Archive for the ‘Plans’ Category

2016 Review and 2017 Goals

Friday, December 30th, 2016

Blimey, it really doesn’t feel like a year since I posted my 2015 review but somehow that time has passed in a flash!

Summary

Er, I have mostly failed at achieving my goals this year because the primary focus has been working on Shadowhand and it’s taken a lot longer than planned. I know why it’s taken longer (overscoping, complex art requirements, and some slow patches) and that has resulted in me putting a lot of my other goals on hold. Thus I pretty much need to copy paste my 2016 goals as my 2017 goals! :-D

That makes my year sound like a failure, but it’s not because Shadowhand is going very well and it’s enjoyable to work on. I really think it’ll be our best game to date. Our finances are definitely stretched a bit thin as we finish off the game, but we have managed to pay ourselves (Helen and I) a good monthly salary for the 3rd year in a row!

Also despite launching no new titles in 2016, Grey Alien Games turned over in excess of $100,000 from back catalogue titles, investment, tax relief etc. Furthermore, because of Brexit, each of those $USDs are actually worth more £GBP now!

To be honest, the very fact we are still in business a year later and are about to launch a new game is a success in the current climate of indie game development…

2016 Work Goals

1) Ship Shadowhand (sub goals of continue to enjoy working on it, and make it really damn good) (FAILED: It has not shipped but it’s pretty close now. I have enjoyed working on it and I believe it’s my best work, so the sub goals were a success.)

2) Shadowhand makes a healthy profit on top of the investment. Let’s put a number of $100,000 on that. (FAILED: It’s not out yet!)

3) Ship some Shadowhand DLC or start work on a related game (sequel/prequel/game using same engine) (FAILED: Although we have actually done some preliminary planning for a couple of different games using the Regency/Shadowhand engine.)

4) Regency Solitaire gets some kind of IGF and/or BAFTA mention (I have entered into both) (FAILED: Sadly this was not to be, though I have higher hopes for Shadowhand.)

5) Get the British game cultural tax credit thing for Shadowhand. Could be about £10000. (SUCCESS! Phew, one success, even if it was only an accounting success. But business cash flow is important and this helps a lot.)

Success rate = 1/5 = 20%. I guess setting multiple goals based on shipping a game on time isn’t a good idea :-D Also I shouldn’t set goals based on external bodies giving us an award as that is largely out of our control.

Stretch Goals:
1) Make $200,000 net revenue from all my games. (FAILED: Though as I’ve mentioned above, we made over $100,000. If we’d shipped Shadowhand I think this goal would have been in the bag.)

2016 Personal Goals

1) Get my mortgage under £100,000 before I’m 41 in the summer. This should be pretty easy tbh with a small overpayment, but it’ll be a nice milestone. (SUCCESS: Yep, done. Having a five figure mortgage feels like the 1980s except interest rates are *way* lower. For me it’s a nice psychological thing to have a five figure mortgage as it somehow seems more managable to me.)

2) Do a gamejam (can be an online one or an in-person one) (FAILED: Well there’s about 24 hours left in 2016, so I could try, but I think I’ll roll this goal on to 2017 instead. I love gamejams, but I just couldn’t justify spending the time on one this year whilst still working on Shadowhand.)

3) Go on holiday in Scotland with my wife (maybe with the kids but maybe not) (FAILED: This didn’t happen. In fact we didn’t even go on any holidays due to working on the game. I will need to fix this big time in 2017 or I’ll be in deep trouble.)

4) Continue to improve my art skills and make 6 pieces of art from scratch. (SUCCESS: One thing I’ve done this year is a lot of art direction including making mockups, and also a *ton* of art editing, by which I mean getting assets from the artists and tweaking them until I’m happy to plug them into the game. I’ve also made 4 pieces of art from scratch which are in my Flash mini adventure game called Star Seer. I know that’s not 6 as per my goal, but it’s pretty close and the sheer volume of other art-related stuff I’ve done more than makes up for it.)

5) I can’t announce this goal yet, but it’s quite exciting! (SUCCESS: This goal was actually “Do a really great speech at GDC which loads of people tell me was awesome”. Well, I knocked that one out of the park. My talk (originally titled “The No Hit Wonder”) went really well at GDC, and then later in the year was put on youtube where it has amassed an incredible 118,000 views so far. It seems like most days I get a message from someone who found my talk inspiring, which is pretty cool.)

