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.