I’ve Been Streaming

I have a Twitch channel now. Well, I’ve had one for a long time, but I’ve been streaming more often lately.  I publish a link to my channel on my Twitter every time I start broadcasting, but that seems shallow and annoying to the few people who follow me.  Also it seems spammy if I ever accidentally have to turn my cast on and off again.

I’m not very good at video games, of course, and nobody watches the channel.  This isn’t a complaint on my part; I kind of understand, I play games that aren’t terribly interesting to watch.  Most people don’t really care about games like Dungeons of Dredmor or The Binding of Isaac, although there is apparently a really robust speedrunning community for the latter.  I guess people would care about Dota 2 if this year’s The International is any indication, but it’s not like I’m a professional Dota player.

I’m doing this to try to combat depression.  I always feel better if I’m DOING something instead of just sitting and moping around, even if that something is playing video games for a bunch of anonymous people on the Internet.  Also, I find it harder to actually be sad when I’m performing for people or when I’m being recorded.  If that sounds shallow and narcissistic, that’s probably because it is.  Unfortunately, it also works.  The less I actually feel sad, the more used to good feelings I get and the more open to happiness I’ll be.

One of the major issues of depression is the tendency to earnestly believe that one shouldn’t be happy, or that one doesn’t deserve to have good things happen to them.  For me, I understand in my head that it’s okay for good things to happen to me but it’s very difficult to internalize this knowledge.  It’s frustrating to say to myself “Hey, this is pretty great” and still have the physical feeling of “Everything sucks” in my chest.  That physical feeling ends up causing negative associations with positive events, and it becomes a vicious cycle of bad reactions to good events.  With streaming, alongside my development and freelance work, I’m hoping to reinforce the idea that I can definitely be happy doing what I love to do.

It Was Legit.

Oh man, was it legit.

I didn’t even mind that “Gary”, whom I’m still calling Gary because I understand him wanting to be anonymous due to the nature of the work now that I’ve met him, was a little late for the meeting.  Normally I’m a stickler for punctuality, but this was okay.

The first thing that each of us did was size each other up, a considerable task for me; Gary was physically imposing, but soft-spoken and straightforward.  A no-bullshit type, while still maintaining the essence of a dreamer that is necessary in entrepreneurship.  He was a little hard to read, but I respected that.

We got to business after bonding over our mutual love for comic books; that he was one of the only people I’d ever met who has read Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson’s The Boys impressed me.  That he was as passionate about this project as he was about his comics and interests impressed me more.  He explained the nature of the project, the people he had backing it, and the incentives I’d have for working on it, as though I had already been drafted as a member of the team.  To him, it wasn’t even a question at that point; he had my support whether I liked it or not.  That I was immediately accepted as a member of his team and that he was already making plans for how I could help within minutes of meeting me impressed me the most.

I usually resist this kind of influence, but I wasn’t about to turn it down.  The project seemed right for me, I agreed with his goals and it was work I was more than capable of doing.  He explained his team members’ roles and experience, showed me some concept art and I was hooked.  It was a breath of fresh air, as though after three years of working the same job I could finally have an opportunity that would challenge me and keep me from stagnating.

Probably best of all, though, is that I can still do my day job.  Knowing I could work on this project while still having the ability to keep the lights on was a huge relief.  This is a far cry from my other experience with startups and small studios; Gary seemed to understand that without initial investor capital, everyone was going to need to keep their bills paid somehow, and matched the pace of the project with that expectation.

I’m ready and willing to give it my all; I have high hopes for this project.

Startups, Email Communications and Long-term Goals

I noticed an ad today in my search for a moonlighting opportunity that at first seemed pretty straightforward in its needs.  With a headline of “Programmers Wanted!!!” (exclamation points to scale), it looked pretty urgent and I thought of it as a nice opportunity to present myself as a casual worker who could get jobs done when they needed a contractor.  Nothing permanent, nothing grand-scale, just a pair of hands to add to a project, like a laborer you’d hire to help you build a house or lay down some carpeting from time to time.

I’m honestly not sure what to expect.  The person, whom we’ll call “Gary” for the sake of anonymity, was an entrepreneur seeking to form a start-up that focused on… I’m not at all sure what.  Some email exchange occurred and he presented as young, business-minded, and equipped with at least some of the resources necessary to get a project rolling.  The project he was hoping to work on at first was a mobile game.  Internally, I harrumphed to myself.  This was for sure the opportunity I’d been seeking, but the communication I’d had with Gary carried some red flags, as well.

Probably the most immediate red flag arose when he mentioned that he couldn’t pay his workers upfront.  This isn’t really that uncommon in start-ups; they don’t have the money to pay right then and there, so they try to offer other incentives.  In Gary’s case, he offered percentage of profits from the applications he wanted the company to develop.  This creates a risk-reward scenario for the programmer with which many indie developers are probably quite familiar: High initial investment may pay off if you’ve found yourself the next Big Thing, or it may flop hard and your time, energy and lunch money are wasted.  Maybe you fall somewhere in the middle and get enough income to keep the lights on and hone your craft, maybe you keep lagging until you eventually roll to a stop, your resources and opportunities spent.

