That said, I think he actually succeeded, despite appearances. Managing to release a working game in 3 month, that actually got sales, is a feat in itself. The game will keep trickling sales, if he's a developer he can probably find a job in a few weeks and enjoy the now-passive income so I'm not too worried about him. Keep cranking out games like this one and the income will pile up.
TL;DR: prepare for this to happen, and build a long tail of games/sales.
I don't want to sound mean but I don't think anyone should buy the game because they feel sorry and he is begging. I can't condone it. It has become trendy for people to make GoFundMe campaigns or write articles begging people to help.
Assume people do buy your game because they are sorry, and you manage to get by. Is that how you intend to create a sustainable business? What about other indie devs who failed, maybe even harder? Should they also write articles with their sad story? What about those who don't make it to the top of Hackernews? Should what is essentially charity support people taking risks?
I take this article as a cautionary tale of what could go wrong when you go indie, one of those that we need more of in face of the wild success stories that saturate media.
The author does say "I have been warned against going full time indie by everyone on the internet and by my friends and family. I believed I could make it, all I had to do was ship just 700 units of my game on steam." They also say "After more than 10 years of writing games I believed I had acquired enough know-how, knowledge and experience to make it in the industry on my own, on my own terms and on my own schedule." [my emphasis].
That implies they had thought about the financials, and were believed they'd be able to get a sufficient amount of revenue.
what you describe is basically the entire human condition as it has ever been since time inmemorial.
Art is the culture that underpins society. Normalizing the idea of sacrificing to create it is itself antisocial.
It's a wonder that he survived at all
This guy works for 11 years in the industry, aquired a whole bunch of knowledge on how to ship and market games, runs communities for indi game devs and what not and then when it comes to the actual games, he fails hardcore.
The musicians that actually ‘make it’ are those guys/girls that say ‘I just want to write one song that is my own’ — ‘I just want to make a 5-song album’ — ‘I just want to play my album in a bar’. ‘I just want to sell a copy to someone I don't know’ — ‘I just want to sell 10 copies to people I don't know.’ ‘I want to play my songs somewhere that is not a bar.’ And every time it turns out the next achievement is just around the corner from where they are, so they always feel good about having achieved something and they always feel motivated to achieve the next thing.
This guy better change his blog post to ‘I made a game and I released it on Steam’ and talk about how he's going to take a job in order to fund himself while I tries to sell 100 copies, and then write ‘I sold 100 copies of my game’ and talk about how he will get to 200.
As a developer it is quite easy to find contracting/freelancing gigs if you need money quickly. I don't know in what kind of business environment this guy lives, but I've never felt that those with programming skills need to stress about savings that much, because there is so much short-term work available if you want it. Of course it is not the kind of work that many would want to do, but it pays the bills.
I got 2 years covered before starting this path (not all with savings, there is additional income).
(If you go through a recruiter, you might be in a better position, because sometimes recruiters want you to invoice weekly and sometimes they pay more or less on receipt of the invoice. And sometimes they don't, of course.)
It comes down to have the savings, but as well to have low living expenses or otherwise lifestyle in a way where you can downgrade it when needed.
During that time app stores were a relatively new thing, so the products I was developing were apps. They started making a decent revenue after 2 years if I remember right. The first year I didn't make about any money. I had very low-cost lifestyle, and cheap rent in a tiny apartment, which helped a lot. If I would have kids or some expensive hobbies it would have been much, much more difficult.
I was about to get married when I quit my job and started by myself, and my wife also had to quit her job because we moved country. And we honestly didn't really work out whether we were in a bit of debt or if we had savings for a few weeks. Sure, the first 6 months without pay were hard, and so were the next few years with low pay, especially when we had kids.
But if having 6 or 12 months worth of savings is a requirement, then you can rule out just about everyone except rich kids and upper middle class teenagers.
