I was doing some thinking recently. I was thinking about my current job and how, in my free time on the side, my engagement in freelance writing – which by the way proves that my words have no value without context, but I digress. I got to thinking about the next project that I want to work on, The Star Frog EP, and how the real point of it is to create many games quickly. How I want to be able to do everything, without explicitly having to. But the freedom of it being the important bit.
My mind eventually wandered back into the XNA toolset, and queries about cross compatibility, and function libraries and rapid development. What I could leverage C# to do and what kinds of things I can do with it. These thoughts floated free about my head, like a thought bubble halo.
Then I considered the most dangerous thought of all, “Could I do this all the time?”
“No, that’s crazy. XBLI games don’t make that much. If I built one in a year the odds of me making enough to, well, not starve would be tiny to the point of being invisible. Weapon of Choice, critical darling that it was, proved that.”
To which I considered, “Well, yeah, if I only built one in a year. What if I could go faster?”
Which is the dangerous thought really. I got to doing some math, and if I could make a game for XBLI, offer it up for $2 and sell a thousand of them I could avoid standing in the soup line with Oliver asking if I could have a little more. But that thousand has one big caveat, I’d need to manage doing all that in no less than a month and a half.
Assuming that I don’t crunch and work myself like a beaten animal I’m looking at 40-50 hours per week, times an average of 5 weeks. So with 250 hours, could I build a game and make it happen? I mean, build an engine, do the programming, do the art, the music, the SFX and everything else that floats my way. Or do I need a team? Am I Garfunkel, or am I Sting?
Which got me back to the EP, where the whole point is to do a crazy minimalism. Lots of iteration and very quick production. From a cohesive whole standpoint, the EP is designed to give disparate works context. What I’m talking about here are one offs, not albums, but singles offered up piecemeal.
Further, since the games don’t really ever get eaten (unless they’re crap – but I’ll toss crap with the ruthlessness of a Czar) any finished thing will provide some kind of revenue stream ad perpetuity, keeping the freezer stocked with Hot Pockets even while I toil.
Which led to the final piece of the puzzle, the question of how. How could I do that? Quit my job (wait…let me indulge in that daydream…and I’m done) and start writing a Design Document and Tech Blueprint? No, although there is a kind of rogue charm to the idea, I am an adult with adult responsibilites, like bills, rent and a sushi addiction that isn’t cheap. What I need to do, like any great endeavor, is start slowly and build steam. I need to start on that next project and keep track of how long it takes to do, keep a timesheet maybe. It’s possible that this is a fever dream with no grounding in my reality and I’ll need facts to back me up.
So start building, start coding and start doing. Once I have a few games in the Box I can re-asess my position and move from there. Sitting and thinking about it only gets one so far.
-Ah right, what does this mean for TTT? Nothing. It doesn’t mean a damn thing. You’ll notice that over yonder => there are a large number of orange things and stuff still waiting for their own Orange Crush. What you won’t notice are things that I can do that need it still, short of Gamepad compatibility (which I’ll probably complete tomorrow). Instead, the Team continues along building content as they can. What they don’t need is me standing around waiting for stuff to happen. So when I gets stuff, I’ll lay it lovingly onto the framework that we have. In the meantime, I need to get back to work.