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A slow gamble

I have a feeling that I have nothing new to say, yet I also feel that it would be nice to write a blog post. So, sorry if this post contains a lot of things I've already said a number of times =)

This year it has been somewhat slow progress with Ancient Savo development. And that has been mostly because of a momentary period of an adult sense of rationality. Towards the end of the previous year I was fully aware that I've a growing heap of unpaid bills - yet I chose to allocate a lot of time to my indie game development project, merely because there was an enjoyable wave of inspiration. Luckily enough, the inspiration has not died, but this year I've decided to take it a bit slower, doing more of my main work to quickly earn some money to pay those bills. But, doing more of my main work runs the risk of collapsing back to the state of exhaustion, and now I feel that it is about the time to steer back to more of indie coding. Rationally speaking, that will again lead to my monthly income falling below the level of my monthly bills - but I'm willing to play this slow gamble with my income; eventually, when Ancient Savo will see the official public release, I will see if it is going to yield any income or not. Until that it is all uncertain, but luckily a lot of my life has been about learning to deal with uncertainty.

I remember that during the years of writing this blog there have been a few "feeling and balancing"-style of posts, where I mention about weighing my schedules, somehow struggling with a feeling that there isn't quite enough time for some things I feel essential, but being unsure which time-consuming elements I could cut to free up time. And there was that feeling of brain fog; or, having too many uncertain ideas, having difficulties to choose just one idea to steadily focus on for a longer time. Oh well - now it has already been more than a year of Ancient Savo development; and this period in my life has been good in so many ways. Of course, sometimes there has been this feeling that I need to postpone some things I'd love to do, just to reserve time and energy for the indie coding, but this time this feeling of "I need to postpone doing this or that nice thing" has been more tolerable, for there is this slow gamble - the possibility of Ancient Savo eventually generating sales, providing enough of stable income to go full-time indie game developer.

A side-note at this point; In a way I feel slightly uninspired to write about my financial situation or my plans or feelings towards the near-future. That is because a part of my mind anticipates that maybe there will be feedback like "You should set up Patreon!", "I have this great idea, do that!" or "You'd better off doing this!". And facing such feedback my introvert mind often reacts with a feeling of "oh gosh, do those people think that with their limited outside perspective they somehow have a better understanding of my life and my situation? Personally I feel that one of my problems has been that vortex of too many "possibly good, and maybe this, maybe that" of ideas, so now when I've finally chosen a road to go on, the best kind of support would be to allow me to simply do what I do (to "leave me alone, I know what I'm doing"). Well, but that is partially just my introvert mind presenting me with all kinds of reasons of why not to write a blog post =)

Well, but I write anyway, for I see this post as mostly about how to deal with uncertainty, how to cope with a sense of looming problems, how to stay focused, how to maintain ones inner determination to continue on the chosen path. And, obviously, taking a small detour every now and then might be essential to keep on the chosen path in the longer term. I mean, me spending four or six weeks doing more of my main work has been kind of a detour from the life of an indie coder, but getting most of those bills paid will buy me more time for the indie coding without a need to waste time and energy on seeking other forms of funding. Well, then - for a limited period of time it is possible to work long days, but I think we should not measure our productivity against the maximum capacity. The maximum capacity is there for dangerous situations, when under immediate threat we are capable of so much - but after that there always should be a recovery period. And the stable daily routine should not be anywhere near the maximum. With that kind of thoughts I went skiing on Thursday; it was a sunny day, I only had one customer for massage, so most of the day was free. Instead of doing anything like work I felt that the best thing to do is to enjoy the sun, to have some fresh air, to immerse in physical activity.

I wanted to play it safe, so I packed some dry firewood in my backpack. Matches, a set of spare clothes, instant coffee, a kettle, a packet of sausages. First I went to meet a neighbor, to deliver an item which belongs to them. From there I skied in the woods, finding my way down to the lake. There was a layer of fresh snow on the ice, which made the skiing slower. I was wearing a bit too much clothes, as the temperature was just some degrees below freezing. So pretty soon I was sweating, but that was something I was looking for - to have some proper physical effort to balance all the driving a car, standing next to the massage plint, and sitting by the computer.

My wide skis make it possible to go anywhere in untouched snow, but naturally skiing is always easier on a ready-made track. Well, but skiing in untouched snow always has this sense of freedom - the freedom to choose your own way. There weren't that many sings of human activity on the snow - I crossed only one old track of a ski-doo, fox tracks were more common sight. That made me feel happy about the place where I live; I find it luxurious to have an easy to access to nature with enough sense of wilderness. I skied to the tiny islet which is one of my favorite destination. I started a fire, changed the dry clothes on, melted snow to cook coffee, and grilled the sausages. Sipping hot coffee I felt the moment to be essential in maintaining my slow gamble - for a moment all the financial calculations felt far away, there was no sense of pressure, I could breathe in energy and inspiration. To recharge.

The sun set while I was skiing back towards home, it was nice to watch the sky grow dimmer and darker, the stars appearing one by one. At the moment of writing this it is Saturday, after midday. I felt like writing this now, before heading back to being immersed in Ancient Savo development. For I know that when the game development feels like the topmost priority in my mind, then most of my computer time will naturally go to coding, and writing a blog post will feel like a distant possibility, something which can easily be postponed.

Skiing in the woods.
Skiing in the woods.
The chosen destination.
The chosen destination.
I think a camp-fire is a basic need, and a lack of it will cause ill effects =)
I think a camp-fire is a basic need, and a lack of it will cause ill effects =)
Skiing back home in the deepening twilight.
Skiing back home in the deepening twilight.
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Good post Erkka and some beautiful pictures to go with it! A life without some sort of risk or gamble is a boring life in my mind. Who wants to be the one who always does what is safe and wonders what could have been if only they took that chance previously in their life? Not to say you should go start juggling chainsaws or gamble all your money away at the poker table! I think the satisfaction and sense of freedom that comes with forging your own path so to speak, much like skiing on fresh snow according to you, makes whatever endeavor you set out to do that much sweeter. Pre-laid paths may be easier but the untouched areas are prettier. ;)

Unfortunately, in our modern society, the bills still need to be paid so I can see why more people don't like to take these kind of slow gambles with their livelihoods. Also, I can understand why you would be hesitant to speak about your financial situation as it seems like there's always some "armchair expert" out there who thinks they know what's best for you or tell you how to live your life. I am hoping that you find financial success from Ancient Savo so you can keep on making more indie games and great blog posts!

Thank you for your thoughts.

From this post it looks like this may have been written around the lowest point in Ancient Savo development. Was taking a ski enough to get you back on track? When I get out of the daily grind for a while I usually don't want to go back and it has made it harder to get back most of the time.

Ah, luckily Ancient Savo development has never felt like a grind for me. In my adult life I have had some periods of work which I'd describe as grind; simple repetitive mechanical tasks which yield little gain per month, yet you know that the same boring task is waiting to be done the next day you go to work... Hehe, but those periods haven't been that long in my life, for I'm not very good at handling such a situation.

Well, game development sure is a work, and sometimes it can take a few days of working long hours to get a simple little thing done. But I've been lucky to have a sense of artistic creativity and inspiration with the game development. There is a story I wish to tell, there are coding stuff I enjoy learning and so on. Hehe, so sometimes the problem is that if I focus too much on the game development I forget to have breaks, which then will eventually lead to the brain not being able to fully focus on the coding work. Little skiing trips and other such real life activities have been enough to maintain my focus and inspiration for the indie coding.


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