I sometimes feel like a castaway on a deserted island. Surrounded by water, without a drop to drink. From the vantage of a passing cruise ship my situation looks idyllic, I’m a happy man in his own private tropical paradise. If only that mirrored the reality of my existence: marooned, desperate for rain and talking to seashells. A misconception wrapped in a conundrum that would drive many people mad.
My life is viewed like that island – as being a private paradise, wanting for nothing, enjoying the ease and fortune and fame that comes with “having your name on the box.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, I once worked for uber-successful companies like id Software and Electronic Arts, even had brief moments of (some would say undeserved) fame.
The reality is that I’ve worked for 12 years (out of 20 in the industry) as an independent game developer, far away from the safety and certainty of a well established corporate HQ. Being independent means my income isn’t guaranteed. Neither is my development work. It’s a constant, ongoing effort to secure business for myself and my studio. These efforts have produced games, but not security. Because most of the work I’ve done as an indie has been under standard publisher-development agreements, the support only lasts until the game is delivered.
To understand the challenge of this existence, look no further than my first months living in Shanghai. I’d spent every dime of my savings to get across the Pacific and build a new life for myself. To survive while working to secure a new development deal I lived on less than $5 a day and rode on the back of someone else’s bike. I tell this not to paint a picture of woe, I genuinely enjoyed those days of humble struggle, but to illustrate for you the truth of who I am. Not wealthy, not a name on a box, not someone with a sense of entitlement or a massive ego. Just a person, like you, overcoming obstacles so that I can have a chance to do the work I love.
This is my message in a bottle, an attempt at wiping out those misconceptions that keep me trapped on this island.
Now that we’re seeking funding via Kickstarter we might have a chance at something better. Self-publishing to web, mobile and via platforms like Steam and Kongregate also helps increase our chances of actually turning a profit. These efforts cannot be successful without a broad understanding of who I am, what Spicy Horse is about as a studio and the support that comes with those things. Support from you, from fans of the “Alice” games, from supporters of independent game development , from those who would like to see the traditional publishing models disrupted so that unique ideas can have a chance.
Please, do what you can to spread the word. Tell your friends, family and seashells that Spicy Horse needs their support to get OZombie made and to continue making unique content for many years to come.