Music, music, music,

What was my plan? When I wrote Kick Off, I mean. I had a plan. It was to make money creating video games so that I could use that money to advance myself as a musician, singer and songwriter.

I am now almost 47, and the whole music thing… well let’s say I did not follow either my heart or my plan. I got married and put my guitar away. In any case, playing music to audiences was always difficult. I have long pondered on the thought that if I were a recovering alcoholic, I could find no end of places to meet other people with a similar interest. However, as someone with a need to play music and perform it to others, I found it very hard to get satisfaction. It’s competitive, for a start: all these talented people wanting a slot at an open mic, or back when I was in my early 20’s, at folk clubs.

Currently I live in a small town called Breda in the Netherlands. It has practically no music scene, and in any case I take my music far too seriously. I actually want to play as much as I can, which means that in a small town with few places to play, I’ll outstay my welcome at any place pretty quickly.

Recently, however, I came across www.younow.com and this has finally provided a way to perform to people, without having to spend a fortune in travel perhaps to find that I don’t get a slot anyway. There are other advantages too: no more audiences far more interested in talking than listening; no more rude venue owners; being able to choose when to play, and perhaps best of all not having to deal with ‘rumposters’. That’s a made up word for someone who inappropriately interrupts. Since I started using the site, I have found that I am motivated to perform every day and this is helping my playing and singing. Interestingly too, I find that I am earning fans all the time, more quickly that the social network of my game fans.

I have never recorded an album properly, yet I have written many songs. I have now performed most of them on younow. I want to record all my songs, and if I don’t I’ll really regret it. Part of my reluctance to recording is not feeling ready, but now I have a motivator to practice and refine my songs, music and performances. So I am getting ready to record an album, and focusing on that right now.

So, what has this got to do with anything? Well, it unfortunately means that while I follow my heart and focus on music while there is still time (hopefully), I am shelving unpaid game development work, and this also means the work on Player Manager. If I had funding, it would be a different matter; I could hire people to build the game, but that’s dreaming at this point.

Some people will say “Told you so”, referring to previous attempts to do remakes of mine that came to nothing. Well, at least I tried, is my reply. I do have a day job – it’s not like I have an infinite amount of time on my hands. In any case, I need motivation.

For some time I have been motivated by ‘audience participation’, which is another reason why live performance is part of my MO. The response when I announced the new project was small; there is frankly not a lot of audience participation on Player Manager and since that is something that motivates me, without it my interest wanes. Nothing would be sadder to create a remake and end up with 100 people interested in it and nothing more. I would be extremely annoyed about that, reflecting on how I could have worked on my music instead.

A while back I made a post about how I was giving up on my music, and now I’m back on it. Yes, it seems I am all over the place. Well, life is sometimes like that. I am seeking something out, and I think what I am seeking are healthy transactions. Performing live provides that; if I do a good job, people respond to it right there and then. Game development is quite different. It can take a long time to build a game, and then you can find that it does not get back even enough to cover the effort taken. I gave up on my music because I could find no way to have that healthy transaction. YouTube is not good enough for the purpose; I found that I could spend days making a video that would get fewer hits than videos which were thrown together quickly, and in any case even if I have a video that’s been watched 10,000 times, I have no idea if even one of them actually watched it completely.

With video game development it’s the same issue. I can’t find a way to have a healthy transaction. As an experiment I tried “Letteroids 3D”, and although it developed a small core of game players who really liked that game, it was still a lot of work for a small amount of audience reward and absolutely no revenue. We were trying an ad based model, and that just did not work. No giant surprise, I know. If I had spent all the time that I spent developing that game in performing concerts in Second Life for tips, I would have earned perhaps a thousand dollars as opposed to virtually nothing.

Maybe some solution will turn up eventually that will allow me to make more games, but until I do I must reflect on things from a business minded point of view. What gives me the best return on investment right now (speaking not strictly in terms of money)? The answer is clear. Now I have found an outlet for live performance of my music, I am personally seeing much better growth in the field of live online music performance with the discovery of YouNow. So, that’s where I am going to focus for a while and see where it takes me. It’s not that I think I could become a star or anything; I am just seeking, and finding healthy transactions. I don’t care that they are small; only that they are healthy.

8 Responses to “Music, music, music,”

  1. Katiebean23 Says:

    Great stuff, Dino — I’ll add it to Wikipedia right away.

