ZackBellGains #13

Ah, lucky number thirteen! Let’s use this one wisely. I hope that everyone is doing well and working hard on whatever speaks to you. Personally, I am feeling better and better with each day. I’ll fill you in with another quick update!

I got a job, JK

I want to talk a bit about negotiation, contracts, and relationships. For better or worse, your relationships are what will get you in the door for an opportunity more than your resume, your schooling, and your portfolio combined. In my experience, an application is received, glanced over, and then if it seems remotely relevant, the team will ask around the office to see if anyone recognizes the applicant (personally, or otherwise). This can be great for an indie who is vocal on social media and transparent during their development process on any number of shipped products. This effect can put you in both exciting and intimidating situations!

I have been asked by friends and followers lately about my search for a AAA gig and why that isn’t happening or hasn’t happened yet. Well…I can tell you that I no longer see that happening until Q3 2018 at the earliest, for several reasons. Let’s tackle these one-by-one:

1) I applied for gigs that I didn’t necessarily want. First of all, I don’t recommend this. It is a technique that could potentially give you a bit of a bad reputation. I am not sure that I was consciously aware of what I was doing at the time, but I was applying for any and all things that seemed intriguing and then obviously had to back out of x and y, in order to accept z. I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do if it wasn’t going to be independent games and I had hoped that when I was hit with the right offer, I would just know. That wasn’t the case.

2) I got excited, spoke too soon, and ended up burning myself. This one leaves a bad taste in my mouth and is almost embarrassing, but it is a good lesson if you haven’t learned it yourself. As mentioned, your relationships come first. It was easy for me to apply with a buddy’s name in the title of the email and quickly move to the top of the pile being considered. I did this at three studios. One in particular got a bit messy because I had multiple friends on the inside promising me different things while I simultaneously went through the standard application and interview test processes. All you need to do is tell a few friends about the promise from buddy A and then for someone to fact-check with buddy B or their coworker to instantly receive a slap on the wrist from HR. Stepping on your own toes is easy to do when playing both sides of a situation and sharing. Be careful and try to be honest before thrown over the flames.

3) My book offer was solidified! This was the bottom-line factor when deciding what I wanted to do moving forward. Yes, Amazon is paying me. Yes, I am writing a book about developing INK, my first commercial game back in 2015. Beyond that, I do not want discuss this further due to contracts and the like. I will be running an actual announcement and preview blog post through their PR team sometime in the near future. Thank you for your patience.

After the Book

I haven’t signed anything beyond the INK book (tentatively titled, Developing INK: Design by Necessity), so I think that I can talk about what I hope to do after that ships. Right now my plans are to work with them on some developer blog content and potentially do a follow-up book about my work on HackyZack, another game that I released with Spaceboy Games. If things continue at the current pace, I can see the entire process of writing, editing, and publishing the books to take about three months each. The blog content would ideally be spread out during and after the book work, potentially adding another 2-3 months of paid work. I usually factor in a bit of a buffer and that would put me somewhere in early to mid 2018 when I will be looking for work again. HOWEVER…

Humble Bundle

Speaking of relationships, I have really enjoyed my growing partnership with Humble. John Polson is the head of games publishing at Humble and he has been very easy to work and communicate with. HackyZack was the first game to go through their new publishing platform in March and I have definitely considered working with them again. As with most “firsts”, there were a few bumps along the way, but overall, HackyZack development and launch was a pleasant experience. People email quite often to ask about how things went and for advice when approaching them or making pitches; I will likely publish a blog post that covers a lot of this!

Anyway, I know of two future bundles that my games are going to be a part of already and I am excited to see more people playing both INK and HackyZack! On top of that, I am slowly starting to discuss the future of INK 2 and another project of ours with John, as well. We haven’t worked on multiple projects in parallel before, and they certainly haven’t funded a team like that before, but it’s something that I think could be mutually beneficial! I will have more to say about that after the book comes out, I am sure.

That ended up being a bit more wordy than anticipated, but the more, the merrier. I hope that you have a wonderful day. Stay positive, be grateful, and work smart!


ZackBellGains #13

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