The sun has woken me up again, and sooner than I would like. I haven’t openned my eyes yet but I can tell it is around 10am and  despite a long sleep, I can still feel last nights programming session – probably 1 or 2am. I know I won’t be able to get back to sleep but i try anyway, desperately trying to relax mind and body, clearing my thoughts, imagining my body sinking deeper and deeper into the matress, my field of view shrinking to a distant spec, far in the distance. Drift away. It doesn’t work.

I stagger downstairs into my makeshift studio space and power up my computer. Breakfast can wait … I have had an idea.

I don’t need to work these hours, the projects would still get done with sensible regular days, taking weekends off and giving myself holiday under the European working time directive. Maybe I should. But I am not an engineer or a programmer, nobody has given me a specification to implement or a repository to port. I am a designer, an artist, and the code I write makes specs of light dance, shapes shudder and slide, light pour from above and pool from below, creatures come alive and enjoy their world, my world.

I work because I want to. I work because if I don’t, the mood will be lost and I will lose this place where I feel like an impressionist painter, mid painting, instinctual. Being in the zone is a drug and I am trapped in a loop of work – reward – work. Each feature I add, little fix I implement, instantly returns a result, sharpening that blurry picture in my mind of the finished product. I can’t stop, always looking towards the next reward.

I am living the dream. Well, not really “the dream”. It is more like “my dream” or perhaps, if you have read this far, “our dream”. I didn’t realize this myself, I needed some guy called ‘ezabeza’  to tell me in the comments on one of my youtube videos. Whatever.

This brings me to the point. My goals are allowing me to “live my dream” because that is my goal – to be making games. The great thing about that goal is that it isn’t a place that you reach and then pass through, but rather a state. I can stay here for as long as I chose. It isn’t a complex goal, but it feels right and it works for me, at least for now. Only my bank balance could wake me up.

Setting goals for your game studio is a little more complex. I recently wrote a business plan for Micro Macro Games, it is full of holes and lacks essentials such as projections, but was an incredibly useful process to analyse  and shape where I am heading. I think it is really important to define why you are doing what you do.

Why are you doing what you do?

No, the correct answer isn’t to make money in order to buy food and pay rent. It isn’t to gain experience while you wait for your big break. It is because you feel some emotion about something. It is because you want to share something amazing with the world. It is because you can do something better or even just differently than everyone else. You need to know what this is and tell everyone, write it down everywhere and never forget. Always look back to this when making decisions, when drawing, designing or organizing your work space. Why is much more important than What.

For Micro Macro Games, why is because we believe games can be valuable culture and creative works. They demand interaction, connect with you, and surprise you. We can make the tiny but inventive edge-of-genre games that larger studios cannot, and we will craft and finish them better, because games are creative works, not formula-driven projects or advertising platforms. With intelligent design and well considered effort, you can create huge works while using up few resources.

This is a fairly protencious post. Be sure to check back in 6 months time to see how I ran out of money and got a job writing file importers for a large studio. It will be good for a chuckle. micromacro

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