Copyright © 2023 Roxy CyanSorcery
Usually I start off my blog posts with "Howdy!" or something, but this is not the case today. This post is pretty serious, and I'll be talking about finances, pressures and hardships I am facing, and what it means for the future of me making stuff online. I haven't wanted to make a post like this, because I don't want to worry or scare anyone, but I am kinda backed into a corner here. So, it's time to talk about how I'm broke and need to do something about it fast.
Note: If you don't want to read all this, you can scroll down to the conclusion at the bottom. The summary, though, is that I'm kindaaaa out of money, real or fake, and I'm also just about out of time.
First off, I should say that I haven't wanted to make this post, and I still don't want to make this post, but I kinda have to. I don't like to talk about personal stuff, and I don't like to talk about my finances, but in order for people to understand what's going on, I have to go into both. It's uncomfortable territory, but I will do my best. Finally, before we begin, all monetary amounts listed below are in USD.
Let us first go over the money I make. I have a few sources of income, which are:
Let's dive deeper into these numbers:
Special note: All of this is after platform fees, but before taxes (we'll get to that later.)
So this all sounds great right? We can take a ballpark of anywhere between $900 and $1200 and most likely call it roughly what I make in a month.
The Hourly Breakdown: I generally try to work 6-8 hours a day, 5-6 days a week. I can comfortably say that I work on stuff anywhere from 35-45 hours a week, so if you break this down by saying I make roughly $1050 a month and work roughly 160 hours a month, I make $6.50 per hour. If you take out self employment taxes, it becomes about $5 per hour, which is only 1/3 of minimum wage in California. I used to work even harder before the Shield Cat demo came out, but I realized I needed to back off some because I was getting massively burnt out. This is why I haven't been as productive as I'd like on Cosmogelica (more on that below.)
The thing about money in this world we live in is that it's quite fleeting and difficult to hold on to. So, let's talk about my expenses:
Already we are at $1320 (which is almost like $1312, but not really,) and we haven't even begun to talk about miscellaneous expenses like food, gas for the car, emergencies and sudden expenses, and more. All in all I'd say it is about $1500 to $1700 a month. This also doesn't cover the portion of it that needs to go to taxes (again, more on that later.)
I think you can begin to see the problem.
If you remember my Patreon goal of $2000/m before Patreon decided that goals were bad, actually, well now you know how I got that number. I wasn't trying to be greedy. The cost of living for me is just high.
I feel like I should make a list of things that I don't spend money on, so you guys know I'm not just spending money on idk, amiibos or something. Here are some things I don't buy:
The thing about having about a $500 gap between what you make and what you need to spend is that, you still have to come up with money from somewhere. This has, for a while, been in the form of just putting it on the card and worrying about it later. Dog got hurt? Put it on the card, pay it later. Gotta go to the grocery store? Card. Something suddenly came up? Card. Gotta go somewhere far away? Card card card. And then there's the big stuff like when I needed to pay like $1500 to get the car going again because of the work it needed done. (I also got a letter today saying I need to renew my license, and an email saying I need to renew my domain names, and I'm just like, hahaha)
Here's some funny things about credit cards, if you didn't know:
The cards can get you through today, but eventually, they come back for you. Also, if you want to know the total amount of debt I have, the answer is "You don't wanna know, and I don't want to talk about it."
Indeed, what about taxes. I'm sure people who have been following me for a few months remember my post about needing money for taxes super quick. The actual truth behind that post was that, not only did I not do the math correctly with regards to how much I'd owe, but I also wasn't able to save up very much toward it. Ideally, you take a portion of the money you've made in a month, and set it aside for tax purposes. However, when you have such a disparity between what you make and what you spend, it starts becoming part of the "I'll take care of it later" pile.
If you wonder how much I have saved up to pay taxes currently, the answer is $0.
The answer is "lol, lmao." It's time to talk about how the last year has gone for me, and how the problems have been compounding.
It's quite the move to end a sentence with "problems I have" and start the next header with "Shield Cat." Is Shield Cat a problem? Yes, actually. Let's break it down.
In February of 2022, I was making the most money I've made on Patreon, which is just over $900. It was nice! Everything was looking optimistic. I (unwisely) deferred some commissions just so that I could work on the demo more and make sure it was everything it could be. Everyone was excited about the demo, so my hope was that I would come out with it, gain even more patrons and support, and everything would be A-Okay.
Note: It was not A-Okay. The graph looks like I released a Netflix comedy special or something.
If you've been paying attention to world events, I don't think I have to tell you what happened in February 2022 that caused international economic uncertainty. This graph shows the spike of money I was talking about earlier, and then it all goes downhill from there. There is a bit of jaggedness in the graph before it smooths out, since I was getting more patrons due to the upcoming demo, but then it smooths out.
