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Looking Forward to 201308:41 PM -- Tue January 1, 2013

So the game market is a terrible mess. What do I intend to do about it in the coming year? I'm not sure. For the most part, it's a catch-22: I don't have the resources to spend time on a large game and take the chance that it might be a hit (a slim chance, in my experience). Yet plugging away on little games doesn't seem to be breaking me out of the rut. For a couple years now, our savings have depleted (sometimes very fast, thanks to dog cancer) bit by bit, and we're heading toward a real deadline where there's just nothing left and something has to give. That deadline is in a lot less than a year, by my calculations. So whatever happens in the coming year, something is definitely going to happen.

That thing might be me getting a job. I don't know how to get a job, and I certainly don't want to get a job, but that's one way to return to stability for sure.

That thing might be the magic of Growtopia exceeding my wildest dreams and actually making life comfortable for the first time since the 90's when playing in the stock market was just plain free money. That seems like a nicer thing, but also not the most plausible.

As far as an actual strategy going forward, it's called throw everything at the wall and see what sticks. I don't feel like I have any grasp on how this business works these days, and every bit of success I've had in 5 or more years has always been based on a random opportunity that cropped up because of something I did. So if I do a lot of somethings, then a lot of opportunities should randomly appear, and that should turn out well. That's the theory.

These are the actual plans for the year to do this throwing of everything:
  • First, I'm participating in One Game A Month, more as an inspiration than a hard-and-fast rule. I will definitely try to release some new game each month.

  • Second, there's Growtopia of course, which is my January release, and I'll be continuing to update that throughout the year.

  • Third, I'm making Dr. Exploro (hopefully my February release), and I actually plan to make 2 versions - one is the level-editor-focused fast-action game I have mostly finished, and then I hope to later on do a Robot Wants Kitty type Metroidvania thing with it, something where you explore different tombs and then buy better powers at your archaeology camp in order to be able to explore them further.

  • Fourth, I may be doing more Boys' Life games if the opportunity arises. We'll see about that.

  • Fifth, I'm hoping that Raptisoft will finish the project he's been working on for a year or more and get back to Robot Wants Puppy iPhone! That's extra nice because I don't have to do the work, he does.

  • Sixth, I'm going to attend GDC in March, which I hear is full of random opportunities and inspiration.

  • Seventh, I would like to sit down and make something in Unity. How many years have I wanted to do that? Learning always seems like too much time away from actual productivity, but if you never take time for it, you're still making DOS games!

  • Eighth, I have the crazy notion of trying a Kickstarter at some point. I think the gold rush there is long past, but it's free to try, if you're willing to spare the time. The idea of knowing in advance that the money is there to pay living expenses for the year it would take would make creating something like Dr. Lunatic 3 or Loonyland 3 a perfectly reasonable opportunity instead of a suicidal gamble. The catch here of course is that you need a big fanbase to begin with to actually put in the money... and apparently a lot of free time to run the Kickstarter. It is no hands-off money machine. So to even do this, I'd have to be financially comfortable enough to take the time off to set it up. Irony!

  • Ninth, I intend to find a way (still working on it) to cut games partially out of my life. Instead of going workworkwork,gamegamegame,sleepsleepsleep, it would be nice to reclaim that spare time and put it to creative pursuits. Not more work, but more worthwhile time-usage than playing games. Creativity, exercise, family, education.

  • Tenth, specifically, I'd like to spend some of that time pursuing an education, most likely in business, so that I have some clue how to run one. It might be useful information if I were to, for example, attempt to run a business of some type.

  • And lastly, I know that no plan ever survives contact with a new year. Mysteries will abound in 2013, and I will pursue them if they seem promising. I don't know what I'll have done by the end of this year, but I can declare with near-certainty that it won't be what I have in mind. Every year is like that: new opportunities, projects that fail and require reevaluation, personal crises, and just plain surprises. You can't plan a whole year, so I'm just taking it a week at a time. This week, I work on Growtopia.
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