At the moment my first project with Ravensburger Digital is being tested. I’m eagerly awaiting feedback and if all turns out well it could be ready for release next week. In the meantime i’ve sent out 3 more project proposals, i have at least two others yet to be done, then there are two promised and three ongoing talks for potential projects or cooperations, former colleagues would like to hire me for an incredibly interesting project and finally there’ll be a minor update for 51 Japanese Characters coming soon and we’re thinking about potential spinoffs and cooperations to create a “Characters” series. There’s one more option to consider still: making a living on the iPhone App Store by publishing my own game(s). All i really need for that is some spare money to pay someone else to create art and audio for me. I’m also looking into proposing a business opportunity to a 3rd party whose work i admire and adore – so yet another option, this one i follow through simply out of sheer interest in the product that particular company creates – and it’s got nothing to do with computer games at all!
Overall i’d say i really enjoy being in such high demand, and i feel kind of bad already that i’ll eventually have to choose between some of these outstanding proposals. If i could clone myself i think i’ll need more than just one clone. I’m actually considering something similar to what Dr Touch is doing: a band of freelance game programming brothers working under one name and distributing the workload based on qualification, free time and interest in the project. In the long run it could lead to me actually starting a game programming service company, who knows? But let me not get ahead of myself, i’m still working on the base technology for my cloning facility.
I really, and i mean really, wonder why none of my other colleagues have chosen to go that road? I have some thoughts … because those were mine and i do what everyone does: i conclude that what i experience, others experience as well.
When i was first thinking to work as freelancer in late 2009, i expected to spend most of my time alone, to be disconnected from the people i have to rely on to get a job. To have a huge problem reaching out to contacts and getting them interested, or simply making new contacts. My worst imagination had me begging for projects for low prices just so i could sustain a living. But to the contrary, now i could easily find enough work for two. I’m lucky that i know some people who do have the contacts and that’s just as important as having the contacts yourself. And the payment … well, i’m currently expecting to earn more than in my last year as an employee with bonus program and stock options. But of course i have higher running costs as well.
I also worried about all the extra costs a freelancer has, and all the paperwork it involves. Especially considering taxes, and paying them monthly in advance. Let alone the process of registering a business and running it properly, with all the legal and tax issues to be considered. It turns out that a helpful tax consultant is worth a lot – if only to take away those uncertainties and worries. Yes, i just spent an hour filling out my first tax form – and 15 minutes on the phone with my tax consultant to make sure i’m making the important checks and correct entries that are in my best interest. Time well spent.
In addition i was put off by certain internet platforms offering work for freelancers. I get a daily summary of jobs offered and over the last 2 months there have been only 2-3 iPhone programming jobs offered. The rest required absurd skills in insurance policies, high-technology systems, low-level engineering, highly specialized areas of expertise – it’s all about buzzwords like Kordoba, SAP BPS, CATS, ABAP-OO, SOA/ESB, Microsoft SCCM, Citrix, PL/SQL, HFM, PMO and roles like Process Analyst, IT Security Manager, Online Banking System Expert, Solaris Administrator, Oracle Consultant and of course the obligatory Business Analyst. Definetely not the kind of jobs i would know anything about. And that painted a skewed picture of demand – if you look in the right places, or advertise yourself in the right places (such as the cocos2d forum through which i got 2 contacts) and have the right contacts in your business it does become obviouswhat the answer to the question “What should we call a developer who concentrates on developing for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad?” is: in demand!
I’m still accepting offers and i’m always happy to talk about potential cooperations – if you think that’ll be interesting for you, check out my application website with CV and references. After all: more options means i can get to choose the best job at the right time.
It’s quite remarkable. So remarkable indeed, that when i came across Noel Llopis’ story about life as indie developer i had a deja vu experience. I’m just adding this line 10 days after i originally wrote this post – so the similarity is coincidental but not surprising.
I probably made more new contacts in the last 6 months than i did in the last 6 years. This opened up new business opportunities but not only that, it gave me insights into many different aspects of business – from financing and investments to marketing and PR to visionary thinking and believing in what you do.
Before, i didn’t care too much about contacts, or just keeping in touch with people, or basically anything that seemed like a distraction from either work or my free time. Now that has changed since with every contact come new perspectives, sometimes opportunities and almost always fresh new ideas and points of view. So i enjoy meeting people either online or in person a lot more simply because i have not only the freedom to do so but it kind of feels like this is what i should do and actually want to do.
Another awesome thing is the freedom to go about my work not only in the way i want to but most of all: when i want to. Sometimes i work in the morning till noon, then i’m done for the day. Maybe i come back late at night. Maybe i just start late at night. Maybe i work from breakfast to dinner almost uninterrupted. Maybe i don’t work at all that day – even though i will probably do a lot of other things. Filling out paper work for bank accounts, taxes, insurances and what not. Or simply hanging out in forums, reading articles, posting comments or – lo and behold – actually writing blog posts not just more frequently but also with better content – i hope. The moral of the story being: i do my work whenever my life allows me to fit in work, instead of having a life whenever work leaves me time for that – which for most people means: evenings and weekends. This is a simple yet very crucial difference that abso-fricking-lutely improved my attitude towards my work as well as the enjoyment it brings with it. I wouldn’t mind doing a 9 to 5 job again, don’t get me wrong. I just wouldn’t ever do that again on a regular basis.
Then there’s no one telling me to do this that way and having this and that finished till then. You know, the boss kind of thing. It might not even have to be your boss, just simply the poor person who relays what was decided higher above both of you. That poor soul gets all the grievance. Still, he or she has to have me do that work. That sucks for both of us. And i just have to execute, to work, to function. Well, my current work relationships function much differently, more on a collaborative level. I enjoy that a lot since this is actually one of the things i was really looking forward to when i left Phenomic. Actually collaborating, working towards a common goal with shared interests is what brings out the best in people. Even though i personally still feel i want to make this one game all on my own, deep inside i know it’ll work out much better if i had one or two people working with me, sharing responsibilities and each bringing in their own individual skills. But only if we all want absolutely the same. And that’s hard to come by. But i’ll keep looking, or eventually just go ahead and do it all by myself.
Anyhow, yet another great thing is working from home. I can’t tell you how much money i save by not going to lunch regularly and not driving or using public transportation every day. But that’s just a minor thing, really. The bigger thing is that i can spend quality time with my girlfriend whenever she’s available. Since her schedule is totally wacky and changes sometimes on a daily basis, that made it hard for us to actually find some time together. Now i can almost always make time for her instead. If only i could get her to work from home as well …
Next up: how it feels to actually make money from what i do. I’m looking forward to sending out my first invoice and receiving my first income. I already suspect it’ll be a lot different to get money for actual work done rather than receiving a regular paycheck at the end of each month, regardless of what i may or may not have done. I think that is actually a very unfair, and unproductive way to pay off employees. If i ever start my own company, remind me to give my employees monthly bonus payment options which depend on how they performed that month. And if no performance review takes place, they’ll just get the full bonus as reimbursement for their boss’s failure to communicate.
Over and out.