A few weeks ago I made a decision to allow my current contract with IBM to come to and end. They had offered me another six month extension but I decided not take it.
Toward the end of July, I am taking the family to Florida for three weeks, and I had already decided that I would take the whole of August off. It’s been a long time since I had a long vacation. I originally wanted to only work the winter months when I started contracting. 🙂
The issue was that there was only seven weeks between the end of my contract and going on holiday. IBM had agreed to factor in August as part of my contract, but ideally I only wanted to work up to the holiday. I could have taken a new contract to cover the next seven weeks, but short contracts have a habit of turning into longer contracts, and I really didn’t want to commit to anything new.
So, I made the decision to finish my contract and not look for a new one. This means being out of contract, and therefore not earning money, for the next 3 months!
I ended up thinking about a project that I started in 2008, Timbles. It was a prototype game that I wrote, to help my children with their Times Tables. Unfortunately many things got in the way of me developing it, not to mention the plan for it started getting more and more grandiose, and therefore harder and harder to complete.
With the release of Lords of Midnight last year, and Doomdark’s Revenge later this year, I had pencilled Timbles in to be worked on next year.
So when faced with the dilemma of, renewing my current contract, getting a new one, or spending 3 months on holiday, I decided to move Timbles into this seven week gap. I originally wrote the prototype overnight, so I am sure I can write the original simple idea in less than seven weeks.
As of today, Timbles is now my day job. I will be writing a version of it for mobile and desktop. iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry, Windows Mobile, Surface. etc…
Those of you who follow this blog because of Lords of Midnight may be asking where this leaves it. The answer is, in exactly the same place. The truth is, Lords of Midnight, Doomdark’s Revenge, and Midwinter, are part time projects for me. They are something I do in my spare time. That will continue. On the whole, from 8am till 5pm I will work on Timbles, and in the evening I will continue with my other projects.
Being transparent, Lords of Midnight sold 6k units, which means it made about £18k. I lose approximately 50% of that to VAT and fees from Apple, Google, etc… and the remaining £9k was split three ways. So that leaves me with £3k to either spend on company stuff, or to take out as salary, meaning more Tax and NI. And the truth is, that £3k was pretty much spent on bringing the game to market. As much as I would like to be working on Midnight related projects full-time, I don’t believe it would achieve much other than the enjoyment of me doing so.
I expect that LoM desktop, Doomdark’s Revenge, and DDR Desktop, will do about the same numbers. Now don’t get me wrong, £12k into the company would be welcome, especially if I could make that happen every year, but the truth is, it won’t pay the mortgage alone. And I don’t think I could make the projects massively increase their revenue stream, not alone.
So, I’m taking a risk. I am going to spend the next seven weeks unpaid on Timbles, on the hope that it will make enough money to cover more development time and extend the time I can avoid taking a new contract. I believe in the project, and believe it could make a good profit. But more importantly, I really want to get the project out there for other kids to play and learn from. If I’m lucky it will cover the costs of the seven weeks I am going to dedicate to it. At worst, it’s another project off the list and I’ve just made myself another financial hole.