Archive for January, 2020

2019 Review and 2020 Goals

Monday, January 6th, 2020

You can find last year’s goals here


Overall it’s been a good year even though I didn’t release any new games.

I’ve basically been working on Ancient Enemy all year and it’s late (for various reasons), which is a bit embarrassing, but it’s turning out really well and is almost done.

I also spent time managing a secret 2nd project (outsourced), and helped a friend with a small project as a designer during the summer, which was interesting and fun.

Also right at the end of the year I got funding for a new project in 2020, which is pretty cool. More on that when we officially announce it.

Due to funding, as well as ongoing sales and tax relief (VGTR) we had a pretty good year as you can see by the chart below:

I also have had some back problems for 2.5 years which finally cleared up in the second half of the year and I feel great as a result. Also my Aikido class is going well with lots of new students and more training.

So I’m looking forward to getting multiple games released in 2020 and having a productive and enjoyable year

2019 Work Goals

1) Grey Alien Games’ revenue is over $100K. (SUCCESS: Yep, did it)
2) I ship Ancient Enemy before June 2019. (FAILED: Nope)
3) I ship secret project 1 in Q2. (FAILED: Nope. It’s so close to shipping but I had to put the last bit on hold whilst I worked on Ancient Enemy because it was too much of a distraction even though a 3rd party is handling most of the work.)
4) I ship secret project 2 in 2019 and it is at least part-funded by Kickstarter/an investor/grant. (FAILED: We went quite far down a funding route but that’s currently on hold until we ship some things. We might come back to it later though because we’ve done a lot of preproduction on it and it would be a cool game.)
5) I stay in business until the end of 2019. (SUCCESS: Yep, did it! This summer will be 15 years since I went full-time indie.)

Success rate = 2/5 = 40%. This doesn’t sound great but I did complete two very important goals which was to stay in business and make money, and the other goals are very close to completion, plus I’ve lined up something new for 2020. So I’m not gonna beat myself up about that.

Stretch Goals:
1) Ancient Enemy breaks even. (FAILED: It hasn’t even released yet so I will carry this goal over to 2020.)
2) I start work on a new game (SUCCESS: I can’t really talk about this yet though, sorry! It’s linked to the funding I mentioned above.)

2019 Personal Goals

1) Get my weight down to 65Kg (its 67kg right now, so this isn’t too hard) and maintain that to the end of the year. (Part success: I managed to drop to 64.7 but then put it all again by December! But at least I’ve ended up staying approximately the same weight in the long term.)
2) Go on 10 nice walks/daytrips/long weekends with my wife. (SUCCESS: We did at least 20 walks which was great.)
3) Help my eldest son to pass his Aikido black belt. (SUCCESS: He did it! Also I helped another student get their 2nd dan.)
4) Have a week long staycation, probably after Ancient Enemy ships and the dust settles, but maybe before if I need it. (SUCCESS: Perhaps this is cheating a bit but I had a week off work over Christmas, so I’ll count that.)
5) Go on a week long vacation with my wife to Wales or Scotland, or maybe Ireland, and look at castles and standing stones. (FAILED: I’ll move this to 2020 as it’s quite likely we’ll go on one or more trips.)
6) Spend more time with my youngest son (playing games, watching TV, cinema etc). (FAILED: We’ve spent some good times together such as playing Cadence of Hyrule coop but he’s so focussed on his friends right now it’s tricky. I could do better as well. I probably spent more time playing Battlefield V with my eldest son who is at University now.)
7) Finish my Cyberjam game in pico-8. (FAILED: I was going to work on this hobby project over Christmas but I ended up just playing Dark Souls Remastered on PS4, which was really fun. I’d still like to get back to it though, perhaps spread over some weekends later in the year.)

Success rate = 3.5/7 = 50%. That’s OK and I’m pleased with how the year went, and I feel happy, which is good.

Stretch Goals:
1) Pay our joint account back some of the money we have loaned my company in recent years. I’ll put a figure of £10000 on this. (SUCCESS: I actually did this twice at different times in the year, which is great!)
2) Make another mortgage lump sum overpayment at some point in the year. Minimum £2000.  (FAILED: We could have done this in December, but we didn’t get round to it. I aim to do this in 2020 though after various things ship.)