Success rate = 3/5 = 60%. Not stellar, but I’m happy with it.

Stretch Goals:
1) Pay off my mortgage (or be in a position where I could do that, but for tax purposes it may be sensible not to do that in one go…)
2) Go on another holiday with my wife (probably better take the kids on this one too!)
3) Make more art, let’s say 6 more for a total of 12 pieces. The equivalent of one a month.
4) Get back into playing guitar and play at least one song at a public gig.

All FAILED.

Bonus Points
- We exhibited Shadowhand at the PC Gamer Weekender in London, and also at Rezzed in London, plus I showed it to some journalists at GDC. This resulted in some coverage from PC Gamer, RPS, The Guardian and Eurogamer! All good stuff.
- Helen and I spoke at Rezzed and Develop about working together on Regency Solitaire and Shadowhand. Helen also did a speech at Wordplay London.
- Regency Solitaire was in a Humble Indie Bundle, which was pretty cool. It brought in some cash at a much needed time and many more people got to check out the game which will hopefully mean they might buy Shadowhand when it launches.
- Through a weird fluke I was able to launch Holiday Bonus GOLD on Steam without having to go through Greenlight. It launched on the 27th of December as it was all a bit last minute. This game is technically 10 years old (though the GOLD update was made in 2012), so it really is the gift that keeps on giving!
- I managed to enjoy the sun this summer, went to some great Aikido courses, listened to lots of music, read lots of books, played lots of games, spent time with my family. It’s been a good year!

Mistakes
- Well the major one is overscoping the design for Shadowhand and spending way too long editing/fixing the art. However, this may not prove to be a mistake if the extra work pays off in terms of people recognising and enjoying the effort we have put into it. But generally, if you take too long on a game, you probably won’t see a return on the investment. It’s a common indie mistake. Even with the overscoped design, I think I should have hired some kind of art “fixer” to handle all the art assets so that I could focus on the coding, although I have learned a lot in the process and enjoyed quite a lot of it.
- Not going on holiday with my family. Because we have a publisher for Shadowhand and because it’s late, I feel under constant pressure to get the game done and not do anything else that might delay the launch. At one point we thought we might launch in the autumn so we didn’t go on a summer holiday, but the reality is we probably could have gone because the game has been delayed further anyway.
- I’ve come to the conclusion that events like exhibiting at shows or going to GDC ruin my productivity for a while afterwards. Far from being a “break” from development, they basically interupt development and I find it hard to get going again afterwards. Post GDC jetlag sucks, but even for UK events I feel really knackered afterwards for days. Of course there are plenty of benefits from attending these events, and I still believe they are importantant but I need to factor in recovery to my schedule accordingly.
- Probably we should have done some MORE marketing for Shadowhand in the second half of the year such as go to PAX, or arrange a US press tour for early 2017. However the publisher has a fixed budget and we have already done several shows, so unless we are willing to spend our own cash on more events (which we can’t afford to do), it’s not going to happen. At least we’ve made several developer vlogs and will be making a bunch more in the run up to launch, which is something we can do for no cost and without being exhausted afterwards :-)

2017 Work Goals
1) Ship Shadowhand (sub goals of continue to enjoy working on it, and make it really damn good)
2) Shadowhand makes a $100,000 profit on top of the investment.
3) Ship some Shadowhand DLC or start work on a related game (sequel/prequel/new game using same engine)
4) Get the second part of the Video Game Tax Relief for Shadowhand. This should be quite a lot, more than last year, and will be very helpful for cash flow.
5) Make $150,000 net revenue from all my games/tax relief/investment. I’ve been very close to this before, so I believe it’s achievable if we ship Shadowhand plus one more game.

Stretch Goals:
1) Make $250,000 net revenue.

2017 Personal Goals

1) Make another mortgage lump sum overpayment at some point in the year.
2) Do a gamejam (can be an online one or an in-person one or just an ad-hoc one I do on my own)
3) Go on holiday in Scotland with my wife (maybe with the kids but maybe not)
4) Host a successful Aikido summer school in my town.
5) Make 6 pieces of art from scratch.
6) Get back into playing the guitar.

