But so far since then every project has not been worth doing.
> I didn't do ads, I didn't do micro-transactions, scummy energy bars, and all those other bullshit monetization tactics.
We did this in Clicker Heroes, and I don't like that we did. But I'm learning more and more that it's hard to compete against scummy tactics.
I hope Clicker Heroes 2 does OK. We might have to find corporate jobs too if it doesn't.
Props to for going against the HN hive mind. F2P is successful because most people choose it and will not pay for software. There are real issues with it but it not pure evil like HN thinks.
In the meantime, I have nothing but admiration for those of you who actually do it before having independent financial security. I can't say I think it's wise, but I am a beneficiary of the massive numbers of talented people working in your field.
'Make game of that which makes as much of thee.'
My company has been paying me very competitively for more than a decade. I'm not worried about settling down here, but nobody else will make me a higher offer, at least not without requiring much more of my time than where I am at.
that 'safety' of a 'regular'
income is almost entirely
illusory as well
If I work for Google and they go bankrupt, worst case I lose a month's salary and I'm unemployed. And the chance of that is probably below 5% per year (obviously depends on the company)
If I take a year off to develop my indie game, the odds are much worse, I gamble a year's salary not a month's, and if I end up unemployed I've already burned through a lot of my savings.
Google may be a bad example. Google actually filing for bankruptcy would probably have a pretty big ripple effect on tech and financial sectors, and your skills may be in less demand than you think.
I've been working on corporate software for 3 years now, and while my finances are back on track, it's gotten harder and harder to stay motivated and I've been really tempted to take another stab at it, despite not really having enough saved up to do so (especially if my girlfriend and I are going to buy a house this year).
Anyway, it's tough to just sit and stare at the die and not roll it. I have done some board game design as a hobby, since that doesn't totally drain me like extra programming does, and I've even gotten my first publishing offer recently, but I know firsthand from other designers of successful titles that the money you can expect from it is minuscule compared to making a successful video game (one person told me he made $10k in royalties off a game that you can buy at Barnes and Noble. I've made more than that off a video game that was only somewhat successful).
Anyway, I've played and enjoyed A Dark Room. I should probably check out your other games. Thanks for taking the time to share your story, it's given me something to think about.
- Live off of $15k a year. Don't buy a house. Don't buy a fancy car. Just save.
- Do this for a year.
- Land a job that makes you $100k a year. Save the rest. Max out your 401k contribution.
- Celebrate by living off of $30k a year.
- Do this for three years.
- Land a job that makes you $140k a year. Save the rest. Max out your 401k contribution. Get a Roth, put $5k a year into that.
- Celebrate by living off of $60k a year.
- Do this for three years.
He is talking about SAVING, $500,000. Then needing to liquidate your 401k, just to take off a year?
If he is capable of living on 60k before this, he should be able to live almost 10 years just on his savings without liquidating the 401k.
He grossed over 800k on a video game, loves programming, but after another three years he has to go back to his day job? It sounds like he's burning over 100k/year and lying about his expenses in this report. In any case, there's a lot of information left out.
While it might appear unfair for Apple to take such a large cut of 'your' money, Apple looks at this the other way around: you cost them quite a lot of the money their customers are willing to spend on apps.
Given that they've never actually run any large scale tests of the effect of different rates, it's probably safer to say this is a number that just 'feels right' - it doesn't look 'too greedy' up front, but isn't too low that shareholders might think they're leaving money on the table.
Dropping it to 22 or 25% for a couple of years would give some real numbers as to what the true impact would be. Even if the numbers were studied years ago, the current behaviour and ecosystem would be different.
As an apple shareholder, I would prefer that they explore other rates and then demonstrate that this is the best one.
But really, where else are people going to go?
Must be nice to live in a world without having to give Apple 30%, insurance premiums, taxes, and royalties/partnership splits.
Take this comment in good spirit. We all make mistakes. Nothing but love for you. Go build awesome things. Hire a CPA for all the math related stuff.
Apple taking 30% cut is insane.
This duopoly situation isn't really good developers. Apple taking 30% cut and tossing it on their pile of 250b in cash; that's a depressing image.
I’m not sure 30% is expensive enough compared to doing all of that yourself.
