As I write this, 2016 is hours away from being over, and I’m feeling very depressed… (blatant Marvin the robot reference)
2016 was ultimately a weird year. I don’t have to mention the USA election and the fears around the world for the American government in 2017, or Brexit across the pond. A number of important celebrity icons left us, many just in the last few weeks. It feels like fighting is worse than its been in a long time, as stories of death and protests continue.
But that’s all not within my knowledge or within the scope of this website. For games? Virtual reality is coming slowly, with many separate versions now commercially available. All the units are about twice the price people were hoping a couple years ago, and that each of these seem to be somewhat incompatible with each other (a Oculus game may not work with a Vive, and so on) makes this feel like the biggest missed opportunity of the year, and in danger of novelty wearing off in a few years time. Spurred by VR, and to compete against Nintendo’s coming new console being released in financial desperation, Microsoft and Sony are both selling a 0.5-upgraded version of the XBoxOne and PS4, which can have serious ramifications against what consoles represented, and further suggests PC gaming will overtake them by the next generation. Some games like The Last Guardian and Final Fantasy 15 finally got released, no longer the butt of jokes for being in development for nearly a decade. It feels like crowdfunding has become less a novelty and more just the norm – it feels like almost half of what I’ve seen at recent film festivals either listed Kickstarter, AmazonStudios or Netflix as their source of funding in the credits. Most Youtuber’s and content creators I enjoy now rely on Patreon for monthly subscriber donations, a good business venture that nonetheless is a difficult transition period for viewers to accept. And Steam reportedly almost doubled its game library in the year of 2016… I’ve been saying its been easier in recent years to get through Steam Greenlight, but it may be that getting on Steam will not get any more sales than any other indie game store if this keeps up (maybe limiting the number of Greenlight votes a user can make per day is a better practice to implement…). In short, we’ve reached a point where everyone can be an indie, and have as much chance at making a minimal living as a college student outselling JK Rowling on their next self-published book.
And I finally stopped earning my living as a student and got a full-time job. I remember being depressed around this point last year, where five years of fast-tracked education still couldn’t get me a job any easier. This year, I haven’t exactly been quiet about regretting my current employer. Working environment aside, it still frustrates me how much this took away from my other aspects of life. I’d had thought this time last year that I’d have released my third indie game, but today it hasn’t even reached a playable state yet. I’ve turned down most invitations to join friends or family for dinner because “I have to work late tonight.” Some weeks I have less than 24 hours to myself outside of sleep, which barely allows for any of that. And still, I have hard-working and skillful friends who still can’t find a job themselves, making me wonder if I have any right to complain. Such is the nature of the fast-paced and crowded job market.
Looking at my past blog posts, what exactly have I accomplished this year? This is my first year since 2013 where I haven’t released a game, or promoted some crowdfunding campaign to start one. I’ve announced a title with a incomplete teaser trailer. I took breaks to enjoy animation festivals in Canada, and attend a new local indie-dev meetup each month. I did improve my 3D Cel Animation system a bit, I guess. But it still feels like I’ve done less this year than ever before, despite feeling more exhausted than ever before.
… Ok, that’s enough of that.
This is a hopeful Canadian indie developer’s blog, after all.
I do have some hope going into 2017. With my travel blood mostly gone, I hope to save a little more money this year for future use. That announced indie game will be released in 2017, even if it kills me (or will at least be playable from start to finish, pending quality tests). I was hoping to start a simple little webcomic soon to use as a creative outlet. And 2017 is a big year for Canada, being its 150th birthday, which could be the biggest commercial opportunity Canadians will get for the next 50 years. And I’m hoping to take full advantage of that with some of my new friends.
Yep, I thought I’d be super busy last year, and that’s not slowing down now. Maybe I can get some sleep in 2018…