Monday, June 3, 2013

Return from Vacation, and the Road Ahead

I apologize for the previous gap in updates. Rochelle and I were at the beach with my family for a few weeks, and I made it a point not to do any more work-related stuff than was necessary.

I could get used to these.
Unsurprisingly, work still crept in, here and there. I cut down my email and web administration duties to once every other day, but it still took a few hours each time. There isn't really anyone to cover for me in these cases, so I'm on the hook for order issues, spambot surge mitigation, and customer inquiries. One alternative would be to "go dark" for several weeks, but that seems like an irresponsible thing to do when running a business, particularly where customer support is a component.

As such, vacation wasn't a complete break from the stress. Nothing critical arose during the break, thankfully, but it was still something that was in the back of my head. Work check-in was never more than a day or two away, and more significantly, a giant to-do list awaited me when I returned.

I think that while previous vacations have taught me that vacations are necessary and healthy, this vacation added the caveat that vacations can be diminished by obligation. Basically, there would either have to be no obligations to fulfill, or someone to fill those obligations for me in order to completely relax, stress-free.

The former requires that NEO Scavenger be finished and support-free. Admittedly, that goal is pretty far off, if even possible. More than likely, there will be a long tail of support and attention required, no matter how bulletproof I make the game. Platforms evolve, partnerships are formed, and other changes in the business landscape mean that a product is never truly dead (see Homeworld, Wasteland, etc.)

The latter requires that I expand the team, which is a daunting goal in itself. Questions of trust, availability, motivation, and compensation are each topics that require their own, significant, due diligence. I've long been reluctant to let anyone into the sandbox, and these are some of the big reasons why.

It's time to "start finishing."

As such, my current goal is to "level up" NEO Scavenger, and make it newsworthy again. A little more work, and I can at least consider the demo "done," making it ripe for sharing with portal sites like Kongregate and NewGrounds. That should hopefully make new players aware of the game, and if the beta looks like a worthwhile-enough upgrade, drive new sales as well.

The increased awareness would help with the Greenlight campaign, which is a bid for more PR and sales in itself. There are some contests I'm considering, as well as some "taste makers" I'd like to finally contact, now that NEO Scavenger is maturing.

And if things go smoothly, I can see either finishing the home stretch personally (albeit slowly), or maybe investing a little money to speed the remainder of the content work.

It's a scary moment, one of those crossroads where I endlessly find excuses to avoid taking the next step, but it's time to get into high gear. Whatever happens, I'm already happy with the outcome so far, and I only have more to gain from moving forward.

Plus, peace and rest waits for me over that next hill, and I never thought that would be such an enticing goal.

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