photo by as737700
I had lunch the other day with someone who is planning to go Indie soon and I asked the all important question: “Do you have a runway?”. And I was very impressed that he a) knew what I was talking about, and b) has a 5 year runway! That’s a serious runway!
So what am I talking about? Well if you have a “regular” job and are about to go Indie, for goodness sake make sure that you have saved up some money first. You need to have enough money to pay for ALL of your living expenses: mortgage, bills, car, food, kids, debts (if any but I hope not) etc for quite a long time. How long? Well that depends of course on how soon you start making real money. If you are very lucky and skilled that could be in 6 months, but it could take 2 years or longer. Many Indies don’t make any decent money from their first few games because they are more like learning exercises. I didn’t make any decent money for almost 2 years and that was from royalties from my 3rd game.
Aside from the runway, you are most likely going to have to spend some money on graphics at some point (unless you are planning a retro “programmer art” style), so you need to save up even more money! Or you will have to get a loan, or get invested in, or find an artist to team up with (tricky if you’ve never released a game before, because how can they trust you to deliver?)
When I went Indie, I had no runway at all, which is not wise. But I just felt I’d had enough of business software and was determined to make it work it. It was very tough and I had to do some IT Consultancy to keep some cash coming in, plus juggle my finances a lot and rely on my partner Helen to bring in some cash. It took longer than I thought to make some money, and even longer to pay off my debts!
To conclude: don’t quit your job until you have a runway, some serious skills, and a decent plan!