Sun And Games

Computer Games, Life, Business, Family, Stuff

Thursday, January 06, 2005

This Business Needs Some Big Mistakes

I want to run my own business. Specifically, I want to be an independent games designer / publisher / programmer that runs his own business. Lately, it's been a bit of a struggle.

What have I done?

Over the last 9 months or so I've done a number of things. Brushed up on my C++ programming skills. Upgraded my computer graphics skill from horrific to just really bad. Read business books, programming books, games books, self improvement books (used to think those were only for wimps), how to build web site books, how to sell on the internet books, marketing books, etc etc etc. I've caroused in forums devoted to the business of independent games design, web site design, and internet marketing. I've read probably a few thousand posts. Personal success stories, personal failure stories, all the things you absolutely must do to run a games business, all the things you should never ever do to run a games business. Pros and cons for and against quitting your regular day job and devoting more time to the business. I've changed my daily schedule, so I'm up at 5am every day to work on the business. I've created and analyzed several personal budget scenarios, for how to manage on one income. I've collected a multitude of inspirational quotes.

"There are no such things as unrealistic goals, only unrealistic time frames"
--- The Power of Focus

"A dream is always a bargain, no matter what you pay for it."
--- Harvey Mackay

"Persistence and determination are omnipotent."
---Calvin Coolidge

etc etc etc

I have reams of collected notes, web links, more book recommendations, and half-completed business plans than I could read in a week. I have a game that is 90% finished, a web site that is up and running, as well as a big list of things to do.

Chris . . . we have a problem.

I also have a block. A block? Yes, a block. Writers block, programmers block, entrepreneur block. Call it what you will. Things have slowed to a grind for the last few months, and it's frustrating the hell out of me. Part of it could be that my day job has become more demanding, and is leaving less energy for me to devote to my business dream. Part of it is that tough phase in any project, where you just want the damn thing to be over with, so you can move on to something different. It's a chore at the moment, and not so long ago, it was fun. Too bad, I tell myself, just suck it up and finish what you started. However, the army sargent shtick, doesn't always seem to work when the sargent and the enlisted guy are one in the same.

Nothing to fear but myself.

I think I'm afraid. Afraid of what ? Afraid of failure, that's what. I seem to be able to devote endless amount of time to reading about how to build this business. Reading books, forums, blogs, how-to articles over and over. My news reader (bloglines) has 120 RSS feeds that I have been reading religiously. It's like an obsession. It's like I have to read every little post, to capture every grain of knowledge, so I don't make too many mistakes, and fail at this business dream. Because, than what happens? Back to working for "The Man" forever and ever. I don't think so. Pretty crazy huh? I agree.

Time to screw things up.

So how about this for a plan. Stop reading and trying to devour the entire sum of knowledge on the internet, and the local library. Here's what I need to do. I'm gonna get out there and make some mistakes. And make some big ones. Some I'll remember. Cause, those are the ones I'll only make once. The little ones I'll probably have to repeat a few times, before I learn. Finish the game. Polish the game. Polish the web site. Market the game, and then market it some more. Ultimately, make that first sale, and then the next one. One foot after the other.

Then what Einstein?

And then, start it all over again. With game number 2, 3, 4 and so on. Bigger, badder and better. This time though, not so many big mistakes ;)


  • At 7:45 AM, Blogger Chanon said…

    So are you gonna just stop reading all those RSS feeds now? Can you really tear yourself away from them? Cause I'm feeling I might be wasting too much time on them too

  • At 3:59 PM, Blogger Chris Campbell said…

    Hi, my name is Chris, and I'm a Surf-a-Holic ;)

    Chanon, thanks for the comment. Wow! guess that means someone is actually reading my stuff. Too cool. To answer your question, I think it's all about balance. While I probably won't stop reading the RSS feeds altogether. I need to spend a lot less time doing it. I plan on being more selective on what I read, and then just hitting that little button labeled "Mark All Read". I'm gonna start restricting the time I spend reading stuff. I'm trying to work myself down to a reasonable number. Say 60 minutes, to read all my RSS feeds, emails, browse forums, and then that's it I'm done for the day. Move on to something more productive.

  • At 11:48 AM, Blogger dustin said…

    I was in the same kind of state right before I released my game. I think that's why the games biz makes such a big deal out of shipping. As in "If you haven't shipped a game then you have no experience", stuff like that. It's a totally different mode you have to get into. My recipe for ship-mode:
    - Make a list of the bare needs to ship the game. This should really be only the very bare needs. Make it as small as possible.
    - Do them one by one, crossing off the items as you go.
    - You may not work on anything that is not on the list. Whenever you have some time start working on the first unfinished item on the list.

    It's tough when you're in a slog, but it'll all be worth it when you release the game. The wonders of internet distribution mean that mistakes aren't really all that costly. So get it done and ship something. Then you can fix the bugs afterwards.

    Good luck.

  • At 3:40 PM, Blogger Chris Campbell said…

    That's good advice Dustin. I think I'll try it. It's also encouraging to hear, that I'm not the only one infected with this affliction. Now . . . where is that to-do list???


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