Post by: Grant Rodiek
I find myself daydreaming a great deal lately, because I wish I paid my bills by writing rules, designing, and developing tabletop games. Those who know anything about the industry know that is a mostly ludicrous daydream, which is why the dream aspect of it is apt.
I've been solving the same problem at work for ten years now. If you want to know what large scale video game development is, it's solving big problems, for a lot of masters, creatively. Yes, boo hoo, my video game job is repetitive. But, I'm a creative person, and 8 or more hours of every day are devoted to the same thing since 2005. That's bonkers. It's bonkers that anyone can do something like work in a factory for 30.
Frustration's a big part of the fuel for the day dream. Plus, longing. The aspiration. When I was 21 I really wanted to write for magazines. I read every issue of Outside cover to cover. I loved the adventure, the insight, the history, and the stakes of their cover stories. But, I knew I didn't have the stomach for it. The it being crawling for a decade until I made it. I'm just too pragmatic. So, I went west and took a real job, which led to my fake real job of making video games in Silicon Valley.
I'm about as close as I can get to being a professional tabletop dude at the moment, in that I have a small company. It comes with taxes, failure, and watching the corporate bank account tick slowly towards zero. Starting a business is a mess because you don't know how to do anything, customers don't know or trust you, and everything takes a really long time. It's really an exercise of can I figure this all out before the money dips below an acceptable level.
I really don't want to fail. For one, this is my creative outlet. I have 100% control to pursue whatever interests me. I also really don't want to go back to chasing publishers. It's awful, not fun, and just maddening. Maybe I'm just super bad at it, but I hate the pitch game. What I like doing is making stuff, developing it, ripping it up, and making more. If this Hyper Bowl thing tanks (more), I may just use DTC and be done with it. Pitching gives me anxiety. It's like someone took the worst part of dating and removed the fun.
What's crazy is that Hocus is successful. It's not a runaway hit or anything, but it's well received and it's a nice, steady seller. That's a really big deal. But, it's just a smidge over profitable. This is a tough business and I need a lot of smidges.
I had a call today with my manufacturer for Hocus (2nd Printing) and Farmageddon. Both ate a big chunk out of what's left in the Hyperbole bank account. Plus, I still have to pay the 2nd half, and the shipping cost to get it here. I really need both to sell. If they don't, I'll need to clean dishes for artists to make the third game. Last I checked, I don't have exposure to offer, and it's not worth a damn regardless.
The next 12 months are going to be really lean. It doesn't matter how successful a prototype is on the table if I cannot finance it, so I'll need to squirrel away a few bucks, square away with Uncle Sam while I'm at it, hooray normal life taxes, and will the current two games into successful existence. Go jazz hands, go.
So, that is what is floating through my head. Daydreaming is easy because in the end I don't have to do anything, be right, or figure it out. It's just there already. Sounds nice.