Sometime at the beginning of 2022, I changed my patreon to say that I wasn't gonna be doing any art rewards anymore. See, there was a time when I was (supposed to be) doing monthly art rewards for people, or they could build them up to get an avatar every 3 months or something. What this resulted in, however, was just me getting backlogged with art that I couldn't really work on because I was trying to focus on the game. Eventually, I decided this needed to stop. This is why there's a downhill trend after the spike. No worries though, right? A lot of people stayed on and just lowered their pledge, and it was A-Okay.
However, it kept going down. The sharp dip right after the gray vertical line was in early 2023, when I announced that I wouldn't be working on Shield Cat for a while (more on that later) and it just hasn't gotten that much better since. You'll notice at the end of the graph there's a sharp decline, but I believe that this is just due to the fact that I charge up front, and patrons pledges renew throughout the month. So, that part of the graph should normalize again, and I'm not immediately worried about it.
Overall, people did play the Shield Cat demo, but it didn't make nearly as much of a splash as I had hoped. The SAGE 2022 demo was competing with a lot of good games like Lunistice, and also, I feel like the SAGE people didn't want to try it after playing the 2020 demo. Compound that with the people who played the March 2021 demo, and the later playtest, and I'm thinking that, I probably put too many demos out there haha. Also, the SAGE 2022 demo was very long, much longer than your typical SAGE demo, so I think a lot of people passed on it. I was hoping they'd play it for a bit, get to the village, say "that's good!" and come back later, but I'm not sure how many actually came back later.
Is this to say that the demo went poorly? Far from it. The game's wishlists shot up 25% from releasing that demo, so people were definitely interested in it! Lots of people played it, and it was really cool. However, it didn't really convert to financial support as I had hoped, and though I'm proud of the work I did to bring out that demo (3-7 hours of gameplay, and the only game crashing bug that was found was at the end of SAGE, and was so obscure that it wasn't worth putting an update for immediately - I did good work) I still wonder if it was the right move to put so much effort into it.
We've moved on from the SAGE 2022 demo though, and the version that's available currently is the Chapter 1 demo. It's pretty much the same, but I made a ton of tweaks and QoL improvements to it. However, announcing this demo independently without any event tied to it failed to make any kind of splash, and most people just simply haven't played the updated version, which is a shame. (I'm sure that the enshittification of Twitter and the subsequent dispersion of all my fans and followers across multiple sites did not help.)
I'm sure the question is "When will I get back to Shield Cat?" and the answer will come later in this post.
I'm sure people have been wondering, what's the deal with Cosmogelica anyways? The answer is, I was intending to expand on what I did with Cosmic Defender in the SAGE 2020 demo of Shield Cat, where I make something like Galaga, but you have barriers you can hide behind. I also just wanted to make a quick little game to have something out there, and to see a game from start to finish. The initial intention was that I would work on it for about 6 months, release it for cheap as a little arcade game, and then go back to Shield Cat. However, the initial version of the game, while nice, wasn't really that great and had a lot of flaws. I was having a lot of difficulty getting it to come together, and figuring out what kind of game it should be.
I've alluded to it in the past with blog entries and talking about it online, but I don't think I've ever said it frankly: I was about to cancel the game, but I decided to overhaul it last minute. I felt like I had something good going, but I hadn't released it yet. I'm feeling a lot more confident about the direction the game is going now, but unfortunately, we're long long past the point of "just a quick thing I put out there." There was actually a couple months where I didn't work on it much, simply because I didn't really feel good about its direction at the time, and that also set me back.
What's the plan for Cosmogelica now? Well, I'm hoping to come out with a demo soon, but there are gonna be some difficulties with this (more on that later.)
I'm not exactly sure where to put this in the post, which is already getting much, much longer than I had hoped for. However, I feel like I should touch on it. In addition to all of the above, this last year has seen the loss of 3 pets (one due to age and cancer, one due to a sudden blood clot, and one due to developing sudden seizures) as well as 4 different family members passing away. I've got another old dog on her way out, and it's just, really tough to deal with all this. I haven't posted publicly about it or asked for money to help with the pets because I didn't want to seem suspicious or like a bad pet owner. So while I was working hard on Shield Cat's demo, and while I've been trying to work on Cosmogelica and commissions, these things have also been going on.
The current bind I'm in, and what's making me post this because I don't know what to do except talk about it, is the fact that I have a lot of commissions to do - 6 full bodies and 4 avatars, to be exact, and I haven't been able to work on them much. I need to get money by the middle of the month for my part of the rent, but to do this, I first need to do these commissions and take some more. The issue I'm facing too is that, soon, I'm gonna have to be going to jury duty. This is going to take up a significant amount of time, as the case is expected to go on for at least a couple weeks.
This means that this week I have to do all the commissions and then take more, do the jury duty (which, if you didn't know, they barely pay for it here) and then do the other commissions that I took before the jury duty. This is gonna leave no time for me to work on Cosmogelica or work towards getting the demo out there for the remainder of July. I haven't set an exact date for the demo yet, but I have some ideas about when to put it out there.
