Transferring from your day-job to be fulltime indie?

Discussion in 'Indie Basics' started by Morical, May 12, 2009.

  1. Morical

    Morical New Member

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    Hello all.

    I'm newbie here and I'd like to ask you a question about risk-taking. I've been programmer in industry (not games, plain ICT) for some 5 years now and gotten used to pretty nice monthly income. Obviously my dreams are in making games (wouldn't be here otherwise :) ) and I've been doing small demos / prototypes with a like-minded friend of mine for past year and a half, or so. It seems that now things are actually starting to work out and using my programming skills in game-making has turned out to be great fun.

    I would so much want to quit my day job and start developing full time as an indie. And here comes the problem... realistically with no experience of published titles, I'm likely to get no-one financially backing me up. This would mean to end up living with my own savings in order to do what I want.

    Well, I don't have that much savings, so I'd manage only for less than half a year or so and I should find a job after that again. After that development would again slow down. Also in this economic situation it seems risky to cut yourself loose from regular job. You never know if you're gonna get back.

    So to the question: Where to get the courage to leave comfy paycheck in order to follow your dreams? I'd like hear stories from you guys who have already done so and what you went through in the beginning?

    Thanks to all.

    -morical
     
  2. Jack Norton

    Indie Author

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    I don't think your situation is really good. If you're used to earn good money and don't have any savings by now means you are used to spend money.
    One of the first thing you need to learn is to make sacrifices. You're not likely to pass 1k/month of income for the first 2-3 year as indie unless you have very successful games (that now probably require a full team to make).
    Being indie is NOT about getting rich quick but keep trying for YEARS until you make it (usually).
     
  3. Colm

    Colm New Member

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    Considered making games part-time for now? That's what we're doing, though it is quite hard getting enough time, and the progress feels very slow, there's literally zero risk.

    What's working quite well for us is giving up one full day per weekend to work, plus approx one weekday evening.
     
  4. GnadeGames

    Original Member

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    Don't quit your day job!

    There are very few indies who are successful and pay the bills exclusively from indie game development. You have to get some published titles under your belt. Persistence is key...stick with it and eventually you'll know when you can quit your day job.
     
  5. JGOware

    Indie Author

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    Good advice is to start doing things on the side, once you come close to matching your regular job's income then it's time to consider diving in full time.
     
  6. kevintrepanier

    Original Member Indie Author

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    You don't look to be in the perfect situation indeed. I once asked an employer if I could cut back one day of work and continue working 4 days a week and they agreed. Worked very fine for me until (it was not a very high responsability job, might not be possible everywhere).

    Learn to make less expenses too, doing things like cooking and discovering the wonders of vegetarian meals! (I'm not saying "become a vegetarian", but meat is expensive and there is joyful alternatives)

    Save more money!
     
  7. Cevo70

    Cevo70 New Member

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    I am with Colm - if you're still looking for your first success (aka, noteworthy income from a game), you can do so part-time and still make great progress. We're doing quite well working on the game on our "down time."

    It takes serious dedication and you really have to love it in order to come home after work and get right in to your game. But you just do it when you can, and devote weekends as well.

    Your dev cycle will probably be twice as long as you hope, so patience is another big virtue. :)

    And then use your income to better the game. Create an "art budget" for example.
     
  8. Fuze

    Fuze New Member

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    I'd say just finish your first game first and publish it while you are working, and see how that goes. If it goes well, then only think about quitting later. Or better still, if u can manage to make games part time and do your current job simultaneously, why not just do that? More money for the household!
     
  9. andrew

    andrew New Member

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    If you haven't done this before, DO NOT QUIT YOUR DAY JOB. I quit and wasted $40K and a year of my life trying to make an XBLA game which didn't pan out (in my case it was way underestimating content and art costs for the scope of the game I was trying). Now we're doing alright but it took years. You need to try it part time first until you find out two things:

    #1 Do I have the internal drive to get a game completed from start to finish?

    #2 Is there a valid business model? (i.e. is the quality of the game high enough to sell, and can you get enough revenue)

    Then you can ponder #3 which is:

    #3 If I quit now, can I survive long enough on my savings until I can get a game finished? Or, put another way, am I going to run out of cash and be starting at no income, a half-finished game, piles of bills, and no quick job opportunities?

