Monday, 1 July 2013

My life as an almost-full-time Indie

I've about a million things I need to do right now, but since someone asked nicely on Twitter I thought I'd take a small time-out and give you an insight into my life right now.

It's now been 3 months since I sort-of quit my day job. I say sort-of because I still work 2 days a week on a freelance basis, which covers my rent and not a great deal more.

In those 3 months FIST OF AWESOME has come on in leaps and bounds, and I'm closer than ever to taming the monster it's become. Counterintuitively I'm busier than ever now, having more time available during the day doesn't take the pressure off. The level of work expands to fill the time, and then some. I recently read this great post by Greg Wohlwend:

It's a sobering read, and one that I can see a lot of similarities of my own situation in.

Running a business, even one as tiny as I Fight Bears takes time. To be as efficient as I can be with a minuscule budget means running as many expenses as I can through the company, and all that adds a paperwork overhead. I have little or no idea what I'm doing, so there's lots of making stuff up as I go along and worrying that I'm doing everything wrong.

Getting up in the morning and motivating yourself to be productive isn't easy when you're your own boss. I've developed a routine which helps a bit, doing exercise first thing in the morning 3 times a week with one my housemates. It forces me to get out of bed early, and kickstarts my body into being awake and ready to get started with the day. I still have to frequently ban myself from the Internet, it's terrifying how much time you can lose if you're not careful.

My social life has taken a beating, both because I can't afford to do very much, and also because I find it hard to justify taking the time out when there's so much that needs to be done for the game. That's a very unhealthy way to live though, so I'm slowly getting better at calling friends and actually leaving the house for more than paid work.

Thankfully my wonderful fiancee is standing by me while I push on with this crazy dream. Even when I know I'm being a rubbish partner and locking myself in the office/spare room for 12 hours at a time, she's my biggest supporter and helps me keep my eye on the goal. Having that kind of support is priceless, without her there simply wouldn't be a FIST OF AWESOME.

So that's the bad-to-middling of what I've been going through. However, there are so many incredible things that have happened/are happening/will soon be happening that it's hard for me to feel sorry for myself. It'll be interesting to read this in a few months after the launch of the game, because right now it feels like I'm building this massive rocket, and the fuse is already lit, and I'm frantically slapping panels onto the rocket so it doesn't explode when the flame reaches the payload.

The OUYA launch has been incredible for FIST OF AWESOME coverage, with massive publications like:



BBC (15 seconds in)

and loads of others all mentioning A BIT OF FIST OF AWESOME as a launch highlight, despite it only being a 2-level demo. My email inbox has exploded over last few weeks and months with increasingly big players getting in touch, hoping to help FIST OF AWESOME on its way. I've never experienced anything like this before, it feels like something special is happening, like there's this massive movement forming behind what I thought would be a tiny, niche game.

So many people have got in touch to say love the demo and can't wait for the full game, and it's those little gestures that make it worthwhile. Things like people setting up a projector and playing the game on the side of their houses:

I've spoken at Google, been live-streamed on the Guardian webpage at the wonderful EToo event, met some of my heroes, and next week I'll be speaking at Develop in Brighton with the hugely talented Byron Atkinson-Jones. I never thought things could get this big, especially before the game is even launched. It's like a dream.

I've got some great people helping me finish aspects the game, helping with animations, writing and producing theme songs, chasing up marketing opportunities, etc. People who have gone over and above and asked for nothing in return. People I really hope I can repay when this is all over.

The latest revision to the launch timescale for FIST OF AWESOME is August. It would be sooner but I'm going on holiday in the middle of July, and although I originally hoped the game would be finished before I headed away, I think it'll be good for me to come back fully refreshed. I can then fire through the last few bits and bobs before releasing FOA into the world and seeing if the sacrifices of the past 18 months were worth it. In a way though, they already are. The release is just the cherry on the cake.

Lots of love,

Nicoll x