I have been busy and feeling somewhat burned out and have taken a few weeks off from updating the blog here. I’ve actually been quite busy, though, and have a lot going on that I want to talk about.
GameMaker Studio Book
First, Packt Publishing had approached me a few months ago, asking if I’d be interested to author their upcoming book on HTML5 game development using Game Maker Studio. I considered doing this, but in the end I decided against it for a few reasons, the main reason being I would rather put my time into actual game development than into writing tutorials.
As well, I believe that there are already a lot of good resources for learning Game Maker basics, and the book Packt wanted me to write seemed to ignore this, preferring to focus on the admittedly wider audience of GameMaker newbies. The book that I wanted to write would have been something more advanced, targeting intermediate and advanced Game Maker devs who have been through the built-in tutorials, read the helpfile on a regular basis, actively use the GMC forums and wiki, and are looking to do things at the next level. Since GM:Studio is aimed at professional developers, it seemed to me that a book for newbies would be better off using GM:Lite, and that in any case, re-hashing existing material wasn’t an interesting project for me, or useful for anyone.
That said, Packt came back later after they found an author for the project, and asked me if I’d be interested to contribute technical review to the book manuscript, and I’ve been helping them out with it. So far, the book is looking pretty good.
Direction, Goals, Priorities
Considering this book opportunity put me in a position of having to think about my goals and priorities and how I’m devoting my resources to this indie game developer thing, and I concluded that I really want my focus to be on making games. While I’m good at writing, I consider it to be a byproduct of my game development efforts. And right now, I really want to have more completed games to show for my efforts.
I write articles and tutorials for your consumption here, mainly as a byproduct of teaching myself something new as I’m working on my own projects, and I think it really helps me to solidify my understanding of what I think I know. By putting my knowledge out there, I create an opportunity for peer review to take place, and hopefully get useful feedback from readers who know more than I do or see a mistake somewhere. But also, I hope that it helps people who haven’t learned something yet that I have.
I’ve always looked at this blog as a free service, which I’ve been happy to provide because I enjoy it, and because it benefits me to do so, in that the more I learn and write about what I learn, the better I get at what I do. And because other people can see my progress, it gives me a little bit of reputation, and increases my visibility so that I can potentially make friends in the game development community and maybe even collaborate with people on projects. This has been enough of a benefit that I have not needed any further incentive, in terms of money.
I’m going about pursuing any professional or business development goals rather passively, mainly by putting myself out there and letting interested parties approach me, as opposed to actively approaching others with proposals and ideas, but so far this has worked for me, and I’ve actually gotten more success from this than I would have expected. Perhaps that’s just because I’m extremely humble and my expectations have been very low, but I’ve appreciated all the interest and offers that I’ve received, whether I’ve taken advantage of them or not. But I’ve always felt that in order to have any kind of viable career as a game developer, I had to focus first on obtaining the skills of a game developer. I have prioritized this above developing skills as a business entrepreneur. And, knowing what sorts of activities make me happy, I feel this has been the right choice for me.
And while I’ve considered doing things with the website to try to bring in revenue, I haven’t cared that much about doing so, because it would take me away from doing game development, and would introduce new headaches as well (taxes, dealing with advertisers, setting up e-commerce, increasing my security vigilence, etc.) Since I’m only one guy, and work full time, I have to choose where I put my time and energy, and the blog itself already takes up a large enough chunk of what I’m able to devote to my game development efforts.
It’s a conundrum. On the one hand, if I had income from game dev related efforts, I could probably justify putting even more resources into it. On the other hand, a lot of those resources would go into things more on the business side of the house, and actually take me away from making games. And because the business income would in all likelihood be less than what I’m currently earning, for now it makes more sense to keep working fulltime and do the game stuff on the side. If there were a bridge to take me from here to there, I’d be really happy, but for now that doesn’t seem to exist for me, and I don’t know how I’d go about building it for myself, and rather than devote time to figuring that out, I’d rather just make games as best I can with the resources I’m able to devote with my current means.