Hi, I’m Barry Grubb and I plan to become an independent game developer. I guess I should start this blog by explaining a bit about myself, so hold on tight and I’ll try and keep it as interesting as I can.
I’m 29 years old and soon my wife and I will be parents for the first time. Nothing can express how excited we are about that, it’s awesome.
The fact that I’m soon going to be somebody’s dad is such a huge, life-changing realisation that it’s caused me to take a long hard look at myself. It’s led me to some conclusions that, being honest I’ve known for a long time.
My frustrations stem from the fact that I hate having to work for somebody else to earn a living, I want to be totally self-sufficient. What’s worse is that I’ve never done anything about this, other than moan and bury my head in the sand.
I was that kid at school who never had a clue what I wanted to do when I grew up; I envied the kids who seemed to have ambitions from day one. I finished art college a decade ago and since then I’ve worked for loads of people in some totally separate industries. I’ve worked in retail management, plasma screen wall installation, TV/movie editing (and other related post production stuff), movie visual effects… Now I’m working as a technical illustrator, documentation writer and interface designer for an engineering company, and none of these jobs has ever felt right to me. Deep down I know that no job will ever feel right all the time I’m doing it for somebody else, that’s the commonality. I feel like I’m just selling my life away, which essentially I am.
Like everybody I have passions and interests, and my biggest one, the one that has always felt right throughout everything I’ve ever done is a huge love of video games, and a lifelong interest in how they’re made. I’ve experimented with making my own games plenty of times before as a hobbyist, and In 2011 I finally got my act together and released my one and only shipped game, a simple little reaction-time based game called Tap the App on iOS. Even though it was chosen to be featured by Apple for quite a few weeks it barely sold any copies at all, I think it was mostly friends and family who bought it and even some of them didn’t bother. Despite that slow beginning I’ve always held on to the dream of becoming a real independent game developer some day.
Despite having played around with the idea of making games for most of my life I’m not a programmer, I’m more of a visual person. I have used some drag-and-drop game making programs before (to build Tap the App, for instance) which has given me a solid understanding of game logic, but I feel that I’ll need to teach myself how to code in order to have a real chance at success, and to free myself from the limits of closed-source IDEs as best I can.
I plan to work for myself developing games in my own time around my day job, to get to a position where I can provide financially for my family. Starting this blog is an important first step on that journey, in no small part because I want to get this little statement out in to the wild:
“I, Barry Grubb, will provide financial security for my family by working for myself as an independent game developer, and I won’t stop until I’ve achieved that.”
The thinking behind the above is that by writing my intentions down for all to see I now can’t fail, because I can’t let myself fail – everyone would know and I’d look stupid. My wife, my family and friends will all read this blog. In the future my kid(s) will read this blog. I want as much expectation resting on my shoulders as I can get, so that the consequences of failure would be public and humiliating, so that I just can’t let that happen.
I can’t claim credit for this idea, I found it in a post by Paul Graham at Y Combinator. It’s a great post and well worth the read, but the gist is that Paul, a man with loads of experience working with start-ups is saying that (I’m paraphrasing) the simple act of making failure public and humiliating, adding accountability if you will, can be enough to ensure that failure doesn’t occur. You’ll keep pressing on because the alternative is unbearable. I thrive under pressure so I like this idea a lot.
Another inspiration is this post by Jake Birkett of Grey Alien Games, a stay at home game developer dad. The way he writes about how working from home allows him to actually see his kids grow up and not just hear about it every evening when he gets home from work really speaks to me. That’s exactly what I want too. All I desperately want is to attain a comfortable life for myself and my family, to live our lives on our own terms, and then I’ll feel like I’ve won.
I dare say that what I’m striving for is a difficult goal; many try and many fewer succeed. I’m very passionate about games and I’m sure that even if it wasn’t for the want of money I’d still have found my way to getting properly in to indie development at some point in my life, but the idea of finally making a living doing something I love is a very attractive prospect, and one I can’t ignore.
I don’t know how long the journey will take but I know that I’ll take it seriously every single step of the way. Thanks for reading this first blog post, you’ve just become one more reason why I can’t fail.