Stretch Goals:
1) Pay off my mortgage (or be in a position where I could do that)

2015 Review and 2016 Goals

Saturday, January 9th, 2016

Right then, how did I get on with my 2015 goals and what am I planning for 2016?
Here’s last year’s post for reference.

Summary

Overall I’m happy with how the year turned out.

Regency Solitaire has had a great reception and done pretty well financially. We didn’t ship a second casual game in 2015, but we made good progress with Shadowhand (which is more of an “indie” game). Also I did lots of bonus achievements (see list below) and didn’t make any big mistakes (as far as I know).

As for personal goals, I did pretty well there due to keeping them simple and focused.

So yeah, overall good, roll on 2016!

2015 Work Goals

1) Ship second solitaire game before the summer (first one is due out in Jan 2015) (FAILED: Totally didn’t do this. The plan was to make a quick solitaire game for the casual market using the Regency Solitaire engine but instead we are making a bigger game for the “indie” market e.g. Steam and direct sales market.)

2) Make $200,000 net revenue from my solitaire games. (FAILED: Regency Solitaire did pretty well, but not $200,000 well, and there was no second solitaire game released to help boost the figures.)

3) Successfully get the new cultural tax credit for Regency Solitaire + the new game (so I’ll get back 25% of salaries paid from April 2014-Mar 2015) = £15,000 (~$23K) (SUCCESS (in theory): Our application was approved by the BFI and we’ve sent off all the accounts to HMRC and are waiting for them to send the money. So unless something goes wrong, that’s in the bag. It has taken a lot longer than we expected though.)

4) Do a game jam. (SUCCESS: I took part in One Game a Month again in 2015 so I shipped 12 games, some commercial and some free. I wasn’t sure if the free ones counted as doing a game jam (even though they were often intense projects that lasted for a couple of days), so I asked on Twitter for people to suggest some game jam themes. I chose Ryan Clark‘s theme of “Seer” and made a game called Star Seer.)

Either:
5a) Ship another casual game, either match-3 or solitaire, in late summer/autumn. Got tons of ideas, it’s just a case of getting them out the door.
OR
5b) Mostly complete (75% minimum) a new indie game (9-12 months dev time).
(PART SUCCESS: We didn’t make another casual game but we teamed up with indie publisher, Positech Games, and began work on Shadowhand. It’s progressing well, though I wouldn’t say we are 75% complete, more like 50-60%.)

Stretch goals:
6) if 5a) then ship another casual game in time for Christmas, possibly Holiday Bonus 2.(FAILED: Nope, didn’t happen.)

7) Do another game jam.(NOT SURE: Er, I didn’t do an official game jam, just 12 games as part of #1gam, so I guess that’s probably a fail.)

Success rate = 2.5/5 = 50% (Note that part-successes are counted as 0.5 and I have ignored the optional and stretch goals) This isn’t too bad. We had a good year with Regency Solitaire and Shadowhand is going well, plus I did #1gam, so I’m happy. $200,000 would have been nice though…

2015 Personal Goals

1) Go on a non-UK family holiday for at least a week. If I don’t do this my wife will probably kill me. (SUCCESS: Well actually I think it was for 6 days not a week, but it’s close enough. We went to France and it was nice!)

2) Buy a new guitar that I’ve been hankering after, get back into practicing, and do a blues gig.(FAILED: Aww. Well I had promised myself a fancy guitar for when I finished Regency Solitaire, but when it was done, I just didn’t feel like spending the money! I’ve hardly been practicing this year and didn’t do a gig, so that’s a bit lame.)

3) Do something cool for my 40th birthday.(SUCCESS: Yep! I stayed in a fancy Georgian hotel in Bath with my wife, went shopping for old coins, and had a posh lunch at the Pump Rooms with friends (the bill was :-O). Then we stayed in Thornbury castle (in the gatehouse actually) and had a baronial dinner. On the way home we visited a location that featured in Regency Solitaire, which was pretty cool.)

4) Get at least one of my students through their 2nd Dan Aikido grading. This is, of course, quite a lot dependent on them.(SUCCESS: Yep, he did great in fact. Also another student got 1st Dan.)

Success rate = 3/4 = 75% I’m happy with this. I kept it simple and completed most of them.