Bonus Points

– I didn’t go to GDC and I didn’t miss the cost or the time away from work or the jetlag/illness. I’m probably not going in 2020 either but I will still be going to a few things in the UK as per usual such as Rezzed and Develop.
– I published more solitaire games on Steam for Suricate Software. It’s going pretty well (they are happy also) and December was a good month due to the Steam winter sale.
– I helped Ichiro from Dejobaan Games with a small project during the evenings in the summer. It’s an expansion of his 20 Minute Metropolis city builder that he was working on with some Boston-area interns and I joined the project as lead designer. Anyway it was interesting and fun and I learned a lot.
– I got funding for a new project. I wasn’t even planning this but later in the year I asked around a bit for funding for a potential project and got a great offer. I’m pretty excited about this as it represents some big changes which will be interesting and will hopefully turn out great.
– I got awarded 4th dan in Aikido after 22 years of training/teaching.
– My Aikido club is going well with new students and more training. I also coached someone through their 2nd dan grading which they passed with flying colours.
– As I already mentioned, my back problems finally went away. This is actually a big deal because it was dragging me down and it took a lot of willpower to stay positive and productive (and sometimes I failed).
– My eldest son has gone to University to study Maths and Physics. We’ve successfully shepherded a being into adulthood and he’s doing pretty well.
– Just generally I’ve had a good year with my wife and am feeling grateful and positive. More of this please Universe!


– I didn’t ship Ancient Enemy. I know why though: Partly due to design overscope and project-related things (I ended up doing more work on some aspects than I had planned). Partly due to other projects taking too much time. Partly due to my back problems flaring up again. Partly due to general slackness/enjoying life and not wanting to crunch. Oh yeah and we had a leaking pipe under our kitchen floor and had to rip out and install a new kitchen which was another big, unplanned, distraction.
– Not shipping secret project 1. I outsourced this and was hoping it would require minimal work on my part but that turned out not to be true due to various reasons. I have learned some lessons from this. However, the end product is very good and we look forward to releasing it soon. Also in theory this wasn’t supposed to be a distraction from my main project, but it did end up being one which I found stressful. It reminded me again why I don’t like multi-tasking projects. I prefer to work on games in sequence. Anyway, it was an experiment that will be good to finish soon and it will have some positive results.
– I’ve already mentioned above that I didn’t go on holiday with my wife. This has happened before and is normally due to a) thinking my game is nearly done, when it’s not, and keeping on working, and b) running out of money and thus not wanting to stop working!
– I still need to work on spending quality time with my youngest son before he leaves home (in theory) in a few years. I teach him Aikido every week, so that’s something at least.
– I let myself put weight back on in the Winter, though I didn’t really mind as it feels kinda natural to fatten up. I expect I’ll lose it again this year with a tweak in my diet. It’s like a fat tide!

2020 Work Goals

  1. Grey Alien Games’ revenue is over $100K. Same goal as last year. (OK sure, ideally I’d see growth in this area but honestly even just reaching it again would be good going and is tough enough as it is. If things pan out I could blast past it, but nothing is certain in this industry.)
  2. Ship Ancient Enemy in Q1 (Unless there’s a really good strategic reason to delay it.)
  3. Ship secret project 1 in Q1 (ideally) or early Q2.
  4. Complete newly funded project.
  5. I stay in business until the end of 2020.

Stretch Goals:

  1. Ancient Enemy breaks even.
  2. Secret project 1 breaks even.

2020 Personal Goals

  1. Do not gain any weight by the end of 2020 compared to now (68kg). (This will probably mean I need to lose some first in case I put it back on in the winter and then controlling any weight gain in the winter.)
  2. Go on 10 nice walks/daytrips/long weekends with my wife. (This worked really well in 2019 so I want to do it again.)
  3. Go on a week long vacation with my wife to Wales or Scotland, or maybe Ireland, and look at castles and standing stones.
  4. Spend more quality time with my youngest son (playing games, watching TV, cinema etc) in addition to the Aikido that we already do together.
  5. Play electric guitar 10 times. (I’ve been playing guitar for 30 years but not so much in the last few years and want to give it a boost.)
  6. Go to a new fitness/health class at least once. (There are a few things I’ve been meaning to try out for a long time such as Qigong, Pilates and Yoga.)
  7. Make a mortgage lump sum overpayment at some point in the year. Minimum £2000.

Stretch Goals:

  1. Work on my Cyberjam game in pico-8 for 10 hours or finish it, whichever happens first.
  2. Go to 10 new fitness/health classes (can be same class).