Full-Time Stencyler Journey (Original Post Not Updated)

ceosol

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The way he approaches Indie game survival... he might be from future as well ;)

Yes, I am from the future :) I travel whenever I write things past midnight.

makes me think you need to look into how contracts work.
I know how contracts work, and that is one of my biggest problems. Contract law is governed by the country which it was signed for. The majority of my clients are international. I do not have time to read up on the legal systems for every country (China, Phillipines, Japan, India - just off the top of my head). Sure, I could send the US ones to a collections agency and get $200 from the $350 (two games - three clients) we agreed upon. $200 doesn't sound worth it to me to ruin three people's credit ratings and make enemies who knows where I live. It is not like $200 will suddenly solve all of my money worries.

Maybe I should just stick with US and European clients because they seem to pay more than the Asian ones (really, no offense intended towards my Asian friends - it is just how it turned out). If you feel like giving me free legal counsel on fighting contract law in Asian countries, I'll look into it more :)

I guess there was one in Europe at the beginning of last year. He was the one that was not paying me ~$125 for the game. I turned around and made 4 games out of the original concept and generated $455. Since I made money off of the game in different ways, I don't really care about getting the original $125.

thechaosengine

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Sorry, I didn't mean to imply you don't understand how contracts work, I just thought that paragraph sounded strange when you talked about expecting to get paid from this, maybe paid from that, not paid from the third, who is or isn't soulless etc. that's just not the type of language I associate with doing business.

If contracts are in place, and the client isn't upholding their part of the contract, and you don't have the means to take legal action, well that sucks and I'm sorry!

Nikkita31

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Yo Ceosol.

You know that in our very place, people don't pay too much.  :'( Most of the talent here if given the chance, would probably go out to seek more opportunity... that's why, you should give poor guys like me some tiny art projects.  :P :P :P

Here if you you're a person who earns at around $400 or more a month, then we assume we belong to the middle-class. $600+ then probably you belong to the supervisor or managerial position.

- renegadequarterz

« Last Edit: July 29, 2016, 09:45:18 am by Nikkita31 »

ceosol

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not the type of language I associate with doing business
I completely agree. I am trying to write this more like a novel than straight business talk. If I wrote straight business, people might not find it relatable (or in your case find it more relatable). Writing these post is not for my benefit - I have all of my business  well documented on my side. I write this to reach as my people with my story. I want to convey the human emotion involved to make a more powerful statement. That might sound cheesy :)

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If contracts are in place, and the client isn't upholding their part of the contract, and you don't have the means to take legal action, well that sucks and I'm sorry!
It does suck, definitely. I do not claim to be good at game development nor good at business. I enter into every month not knowing if I will generate enough revenue to cover expenses. I enter every contract not knowing if it will be my last. These are the points that I am trying to make. You (thechaosengine and colburt, collectively) are great inspiration for indie developers and Stencyl developers. However, your outcome is not the norm. I make a lot of mistakes, sure, but I am working my ass off to stay afloat. Maybe some day I will get a lucky break and not have to work as hard, or maybe I won't.

Regardless of the hard work, I make video games for a living. I am completely happy with my decision to leave my old life behind :)

ceosol

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Yo Ceosol.

You know that in our very place, people don't pay too much.  :'( Most of the talent here if given the chance, would probably go out to seek more opportunity... that's why, you should give poor guys like me some tiny art projects.  :P :P :P

- renegadequarterz

Hahaha, I love it. I'm trying my best to spread the wealth around. I outsourced work to three people in the past couple months. I've also offered work to two other people (they declined). If I had more, I would certainly hire out more.

TheIndieStation

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Which in that case I can always use some smaller stuff inbetween to pay the bills hehe

thechaosengine

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When I started making games, I turned out to be ok at pixel art when I tried it, which allowed me to make flash games and sell them on FGL for prices ranging anywhere between $500 and $2000. Through making my own games and gaining a certain following, I started getting asked to work on other projects. I'd be offered either revenue share, or an hourly rate for my work. Eventually, I started making successful games with Colburt, and started seeing more success with my own games. It's been an uphill battle and it still is, but through experience we're getting better at fighting them.

Colburt's story is roughly similar to mine, except that he didn't have the art skills I do, and he was smart enough to recognise that early on, so he started working with artists to get further with his games.

I know this thread is about Ceosol's journey as a full-time stencyler, I just wanted to take some time to offer a different perspective.
I don't want to sound mean, but I've started noticing, Ceosol- you champion your approach often, while negating others' successes by talking about how they're outliers, not the norm, etc. While I absolutely agree that making games is difficult to succeed in, I don't share your point of view. You can't just say Colburt and mine's games are not what people should expect to make, not when we manage it consistently. It's not luck that AdventureIslands gets featured every single time he releases a new game. It's through skill, experience, recognising your strengths and weaknesses and addressing them.