Re. the GP's comment though - I don't understand how you could do this without any savings, there must've been some? At least rent (assuming you don't live with parents), food, internet connection - it has to be paid somehow surely - either by "you" (through savings) or family/friends taking the hit (eg letting you crash, using their facilities). With the right setup and network you could live extremely cheaply but someone is going to be paying for it. I don't think this is limited to rich kids or upper middle class teenagers (not sure of the focus on children rather than independent adults?) - if the average person can save for a holiday or whatnot - they could equally save towards living expenses, even if only "paying for my own food whilst I stay on my friends sofa rent free".
I'm personally planning for an exit strategy which will see me working for myself in about 6 months time. I have roughly one year's take-home pay and will ideally have 18-24 months by the time I quit.
There's no need to keep that much money in the bank just in case you lose your job and can't pay your mortgage. Most lenders (at least where I'm from) will arrange a payment holiday if you tell them you've lost your job. After all, they benefit by earning more interest whilst you're not making payments.
Of course, there are many other good reasons to want that much liquid cash in the bank.
I certainly don't drop every dollar into my mortgage every month, it's just not worth the risk for a potential 4% return on investment.
Basically quit your day job only if your side hustle is already making more money per month (not per hour) because odds are even making more per month is still going to result in not being able to survive much past 57.
Side note, how many 57 year old indie game devs are there?
The average American doesn't do what is "conventional wisdom".
> But if having 6 or 12 months worth of savings is a requirement, then you can rule out just about everyone except rich kids and upper middle class teenagers.
If you’re a good Software developer and have no idea how to save some 20-30k bucks in 2-3 years for your plan of your own business you’re doing something wrong.
Like you are bad at contract negotiations, no good contact network in the industry to find someone willing to pay for good people, have too high expenses, too low saving potential, or, you’re just not as good of a dev as you think.
Any of those should be reason enough for you to think again about your plans.
And don’t hate me for being honest, better be honest to yourself...
I state you need more that tech skills to be successful.
If you don’t have these other skills, better keep in a “safe” employment. But also then i recommend to work on some of these, like at least the negotiation stuff. It will help you.
Most EE countries do have a property tax, in fact it can be quite sizable if your 50k Soviet era apartment gets appraised for the same tax base price that the luxury 500k condominium next door.
The property tax bill can be a huge problem for retirees who live on Soviet era pensions in old houses next to new developments.
Incidentally this is the problem that Prop. 13 in California set to solve initially.
It's the problem Prop 13 was sold as solving, but not at all tailored to specifically address.
I'm also from a poor class family, who worked up, got a job, etc. Because I'm white most burden scholarships I couldn't get, so I got a fair amount from research etc. I wasn't going hungry poor, but I did have to buy my own clothes, pay for school, lunch, what ever, at 14 poor.
Now, I've been planning since I went to school to start my own business. Next year's bonus (which is 2 - 3 months living expenses), plus tax return (estimated 2 months living expenses) gives me right around 6 months living expenses. That's 3 years out of school. There is no reason people looking to start a company cant be patient and get some savings first. I actually have two websites making profit (albeit small) at the moment:
Both of those were completed while on vacation from work or weekends. And both are growing rather consistently and I should be able to leave my current role in the next year. I grant it's a stupid amount of work (I work ~80 hours a week, or 12 hours every single day), but there is no reason people from a poor background can't have savings AND start a business.
Just a different perspective. Kudos to you for making it work though.
But if having 6 or 12 months worth of savings is a requirement, then you can rule out just about everyone except rich kids and upper middle class teenagers.
The point isn’t really how many months of savings you have, it’s what sort of safety net yo have in practice. Does anyone have your back if you can’t make rent payments?
A million things can happen that delay payment and sales coming in. A year to keep personal and businesses cost running is a good and sane minimum that also keeps your mind from the worries you get when suddenly alteady 2,5 of these 4 months are gone and another expected positive sales/payment event didn’t happen for whatever, maybe accidental, reason.
