Hello again, friends! It has been a long time. If you want to skip the article, here’s the link to my new software, and I’ve got more currently in the works.

As some of you may know from my occasional blather on Twitter, I have been making a transition away from the game development industry. The long-story-short is as follows: making indie games at the moment is financial suicide.

To quote Jake Birkett (Gray Alien Games): “In 2013 median indie games made approx. $110K and top 25% made $590K.” So far, so good. He continues: “In 2019 median indie games made $1400, and everything below that basically $0. Top 25% made $12K, which is obviously not sustainable. You have to be in the top 5% of indie games these days to make $413K”.

And here’s Mike Rose (No More Robots) saying much the same thing. And here’s Sergey Galyonkin (Steam Spy) from two years ago, with the very salient point: around 30 games are released per day on Steam. Good luck getting noticed in that noise. There are too many games.

It was around two years ago that I started making my (surprisingly long) transition away from games. It was also at that time I started my first of many attempts at this article. I’d just finished work on River City Ransom: Underground, including spending a year in post-release support work: it was a slog, and financially it did “ok-ish”.

River City Ransom: Underground

After River City, I tried a few other projects, some game-related and some not, mostly with RCRU Producer Daniel Crenna. (If RCRU was a technical slog for me, it was an everything-slog for Daniel, for which he deserves a lot of credit.) Unfortunately none of those projects really took off.

One of my terrible secrets from working on RCRU is that, over the course of development, I stopped playing video games. Since then I’ve tried. Steam helpfully tracks play time so I can estimate that, in the last two years, I’ve spent around 30 hours gaming. And those games were… fine.

Original versions of this article had sections dedicated to my disdain for modern games, from exploitative monetisation, to shonky asset-flips, to a demanding community. All true, of course, but all of it a self-unaware digression from the fact that I have personally lost my passion for games.

Losing my love of gaming and game programming has been confusing and a little sad. It’s something I have had with me since I was a child. But accepting it has also been incredibly freeing. It opens me up to pursuing something that I have also loved since childhood: Music.

To that end, I have started making plugins (“Rack Extensions”) for Reason, an excellent and fun DAW that I have been using since version 1.0. Reason is notable for its joyful virtual rack user-interface metaphor.

Reason 11 Screenshot

Making music software, Rack Extensions in particular, is an excellent match for my skill set. I have always been, at heart, an engine and tool programmer: I love writing tight, high-performance code (of the kind critical for real-time audio). I love making things that other people can use to have fun and create. And there’s something special and game-like about making user interfaces that aren’t just a collection of parameters.

I’m also a somewhat-competent musician. This is something that I am actively working on improving, so stay tuned for that.

In the background I have been working on making Rack Extensions. So far I’ve quietly released three onto the Reason Studios Shop – here is the belated fanfare – You can buy them right now!

Rack Extensions

I admit that these are fairly simple devices. I wanted to start small. I have several other devices in development that start to dial up the sophistication. And, of course, all of these devices have been lavished with the care and attention that I like to be known for: high quality, fast, robust code, and carefully and cleverly designed user interfaces.

If you’d like to keep track of new devices as I release them, subscribe to my RSS Feed, or follow me on Twitter.



2:45 pm, Sunday 10 May 2020

Music is good and all, but any news on SS3 release ?