Dark Room would not have sold $800,000 anywhere else. The author even said Google Play was an order of magnitude less than Apple.. so is an order of magnitude worth 30%? It seems like a lot of people would trip over a dollar to save a nickel.
To get $30k a year, that’s a starting portfolio of $750k. 
If you’re making $140k a year and living frugally, you can amass $750k in less than 10 years, perhaps even 5-7 if you are really frugal + lucky with the market.
It’s within reach of most software engineers, to be honest - but of course many people prefer the regular ski trips, new Tesla every few years, and so on. But if your dream is to work on your own stuff free of bosses/corporate politics/etc, it might be worth doing.
$30k a year won’t be much of a living in the Bay Area or New York, but for a single dependent person it’s quite alright; and in many mid sized European cities with socialized healthcare/university/etc, it’ll even let you raise a kid or two without having to sacrifice much.
: http://www.firecalc.com/ gives us an 80% chance of success for a $750k portfolio on $30k withdrawal a year over 50 years.
If you’re new to this and want to delve further, check out https://www.reddit.com/r/financialindependence/
You live on $30K / year (in the Bay Area/NY, where you're most likely to find a starting / junior / midrange position that offers $140K - remembering that needs to be liquid)...
and after your ten years of "living frugally" (and let's be clear, it's gonna be frugal with $2500/month rent for a 1br 600 sqft apartment eating up well, 100% of your after-savings income, so you're going to be rooming with someone)...
That's what you've got for the rest of your life. Your $750K nest egg will give you an 80% chance of being able to supply $30K/year. Sure, now you can use it to work on your own stuff, but until (and unless) that catches on...
As for living frugally: Don't live _in_ SF. For a short BART or Caltrain ride, you can live in a $1500/mo. apartment that is beautiful.
Which will be good 4 out of 5 times.
This is using all available 50 years "stretches" since 1871.
If you try limiting the "since" to 1960 the success rate goes to 25%.
Still since 1960, 40 years are 44%, 30 years are roughly on par at 79%.
And while sticking at the shorter 30 years, if you start from 1970 the percentage of success increases at 94.4%, if you start from 1980 you finally get 100%.
If you start from 1970 with 40 years period, you are at 75%, more or less the same.
Now what happens if - still starting from 1970 - you increase the period?
41 - 71.4%
42 - 66.7%
43 - 40.0%
44 - 25.0%
45 - 33.3%
46 - 50.0%
47 - 0.00%
And the troubling issue with the last one is that in the two cycles available you hit 0 US$ respectively after 25 and 40 years.
Not to put anyone down, but even the 3% is not that much safe when you go over such lengthy stretches, still as an example drawing 22,500 US$ out of the 750,000 portfolio, which gives a 100% rate of success limiting since 1960 gives 8 cycles, of which one is not a problem as it ends ove 20 millons, but the other 7 (or 87.50%) are IMHO too close to 0 to be reassuring.
Honestly I don't know what he is suggesting or not suggesting, but the reference to the Reddit group makes me think that he actually suggests about becoming "financially independent".
My note was however only about not taking the 4% and firecalc calculator (BTW very good) as an oracle.
More a reference to:
than anything else.
I suspect most of those budgets were aspirational as well, and he ended up spending 10k more for each of them.
It seems the $800k includes Apple's cut. As an app developer myself, even considering that amount is torturing yourself. Apple _only_ report the remaining 70%, especially when you consider promo codes, refunds, etc... - doing a crude sales*price is somewhat inaccurate.
(Fun fact: I'm an Australian developer. Of the amount I get paid, I also need to deduct sales tax for any sales I make to Australian consumers. For a 99c app, I would make 63c for Australian sales and 70c for other countries).
That'd roughly halve the amount going into savings, if tax is a third, he's spending a third, and he's saving a third.
Of course, he'd still have savings of $220k+
I was quite happy living in rural Japan doing my own thing and spent less than $10K per year, which meant that after taxes, health insurance, pension, etc I saved more than $10K per year.
I did that for 5 years, then I got married and I'm back in the programming business ;-). But anyway, the point really is that you don't actually have to take time off from "work". Find a cheap and wonderful place to live in the country side and a 9-5 job that will pay the bills, but leave your mind free. Then replace TV, video games, socialising, etc with programming in your free time. Even with limited time, because of the complete lack of politics, it's amazing how much you can actually do.