(Says a 10 year running freelancer who started with 12 months savings and currently runs on only 5 for some events in the past 2 years - but luckily with good project and customer base)
Disagree, but I suppose it's highly dependant on location and salary.
The last time I worked for a game company, I made $95k/yr, which equated to $5002/mo after taxes and deductions. This is in Toronto, Canada.
An expensive 1-bedroom luxury apartment steps from the subway was $2100/mo. My share of daycare cost for the kids was another $900 or so. Heating/electricity $100. Totally unoptimized mobile phone and fiber internet, another $220. Car insurance and home insurance, another $300. Gasoline $100. So, $1280 left over for food and random stuff. Let's say I bothered with any kind of cost-control: I could probably save $900 / mo. That's 2 mos salary in savings every year. After 10 years, that's 20 months in savings, without compounding or other windfalls. In fact, I'm now in a 2BR apartment that's $400 cheaper /mo.
EDIT> Forgot Long-term disability insurance, Life insurance, and medications. Call that another $500, but about $300 of that is meds. If you're young and healthy, or have full health insurance, hopefully you're paying less for medication.
I know 4 months sounds like a lot, but $2000 does not sound like a lot.
You want to feel safe so you can take calculated risks.
I sometimes think people starting businesses take on an unnecessary amount of risk out of some unconscious belief that, by doing so, it will "prove" to God or the universe, or maybe just themselves, that they really want it.
(I'm not exactly sure how enforceable such a clause would really be, but that's another story, and I really understand him not wanting to take the risk)
Do you just look for things to be offended by, or is there a particular reason?
Are you aware of any specific laws concerning this whole thing?
Quite honestly, it sounds hard, but not impossible. This is not WOW we're talking about.
My last company required IP assignment of all works that were:
- created on company hardware or
- related to the business in which the company engages
...and that struck me as eminently reasonable as a default. My current company defaults to everything full stop. I'm pretty sure this is going to be the default for most knowledge work in any state that hasn't specifically ruled such provisions unenforceable.
6 years ago, I took a break from doing webdev freelancing and spent around 3 months developing a kids app. At that point the money ran out so I released the app even though it wasn't entirely finished and quickly went back to doing web freelancing in order to be able to feed my family.
The app sold in small amounts but it was getting great feedback from the people who had tried it. In my spare time, I added to it and improved it and would pester bloggers to try it. Marketing beyond that isn't an option as the costs are too great and if you're lucky you make a dollar per app sold.
It was a depressing and disheartening thing to put something out there which you felt was good but almost nobody was buying but I realised it was a gamble up front. I didn't bet the farm on it. I bet three months wages and immediately went back to regular work as soon as I was in financial danger.
Even if your game is amazing, there's no way anyone is going to instantly and magically know about it. Are there really so many people spending every day looking at the Steam new releases ready to just buy anything that appears? At the Indie level, only word-of-mouth means anything and that can take a very long time to build.
As it happens, after 9 long months of very little sales, my app got a small write-up in the New York Times. The piece was by one of the bloggers I had pestered particularly hard to try it and later happened to have a one-off article published. Since then, somehow the word-of-mouth effect kicked in and I've been blessed to be able to work on the app full-time as my sole source of income.
TL;DR: Don't ever plan on anyone buying your indie-game on day 1 even if it's amazing.
A friend of ours does the artwork using actual pen and paper. We scan it in and clean it up in Photoshop.
Also, and this is encapsulated in the ideas above, don't freaking rely on family, friends, or acquaintances, to tell you what they think of the game. Not even other devs. Nobody wants to be the asshole that shoots down someone's dream. Again, if you can't even get actual players to try your game then you have big problems that you need to work on.
That some people fail to make a big splash isn't evidence that a big splash is a tactic that will fail. Particularly if you take a broader view as this has been a successful part of the business model of games for a long time. Whether or not it's right for a specific game and the longer term business of the developer is a much more nuanced question.
