Since sending out my demo to who-knows-how-many indie game companies, there hasn’t been too much to talk about on the business sides of things. In the most basic of recaps, responses were few and far between, and the positive ones just featured a few e-mail exchanges ending with a more-or-less “maybe later when we start a new project.” That’s all good, by the way–I may have expected a bit more in the way of response quantity, but I understand that companies get many e-mails a day from those like me who are trying to burst their way onto the scene. No matter how much I am confident that my music must stand out amongst a large percentage of that crowd, nothing really beats the power of exasperation and avoidance on the developers’ side in this case.
Being that I haven’t found projects to sustain myself – as I believed would be the case when I started on this journey, so no surprises there – I have been spending my time looking for full-time work and substitute teaching. Once I land that job, by the way, I will write a full recap of my sabbatical, going further into detail about my thoughts on it; for now, though, I will focus on that side of business which I have been moving forward with: that of making face-to-face connections.
I view GDC as the cream of the crop in the way of meeting people, but since that’s still a few months off yet, making local connections is where it’s at. If you’re unaware – as I was until I had already been up here for a few months – many major cities harbor chapters of an organization called the International Game Developers Association, or IGDA for short (I like saying it “ig-duh,” but apparently that’s not a thing–people just pronounce each letter individually). The closest chapter to me is the D.C. one, and it contains developers from all areas around D.C. that aren’t closer to Baltimore or Richmond. From what I’ve seen, the number of active members isn’t enormous, but it’s certainly nothing to scoff at either.
My first encounter with IGDA D.C., aside from simply becoming a card-holding member via the internet, was through an event of theirs called Indie Con D.C. More
Note: All of the pictures are of stuff I’ve been listening to recently–they have no real relevance to the actual content of the post.
Hitoshi Sakimoto & Masaharu Iwata – Final Fantasy Tactics OST
Since putting the finishing touches on my demo and constructing my new website, I’ve been on an “e-mail blitz,” cold-calling every game company whose contact information I can get my hands on to get myself out there and nail down a gig.
It’s been an interesting experience. Hopping from one website to another, you get to see many business types and practices. For instance, I thought it would be relatively easy to go on a company’s website to find contact information and the name of the person whom it would be best to contact. Most companies have either a contact page or an e-mail address listed, but some you really have to dig for. I’m not talking about just industry giants like Capcom or Rockstar Games, either, which is a bit strange.
What I find most surprising, maybe, is that lack of information about the developing team, especially with smaller companies. Though it’s certainly not a deal breaker, I am more inclined to feel good vibes about a company that enjoys putting their talented staff out in the open on their website, even if there’s just a list without any fancy pictures or silly profiles. Maybe it’s a bit old-fashioned or something, but I expected it, maybe due in part to my old employer having a full staff listing on its website. Now, having every staff person’s e-mail address and work number up *did* bring in its fair share of unsolicited, zany calls and e-mails, so maybe that website isn’t the best model to follow; however, there is a happy medium to be found.
Maria Schneider – Winter Morning Walks
There are two other types of websites that I really like. First, you have the websites that look effing awesome. My favorite one so far has been the website for Untold Entertainment (hover over “About” to see the best part). Even though some of the links don’t work, I’m willing to look past the site’s flaws and am happy to hunt for the information I need.
Second, you have the websites that link to other developers that they like. Having the want and will to publish those links of apparent competitors says a lot about the company to me; it says that they’re interested in being part of the larger game community and that they exist not only for themselves—those are the kind of companies that I really want to write for and help succeed.
On the other side of the coin, you have the companies that scream “avoid” right off the bat. More
Cat’s out of the bag: I don’t work 24/7 all the time. Here Jen and I are enjoying the cherry blossoms in our nation’s capital.
I haven’t posted in about a week and a half, so I thought I’d better give you an update.
First, the music stuff: I am in the process of both remastering old tunes and writing new ones. In fact, I have a list of two tunes to remaster and nine tunes to finish writing, which is a lot of stuff. You might think that I may have spread myself too thin and to that I say you might be correct, haha.
The dilemma is one that isn’t old; namely, I’m caught between wanting to finish up tunes and churn out new ideas. Finishing is two-dimensional problem that I imagine many of us aspiring artists have: one, I always ask myself, ‘Is this even worth finishing?’, and two, I sometimes feel like I’m spending too much time on one idea rather than creating fresh ones, which makes me think of number one’s question again. The answer to that question, by the way, is ‘YES’ 95% of the time simply because I need to practice finishing writing as well as the whole production gig. I refuse to abandon these tunes even though I get scatterbrained and succumb to writing new ideas instead often. The answer to the second? Simply get better and faster, which is done by finishing tunes, and stay focused. And you may think that have a list of nine tunes to finish would warrant me saying enough is enough, leading me to blast through finishing one or two, but no… no, that doesn’t work; no urge to create new things is assuaged.
But hey, the remastered version of “Fanfare and Jubilee” is coming along. Check out what it sounds like at the end of today. Lots of work still needs to be done, of course, including adjusting dynamics, volume levels, articulations, and more, but I think you’ll like it:
As for new stuff, one point of note is that I’m trying to write tunes that are a little longer, have more space, and are less dependent on being driven by one stand-out melody. More
This weekend I took the first steps on my sabbatical—that is, I made the move to my new apartment in Arlington, VA! It’s been a pretty exciting last couple of weeks, from having one last ultra-busy hurrah at my now old job at the Virginia Arts Festival to getting approval to move into the apartment to preparing to leave to getting settled. If that sentence was exhausting to read, then good—in that case it well emulates how things have been going for me.
