Three weeks ago, I turned in my resignation.
I’ve been in education for 23 years. I started teaching band at age 20; for a long time, I thought I had the coolest job on the planet. Like any career-minded person, I continued my training and worked hard to advance. My job was tough, but rewarding – and it paid reasonably well (6 figures as a teacher / administrator). After a lot of soul searching and long talks with my wife, we agreed it was time for a change – and change is good.
My goals changed.
Ever since I started working on Sellsword VR in 2016, I can never seem to get enough time designing in Unity, coding in Visual Studio (later Rider), modeling in Blender, or painting in Clip Studio. My video watching habits changed from goofy content and documentaries to goofy content and GameDev tutorials (some things never change, right?)
When SVR started coming together, we decided to take it to PAX West to see what others thought of it – it was well received (a bigger hit than we thought possible). Even though VR all but faded a short time after, I started immediately working on 3 more game ideas that didn’t require expensive hardware to play.
My day job changed.
My favorite part of going to work has always been making music with my students. Watching them grow in the 4-7 years I know them is incredibly rewarding, and likely what kept me going this long. They’re unique, amazing, and capable – and I learn so much from them.
Unfortunately, my job became more about politics and ideology than making music. The “great divide” between “red” and “blue” states always finds a way to put our schools squarely in the middle of issues. Instead of a place of joy, my workplace became a major point of stress. As we strayed further and further from our original mission – Insomnia, poor health, and general unhappiness set in.
Change is good.
I’m not even sure what the last straw was. My wife and I found ourselves thinking more of home than anything else. When an opportunity arose at her workplace, she took a chance – and it paid off.
The change for me will be much more drastic. Leaving a teaching position mid-year is a BIG “no-no;” one that will likely mean the end of my career. Strange thing is, I’m actually HAPPY about it!
Change – Positivity.
If I were to choose one thing I’d change about myself, it’s how NEGATIVE I’ve become. I’m a sarcastic person by nature – I’m a bit of a loner and socially awkward, so it’s a great defense mechanism. Lately, I’ve found myself more impatient, ornery, and sometimes just plain hateful – that’s NOT who I am. It took living in the “Seattle Freeze” for 9 years to realize it, but we belong (as Darius Rucker put it) in a Southern State of Mind: it’s been one of our favorite songs as of late.
Change – Taking a chance on ME.
I cashed out a portion of my retirement that will allow me to take a full year to pursue my Game Development dream – full time, with no “day job” interruptions. My game is literally my job now! Given the pace I was able to maintain during my 2 month summer vacations, I hope to have Barn Brawl released by Early Spring 2022. I have a lot of work to do, but I’m excited and ready to go!
I can see the comments now. Give me 12 months before you judge me too harshly. I’ll either be a fuill-time indie dev or back at work for someone else – but at least I took a chance on ME!
Change – Hakuna Matata?
If you’ve ever watched Disney’s “The Lion King,” you know the saying. In the movie (the cartoon, not that trash live action remake – yep, I said it) – it means “no worries.”
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m worried, but I feel free in a way I can’t describe. I have plenty to worry about, though:
- I just quit my job to move…EXACTLY WHAT EVERY GAMEDEV VIDEO SAYS NOT TO DO.
- My game is a HUGE technological lift for a solo dev. Cross-Platform Multiplayer, Local Multiplayer…games with 12-16 players simultaneously? These are SERIOUS technical challenges.
- I have to buy a ton of artwork and 3D models.
- I have to market a new IP with no publisher, no income, and a limited timeframe.
Best of all – I’m HAPPY!
I felt guilty turning in my resignation – I consider my supervising admin a dear friend (we’ve been through some tough scrapes together). At the risk of sounding cliché: as I left the office after the meeting, I felt so alive, elated, and free. I’m going home, and I’m betting my future on my own abilities, creativity, and work ethic.
To echo the advice of countless other indie devs: the path I’ve chosen isn’t for everyone. I’ve got a game that’s almost fully coded and conceptualized. My wife’s job and a few sacrifices made this a realistic path for us – don’t put yourself (or your family) in dire financial straits…especially if your game is still an idea or a few sketches. The lessons we learned from Sellsword VR made this viable.
It took a career change at 43 to help me find a piece of myself that I’d lost. We’re risking a lot on this game…but I’ve never been more excited about what the future holds.
Current Mood…Feelin’ this song!