A few games have managed to become huge hits growing only organically in early access (factorio and rimworld come to mind), but they are extremely special games. That's not something you can replicate with a relatively generic title.
To be fair, I'm not sure there is any path to success for a solid albeit generic game these days. There are just too many releases.
BTW, Jon Blow is the creator of Braid and The Witness. He is also working on Jai, a programming language.
But I only think this because I have had the experience many times in the past!
I feel the best place to focus my creative energy is on making livestreams, doing speeches, and just on day-to-day programming.
Putting effort into a posting here often doesn't take too much energy, but it does take some, and I'd rather put it into something bigger than mostly toss it away.
That worked for Minecraft. The core group of players was pretty small. Nearly all male geek types for the first year. You had to look up almost everything in the rather chaotic wiki to get anywhere.. which is what made it fun for me at the time.
There's still plenty of interest in glam metal. Steel Panther are doing well, and back in 2014/2015 when Mötley Crüe did their "final tour" they were one of the best selling acts during that period.
It might be better to say that "his sense of what niche to target, and how to target that niche, wasn't as well developed as it should be". In the same sense that you can make money selling glam-metal today, he probably can make money with a pixel-art dungeon crawler, if he can figure out how to target the specific group of people who are into that sort of thing.
"Please note that I did all the marketing I could afford to do on my own and with a halved budget. I emailed 187 reviewers and news website. I tweeted out like mad and got about 50 retweets and >10K impressions on the launch tweet. Before release I even had a mention about the game on Rock Paper Shotgun's german website."
Write a cautionary tale and get recognition even in auxiliary communities.
Glam metal isn't really a good analogy. I'd say it's more like building cathedrals. The market isn't what it used to be. They're still admirable and today's tools are better for them. But they're monumental work, even for the experienced, and you'd be insane to tackle that with 4 months of savings.
I want to make a game eventually, and I'm a risk taker, but even I would save up at least 3 years before I go indie.
Cathedrals were AAA titles, took generations and the funds of a pope.
Pixel art indies are like Norwegian Stav Kirke, a cathedral made of wood. It’s concevable you could build one yourself.
Not every indie is a stave kirke, some are straw huts. Just as not every AAA is a cathedral, some are just 3 walls and a price list for future construction.
Maybe your example represents the game kit or game builder games.
I bought at least 3 of them. My steam recommendations are full of them and many have big, happy communities. I think "aren't cool" is a bit of an overstatement. They're not AAA level cool, but few things are.
PS: This is not a pixel art game.
The games market is so saturated with actual good, polished content, everybody knows this, making an indie game you need to really stand out from the crowd from the view of game mechanics in a spectacular way, or you need really good graphics and sound, and still you are not guaranteed even to make your own investment back.
Been working at a big mobile game company myself and seeing this shit first hand, you make like 50 games and maybe 1 or 2 were like good or really good, not even great. It's a brutal business, and oversaturated like heck, how are you going to stand out with this kind of game ?
But do I want to play it in competition with so many other things I could play? Not really. Sorry :( I'm sure it's very well done and I might enjoy it, but there is no reason to move it to the top of my large to-do list...
That also means you're now 20 years older, and perhaps not in the target demographics for games in general.
Well, bureaucracy is high, but like other said, no need to setup a company in advance. But, he saved anyway way to little money ( I found strange that he is counting in USD, since euro is de facto currency, besides the RON ) to be able to sustain him and an apartment.
Lessons learn: don't quit your job until you have some sale volume.
However, since he's in Romania, he will get a job in no time, there's a chronic shortage of good developers.
The majority of his sales would be in USD (with EUR second, except if he especially marketed to European customers).
And $ gives a standard reference across the world. For EUR many people around the world need to do the conversion first, but even someone in rural Nigeria or Polynesia would have a good grasp of the value of the $ compared to their local currency.