Bonus Points

It’s not all about the goals because sometimes cool unexpected things happen. I already made a blog post about Grey Alien Games’ 2015 Achievements, and I’ve listed the non-goal-related achievements here along with some personal achievements:

- The Android port of Titan Attacks which I coded launched in the Humble Bundle and sold 80,000 copies. Pretty neat.
- Regency Solitaire launched on Steam! It got through Greenlight and has done OK on there. This also meant we got some mainstream press which was cool.
- We got a publishing deal with Positech Games for Shadowhand. They are funding it and handling the marketing, which is rad.
- We exhibited Shadowhand at EGX in cosplay as a highwayman and highwaywoman. It was tiring but fun!
- Spooky Bonus launched on Steam! It took nearly a year to get through Greenlight. It’s not a hit on there, like it was on the casual portals, but it’s still nice to be on Steam.
- Regency Solitaire got mentioned in quite a few mainstream GOTY lists, which was really nice. I feel like 2015 was the year we finally received some kind of recognition for what we have been doing all these years.
- I did #1gam and shipped 12 commercial games/demos/free games. I love doing #1gam though at times it can be stressful when there are other deadlines too.
- I paid my wife and I a proper salary all year long for the second year in a row. We haven’t really had any financial worries all year which is fantastic. Long may it continue!
- I helped organise a two day Indie Game Conference in London which had some fantastic speakers.
- I didn’t get distracted with too many low priority game dev/biz dev tasks (er, apart from #1gam, but that’s for personal growth). I was pretty much focused on Regency Solitaire marketing and getting it on Steam, and making Shadowhand.
- I made a German retail deal for Regency Solitaire. I’m looking forward to seeing it in a box!
- I played quite a lot of games on Desktop and console, including Dragon Age Inquisition on PS4, which was very enjoyable and good for research of course! ;-)
- I feel in good health and my Aikido is going well.
- I’ve read some good books about game design and art this year.

Mistakes

Looking back I don’t feel I made any major mistakes this year. Maybe I’m getting the hang of things finally! ;-) But there were some areas of improvement:

- We tried a lot of marketing for Regency Solitaire early in the year but didn’t get very far. Once it came out on Steam people took a lot more notice, as if Steam is some kind of “validation” for indie games, which of course it isn’t. So we did another round of marketing but because we are relative noobs at marketing indie games I don’t think we did a great job (in the casual market, the portals do all the marketing for you to their existing customers, so we never needed to do anything). To be honest, we should have probably hired a PR company to do the legwork and leverage their contacts.
- Regency Solitaire, though much loved, is a bit of niche game, and that’s pretty obvious when I look at its sales on Steam (which are low) compared to sales on casual portals (which are a lot higher). That’s why we’ve tried to make Shadowhand have a broader appeal but without losing the unique vibe we think we can bring to games.
- I slacked off a bit at various times during the first half of the year before we started work on Shadowhand, mostly because the next project wasn’t finalised yet, and just because after working on a game for a year you kinda burn out a bit.
- I did a lot of research and pitched a game idea at Positech Games which got turned down. So in theory that was lost time, though I enjoyed the process and learned from it. Luckily, Shadowhand was the second pitch, so it all worked out in the end.
- I got stressed because I found out some other devs had copied various aspects of my games, sometimes really blantantly. However, I don’t want to go into now as it’s best left behind me as I move forward.
- I probably should have tried to go on another family holiday or gone on more days out. You can never really do enough of this but balancing it with work (and sanity) is hard.
- I wanted to pay a small lump sum off our mortgage, but we didn’t make enough money to do that. Hopefully we will be able to do that in 2016 due to Shadowhand!

2016 Work Goals

1) Ship Shadowhand (sub goals of continue to enjoy working on it, and make it really damn good)
2) Shadowhand makes a healthy profit on top of the investment. Let’s put a number of $100,000 on that.
3) Ship some Shadowhand DLC or start work on a related game (sequel/prequel/game using same engine)
4) Regency Solitaire gets some kind of IGF and/or BAFTA mention (I have entered into both)
5) Get the British game cultural tax credit thing for Shadowhand. Could be about £10000.

Stretch Goals:
1) Make $200,000 net revenue from all my games.