While doing contract work to generate income and gaining experience at the same time is a completely valid approach, I don't actually think you're doing the smart thing. Your contracts appear to be of fairly low value for the amount of work you're putting into them, and as a result you aren't creating games that improve your situation in the long term. You're creating games for very little money, often appear not to even get paid for your work despite having contracts in place (again, that is NOT normal), and they're not on a level of quality that builds you a fanbase, or exposure, or inspires confidence in higher profile, better paying clients.
I think a better approach for you would be to assess your strengths and weaknesses (and your weakness, in my opinion, is your art), address them (by hiring an artist, or offering to collaborate with them for revenue share), so you can create higher quality games. You can go for iOS and keep reiterating on games until you reach a level of experience and quality to be successful in that space, or go the Greenlight + Steam route, or sell them on FGL (which I think still exists), or even still do contract work but with output that you can use as leverage in the future.

Building a portfolio of quality work is extremely important for an indie developer's long term survival. People often talk about the indie games scene being flooded, saturated, hundreds or thousands of games being released every day! etc. But SO MANY of the games being released every day -in any space- are of extremely low quality, and that's why I believe it's not an accident or dumb luck that certain people can consistently make games that do well. I also believe that anyone can make quality games through practice, time, repetition. 

 I don't know how to put this more nicely, but I feel like you've put yourself in a dead-end situation and I can't agree with how you are presenting it as 'the smart way to go because people who have success are outliers.'

 

ceosol

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I am perfectly happy with you (thechaosengine) telling your story here. As merrak has stated in other posts, it is great to have multiple points of views because it helps people understand indie development. My point of view is only one side of the spectrum. I have also told people many times that contract work is not a easy path. However, I have been an indie developer for 2 years now and it has been a sustainable business solely because of contract work.

I never claim that my method of doing contracts is not the only method. Gaining experience and exposure on your own games until you get recognition is another way. There are other paths to be an indie developer, as well.  You think that I am doing things wrong, and that is fine - you are entitled to your opinion. In the past couple weeks, two Stencyl developers have decided to stop being an indie dev full time and get an outside job. Therefore, my method cannot be completely wrong.

The only reason I have mentioned colburt, thechaosengine and AdventureIslands in other posts is because new indie developers see the three of you and think that it is easy to be an indie developer. They think that they can just make a game and have thousands or millions of dollars in revenue. It is awesome for all of you, and I am happy to see you three succeeding (and the same goes for anybody else who succeeds). I give my point of view as a counterbalance because the majority of indie developers do not seem to make thousands of dollars of revenue on their projects. Sometimes making games yourself is not enough.

thechaosengine

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I don't think you're doing things completely wrong- I think I've mentioned in this very thread before that doing contract work to pay the bills + gain experience is a good approach. I just feel that you're not doing the best you could for your long term situation.

Making games isn't easy, finding success with *anything* isn't easy, but that doesn't mean you can't work towards it. When you say things like "maybe one day I'll get a lucky break" ... Colburt and AdventureIslands and myself and whoever else didn't get lucky; we work hard, get more experienced with every release, and eventually those things start paying off. That's why I say the long term matters.

Anyway, I've said what I wanted to say about what my journey has been like, and I appreciate you letting me put my perspective in your thread :)

detted

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On a completely different topic, I know that you follow truevalhalla, but can you recommend some other bloggers that freelance within game development. I can't get enough of these inspiring journeys you guys are making :)
Composer • Sound designer • Producer
www.tedwennerstrom.com
@TedWennerstrm

ceosol

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Yeah, I love looking at truevalhalla's blog. I don't know if I'll ever make $250k like him :)

I haven't seen any other blogs about it. I'm not sure if many indie developers want to be transparent. Please post here if you find any others. Like I said before, my experience is not like anybody else's, and I definitely want there to be a balanced perspective.

ceosol

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I have seriously been thinking about this:

 
I feel like you've put yourself in a dead-end situation

Although I still disagree that I am going about learning indie development the wrong way, the thought of being stuck in contract work forever is a possibility. I have actually been enjoying the mayhem involved in the kickstarter campaign on my own project more than working on my last few contracts. So that presents the question: if I ease off of contract work, how do I make money?

So far, the only relative success that I have had on my own games is going with a publisher. Completely on my own, I have made ~$150. With one game sold to a publisher, I made close to $1,000. Just for argument's sake, let's say I sold one game a month to the publisher and was able to get the same $1,000 deal each time. That would already meet my monthly goal. If instead, I didn't sell all of the games and opted for a revenue split, the passive income would eventually exceed my target.

I still have a few contracts so this is not going to happen immediately. However, I think I might start weening myself off of them. I will only pick up a new contract if I absolutely want to do the project... or if it is a tutoring contract. I still love teaching, after all. :)

ceosol

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I posted an update on my blog: http://ceosolinfo.com/ceosolblog/?p=98. Another month is going to be over before I know it. I have 10 days to make another $100 :D

ceosol

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Ooo, I'm all giddy. Matthew just tweeted to me:
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@ceosol_feedback I like your blog - looks like you're on the right track.

ceosol

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Hmm, I thought I saw WW posted - I guess he deleted his post :(

I put my weekly update blog post up: http://ceosolinfo.com/ceosolblog/?p=105. I don't think any other revenue is coming in this month, so I guess I'll make my August Report tomorrow.

EDIT: I just figured out how to do the RSS feed. Here is the link if anybody wants access to my blog feed: http://ceosolinfo.com/ceosolblog/?feed=rss

« Last Edit: August 28, 2016, 09:39:41 pm by ceosol »