There's also the thing that the average developer salaries are surprisingly low. They are well above the national average, but it's only the top 1-5% who really pulls in the money. The latest numbers I have seen is an average of 5300 RON net (1185 EUR). While the national average is at 2100 RON (485 EUR). The top 1-5% pulls in more than double the average: 10000 RON (2170 EUR), if not more. You're gonna need a salary like that to live comfortably.
It makes sense for him to count in US dollars because even though prices for apartments and cars are expressed in euros in Romania, the rest off the world is still very much US dollar centric.
Salaries are low compared to the rest of Europe (and the US). But it sounds easy to get a tech job there.
See my comment down here, 80% of the companies offering jobs are outsourcing companies, which are not the greatest to work for IMHO. Or did you have a different experience? I worked for one for about 6 months and left. I've seen people around me with similar experiences. But those are just my anecdotal experiences.
EDIT: Yeap, Romania has been doing well. However, I'd argue that the biggest risk is not corruption. From the Romanian workforce's point of view, its becoming too dependent on outsourcing. As salary costs rise, it becomes less and less attractive for foreign companies to outsource work to Romania. Right now, in the city where I live in Romania, 80% of the IT companies are outsourcing companies. It's getting better and better, and most good programmers know to avoid the outsourcing companies as they generally pay peanuts and the work is boring and repetitive.
He probably used USD for the same reason he wrote in english. 'everybody' outside the US knows, roughly, the value of a USD. Few people in the US knows the value of a a Euro.
Don't quit your job until your side gig is fully self-sufficient and you are being paid enough to cover bills/food/necessities and you have a few months saved up for emergencies and such.
If you can't work 40 hours per week at a basic job (and squeeze in a few hours of at least thinking/reading about your side project, if not actually coding/writing) and work another 20-60 on your side gig, you probably don't like it enough or have enough passion for it to sustain it even if you hit your stride.
60 hours per week is far more feasible (if you have few obligations outside of work), but I think that once that number starts increasing the number of people physically capable of working that long is going to drop very sharply.
I work three 16 hour days and three ~10 hour days (sometimes I take two days off and work another 16 hour day). One full day with my oldest child, and the other days I wake up very early and get home to do dinner and evening activities.
>>the majority of the population is not going to be to do this without slowly killing themselves.
We're talking about entrepreneurs, aren't we? People who want to make stuff? Yeah, they aren't the majority. I never said they were.
With all due respect, I am obliged to invite you to ingest excrement. Whilst there might be some people out there who have everything they need to spend another 20 to 60 hours a week on a side gig besides passion, I believe that one needs to have a set of not so common circumstances to be able to devote 40-60 hours a week to something other than a job.
I worked 50 hrs/week at my main job and another 40 until this one took off. All it took was not having much of a social life outside of it. There's nothing that difficult about it.
Plus, as others have said, releasing the game while employed may expose you to the risk of having your employer claim IP ownership.
Overall the concept is confusing. It’s a “coffee-break game” but also a really difficult roguelike with permadeath? Why? People don’t like to experience frustration in their coffee breaks, in my experience!
They look like a half-baked demo of a Wolfenstein clone. There's no video of the gameplay either, so it'd be pretty damn hard to convince a random person to sink any time into this even if it were free.
I bet he's losing 99% of the audience at the first image.
EDIT - There's a video now, not sure why it wasn't showing up before. The first image was just of two stone walls around a flat looking inset door. It looked as unexciting as it gets.
I'd try a demo because this is the sort of thing I might like but I see nothing there worth paying for up front.
> I even released a small 5 level demo on itch (can't afford to pay steam's 100$ fee to get a free version up on the platform)
How much larger is Steam's market than itch's? I'm guessing the answer is "very". How many conversions do they need for the $100 to pay off? 20-30? Seems like a no-brainer to me, and not even being able to afford $100 for what would almost certainly be positive ROI marketing is a pretty big blocker. Heck, I'd even front the $100 myself if I can get some kind of commission on copies sold :)
$100 dollars is nothing compared to dev costs. It should have been just counted as startup costs and the demo should have been up since day 1.