2016 Personal Goals

1) Get my mortgage under £100,000 before I’m 41 in the summer. This should be pretty easy tbh with a small overpayment, but it’ll be a nice milestone.
2) Do a gamejam (can be an online one or an in-person one)
3) Go on holiday in Scotland with my wife (maybe with the kids but maybe not)
4) Continue to improve my art skills and make 6 pieces of art from scratch.
5) I can’t announce this goal yet, but it’s quite exciting!

Stretch Goals:
1) Pay off my mortgage (or be in a position where I could do that, but for tax purposes it may be sensible not to do that in one go…)
2) Go on another holiday with my wife (probably better take the kids on this one too!)
3) Make more art, let’s say 6 more for a total of 12 pieces. The equivalent of one a month.
4) Get back into playing guitar and play at least one song at a public gig.

How was your 2015? Have a great 2016!

2014 Review and 2015 Goals

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

OK it’s time to review how I got on with my 2014 goals and set new ones for 2015. Here’s last year’s post for reference.

Summary

In summary I failed pretty badly with most of my work and personal goals. However, I didn’t set many goals on purpose so that I could have more focus and what I actually did was *super-focus* on finishing two games: Regency Solitaire, and Titan Attacks mobile.

I did finish both of those games and they turned out great, but it meant that other goals fell to the wayside. Both games will launch in early 2015 and I aim to follow up quickly with two more games, so 2015 should be a bumper year!

2014 Work Goals:

1) Ship Titan Attacks mobile in the 1st Quarter. (PARTIAL SUCCESS: I did finish it in 2014, it just hasn’t shipped yet, for “reasons”, but should be out in early 2015. So I’ll award myself half a point. This was a tricky port because it is a complex game that needs to well on Android devices with low memory and slow processors. I learned a ton of stuff and have ended up with a great new game framework in Monkey-X which I hope to make use of in the near future.)

2) Ship Regency Solitaire in mid-summer. This is a new casual game that I’m working on with my wife. (PARTIAL SUCCESS: I did finish it and shipped a beta version of it on my site at the start of December. However, it officially launches on Jan 2nd 2015, so I’ll award myself half a point. It’s probably the best game I’ve made to date – we’re really proud of it.)

3) Optional Goal: Ship another casual game before the end of the year. (TOTAL FAIL: Both of the other games took longer than I expected, which is to be expected :-) So, yeah, the nearest we got to this was thinking up some cool ideas and game names. This was an optional goal so I won’t include it in my success rate below.)

4) Add some more levels to Techno Zombies. This was my December #onegameamonth game that I actually started in January. (FAILED: Nope, just didn’t have time due to working on the other games. Shame, as I’d still like to do this.)

5) Take part in at least one game jam. I love game jams and want to try out my improved Monkey X framework on another minigame. (FAILED: Disappointed I didn’t do this but I guess I made tons of minigames in 2013 when I “won” #onegameamonth, so I can still bask in that.)

6) Stretch Goal: Show over £125,000 ($200,000) gross income/revenue on my company’s books including grant money. Based on 2013 this should be achievable if everything goes to plan. (FAILED: Jan to Nov revenue is $64K and I think that when I receive the distributor royalty reports for Dec it could go over $70K, but that has still fallen *way* short of my target. The reason is pretty simple, I didn’t ship Regency Solitaire in 2014! If I had shipped it in the summer as originally planned then perhaps I could have hit this goal. Spooky Bonus has made $128,000 since its launch in 2013, so this wasn’t an unrealistic goal.)

Success rate = 1/4 = 25% (Note that part-successes are counted as 0.5 and I have ignored the optional and stretch goals) Well this is a really sucky success rate, my worst in years, or maybe ever! But I don’t mind too much because I did actually finish two really great games this year, it’s just that they haven’t come out yet!

2014 Personal Goals
1) Make at least 6 new pieces of digital art. (PART SUCCESS: I made some crappy digital art, some good digital art, and a bunch of mockup art for Regency Solitaire. In total I did way more than 6 things and got lots better at Photoshop, but really I wanted to paint 6 new things from scratch, so I’ll award myself half a point.)