Dev experience is hard for me to measure :-) I worked at the university where I went to school. I also love to work and hate to study (err... "study" meaning attending classes or doing assigned homework -- for some reason I hate that and love independent study). So basically, I worked full time through school and squeaked through academically with a so-so mark ;-) Somewhat related, I even started a company at school with a few friends to write a game, but that got canned when the "business guy" embezzled all the money (great lesson, BTW).
Also, "sabbaticals" are not a stranger to me. In the late 90's I quit my job and spent 8 months writing free software. At that time I guess I had around 10 years of experience, depending on how you count. I had just suffered from working in a really messed up group and was questioning if I really wanted to be a programmer. Because I'm naturally frugal, I had saved up a fair amount of money by that point. My actual thought was, "I know I will need this money when I retire, but I think it will be better spent now." (In retrospect -- best thing I could have done).
To be honest, it was a crazy time. I would wake up at 6:00 am, go have a shower, have an idea while I was showering and literally run to my computer. Then I would program until it got dark. This is when I realised that I loved being a programmer and that I would do it as long as my body/brain could handle it. (Funny, but true story -- when I moved out of my apartment an older woman said, "Oh, are you the nice young gentleman who used to program in his front window all day? It's a pity you are leaving." Only then did I truly reflect that half the time I was programming, I was naked, having neglected to get dressed in my excitement to get back to the computer!)
At the same time I was doing this, I read a lot of daoist philosophy... Well... that's not really true. I spent a lot of time reading a little bit of daoist philosophy -- because it's incredibly dense (if you are interested, save time and just read translations with annotations by Richard Wilhelm -- He was German, but English translations of his translations exist. I wasted a lot of time reading extremely poor translations by people who didn't understand what they were translating). Later I wrote this: http://mikekchar.github.io/portfolio//UsefulAndBeneficial I still think it's the best thing I ever wrote (probably because I didn't really write it -- just pieced together other stories ;-) )
Armed with a better understanding of myself, I got another job and was very successful. After about 5 years, that job disappeared (the company was bought out and our division, being a kind of experimental division, was disbanded). I took the opportunity to take another 8 months "off". This time, it was less of a reactionary, "I need to find myself" affair and more of a deliberate, "I'm not going to get a job right away because I want to invest this time doing self study". Again, I wrote a lot of free software, but actually I was experimenting mostly with techniques around legacy software (refactoring, planning, prioritisation, etc).
I actually put all of my work on a business card sized CD-ROM and would occasionally hand it out to people who were interested in what I was doing. This actually landed my next job in a tiny start up. The founder had looked through my planning and prioritisation work and thought, "This is what we need!"
I really enjoyed working there, but the angel investor who bankrolled the company had similar qualities to the person who embezzled all the money in my game company. His interference cost the start up pretty badly and I saw the writing on the wall. After a few years I moved to another start up, but this time with an awesome management/investor team. I stayed there for a few years as well.
I was quite successful at this point. I had a good reputation in Ottawa, where I had mostly worked. I had a much bigger house than I needed. I had a good job, working with people that I liked. I had developed a way of working that was both successful and fulfilling for me. But... I've never been one to enjoy success, unfortunately. I always procrastinate because I hate finishing things. To accomplish something is to have it taken away from me -- I love to work on interesting problems.
So I moved to Japan. My initial idea was to go for 1 year to try to learn Japanese and to improve my mentoring skills. I had virtually no interest in Japan, and only picked it because: The JET Programme seemed like a comfortable way to do this kind of thing (and it is -- highly recommend it if you qualify: http://jetprogramme.org/en/), and also because I had randomly been practicing karate at the time.
After 3 months in Japan, I sold my house in Canada and incredibly reluctantly allowed my friend, who had been looking after my dogs, to adopt them (still sad about that, but also think it was the correct thing to do).
I think the most interesting discovery for me was: I don't have to be a professional programmer to be a programmer. In RMS's Free Software Manifesto, he spends considerable space devoted to the concept that not everybody needs to be a professional programmer. In the past I always read that section with considerable scepticism. But, at least for me, he was absolutely correct.
