made the game in 18 months (or ~1000 hours), it did costs him $10k, had a revenue of $150k in one year, and was released in September 2017. He had quite some success getting exposure on Reddit, he knew how to get the right type of attention.

And then ‘Find the Gnome’, my game. Build in 7 months (or ~500 hours). Revenue over 2 years: $250. But that is before steam cuts, so I have got only one payment of $100 so far. It did cost me to setup steam for $100 so I’m at $0 now.

Another video, but this one is the inspiration of a lot of solo game developers (a few of the above mention this speak). In this video he describes a ‘long tail’, that is the idea that you just start making games and over time people get to know you for your type of games, you get better at building games, improve previous games, and all that resulting in steadily increasing profits from your own games. At the time of the talk he was busy for 11 years already, and had needed 6 years to build up some momentum. Disclaimer from my part: his success started in the long-gone golden years of indie on steam, so I don’t know how repeatable this is in the current market.

So, to wrap it all up: I will be creating a few games myself this year. And I hope they will get me some money, 1000 euro total would be a big win for me and a head start.
I too got inspired by the ‘long tail’ video a few years ago, and even I think that’s the way to go when doing solo game dev or indie dev.

My next release will be Gearful on the Google play store, somewhere around the 15th of March this year (a month from now on). The game is the idea of the GlobalGameJam but with 40 hours into polishing, and some Ads for the revenue. I think it will net $10.