As of today, it's officially been one year since I took the leap into creative and financial independence. They say that surviving the first couple of years is the hardest part of going independent, and this year has been no walk in the park. In the last twelve months I've developed several prototypes, committed myself to Sentris, developed the concept into a more robust proof-of-concept, and executed a Kickstarter campaign to keep the project going. I actually ran out of money before the Kickstarter ended, so if it had failed, I wouldn't be having this anniversary right now.
It's been a year of hard work. I've been working 6-7 day weeks for the past twelve months. I've only taken a single weekend off in its entirety. I've been incredibly devoted to maintaining my independence, and creating something totally new and amazing for the world to enjoy. I'm not done, I have a long way to go. But I've come so far, and I want to celebrate my accomplishments.
In April 2013, Sentris was still an idea. Its predecessor, Sen, had failed in 2011. The evolution from Sen to Sentris was a logical leap, but when I committed to it I had no guarantees that the concept would resonate with people more than Sen did. I worked all summer to build the protoytpe. I started from scratch and rebuilt every system in the game. I obsessed over the little details, the grid, the gaps, the atmosphere, the soundscape, the logo. I wound myself up over ideas that seemed critical to the game but were taking too long to code. I've fought with the constant tension between the speed at which I can design mechanics and the much slower speed at which I can implement them. I've learned how to write better code than ever before, and how to make the code work for me instead of against me.
I demoed Sentris at an expo for the first time: the Seattle Indies Expo on September 1st, 2013. I had no idea how the game would be received. I was overwhelmed by the enthusiasm for the idea by the people who played. I launched on Kickstarter because I had to, otherwise I would have continued to develop and polish for months. The Kickstarter was the most exhausting 30-day period of the year. I'm still recovering from all the stress. That campaign was also a huge leap of faith -- I had to believe that music game fans wanted a new kind of music game even though I had no data to back it up. Somehow, it worked. The community that emerged around Sentris because of the Kickstarter has been incredible.
Doors have opened. I've spoken twice: at the Queerness in Games Conference, and the Game Developer's Conference, and I expect to speak more this year. Somehow I've become an "expert" in running a Kickstarter campaign, and I'm able to help other creators with their own campaigns. People are talking about Sentris. I just demoed the new version at the Game Developer's Conference. I'm demoing it again next week at PAX East (it'll be playable at two separate booths). The game is evolving and finding its shape, just as I've been hoping. It's still evolving. It's still shape-shifting. I'm working through all the design challenges and getting to the inner core of my vision to help everyone make music. The design challenges are changing, and getting harder. It's a really good sign that I'm on the right track.
I've learned so much about the difference between being an artist and running a business. I remain committed to being an artist that runs a business. I remain committed to creating the best possible game that I can. I won't ship something that I'm not completely happy with. And so my work continues, and I will keep doing the work that's required of me. This is the path I chose. Even though it's hard and risky and will continue to be for a while, it's the most fulfilling work I've ever done. So I thank the universe for presenting me with this opportunity and I recommit myself to creating epic shit in my second year as an indie.