  2. Rasmus Skovmand Says:

    In my world You are the most fabulous game developer ever. I spent a huge amount of time as a teenager playing Kick Off, Kick Off 2 and Player Manager, alone and with friends. I always wondered who this Dino Dini was. A nice name, probably italian – now I did the googling ;-) You really hit the target pioneering the “free physics-simulated” ball movement, and I enjoyed just watching the league games in PM 2, even without acting as Alex Reeves on the pitch! These games just got the gameplay… I’ve never played any other soccer game because they all operate with fancy graphics and “fixed dynamics” completely missing the gameplay, in my eyes. I was also a big fan of soccer simulation games like “Football Manger” (C64) and “The Manager” (Amiga).

    In my later life I have studied civil engineering with attention to mathematics and computing. Even though almost 20 years has passed and I only play computer games rarely now, I think of PM now and then. Like You say, time get sparse when a boy becomes an adult (read: get family) and one must prioritize the efforts of his life. For many years I’ve been having a similar dream of coding a simulation game in the spirit of PM, on a modern multi-threaded computer instead of my beloved Amiga 500. If You one day decide to start up a project on a PM follow-up and need support, I will gladly help. The project could be run by a group of people with the common interests: programming, math/algorithms and soccer (manager games).

    I remember a bug in Kick Off and PM: The ball sometimes got “stuck inside the post”… or trapped inside the post. :-)

    And I think… R.Shaw on the wing (no. 7) was the fastest player in Kick Off 2?? :-) and Randall was a superb central defender :-) But do not remember of which of the 8 teams.

    What a strong memory after 20 years…

  3. Gianluca Troiano Says:

    according to me you should not be disappointed by the lack of interest about Player Manager. Nowadays videogamers are for a 99% FIFA or PES fan and doesn’t even know what Kick Off is. Furtheremore, people are lazy don’t expect they will write anything. BUT i honestly believe that quality is always rewarded. IF the new PM will be a top game than it will sell a lot, afterall few USD for an app is a sacrifice that people can afford.

  4. David Coombes Says:

    Hi Dino,

    I heard your story on Eurogamer and felt a connection of similarity as you’re in a similar situation to my own. My passion is music and musical arts (http://www.youtube.com/user/DavidGCoombes), but I have zero experience or success because I left it for too many years. Instead of working on this ambition, I postponed it and sought business ventures to eventually fund it. Only all my business ventures failed. Fifteen years later, I wish I had just invested my time and effort on the thing I love most. Now I’m very isolated as opportunities for us older types just aren’t there. Young musicians and singers and dancers have plenty of support, but not us individual musicians. Certainly not non-pop composer like myself – at least you have the opportunity to play in gigs!

    If the choice is how to pay your way, I have no advice. This life can be very cruel in that regard. I’m also dabbling in Android development but doubt anything will come of it. But I can tell you that if had made a decent amount of money from a successful game as iconic as KickOff, I’d have gone with the plan and followed the music. You only have one life and to waste on things that are of no satisfaction makes no sense.

    I wish you all the best, from another struggling, unknown artist to another. ;)

  5. Mark Says:

    Dino,

    Following one’s heart is always the best path to both success and happiness. While I truly believe a remake of player manager would have found you a far greater following than you allude to in your post, one must no doubt listen to and follow the direction set from within – and with no regrets on that which is left behind.

    All to often we do what we think we must. The reality is that life is short and sometimes we must do what we truly desire with no guilt. Then we can one day look back on life with no regret.

  6. Thomas Says:

    Hi Dino,

    Gutted, but i understand your choice.

    Still, in my opinion this project has a good chance with a crowdfunding campain. If all the people in the world that played and enjoyed any of your games in the past would put in a few dollars…

    I would be the first to put in €25.

    Hopefully you will consider this, if u have not allready.

    For some inspiration see: voordekunst.nl, flattr.com, kickstarter.com. More here: http://plantostart.com/10-crowdfunding-websites-entrepreneurs/

    Kind regards,

    Thomas

  7. velho Says:

    Why dont use the player manager engine to make a online football manager browser game ?

  8. Frogg Grimm Says:

    Hello Dino
    I’m a recent regular at YouNow & unfortunately hadn’t had the pleasure of catching you Live on YouNow. I’d fanned you when you came on as a Rerun & you’d since been my fav rerun broadcaster. I hope you’ll eventually realize your musical callings cos it would be a shame to let that wonderful talent go to naught. And yes I goggled you after seeing yet another one of your reruns for prolly the 10th time & out of frustration tried my luck by goggling & am most happy to discover that you’re not just musically talented but quite a computer programming sensation lol. Hope I’ll catch you doing some Live sessions at YouNow on my lucky days :o) Cheers.

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