Another red flag was that Gary appointed his brother, a software student at a prestigious local university, as the lead programmer.  If he’s young and still a student, it’s likely that he has some experience as a programmer for personal projects but doesn’t have a HUGE amount of experience in a leadership role, which means this will be a learning experience for him as well.  I’m never a fan of nepotism in business, but I recognize it as an inevitability.  There are pluses, as well; Gary likely has an excellent understanding of his brother’s character and capabilities.  He can gauge his brother’s passion for the project and can use his brother as a baseline for the kinds of people that he would be willing to work with.

Finally, the most troubling red flag was the vagueness of it all.  Gary sounds like a young person full of dreams and energy, which is great.  But when I read his emails, he also seemed like he wanted to create some kind of media A-Team, capable of doing anything and trying to do everything.  Everyone knows that selling software is a hard industry to break into, especially now that the mobile market is getting so heavily saturated following the outstanding success of the simplest, most inane things (Flappy Bird, I’m looking in your direction).  I’m not saying I’m unable to rise to that challenge, but I’m never a fan of over-promising and under-delivering, even to myself.

Honestly, in my case I’m not interested in money.  I’m employed, I have something of a financial safety net.  For me, this is a chance to get my name on a product and expand my skill set.  Sure, there are risks, but there are risks in getting up in the morning and crossing the street.  I seem to have a trend for corny sayings here, but you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.

I see “Gary” on Saturday.  Let’s see what he’s got to offer me.

On Social Media, Let’s Plays and Confidence

If I’m gonna put myself out there, I’ve got to have a wider social media presence.  I have a Facebook and I’ve revived my Twitter account.  I’m a little wary of spamming people, though.  Sure, I’d love to get my foot in the door, but I don’t really want to annoy anyone.

Did you know I have a YouTube channel too? Of course, it’s not really programming-related. It tends to be me and several associates of mine faffing about doing Let’s Plays and stuff.  As of this writing, I’m done moving into my new apartment and kind of feel like continuing my Secret of Evermore run.  I think I should probably ask my partner if he wants to keep going.  Or upload the rest of the episodes I have stored on my PC, to hold my one fan over.

Social Media is scary as hell.  It’s like the world is one huge personal ad and you’re out there hoping there’s a group of people who like the same kinds of pina coladas and rainstorms that you do.  The truth is that they most likely exist, you just aren’t looking for them in the right places — and they aren’t going to just fall into your lap, either.

For me, this entire experiment is starting to function as sort of an ego trip.  Writing in a blog, owning my own website, sitting here hoping to make people smile when they happen upon this place by mistake, it’s a big boost to my self-confidence and my belief in my own skills.

I guess you really do have to fake it till you make it.


I figure if I’m going to make it in the fast-paced, cutthroat world of indie development, I’m going to need a website.  I’m also sort of hoping that putting myself out there and writing will make me feel more inspired to work and create.

At the time of this writing, I’m not really in a bad position.  I have a decent-paying job, healthy relationships with most of the people in my life and an increasingly stable living situation.  I’m not disabled or impoverished or coming from any kind of disadvantage in my life.  I’m educated, I’m able, I’m not in bad health at all.  But for some reason, I’m not happy.

It’s probably my job eating away at me.  Currently, I’m a programmer for an insurance company.  I won’t say which one, I’m sure people who care enough can either ask me about it or sleuth around until they figure it out.  It’s not work that intellectually stimulates me, though.  It’s coffee-fueled, youth-sapping drudgery that I occasionally have to do on nights and weekends.  It’s bland and uninteresting, I don’t meet anyone new, I don’t travel anywhere and there’s no room for upward mobility or personal advancement.  In the grand scheme of things, I don’t even really make that much.

So what ties me to it, then?  Well, if I jumped ship, it’d certainly rock my sense of stability.  I wouldn’t have any income anymore.  I wouldn’t be comfortable anymore.  I’d lose the ability to break at least even on my loans and bills.  Without the money to pay my bills, I’d lose my home or my car.  Losing those would send me spiraling even further down.

But those fears seem so worthless and childish.  Who really cares?  Cheap housing is available.  Public transit and bikes are a thing.  Every time I make an excuse, I remind myself that there are definitely ways around my problems.  Find a new job.  Look for a place close to it.  Figure out an efficient way to bridge the gap between the two places.  Pray that your new job is at least a little better, more involved, more interesting than the last.

I think it’s more that I’m scared.  Obviously, all of these obstacles are surmountable.  It’s the initial fear of getting started and rolling forward that I keep trying to avoid.

This blog is here to help me with that fear.  Maybe you’ll learn something, too.