Fast-forward to 2020. I've built my game and it's been published. Is that success? It's a great question to think about upfront, because knowing what constitutes success can be a guiding principle for me, over the next year.
Steam will (as I currently understand it) publish anything if you pay them $US100. So, I have nothing to worry about, right? I can hand over my cash and a "Hello, world" game and I've ticked off my 2019 challenge.
In previous posts, I've touched on some of the skills I want to acquire from this project. Things like learning about marketing, promotion, publishing, etc. That "personal growth" is an important aspect of the exercise. However, there's nothing measurable there. I'd prefer to set a metric - something black & white - that I can shoot for.
I recognise that I'm actually making this project harder for myself than I probably need to. I'm ok with that. It's an important part of how I motivate myself.
So, what's a good metric?
The $100 you pay Steam to publish on their platform is refundable after you do $1000 sales through Steam. That would be a candidate.
However, in my researches, I've learned about "the Indiepocalypse". This unfortunately named event dates to around 2016. Prior to then (if you believe), indie developers were in a land of milk & honey, where just about everyone was reaping rivers of gold. Post the 2016 Indiepocalypse (if you believe) everyone is going broke.
I'm not qualified to comment on whether the Indiepocalypse is real, but it's certainly sobering to think that even if I do a good all round job, my game simply might not sell.
In light of that, doing $1000 in sales through Steam might be over-ambitious. Perhaps break-even is a better goal? Considering that I've already spent about $300 on hosting and odds & ends (and I'm only 2 weeks in), hmm.
There is another way of looking at this. If my game finds an audience that enjoys it, that could be reward enough.
But not at any cost. So, I think where I'm landing at (on this surprisingly difficult topic) is to give myself a budget - $1000. I'll make the best game I can for that budget and consider it a success if it gets a reasonable (deliberately vague) number of downloads.
So, my contract artist isn't going to happen!
Today hasn't been all doom & gloom and navel-gazing. I found (and squished) some quite subtle bugs, and got some of my special gems working (but without Sfx, Vfx). I also maybe have found a source for background music and also maybe have managed to get my background music looping (the doco for Windows Media Player is awful).