It's like he went out of his way to do everything exactly wrong, knowing the chances of failure were against him even if he did everything right.
You've built a fully working product in a short amount of time. It went pretty much as you have planned it. This speaks volumes to your abilities as a game developer.
You discovered that you are not that great at launching products, marketing, and sales. These are the areas you need to spend a lot of time improving.
It sounds like the plan right now is to get up on your own two feet, financially wise. Get a job that will cover your expenses, so that stress disappears. Start saving up again.
Start learning about sales, marketing, and product launches. They may seem like a second thought to you, but each of these areas is as important as product development.
Another thing to consider is when to quit your job. In general it is said that one should have about six months of living expenses saved up, just in case. This is to cover a situation where you have a job and lose it unexpectedly. That six months of savings will allow you to spend time to find a new job.
To quit your job and self-fund, you need a lot more savings. How much is tough to say. But let's say you give yourself six months to break even in your game venture (no guarantees!), you need to plan an additional X months of savings to find a new job.
The good news is the next time, you possibly will not need to quit your job altogether. You already have a well-built game. Tweak it, redress it, and spend 90% of your time launching and marketing. Perhaps you can do it while you have a job and reduce your financial risk greatly.
Also this is getting tired seeing honest, hard-working, self-motivated talented individuals push themselves into the same tried and tested crappy old corner of 'indie pixel art games'. It's quite difficult to see anything innovative or even remotely enjoyable from this genre anymore.
It's not Romania. It's not boring buearacracy. Its not the savings. Hell it's not even you.
It's pixel art crap that passes off as indie games. I hate AAA games but now I hate these indie pixel art games even more.
I personally don't get the appeal of pixel art, the blocky look of much of it seems purposely lower res then the actual sprites they purport to imitate, but it's just an aesthetic choice that has no direct relation to the quality of a game and it doesn't ruin the experience for me.
And, I've seen enough badly done 3D that I refuse to buy the premise that sprites are objectively inferior. The problem isn't the pixel art, it's that most indie developers (myself included, eventually) likely don't have the talent or staff to create a product that stands out, or they might, but want to focus on recreating nostalgia rather than iterating on the ideas and genres they like and creating something new.
Chances are that's exactly what the games they like were doing back in the day, and that's why they became classics.
A lot of devs are still living with the 1980s "Build It And They Will Come" philosophy. That was great when Elite and Manic Miner were the only games out. Now you've got to onboard your market with Alpha builds, get feedback early - gee, it's all a bit Lean Startup now.
You probably haven't seen Undertale then http://store.steampowered.com/app/391540/Undertale/
Nobody should look at Undertale and say "Yes, this is definitely a good area/style/genre to go into to make easy success.
Look up "The Last Night".
Honestly, this puts things into an entirely new light for me. I feel like buying, playing and then thoroughly interacting in the community of a game can really have personal impact on the indie developer.
In Romania you definitely can.
(he already had the "magical 700 buyers" by the time this article was published). Funny thing, it seems some ~700 more people decided to take a go of it, and then refunded.
1) Proof that people want to play this game. Post the gameplay video on /r/indiegaming, see what people say. I remember the early days of Minecraft, people went wild for it, even though it was very basic.
2) Marketing. Tweeting is not enough. Submitting to reviewers is not enough.
On the positive side, he is fast and can deliver. I feel like he can develop minimum viable games even faster, just to prove the gameplay is addicting.
A few months on, I receive a letter from the tax department advising that my previous employer provided corrected earnings information and that I now owed them most of what was left in my savings account. Grim news.
That big four job was already gone so I ended up in another interview process. Leaving that interview for the train station, I realised the coins in my pocket were not enough for the train ride home.
