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The Path to Indie Development – Part 2(?)

January 23rd, 2015

Continuing some of my financial and life balance efforts hinted at in Part 1… In a nutshell, it is likely you will never become a successful indie developer without first gaining control of your budget, savings, and personal “consumption” tendencies.

With this in mind, during November and December of 2014 I loaded up a backpack and spent some time in Asia. Not for vacation purposes from the cold arctic tundra of my Northeastern US lair, but rather as a continued trial of ideas for my upcoming indie life. In my spare time I have been learning that traveling the world does not have to be expensive at all, in fact it can be even cheaper than living in a normal home back in the USA!

This odd revelation has been fostered by the internet and a variety of computer technology available in the 21st Century, giving rise to “Digital Nomads” – people choosing to live and work somewhere far away from their more expensive home-country. The lifestyle works for those who do not need to report to an office, can do everything with a laptop, and don’t need the usual trappings of western comfort (unfortunately including high speed internet!). If you absolutely must have your fancy craft-brews, wines, cheeses, steaks, 5 star hotels, 25Mbps+ internet, and a big house full of “stuff” then this is not for you.

Digital Nomad game developers are rare as far as I know at the moment, but the idea is not without precedent. @Cytoemos on Twitter pointed out that Sarah Northway and her husband Colin have lived this life since 2010 while working on their post-apocalyptic game series “Rebuild”. Having traveled through many countries in the last five years, they are in South Africa as of late 2014. If they can see the world, live cheaply, enjoy life, and have a moderate level of success, maybe I can too! If anyone reading this knows of other successes like Sarah (or any possible failures) please let me know in the comments or via @ChronoSoft on Twitter.

Why target Asia for my Nomadic test-run? I have always had an interest in cultures and people from all over Asia (that influence should be obvious in the samples of Spirit Hunter Mineko I’ve shown so far). The economies and climate of the SEA region are also favorable to aspiring Nomads like myself who would like to escape low temperatures and high costs. Fortunately my interests allowed me to blend in seamlessly. OK, maybe not seamlessly… I certainly drew a lot of stares! But I was quite comfortable.

Staying in a studio apartment overlooking the ocean during this trip, I was able to carefully evaluate my monthly expenses and quality of life, all while plugging away at work on my laptop. Shockingly it appears that I should be able to live comfortably on less than 20% of the amount required to maintain my current life in the USA! Bonus points awarded for being much warmer, happier, and healthier (due to being able to walk to nearly everything I need). Overall it was a great success, I would have loved to stay there all winter 🙂

Where does this leave me? Cutting of expenses, eliminating debts, saving and investing will continue here in early 2015. My home will be finally going up for sale this spring. All these lines are converging on a point tantalizingly close, but just out of reach over the horizon…

I am on the right on track. Just need to stay on the train a bit longer!

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