2) Do another gig either on acoustic or electric guitar. (FAILED: This should have been an easy task as I did a few gigs last year and was playing a lot of guitar. But this year I hardly played guitar as I was focusing all my time on finishing the games I was making. However, one of the rewards I’ve been holding off buying for myself (until I finished my game projects) is a fancy new guitar – so 2015 should be a good year for playing guitar!)

3) Make at least 3 pieces of electronica. (FAILED: Nope, didn’t make any. No time, yada yada. I did the sound engineering (sound effects and overseeing the music) for Regency Solitaire and that turned out well, so that was good.)

4) Go on a family holiday in the UK or Europe. (SUCCESS: We went camping on Dartmoor for a few days, that was it. Not exactly an epic family holiday, although it was nice. We also had quite a few day trips to places, which were good and cheap and not too distracting from my work. The main problem this year was that I felt constantly under pressure to make progress on projects and that resulted in me prioritising work above going on holiday, much to my wife’s disappointment. I really hope I can fix this in 2015.)

5) Play at least 20 indie games from my backlog. (FAILED: Nope, don’t think I touched a single game in my backlog although I did buy and play some great *new* indie games such as Crypt of the Necrodancer and Guacamelee. I probably even *grew* my game backlog by buying some more bundles, sigh. My only comfort is that I know I’m not alone in this situation.)

6) Reduce my weight from 69Kg to 65Kg by end of June and don’t put it back on at Christmas. (PART SUCCESS: I got to about 66.5Kg by September and kept it off until the last few days when it has crept up a bit due to Christmas excess, so I’ll award myself half a point).

Success rate = 2/6 = 33% (Note that part-successes are counted as 0.5). Not great. I failed at my musical and gaming goals but did OK in my art, health and family goals – but could have done better in them all.

Bonus Points

But did I do anything else cool this year worthy of note? Well…

- I hit a milestone of 250,000 units sold since I went indie. That’s quite a lot and proves I must be doing something right :-)

- I paid my wife and I a proper salary all year long, which is a first. We haven’t really had any financial worries all year. I hope this continues into 2015 with the success of my forthcoming games.

- I stayed focused on my two main projects and didn’t get distracted with gamejams or new projects.

- I made a good German retail deal for Spooky Bonus and they send me some boxed copies, which was cool.

- I didn’t do anything mobile-related (except for finishing Titan Attacks mobile, which was already in progress.) Back in 2013 I decided that mobile was a fools-errand and I should just focus on PC, which is why there’s no mobile version of Spooky Bonus. This meant I was able to focus on making Spooky Bonus and Regency Solitaire great instead of getting distracted with low-value mobile ports of my games.

- I went to Steam Dev Days in Seattle and stopped off in Vancouver before and afterwards, which was nice.

- I had a really great year of Aikido. A former student of mine who was teaching in Weymouth came back to Bridport club and now teaches on Wednesday. This means I get an extra day of training per week. Also we’ve got some new members and the club finances are doing well. Furthermore, I went on several great courses this year including one in Cambridge called Pushing for Peace and one in Kendal with Sensei Maruyama – both of which were a bit mindblowing to be honest. A great and very enjoyable year for self-growth in Aikido.

- We got a wood burning stove fitted to the living room. In February the bad storms caused water ingress into our living room and whilst we were getting it fixed (expensive and noisy), we decided to get a wood burner as a treat. Well actually I wanted to get a cheap gas fire but my wife persuaded me. She really wanted a Skyrim-style firepit, but obviously that’s not quite practical. It’s been lovely to light a fire this winter and play Dragon Age: Inquisition in a cosy living room.

Mistakes

So am I now infallible or did I make a few boo boos? Well..

- I said the same thing last year but I shouldn’t have taken on board the Titan Attacks mobile port. Same reasons as last year. Even though I’ve learned a lot and it was good fun at times (it’s a cool game), it was a really big time sink and distraction from my casual games which are a proven source of revenue. I hope that when it comes out in 2015 I can get some half decent money from it to make the time spent a bit more worthwhile. We’ll see…

- I definitely slacked off at different points during this year. This was partly due to the fact that I was financially secure for a while due to Spooky Bonus doing really well and also due to the grant I got to help make Regency Solitaire. The slacking off was nice though; I had some lovely days off and walks with my wife etc. but it meant that my projects got delayed and I felt more pressure at other times and didn’t achieve as many of my personal goals as I’d have liked.