    - andrew
     
  10. Nexic

    Indie Author

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    6 months just isn't enough, it will probably take several years before you get back to the income level you're used to. Best bet is probably to get something part-time (just enough to cover bills) and then work at it the rest of the time.
     
  11. Obscure

    Indie Author

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    Another vote for don't quit your day job.

    Most indie developers find that their first game sells almost nothing. There are a combination of reasons - design mistakes, development mistakes, no understanding of marketing, no understanding of how to set up a decent web site to sell their game. It takes time to learn these things (good advise from people here at indiegamer helps) but most developers need to have 3 or 4 games finished and on sale before they start to generate meaningful income.
     
  12. Morical

    Morical New Member

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    Thank you all for your replies!

    Part-time development seems like a best idea budget-wise. I think I'm gonna start discussions with my employer for taking one day of a week. It worked out some years ago while I was doing my masters at uni while still working. I hope situation hasn't changed and they let me do so again. That would actually give a good boost to my dev cycle. That one day could be used as a normal office day.

    Cheers,
    morical
     
  13. GaiaDreamCreation

    Indie Author

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    I also suggest that you begin part time with a small game. The current recession does not seem to help starting and indie business. One major problem is that it takes time to develop a game and very often we do not have the time to do so after our regular day job. You will have to do compromises to do what you love. Another advice is to plan your whole life and not just the game development. If you have a family, children, wife, friends, they may be affected by the time you will spend on your game. Being an indie full time is an entrepreneur job. You can expect working more than 40 hours a week. Another advice, do not try to do everything yourself. If you have the money, buy some assets to save time (ex. sounds, textures).
     
  14. GnadeGames

    Original Member

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    Fantastic Advice
     
  15. PlasticOstrich

    PlasticOstrich New Member

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    Ditto above. I also had high expectations, and most people starting out seem too, but the reality is I'm glad I kept my day job.

    There are some uber-successful indies around, but if you look at the statistics, the odds are against you, so it makes sense to play it safe.
     
  16. netflow

    netflow New Member

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    Read some of Jake Birkett's material on this. My philosophy in life is that as long as you aren't hurting anyone else you need to follow your heart 120% or else I find little reason to be on this planet. Some might say I lack 'balance' in my life in this regard but my general rule is that if I am not loving who I'm with or what I'm doing completely then I change that which I can until that single criteria of passion if fulfilled. This isn't to say it's easy or that failure is enjoyable though :) If it was everyone would be doing it and making millions.

    http://blog.netflowdevelopments.com/2009/01/30/garyvaynerchuk_personalbrandin/

    There's a good talk to watch on the subject.
     
  17. Morical

    Morical New Member

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    Good replies from all of you, thanks!

    -morical
     
  18. Jim Prior

    Jim Prior New Member

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    Glad you listened to all the good advice on this. This will give you the flexibility you need to test the waters first, get a handle on all the aspects of making a game(from Dev side to marketing etc) and seeing what you can come out with. I think for a first time effort from any indie, it just makes sense to play it safe and see if your awesome idea(tm) works out as awesome as you first thought.

    This is also the way my team and I are working at it; it can be frustrating sometimes, but your current job is too important to just throw away until you have mastered what it takes to make real money as an indie.

    And finally - good luck! :)
     
  19. baldong

    baldong New Member

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    Hello, all. Seems Morical's question is already solved. But I would like to rise an additional question: If our daily job is already game develop, is it OK to develop indie game in part-time? We would not develop similar game as we do in company, but it is a game whatever, so maybe the company would be very unhappy because of that.
     
  20. zoombapup

    Moderator Original Member

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    baldong: usually employers have parts in thier contract forbidding you to create games, or worse, that they own any games you create in your own time.

    To the original poster: www.makeitbigingames.com has some good advice from Jeff Tunnel, a guy who passionately cares about helping indies make games. I don't always agree with him, but he has an amazing amount of insight and you would be wise to read his posts about startups.

    I've got about 10 years worth of funds :) but still do it part time. Mainly because I'm not sure I wouldnt go mental trying to do the indie thing fulltime, it feels so solitary just doing it part-time.
     

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