Going Solo (from the corporate beast) #6 – The First Month

Working at home and on your own without a corporate sponsor has its advantages and disadvantages. The advantages are that I am home every day and can work the hours I choose. I get to see my family much more than ever before and even a couple times a week we can take a break in the middle of the day to go to the park or the beach with the kids. I can even visit the gym or go for a run in the middle of the day when I catch some free time, so all in all, time-wise I have been able to see some advantages.

On the other-hand, my work-day stretches from 7:00 AM until 11:00 PM on a good day. Most days there are ample breaks in this schedule, but it certainly is no 9-5 job with glorious benefits and amazing pay (yet). Obtaining health, life, and dental insurance has been quite a little pickle with the individual market for those services being just as bad or worse than I imagined (and had been told). I won’t name any company names, but I applied for an individual family health insurance policy a couple weeks ago and I have not heard back from yet. I was wondering why (when I was told that they get back within 3 days) and then I read today that the company was approved for a 14% increase in rates. My feeling is that they stopped all new policies until they can enforce those new rates.

Earnings-wise the first month as pretty dreadful, but I knew what I was getting into when I started this. I had quite a few jobs lined up at the end of July but by the second week of August all of them had fallen through. I did get a couple decent paying gigs (in the final 2 weeks) through people I have known for a while, but those were certainly not enough to make up the difference in the contracts that evaporated.  I will not elaborate on numbers, but the actual money earned in August was roughly 1/4 of the income I made in July. Now, as contracts heat up and clients become more plentiful I hope to move that to 50-60% in September and maybe 75% by then end of the year.

I’m not yet convinced that doing client-work exclusively is best route to health, well being, and financial success, so I have also started to look into creating software engines and other items to sell to the professional ranks (and possibly to end-users as applications).  You would think that I would have had ample to get his going, but much of my August time as spend on developing for projects that “died on the vine”.

My plan is to take some of the dead projects and use them as the basis for engines that I sell. The first I put up was a re-package of the first AS3 re-skinnable game engine I created, called the Micro Robot Maze engine.  This basically Pac-man on steroids that is completely editable via XML (with a few changes needed to the .fla). It is an AS3 engine that was built for a blit optimization test and it grew into a nice little re-skinnable product focused at professionals who need a quick engine to re-skin.

That idea is fueling my latest project, an on-line book/comic book viewer application focused on professionals who want to show off hi-end graphic novels or comics in a slick AS3 interface.  I plan to have this engine complete by the end of next week.

Here are the other AS3/HTML5/Mobile game engines I plan to create. If anyone needs one of these soon, let me know. I will prioritize it:

-Re-skinnable classic game engines: Asteroids, Space Invaders, Centipede, Star Castle, Food Fight, a single screen Donkey Kong style platform engine, a multi-screen platform game engine, and a RPG / Quest style over-head 2-d engine.
– An e-learning system what uses video clips and allows for tracking calls back to the server.
– A Match-N style traditional casual game engine
– Both a path defense and a tower defense traditional Flash-style games engines
– A physics-based platform game engine
– A solitaire card game engine
– Chain reaction style game engine

The challenge is making these as easily re-skinnable as possible. Planning takes a lot of time when the goal it to allow others to create their own custom games easily with your game engine.

Where I can I will turn the games into showcase FlashGameLicense and Mochi products that integrate social and coins style features.

I also plan to put up a shop to sell 44K high quality wav file clips of music and sound effects. That one is on the back-burner until I can find a good digital asset sales system that will integrate with WordPress or an offsite service that works well with digital content and has good payment gateway integration.

On to September…

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