After a bittersweet last day in the office, I readied my things to go at home. Some of the work was already done, but the big things, like, oh, dismantling my computer desk and bed, weren’t. It’s a good thing I used my last “personal day” for work on Friday, else things would have been really dicey. Everything was packed and/or gathered, however, by Saturday morning, and my parents and I made the 200-mile trek north. More
Today I quit I my job. Well, really I just put in my leave notice [but the prior sentence is a lot more dramatic]. For those that haven’t read my AutoBio page, I have been working fulltime at the Virginia Arts Festival in Norfolk, Virginia, for the past three years. February 8th will be my last day at work there and my last day living in Virginia Beach for the foreseeable future, as I will be moving up to the Northern Virginia/D.C. area (exact location TBD).
For my first few months in NoVA I will be jobless, taking a sabbatical to work on my musical endeavours. I will be treating each day as a workday, adhering to a strict schedule of composing, practicing, and interacting with the gaming community more via this blog, social media, and internet forums. For you that means lots more to listen to and read—[Score.] should be a thriving aural paradise by late February!
The goal is that I will have a complete demo of my best work ready to ship out to every game company ever by May at the latest. Best-case scenario: someone loves my work so much that they’ll pay me handsomely to write for them. Wishful-case scenario: I land a project or two that gets me going. Worst-case scenario: I will have learned a ton and developed my techniques, allowing me to continue to create more great music with which to try and dazzle game companies. In any case (besides the best case where I’m showered with money), I will be looking for a fulltime job again in May.
I’ve actually been looking for alternate work in NoVA since October and have struck out (you know, like in that game where it’s fifty strikes and you’re out). That’s wound up being a sort of blessing in disguise—even though I will be in a hole financially, I wouldn’t have the chance to be so focused and devote so much time to my craft had I gotten a gig that pays (funny how that works). Working 40 hours a week, I’ve found it difficult to get a lot done musically, and finding a job would have put me back into a scenario similar to the one I’m in now despite presumably having more cash to spend on new gear and what have you, which really does me no good if I don’t have the time to utilize those phantom new purchases. For those that are concerned that I will just strike out another fifty times, that’s okay because I have until July to find something before I’m really in trouble financially. That alone will likely extended my threshold to at least 300 strikes since I will have all day every day from May-July to find a paying gig. If I don’t find one by the end of July, well, tell all of your friends that there’s a saxophone teacher out there looking for some students (you can do that anyway as I’ll be looking to pick up a few starting in February, actually).
For anyone that’s dying to dig deeper and know the answers to questions such as “why now?” and “why there?” and “ARE YOU CRAZY!?”, feel free to contact me directly. Otherwise, just looking forward to a super exciting first half of 2013 on the blog!
Thanks especially to Mom, Dad, Jen, and Brandon – and to all of my other family and friends who already know what’s going on – for being so supportive and for believing in me and in this project. Thanks to all of my colleagues at the Virginia Arts Festival and the Virginia International Tattoo for all of the good times over the years.
And, of course, thanks also goes to you, the reader, for devouring my prose and musical undertakings post after post.
First off, I’d like to wish everyone a happy Valentine’s Day! I hope that you’re either spending today with your significant other or gorging yourself in ice cream while watching Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (or something equally as miserable).
In general, the last month has been a great one for the blog. After having an awesome time at MAGFest, January 23rd produced a humongous spike in activity, resulting the highest hit count for a single day yet. The funny thing is, I don’t know if I can count on but a few of those visitors to return—they were all referred by a Phillies blog I read called Beerleaguer because one of the regulars happened to check the site out and then proceeded to give me a shout-out (if you’re reading, thanks, awh!). Regardless, it was pretty cool to see the numbers rising so high for a day. Though, now my site stat graph is really ridiculous looking… I got 102 hits that day and my average per day in January was 18 views, so you can imagine…
The next thing that was exciting was my interview with Darren Korb. After having not seen him at MAGFest like I was expecting, I decided to try and contact him otherwise. Being able to conduct my first interview ever was an experience in itself, but Darren was really cool about everything and I had a great time talking to him. I never really expected that I would be interviewing people when I was first thinking about undertaking this project; now, though, I really want it to be a part of the blog, so expect more of them in the future, whether they’re audio-based or text-based.
Then came February 9th, when I reviewed Austin Wintory’s music for flOw. I tweeted about it, tagged Austin himself, and he actually read it. What’s even greater is that he really liked it and was very complimentary. He even posted the review on the press section of his website. I was amazed that he even read it, but getting feedback from him… it made everything that I’ve been trying to do here worth it. If you’re reading, Austin, thanks again.
Now that I’ve gotten a lot of that stuff out of the way, I need to get back on track with my real mission: composing VGM. Yeah, I’m going to fit part II of that Halo OST review in here somewhere, but not until I get some serious work done.
A week or so ago I sat down to do some brainstorming. I was actually debating posting these, but my girlfriend set me straight, saying that I said that I would be candid about everything, and brainstorming is certainly part of everything.