I loved teaching -- especially in a Japanese high school. I loved being with the students: chatting with them, helping them, joking with them, listening to them. It was at that point that I realised that jobs all have good and bad points and for a person who likes working (like me) there are probably hundreds of jobs that I will enjoy. Even though I love programming, I can do that whenever I want -- and on my own terms! That is the wisdom in the Free Software Manifesto. Whether or not you agree with the concept of software freedom -- as a programmer, you have a choice and you are free to take that choice. Do not overlook this!
I'd love to spout on more about that, but I'm sure I'm near the limit of the message size (not to mention your patience). I think Japan is still the best place to go to teach English comfortably. The other major place you can go is South Korea. I would say, try to find organisations that can place you in the school system (either public or private) because some of the "language schools" can be fly by night affairs. But it really depends on your tolerance for crappy situations -- some people are pretty good at rolling with the punches.
Also, even without leaving whichever country you are in, consider the idea of moving to the poorest, cheapest place that still has internet, renting an apartment for a year and doing whatever regular job you can find. You can probably do it for no more than $15K even if you don't get a job. When coming back to the industry, though, it helps a lot to be able to show what you've been doing during your sabbatical, so make sure to program every day :-)
Hope that helps!
Gave me new perspectives on life. Went into self-employment after that year. Also I invested much time in my peronal life, stopped doing monogamy and had much time for my two partners.
We need to learn the art and skill of finding joy in any circumstance. This detached, negative view of your coworkers does nothing but signal your inability or unwillingness to become something apart from your selfish, personal desires.
This entire generation is lost at sea. Can’t you see that your happiness is dependent on none other than yourself?
> The people I once called sheep, aren't that. They just didn't have the means to roll the dice.
Source: later in blog.
I agree with that but differ from your conclusion. I think it is our responsibility to keep looking until we find what makes us happy.
He seems to think that "rolling the dice" is the primary thing going on, and that he can't influence this substantially by any amount of development skill, proper tactics, and so forth.
I wonder if this kind of mindset is a side-effect of modern-day political correctness -- that if you succeed, it is 100% due to your good fortune (combined privilege and luck) and not because you did anything special to get there. The upside of such an attitude is that we recognize luck and recognize that people who failed did not necessarily fail through fault of their own. One major downside is that we feel a lack of agency, and this lack of agency is almost certain to drastically decrease the chances of future success.
Be careful what you believe, because it matters.
For my part, I think talent and skill and grit are huge factors in success, so if I want to succeed at something, I am able to formulate some kind of a plan. I don't feel that I am "just rolling the dice", even when luck is involved (which it is all the time, in everything).
As you know more than most, game development isn't a linear path from ideation to release, and good games from smart people who worked hard on them often find little success. You can increase your chance at success with experience and talent, but games are an entertainment medium and sometimes your creation just doesn't resonate - or increasingly rise above the noise of the platform marketplaces - with enough people to be a sustainable career.
I've worked at AAA studios and am now at an independent game developer. I've sometimes thought of doing something even smaller, an indie effort akin to the author's or something of the scope of what you did with Braid. I found this article aspirational and affirming, validating the idea of taking a chance on something that is meaningful to you despite the (long in the case of the mobile app store) odds.
Uwe Boll's grit created a bunch of awful movies and 3 failed kickstarters - he's much more successful at owning a restaurant!
The challenging question is where to focus your efforts. Listening to survivors to the detriment of understanding your current situation and needs can be a trap.
It feels like you're setting up a strawman here of people who believe that all success is unearned. The author only said that there are those who work as hard as he does and are as smart as him and yet don't succeed. How else would you rationalize situations where you find your peers failing and you succeeding, even though you might consider yourselves equals in ability and tenacity? Or do you simply consider yourself above and beyond and attribute all your success to that?
He ported a text game, that someone else had already designed and implemented, to iOS.
This is not a huge amount of work compared to what most game development people do, and is not particularly challenging compared to what people are doing with 3D graphics, etc.
I am pointing this out not to be mean, but to respond to your point: "those who work as hard as he does and are as smart as him". What he did for A Dark Room was something pretty much any iOS programmer can do, and in those conditions it's natural not to expect to be noticed in a crowded market. i.e. he evidently did not do anything noticeably smarter or work noticeably harder than anyone else.