I set out walking, it was about 5 kilometers, 30c degree heat and equatorial humidity and then it started raining. I was in a suit. Strangely enough I found myself smiling. I thought "is this all you've got?". I actually felt happy... with nothing.
A riches to rags story by traditional measure.
Still, very sorry about the situation, I'm sure you were hoping for the best.
I know there's a sentiment on hacker news that you should take advantage of a company when you can, because they won't hesitate to take advantage of you. Is it that?
It seems like at that level of compensation you are almost certainly in a small enough circle that any grudges you incur could severely affect you down the line.
I'm sure I'm less intelligent than the average HN commenter and I'm certain there are many here with greater infosec expertise. So what explains the salary package? It's the combination of skills in this case. People are usually either good technically or good at sales. Rarely they're good at both. That's why most technology companies sales organisations pairs up an account managers with a tech guy. My talent was not being the best at either, but being uniquely good at both.
Developer salaries in the big four (I assume you mean Google/Facebook/Amazon/Apple) are high but that is still twice what I normally hear (and have gotten offers for), and that's assuming you're talking about total comp. I'm not doubting you, i'm just curious what type of experience you need to get that.
He meant "the other big four", i.e. consulting companies.
If you have marketable skills that at least once (even assuming that it wasn't typical occurrence) lead you to receive a $600k offer, you're not in the rags, regardless of what your financial statement says.
"We didn't think it was possible to sell only 6000 copies" [after PA sold 2 million].
It's a monster-collecting game, so I really can't figure out what the link is there to programmers.
Thank god I'm only doing this as a hobby because I bet such a connection would be obvious to anyone more entrepreneur-like than I.
There are some strong positives here - you shipped a game! That alone is awesome. You built up a community. You were prepared to take a chance. All great things.
The harsh reality is the casual games market is brutal from a business perspective - that's not your fault.
Better luck next time!
It also appears he would have launched the game without quitting his job, seeing as he seems to have done most of the work before he quit.
> The harsh reality is the casual games market is brutal from a business perspective - that's not your fault
It’s not his fault for the market being tough, but it is his fault for launching another rogue like 2d pixel art rpg, with no real unique feature into an over saturated market, with no marketing, and not enough cash to deal with a single business expense. He’s lucky his girlfriend put him up afterwards, and this piece might even net him a few sympathy sales, but this is definitely his fault.
Who cares about who's fault it is anyway?
Maybe a few years back, that barely worked, but even then, if you didn't have an audience, your game never sold as much.
Back in the 80s even the crappiest games sold relatively well. Infogrames made a whole publishing company out of it.
> That market is nothing like todays.
Of course it's not. That was not the point of my comment at all.
Where I live, nobody owning an apartment would ever expect not to have to get an individual contract with an electricity provider and to pay for electricity based on individual consumption. There are some rental contracts that include a flat fee for electricity consumption, but I don't understand how an owner would expect not to pay.
Maybe the author expected electricity to be covered by other charges? But that would still be a misunderstanding on his part and not mean that the "developer behind the apartment did not do his job properly".
I was surprised he paid for such an apartment, it sounds like he didn't get any sort of survey done before handing over funds/agreeing what would actually be completed before moving in. Combined with then quitting a job with so little savings I think this year will be a stressful but worthwhile lesson in planning and being more long term in thinking.
The thing is, a salary in Romania outside of tech is between 300 - 600 euros. With most people who have non-tech jobs (cashier, seller, construction) and even some it jobs being on the low end of that spectrum (even lower). I was making 4 times what most people make. My first job as a game designer gave me about 400 euros. With a 200 euro mortgage nowadays and savings it was a no brainer to finish up the game in the remaining month working full time on it and release it. However there were some problems on the developers side:
- The building had power, via a contract with the local power energy and a written promise from the developer that he will handle all the legal documents to connect me to the power grid properly and handle all the payments.
- The same thing as above with gas.
