This is another What’s Been Going On?! update, and it’s an important one because it addresses several major issues, things that can no longer be ignored or deferred. I wanted to get something out before the New Year but decided to write this at the crest of 2019 instead.
I’ll first address two big issues – the elephants in the room, if you will – before moving on to the plans for 2019 as far as Smile Game Builder (and other gaming projects) I’m planning.
It’s not as gloom-and-doom as it might sound in the beginning, however, as there is an eventual positive outcome. Just bear with me.
Now, I know I haven’t uploaded anything for quite some time – since September, in fact – and I apologize for that. I’ve been asked often throughout this period if I’ve abandoned the SGB tutorials in particular and NO I HAVE NOT!
I have been going through a "depressive stage". While I’ve suffered with depression most of my life, it’s not something I talk about. Most of the time it can be managed; sometimes, though, it manifests more volcanically.
Unfortunately, this time fell into the latter over a long period of time, kind of like a "creeping depression". I didn’t see those all-too-familiar telltale signs (and I don’t think anyone else did either), so when it reached critical mass and I had a meltdown, it was particularly nasty, something I’m not very proud of. I almost lost something – someone! – very precious to me, so it was at that point that I knew something had gone seriously amiss and it was time to take a step back for an extended timeout while I sifted throught the root causes and sorted the crap out. I’d rather forget about this and move onwards and upwards!
And now that things are starting to make sense again, I can finally do this update, which I’ve continuously deferred until now. But, as I said, I wanted to start the new year with an update, and this is it.
And, if you haven’t already, I’d recommend you join our Smile Game Builder Discord server, where we have sections for modeling, Blender, Unity, and a lot of other SGB related channels.
The lack of videos has nothing to do with Smile Game Builder (or game dev in general); it has to do with YouTube itself, more specifically what it has ultimately become.
When I first started the channel back in 2010…Yes, the channel is 8 years old! Anyway, when I first started the channel, I’d intended to upload a lot of content relating to RPG Maker (showcases of my scripts and projects mostly), as well as some animations I did from time to time.
But there was no clearly defined theme, no structure and no planned direction. It was just "fluff"! The videos were inconsistent and irregular. But back then I didn’t have too much confidence for things like public speaking or hard-coding. And I didn’t really think anything would become of my channel; it was just a means to showcase some of my projects, more for me than anyone else.
So when I had the privilege to beta-test Smile Game Builder before its official launch, that actually became a game changer for the channel. And it started to grow, moving in a direction I felt comfortable and confident with.
The very first SGB video I uploaded was an experimental sample game called SGB Quest: Faerealm.
And that was back in August 2016 shortly after SGB’s official release, I believe.
The second one I did was a Zelda styled forest maze (inspired by the forest maze in The Legend of Zelda for the original NES). I eventually did a tutorial on that – Tutorial #26, which you can also watch if you want to see how that’s done – but both videos were intended to showcase some of the things that could be done in SGB.
When SGB was officially released, the next set of videos were mainly overview videos going through all of the features that SGB had to offer. Pure and simple. But then one thing led to another and the next set of videos were again essentially showcase videos focusing on events and other features. And that sparked a revolution.
I started producing tutorials based on things I’d found: useful routines, workarounds for SGB’s limitations, additional information and ultimately answering various how-to questions that were asked or which I’d seen somewhere else. And this became the foundation for the Tutorials & Showcases playlist.
Almost 60 videos later, there’s still room for more tutorials as SGB continues to grow. That means that I will continue with the tutorials for as long as I’m able.
And that leads to the other elephant in the room which is YouTube and what has affectionately become known as the YouTube "adpocalypse", which I’m sure you’re all aware of by now. It affected many channels, both large and small, with far-reaching ramifications across the board. And my channel was included in their demonetization purge because I had no chance within the timeframe to reach their immodest new subscription requirements. I’m not going into details about that. There’s little point.
But what I will say is that, as a result of that, perhaps as an additional knock-on effect that may have been the trigger for the depressive state, I found myself becoming increasingly demotivated to create any videos for YouTube, regardless of content. Therefore, ironically, the demotivation to upload to YouTube was, first and foremost, BECAUSE of YouTube.
Now, although I’m not able to create content as regularly as I’d like because of my work schedule, I still have a 3-day window to create a video, update and maintain the blogs, work on the online store and work on my RPG Maker plugins, and SGB models and games (without including those all essential chores we all need to do!). Cramming all of these things into 3 days per week isn’t fun! And it’s simply not viable, even with a good time management system in place, as I’ve discovered numerous times.