This doesn't mean he can't do smarter and bigger things, just that a port of ADR is not that, and neither were his other descriptions of projects he did in the meantime (for example, look at the screenshots for Mildly Interesting RTS).
I think when this is the limit of what one is attempting, one has no right to complain that people aren't buying one's stuff (and should not be surprised at that either!)
I only played ADR for a few minutes, so I didn't discover its depth, but the reason it became so popular on the app store is that it was able to create a compelling experience with the least amount of resources, a creative tour de force if you ask me.
The mainstream audience wants flashy things, and these games are probably never going to catch on there, but not for a lack of value, work, or depth.
Oh and totally give A Dark Room a shot. You may find it pretty okay.
PS: I'm totally gonna frame this comment thread. I'm big fan Braid and The Witness. You? Not so much :-)
MIRTS is something I'd expect from a weekend programming jam. It's a minimal effort and it's not surprising that it did minimally well in the marketplace.
"A Dark Room recently hit the #2 spot _overall_ on Google Play (pro tip: stick to iOS, the revenue is almost an order of magnitude better)"
I bought the game on android to support the developer despite the game being VERY late to android. With that said, the android port is horrible. It's behind garbage. Amir cannot talk about love for the code and release crap like that.
So treating android user as idiots. We pay for good game and avoid crap. Don't be crap.
Edit: ADR went quickly free on android because nobody would pay for that crap. So that's why it didn't make much money.
Both Michael and I appreciate the hat tip you gave us by buying it. Email me and I’ll glady refund your $0.99.
1. Charge more than 99c. Double the price and your sales will likely drop by less than half, making it profitable to do so.
2. If you’re going to half-ass the port to Android, why even bother? It will do more damage than it’s worth.
Please don't take offence, I'm just trying to explain why it did so bad on android.
edit: you don't need to test your app on 1500 devices. They are all the same, if you plan for it only two devices (big/small screen) should suffice. Source: former app developer.
But your app seems more demanding, can't you limit it to newer versions of android? Many banking apps for example require users to be on 6.0 or better.
The truth would be so much more interesting and instructive. What setback really led to needing to clock out and cash out? What was really left of that 800k after the app store cut and taxes and marketing and mistakes? Was it only money that pushed him back into the workplace or something more?
Real life is messy and I can see the hole where he cut that part out of his story.
This is the hard part in all of these stories. Props to him for having the courage (stupidity?). I think this forum is full of people who would not just love to quit their job and work on their own project, but would THRIVE in doing so.
The problem is the paycheck. Do I want to risk it all, throw away my savings, all for a chance at success?
Reading this, it feels better in India. Here I can work for 2 years in a good company, save enough to quit job and do something of my own for 3 years before needing money. (Lots of other stuffs are shitty in India, but this aspect is good)
Here in California, I don't think that's possible. Cost of living is too high to live for 3 years off of 2 years of savings. Maybe if you were very careful with spending and had a good rent situation, you might be able to do it.
I quit my job over a year ago (I know, long time but my project is pretty ambitious). In that year I acquired way too many skills. Like I feel like a different person.
You aren’t betting necessarily on your project but more on yourself.
Kansas, Montana, Arizona, not places you want to stay forever but you can get a studio apt for $600-$700/mo.
Can probably cut your expenses from LA in 1/3 if you are frugal and push your runway out several years until you start making profits.
I'm in this dilemma myself, as I've always wanted to do something more risky, but I don't want to jeapordize my ability to be financially independent at ~40. Being stuck in a potentially crummy corporate job with potentially terrible management and coworkers for another 25 years (not the case now, but things can change quickly) is the regret I want to minimize beforehand.
That is a flawed argument. 10 years later you might not have the same drive/ambition which you have right now.
Not if I was 65 and still working, because I liquidated my 401k back when I was 30 and it never panned out.
But yea, I would regret being 65 and having never built a business.
> Can you earn it all back with a good fall back plan on your expertise?
I don't know. Probably, if you were able to dramatically cut costs and go into hyper-saving mode. This can be a challenge later in life though (once kids and a mortgage take hold).