A few weeks ago I received an e-mail informing me (and all people who owned property in the building) that the contract they had with the power company will expire and we need to get our paperwork sorted out. Now again, I met with the developer and have in writing the fact that he was to take care of things. It turns out, he did but he just applied for all the permits and did all the paperwork but he didn't pay for anything. And I got word of this 1 week before the plug was about to be pulled. In that situation I had to run and pay for everything so I can keep the power up and work on my things. And gas since we all use gas for heating here during the winter - same story.
Edit: There's an entire article to be written about buying an apartment here when the developer pretty much has a monopoly in this part of the city. For example, you can rarely find a already-built new building (that's not in shambles and will fall at the next big-ish earthquake) to buy. Most people pay for it in advance (before it's even built) and in the end can end up with a shit hole (it happens). And you pay mortgage on a building that's not even completed.
Yeah, that's a valid reading of the part that I quoted, and I would have interpreted it as such. Except that he then goes on to say that "the plug was pulled", implying (to me) that the bill for running consumption hadn't been paid.
1. finishing the game
2. setting up a buisness
3. marketing the game
4. buying, setting up and moving into his own apartment
he did good with 1, but underestimated 2-4 and it went over his head.
But now he has HN attention, so he should survive (or even prosper). But like others said, the whole thing sounded very whiney and attention grabbing..
Just don't quit your job unless you have enough savings and good grasp on your finances.
It's so much easier to make things than to sell them, even more so from an unknown underdog on a crowded market.
If he's even a half-decent programmer - he'd be able to get a new job in an instant, keeping his business on the side, or doing freelance stuff with it - and maintain the game in his free time. This is way too much self-pity and begging for sales. He took a pretty small risk, it failed to pay off in the short term and now he acts as if it's the end of the world.
I took way bigger risks than that with a lot more money, and was fully aware of the possible consequences the entire time, even though I was in my early 20's. It managed to turn out ok-ish, but that took about 7 years of hard work, with the first 3 being on the brink of bankruptcy and 60+h work-weeks. Looking back on it, financial ROI was pretty bad, but it taught me a lot.
You saved 2000$? OMG I would wait until 10000€ at least (Spain).
At the end, he says: 'I know I can get hired for a good salary again but I don't think it will happen this year'.
What do you mean by good salary? Because if you say you have a low mortgage in a low cost country but that only gave you like 2000$ savings for the game...
His assumptions were not too unrealistic, he just didn't factor out additional costs and should have had bigger margin of safety.
You shouldn't compare money like this between countries, differences are big and Romania is on the bottom of EU when it comes to income (though they are currently developing super fast, so it will definitely change - good for them).
Getting a full time job as a developer in Romania is extremely easy if you have any decent skills, there is a shortage of skilled people, but anyone reading the story will not hire him; he made absolutely all possible mistakes, including the ones specific to Romania (like his new apartment), so anyone that is looking for an example of how you can screw up big time can point to his article as an example.
Can you explain that ratio? €1000--€1100 is roughly equal to $1200--$1300, and some quick searches tell me income tax in Romania is a flat 16%. That ends up very far from $2500.
People think that Europe has free goodies - there is nothing free when taxes are 60-70%. The free health care is actually a tax that does not give any guarantee you will ever receive anything, you may die waiting for treatment and it happens a lot.
I have included as taxes everything the employer is paying for you to the state without you having any decision power. Nothing of what I mentioned is optional or giving you anything guaranteed. The pension is also a tax because if you live to get something in return or you die before retiring, all the money you paid during your life are lost. The beauty of socialism is that the state takes almost everything from you and then it gives you some back, making you dependent on the state's good will.
What that doesn't tell you is that employer also pays 30% on top of your gross salary in "social insurance", so maybe Romania has something like that in place.
And you don't even do your own taxes if you're employed in the vast majority of jobs. You do them if you're an entrepreneur or contractor.
But yhea, even 4/5 months of saving is not enough to start this kind of journey.