#MayRPGQ2018 What games do you dream about making, but haven’t quite gotten there yet?

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I have so many ideas but am limited by my illness (depression), the amount I can conceivably do as a one-man company and by money. If I had the budget I could hire more, other people to write for me and thereby increase my output. It’s just not something that’s possible though.

I would like to move more into writing for computer games, even small indie ones. The pay is better, even at the lower tier of these products, and the potential for reaching a larger audience is also huge. It’s how I’ve wanted to move my career for some time, but the enquiries and opportunities never quite pan out, or disappear into development hell.

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Don’t Fuck it up for the Rest of Us

how-to-write-a-horror-story.WidePlayerAs an indie writer, game publisher and all-round amazing person I spend a lot of time talking to new writers and artists and – unfortunately – that means I run into a lot of horror stories. There are a lot, a LOT of budding artists, layout people and other freelancers upon whom us indie producers rely who are being put off from ever, ever, ever working with indie producers again. Needless to say, this is a bit of a problem for everyone.

This makes my job a lot harder, it makes forming a trust relationship with other freelancers hard and it reflects very poorly on indie/self publishing as a whole.

You want to publish? GREAT! The bar has never been lower which has its pluses and minuses, but if you’re going to invest money you should first invest a little time.

  • Images come in different resolutions, 72 dpi is typical screen/web while 300 dpi is the minimum for print. Make sure you know what you need and send the right files!
  • At LEAST read the help documents for the POD and other outlets you plan to use, and the software you use. That’ll give you a basic grounding and there’s plenty of free tutorials for just about anything online. Go look.
  • Paying someone to edit? Make sure their English is native to where you consider your main market or style to be. American, English and International English are NOT IDENTICAL! Even grammar varies surprisingly.
  • Don’t try and cop work for free. You want money out of this don’t you? Something is better than nothing. Publicity isn’t. The only people who might justifiably work for you for free are students needing to learn how briefs and projects work and they need money more than most!
  • Pay early, pay often. Cough up the dough, don’t sit on it. You don’t want people riding you for their bar all the time, it’s stressful as hell. Paying on time is also worth about the same money again in terms of reputation and goodwill. If you’re in a pinch later on, these people are more likely to help you out.
  • Be – fuckin’ – communicative. The moment that email pings you need to be ON IT! Even if it’s just to say ‘OK’. Artists and writers can’t get on until they know they’re on the right track and that you’re happy.
  • Do you have a deadline? DON’T FUCKING LIE! Yes you do! If you say ‘there’s no rush’ you’d better goddamn mean it because people are going to take you at your word and your project is sliding down the priority list. Make one up even if you don’t really have one! Nothing motivates freelancers like a deadline (other than horsewhips).

New Year, New Regime

I’ve been taking December off in order to reassess where I stand on work, depression, how I go about working, promotion and so in. Introspection often isn’t a good thing if you suffer from depression as you will tend to ruminate and be extremely self-critical which really isn’t any good for you. At all.

Still, I’ve come to a few conclusions about what needs to be done to make some changes and how I plan to attack these changes come the new year.

Plucking a stereotypical definition of your average working stiff out of thin air, at least in the UK, he’s going to be working 9-5, five days a week, 52 weeks of the year with something like 20 days off as holiday per year, not counting bank holidays and so on. That amounts to a working schedule of 240 normal work days per year, minus some, but let’s go with 240.

If I wanted a modest income of, let’s say, £12,000 at the best rate I can expect for my work ($0.06/£0.04 a word, sometimes more, usually less, self-publishing is harder to track) that would entail writing a minimum of 1,250 words per day, of sale quality.

Here’s how my days currently run, when I’m fit and able:

  • 7:40am – Get up, check e-mail, reply to work mails where possible. Mess about on social media games/work related topics mixed.
  • 8.00am – Start work properly.
  • 12.00pm – Lunch
  • 12.20pm – Back to work.
  • 1.00pm-2.00pm – Sometimes a nap, otherwise working. The nap is something that came in with the depression which often manifests as exhaustion.
  • 7.00pm – Finish day’s work. Cook evening meal.
  • 8.00pm – Blogging/Reading, semi-work related.
  • 11.00pm-12.00am – Bedtime.

Thing is, I’m often not fit and able. I’m not sure when I became such a workaholic, it doesn’t sound like me. Somehow though, I did. Other writers/creators tell me they’ve never worked as hard as I do and that I even put them to shame. I am, quite literally, killing myself by exhausting myself this way though. Things seriously need to change and I need to learn to relax again, to regain focus and to put it onto one main project at a time so that shit gets done.

To that end I’ll be making the following changes next year:

  • Assisting/fronting for more creators under my ‘brand’ as Ian and Uri, and others, have. This is less work for me, keeps a good product flow and lets me help people out and even mentor new creators.
  • Working on more fiction. I enjoy writing. I want to spread my wings this way some more. You can see some of the stuff I’ve written over on talesofgrim.wordpress.com
  • Setting my workday target to a ‘mere’ 1,250 words. I know I’ll go over that (I’ve been known to crank out 10,000 a day) but as a target that’s achievable even when I feel bad and a mark of progress day to day. Achievable goals are important.
  • Concentrating on one project at a time and once I hit my goal spending my time on projects that my brain WANTS to work on. (I will finish all my outstanding projects before this new regime starts).
  • Picking up my exercise regimen.
  • Learning to relax and ‘consume’ media as well as produce it again.
  • Less freelancing. People can come to me, I shouldn’t need to pursue them for work any more. I’m known now. Hopefully somewhat respected and valued as well but I’ll settle for known.
  • I tend to undervalue my work. A common comment at cons is that people expect my material to cost more. I need to value what I do more and bring myself a little more in line, price-wise, with other indie producers.

I’m telling you guys this because it means that things will likely slow down, but quality should go up. Also because I need the support and understanding of my customers, friends and fellow professionals to make this change. I hope you will indulge and assist me as Postmortem Studios moves forward.