It’s entire possible you jump off the corporate ladder and never make it back on, your wages permanently stunted and your career prospects dimmed.
Disclaimer: Not financial advice but personal observations
here's something nobody seems to mention.
most people don't risk everything once, then exit with a set-for-life payday a few short years later. that's the rare minority of entrepreneurs. most are moderately successful for many years on end, and may finally do a $multi-million exit after a decade or more of hard work and risk.
after that initial success, you have to risk it all, multiple times, to either keep succeeding, or reach the next level of success. at any point, if you stop risking the status quo you are likely to fail.
in other words it's a self-selecting process. if you are having doubts about risking your meager savings which you can likely earn back within a few years of frugal living while working a high paying programming job, there's your answer.
I hope he finds success some day, but given his track record, I'm very skeptical of his conclusions.
So, depending on how much split with the original coder/creator that 800k might not have gone very far, and seems pretty good for “A port”. I wonder if/why not forming a small studio with the original creator would have worked.
> I redesigned so much of the original game. So much of me went into it.
I haven't played the iOS version of A Dark Room so I can't speak to exactly how much change there is between the original web version and this one, but it sounds like it's not just a straight port.
That’s an understatement.
>His only hit was porting someone else’s game
Yep. He’s a hack job for sure. There is no way he’ll be successful in future stuff tbh.
In the prime of their careers, dentists, lawyers and doctors can commonly make over $300,000 per year. At the top end of the spectrum, specialist doctors and commercial lawyers can make over $1,000,000 a year, as can those who work in investment banking for instance.
What is it about software engineering that people think is less valuable that these other occupations? Why do people think that earning $100k a year is overcompensation? My personal theory is that it is because impressive wages are a relatively new phenomenon in software (there is a much longer history with doctors and lawyers) and people are not comfortable with the idea yet. But I can assure you that there are many groups in society earning over this amount and one shouldn't feel disgusted by doing so. (Of course, there are many who are not - but that is a longer conversation)
Still - do you think $140k is too much for any one person to make?
Continuing to make that $140k 20 years later is also insane, but in the opposite direction, but that's not the situation the post was describing. As a programmer you're fantastically highly paid at the beginning of your career but often not at the middle and end.
However, an accountant, doctor, lawyer or other professional will have an upwards trajectory while programmers have a tough-to-penetrate glass ceiling and will plateau VERY early (late 20s to early 30s) unless they switch to management or start their own company or move to the U.S.
Also, the sad reality is that only a very lucky few will create games that become popular enough to generate a living wage without somewhat aggressive monetization techniques, such as ads and in-game purchases. This guy seems to really dislike his corporate job, but apparently not enough to monetize his games well. If anyone else wants to follow in his footsteps, you should do some soul searching before you put in your notice and decide if you can live with a near-zero chance of success while sticking to your principles, or if you want to have a much higher chance of success but with the caveat that your users will be seeing ads and buying power bars from you. Life is full of crappy trade-offs.
It doesn't really have anything to do with "large Silicon Valley tech company". I have a life outside of work, friends, family, etc that I spend most of my nights and weekends curating. Working 40+ hours a week anywhere makes it hard to launch something at night without being young and single or sacrificing time with your family.
I only have internship experience to speak of, but I've noticed that when I'm writing code from 9-5 -- even though I thoroughly enjoy programming and creating stuff with it -- I end up uninterested in doing more of that in the free time I have left. I think it's a psychological thing more than a time thing.
There is a lot of cool stuff to work at a big silicon valley tech company. They actually have the budget & the need to do engineering 'properly' somewhat :).
I have read that in most businesses, you want to start with marketing & sales as the major focus vs. the product itself. Creator types like us software engineers like to focus on creating, which can create problems in making an actual business.
One thing I see often and often (I've done it too) is that when you quit your job to pursue your dream, everybody else working at a job is a sucker. They are too comfy in their life sucking job and one day they will get fired and realize that they wasted their time making someone else rich.
I was lucky that failure caught up with me really fast and I realized I am no better then others (so did the author).
But I've seen cases where the person believes in this so much that even after catastrophic failure they can't go back to a job because, well, of all the horrible things they said about being an employee.