- I was working on two games at once and was beholden to third parties. Sometimes when I knew I should be working on one of my two projects I just kind of went into a dejected mood and ended up doing neither! I’m going to try to avoid that in the future and just focus on one thing at a time. Regarding the third-parties: I promised Puppy Games that I’d get Titan Attacks mobile done, and didn’t want to let them down, and I also was required to have regular progress meetings with Gameslab, who part-funded Regency Solitaire. Now for some people this would probably motivate them to get stuff done, and it kind of did for me at certain times (I did a few mega crunches to hit some deadlines), but at other times it just made me feel bad (for weird internal reasons) and I was unproductive as a result. I really need to remember this in the future and try to only be beholden to myself, like I was when I made Spooky Bonus, my most successful game to date.

- Regency Solitaire took too long to make. There are several reasons for this, one being that I had to program an entire special solitaire engine with bells and whistles from scratch, and predictably it took longer than expected. Another is that because we wanted the game to be historically accurate we spent a LOT of time doing research and directing the artists and musicians. Also I spent a lot of time obsessing over small details (which is a habit of mine anyway). Plus I had to coach my wife on the whole process of making a game from start to finish. So for our next game we want to give the artists and musician more freedom by picking a theme that can be a bit more flexible in terms of historical accuracy. My wife will also be faster at her tasks and I’ll try not to spend so long “noodling” over tiny little things that no one will notice anyway!

- I got some weird health complaints for a couple of months in the late summer. I was getting headaches like *every* day for weeks on end and also my lower right eyelid starting twitching a lot (and then my left eyelid joined in) which made it hard to look at small stuff on my screen. I also got some really bad neck and shoulder pain and had to go to see various people to help sort it out. This went on for ages and really affected my work. I think the eye thing was due to reintroducing caffeine via tea and coke, and the shoulder issue was caused by overwork with a bad posture. It also seems likely that the headaches were tension headaches related to my shoulder problem and maybe stress and maybe the caffeine too. Basically I probably caused myself a bunch of health problems. I tried to fix them by altering my diet to cut out FODMAPs, by getting a new ergonomic keyboard, and by boosting the font size on my screen and moving it closer, all of which seemed to help – though of course, the problems may have just gone away on their own! It’s hard to say.

- I didn’t host very many Full Indie UK events, which is disappointing. Not only was I focusing on finishing my games but after GDC in March I decided to go to less networking/social events and just focus on making games instead. This was because in some ways I became jaded with certain aspects of the indie scene, and I also realised that networking with indies doesn’t help sell my casual games at all, fun as it is. Hopefully I can find the time to run, or delegate, some Full Indie UK events in 2015.

2015 Work Goals

The problem with my 2015 goals is that around April I’ll make a big decision about whether I carry on making casual games (aiming for 3+ a year) or try to get some funding to make an indie game suitable for Steam (and direct sales OF COURSE!) In fact I might even make that decision in Jan once I find out how well Regency Solitaire is selling. This is reflected in my split goal 5 below.

Regardless, I’m keeping the goals simple and focused. They basically involve shipping games that do well.

1) Ship second solitaire game before the summer (first one is due out in Jan 2015)
2) Make $200,000 net revenue from my solitaire games.
3) Successfully get the new cultural tax credit for Regency Solitaire + the new game (so I’ll get back 25% of salaries paid from April 2014-Mar 2015) = £15,000 (~$23K)
4) Do a game jam.

Either:
5a) Ship another casual game, either match-3 or solitaire, in late summer/autumn. Got tons of ideas, it’s just a case of getting them out the door.
OR
5b) Mostly complete (75% minimum) a new indie game (9-12 months dev time).

Stretch goals:
6) if 5a) then ship another casual game in time for Christmas, possibly Holiday Bonus 2.
7) Do another game jam.

2015 Personal Goals

1) Go on a non-UK family holiday for at least a week. If I don’t do this my wife will probably kill me.
2) Buy a new guitar that I’ve been hankering after, get back into practicing, and do a blues gig.
3) Do something cool for my 40th birthday.
4) Get at least one of my students through their 2nd Dan Aikido grading. This is, of course, quite a lot dependent on them.

How did you get on in 2014? I hope you have a great 2015!