But somehow I’m going to do it to make sure that all you wonderful people who subscribe and follow me, and benefit from my content, can continue doing so well into the new year. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart; it means a lot to me. It’s given me the motivation to forge ahead, in spite of everything that’s happened; it’s given me more of a direction and purpose, and it’s something I enjoy doing.
INTO THE NEW YEAR
So, yeah, going into the new year, what are the plans?
Well, as I mentioned I’m going to start with the SGB tutorials and upload them every Sunday, as I did previously. In the beginning, though, it won’t be every Sunday while I regain the routine I had, but they will still be regular and consistent.
Now given the nature of YouTube and its current climate, while I always try to use content for which I have permission to use or which is used under the "Fair Use", if any of my videos are falsely flagged for things like copyright infringement, policy violations, or anything similar (which they ARE inclined to do), or if anything happens to my channel here, I will have a backup this time. That way it’ll give you the option to choose which platform you watch the tutorials on and if one is down then the other should work regardless so you can still view the video.
I’ll announce the link nearer the time.
As many of you are probably aware by now, especially if you’ve been following me on social media, we are in the process of creating an online store. My other half and I decided to consolidate our products so they’d conveniently be in one place, rather than scattered in several places.
I will be putting my assets packs for SGB on the store and she’ll be putting her own arts and crafts there too. Eventually we’ll expand it to include other things as part the business ideas we’ve entertained and discussed for awhile, on and off.
Next year, we’re seriously pushing forward with this and the store’s grand opening will be closer to the middle or end of January 2019. So that’s something to look forward to. I know we’re excited about it because we’ve been bouncing ideas for the past 2 years and now, finally, it can all be realised.
Also in the new year, I’m going to start live-streaming proper. I started it this year but, being a very slow bloomer when it comes to this sort of thing, it was mostly for experimentation, testing and experience.
Now that I have a decent set up, I think it’s time to use that experience for regular live-streams, which I’m scheduling for every Friday.
I’m not sure what I’ll actually stream yet, but it looks likely now that it’ll be Witcher 3 for awhile. I will also occasionally live-stream Smile Game Builder, where I might be able to answer some questions, perhaps even with a how-to demo, as well as FINALLY doing some play-throughs of games that people have sent me.
In the past I tried multi-streaming to both Twitch and YouTube, but I had a few problems with live-streaming to YouTube so am going to stick with Twitch only. At least for awhile.
Finally, as part of the transition into the new year, the wife and I have talked about various strategies to bring much more regular quality content to you guys without being limited by things like time constraints and finances.
And part of this is, of course, in addition to moneys from the online store, seeking donations and sponsorships. Basically pushing towards a more monetized business model so that for the longer term goals, we’d be able to generate a consistent income stream for things like hardware upgrades and new software. But, ultimately, the end-goal has always been so that I can devote a lot more time on game development specifically, notably the Smile Game Builder part of it simply because it’s proven to be a solid engine worthy of attention. The ultimate goal, however, is to be able to quit my job and focus on game development as a whole full time and migrate to Canada or the USA.
Before YouTube’s adpocalypse and demonetization purge, my channel was slowly gaining traction and viewership, so it meant that revenue from their ads was slowly accumulating. Early projections even suggested a cumulative increase of 200-300% from previous years over the course of the next year or two. Because of YouTube’s sweeping policy changes, I’m pretty much writing this off as a complete loss.
So that meant we had to look at alternatives, studying them very carefully, and seeing if they would fit our business model.
One option was, of course, the dreadnought Patreon, but now, given the recent controversy building up around it, I don’t think we’ll pursue that. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, and you’re really interested, you can do a search on it yourself. It’s a hot topic right now and YouTube in particular is rife with videos on it, so see for yourself.)
We are looking at other similar sites, including Subscribestar (which also has some "rhubarb" of its own), and we’re weighing our options. I think over the course of the next few months we’ll reach a decision on how best to proceed with this.
If you would like to make a donation – you don’t have to, of course, but every dollar will be greatly appreciated and will go towards these goals – that option will be available on the online store soon. Or you can donate directly through PayPal and your name will appear in the list of "special people" at the end of my videos, as well as on this blog.
Thanks to everyone who has supported me throughout this journey. May it continue into 2019!