I was in start up school this year and one of the common theme was about people who where at the brink of losing their home for an idea that was not even close to ready to launch. The instructor stress them to get a job.
This is really good advice. Additionally I'd say don't bet the farm. Some times the best you can do is be that rock/stepping stone for your kin to build a legacy with.
I like that. I think it's kind of deep.
But if you really want numbers, here are some of the numeric
sacrifices I made to role the dice _once_
( ... big list of qualifications ... )
Now you can take a year and a half off and roll the dice
You don't have to have these ridiculous qualifications to take a risk (let alone "roll the dice once") and be successful. Choose not to live a lavish lifestyle and you can "roll the dice" many times.
Hitting the jackpot the first time around may have actually led the author away from a place he'd feel most comfortable in - a small company with other people who love what they do.
There isn't really a company that any of use work for per se, but "all" of us are collaborating in one way or another to make sure we succeed collectively. It's pretty great, but you have to have the battle scars to join (actually you just have to bring cool laptop stickers to the party and we'll tell you all of our war stories in great detail).
“A word of warning about choosing to start a startup: It sucks! One of the most consistent pieces of feedback we get from YC founders is it’s harder than they could have ever imagined, because they didn’t have a framework for the sort of work and intensity a startup entails. Joining an early-stage startup that’s on a rocketship trajectory is usually a much better financial deal.”
There are so many good jobs out there that are not just being a corporate drone. He has amazingly relevant experience for tons of companies.
He should find one that has already taken venture funding and ride the rocketship (along with punching a lottery ticket) while still getting a reasonable salary.
If you get a chance, download A Noble Circle and play it with your child. You may find that you can connect over it's ridiculous story and crazy gameplay. I'd love any feedback you may have about it.
I'll try A Noble Circle with him.
This is exactly how I feel.
having said that, before relating to the story please take into consideration he is going solo at it. Difficulties are very different if you are working as a team: It's a lot more expensive but a collaborative approach to creation can yield better odds of success if they can look at the game from different points of view (story, graphics, programming)
I'm not in favor of either approaches to game development, but Please remember that following your guts on creative work is both a blessing and a curse, and teamwork is a totally different beast.
Apples cut of 30% drops it to $553k. Since it was a port of someone else's game half goes to them, so his actual income was $278k for the 16 months from start to end of 2015.
Still a significant take-home but makes it more understandable why he had to take on contract work when his subsequent games did not hit iOS pay-dirt. I wish him the best, iOS is a brutal market.
There is, but "the few ruined it for the many". Some who got access to that information tried to "growth hack" their way to a successful app. They started name dropping me to Apple as if they knew me. This isn't a very nice thing to do.
- managed to spend in few years
There's plenty of decent countries where you can live off this sum for decade, at least, and have much more dice rolls.
2 years of internships? Is that a thing in some industries? Sure seems crazy to me
I suspect the author's lack of subsequent success with his other games stems from his apparent lack of curiosity about exactly how his first and only lucky break took place.
The problem is that the OP here didn't write it. They ported it to mobile.
So they haven't yet actually created a game like this, they've just made some changes to an existing one that was already insanely popular and reaped the rewards for it.
Story-based incrementals are still incredibly popular in the incremental games community, and another good one will do quite well. It's very, very hard to charge for them, though, because nobody trusts them to be any good until after they've played it to the end.
So you basically have to make a free one and hope it takes off, and then charge for the mobile port of it.
I completely agree. It's not like he wrote a 300 page book on the whole ordeal or anything. He didn't spend those 300 pages trying desperately to dissect every single day, tweet, email, news post, and website write up between 11/17/2013 and 04/13/2014. Nor did he try to analyze his other assets/how they correlated back to A Dark Room. Now... if he put that kind of effort into understanding A Dark Room's meteoric rise, then maybe his subsequent endeavors would have succeeded. At least he would have been more deserving of those successes.
That is not how statistics works. :<
With a 90% failure rate, your chance of failing 10 times in a row is (9/10)^10 ~= 35%.
Ultimately these ponderations are kind of meaningless in the absence of great data to frame them with.
You’ve got a lot of faith in people. My number is maybe 5.
In 2003, I started selling chat bots on the Internet.
In 2005, I cofounded an affiliate marketing website that cracked the Alexa top 10k
In 2007, I built an app that scaled to 100k MAUs and was acquired for $20K
In 2009, I started a SaaS but couldn't break $~600/month in revenue.
In 2010, I built a business that ran for over 5 years and supported me entirely for two of them, but probably grossed less than $100K total revenue. But it couldn't grow, as I struggled to find a repeatable and predictable customer acquisition channel.
In 2013, I got involved in Bitcoin. Finally one home run after a portfolio of mediocrity. [I am choosing to omit various projects from this list, but between 2003-present, there have been a lot.]
In 2013, I also started doing stock market research with ruby. In 2015, my work had attracted enough momentum to bring on an outside angel investor and even piloted the strategy in the markets with $1.5MM. Didn't perform that well; investors withdrew their capital.
In 2017, I started a SaaS that is currently doing ~$2800/month in revenue. I also did consulting. I grossed about $190K this year from my business efforts - note, that's nearly 10 times faster (in terms of growing revenue) than I was 7 years ago. I also fixed a major hole in my previous business skillset, i.e., predictably acquiring customers - something I could never do for the biz in 2010. Furthermore, I have a lot more emotional maturity than I did 7 years ago - though Sam Altman was precociously mature, with the "emotional maturity of a 40 year old" (Paul Graham, on meeting Stanford undergraduate Sam Altman).
So I can tell you definitively, that:
- My skills are expanding due to systematically resolving the deficiencies in previous attempts.
- These improvements are a result of deliberate practice.
- Some people may have the ancillary skills, resources or characteristics that position them to perform better from early on - YC seems to be adept at identifying these people, but also credit them for making 1,500+ bets.
- My best success to-date has been as a result of luck.
I'm 30 years old now.
You may also find this comment I wrote about a year ago useful as well, https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13283234
Sales and marketing is as important as the software. They can't exist without each other.
Startups are not independent random events because some people are better at making startups than other people are.
I remember reading something that corroborated this . That source claimed that previous founders of successful companies had a much greater chance at additional success, but previous failures didn't increase your chances (ie. you don't, in fact, learn more from failure than success -- at least when it comes to founding failed startups).
Edit adding source:
I have no doubt Y Combinator would still be successful even if their selection method was not very good. (I tend to think about top universities the same way—the quality of Harvard's admissions process is not the core reason they graduate so many successful students.)
But then again, I was just rejected from Harvard, so you might want to take my opinion with a grain of salt.
It would be interesting to know about some companies that don't get to Demo day or that doesn't put out a great presentation
Domain expertise, creativity, intelligence, education, insights from other fields, financial resources, connections to other impactful individuals, personality, etc. Such things significantly affect how events unfold.
Helps to explain how there are so many 'anomalous' serial-entrepreneurs :)
A business model is more than a product, and a way to charge for it. It's having partners, channels, product, and yes some resources. If you're a dev who's planning on quitting, and then spending 18 hours a day coding, you're probably going to fail. If you quit and spend 100% of your time networking, you're going to fail. But if you have a plan for how to get the product built, how to market it, and you have a quantifiable reason to believe people want it. You might just make it.
I think it takes a few failures to get there.
That quote above is an odd postscript to an article very open about how much it really is luck.
Also, you'll probably learn something from all those trials, improving the odds.
But a bigger problem is measuring "failure"... how long and hard must you work before calling it quits, for it to count as a trial? Throwing up one "MVP" website a day for 22 days probably shouldn't count... Perhaps, 3 months full-time (about the runway YCers get)? And, 3 months off to recover.
So, 11 years, for a 90% shot... assuming you're already imdependemtly wealthy.
Like those robbers planning to get money out of bank in the form of a wage for working there, there's probably an easier way.
edit: a clarification, that's not how a single human's life works. It will work if you take all humans together into account. If you apply that logic to individuals individually then nobody succeeds ever.
edit2: a single human life individually doesn't get enough attempts to be statistically significant enough.
Relevant in the NYT: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/24/opinion/2017-wrong-number...
I can't tolerate that many misspelt words and grammatical errors...
I should have written it after my morning coffee.
Normally we only put one period at the end of a sentence.