Ideally, I could post online and say "I need some money," but I've done enough of this already, and honestly, I'm tired of it. I can't really rely on the kindness of strangers or credit cards anymore to try to get through the month, and so I'm kinda backed into a wall here. It would massively help if I did get a sudden influx of money in my account, but this would only be a temporary solution to this huge litany of problems. Also, I feel like if I keep asking for money, it's gonna get really, really suspicious (which is the other part of why I'm making this post, so you know I'm not just out here buying yachts or something.)
I also try to limit the amount of commissions I take, because the last thing I would want to do is take a ton of them and then never do them, and next thing you know you see my name on Artists Beware. This would not be a good situation for anyone, least of all me.
Special Note: If you're a commissioner who happens to be reading this, and it's going through your mind to offer like "Hey you can just keep the money I don't need the art" (I've had people offer this before,) the answer is no. I quite like all the commission ideas I have currently, and also, I've made that commitment that I will draw those artworks, and one way or another, I'm going to do it.
Let's go over some potential solutions to the issues I'm facing.
The most ideal (and least likely) situation would be that I double the amount of patronage I get. It's tricky because I don't really paywall any content, so there's not much of a financial incentive to pledge, since you can just get the content anyways. If you do want to throw some money my way though, I'm not stopping you and it would be greatly appreciated.
Maybe someone will read this post and go into my Ko-fi and just drop a ton of money in there. It'd be nice, but such a thing would only be a temporary solution. It would help get me through this month, but what about next month? And the month after that? I think the "Suspiciously Wealthy Furry Bankroll" is an unlikely scenario, but I wanted to put it out there.
I'm sure a lot of you are thinking, well Roxy you are a game developer, cant you just pitch your games to publishers and get loads of money? Yes, this would be possible, but there are several caveats to this:
If you're wondering if I've been pitching Shield Cat, the answer is "I've been too busy with all of the things listed above to even have time to think about talking about that level of professional business stuff."
It's something I've considered, to try to get some kind of influx of money, is just to release Cosmogelica early before I've finished it, and have people along for the ride. It would be neat, but also, I don't want to put a compromised version of the game out there. I'd much rather wait for the game to be finished or at least have a decent amount of content, but I'm afraid I'm running out of time in the current conditions to be able to do that. Also, if I released the game as early access, and it didn't sell that much, well now I've put myself in a bind where I am obligated to finish the game, but am financially unable to. This is also a situation that does no good for anyone, least of all me.
I believe the reasons for me coming out with an EP that has the demo's music, as well as a ton of unused/prototype stuff, is starting to become more clear. It's a cool thing to have out there for people to enjoy, but also, it's a way to encourage people to send money my way, but this time, they actually get something for it. At the time of writing, I've sold a few copies, which I'm grateful for! But it's a drop in the ocean at this point. I didn't expect this to solve all my problems, because that would be silly, but I at least do have a product out there now that I can promote whenever it's Bandcamp Friday, to try to pick up some extra (lol, "extra" anyways) cash.
The most obvious solution (and probably what some people are thinking) is just to give up and go back to working a traditional job. I worked in food service for over a decade, though, and I'm not exactly in a rush to go back to it. Also, these past 3 years I've been trying really hard to make self employment work because, you know, there's been some kind of global thing going on all around the world that I'm sure you've heard about since 2020, and yea, I'd like to avoid that. The issue is that I live in a place now where jobs are few and far between. I know, because I tried to get a job before and wasn't able to, so I ended up having to stay at my not-that-great job that had an extremely long commute, just so that I could have a reliable paycheck (that had 1/3 of it go right back into paying the gas to even get to the job lol)
I also would like to think that I have a certain set of skills that means I could do something far better with my time than make sandwiches or whatever, but unfortunately, my game dev skills are all related to Gamemaker, and if you didn't know, they're not exactly hiring Gamemaker devs by the hundreds. It's all Unity and Unreal, and I don't have a degree or much experience in 3D graphics and animation. It's a miracle I can even do the 3D assets I do make.
I probably don't have to outright say it, but if I did go back to a traditional job, I would just have to cancel both Shield Cat and Cosmogelica, and most likely stop taking commissions. What would probably happen would be that I convert my Discord to a general hangout spot, pass it off to Nova or Fontes, and just log out. There's a lot that goes on in the Discord that's not involved in what I make at all, and it can continue to go on without me or my games being involved in it.
If you didn't know, I'm not against drawing a naughty furry pic from time to time, even on commission. However, my commissions and artwork in general are usually clean and for all audiences. However, this wouldn't stop me from being able to pivot to just making all spicy art all the time. Who knows, maybe I could even make an erotic furry game and put it on itch and make lots of money. However, the more embedded you become in this kind of thing, the harder it is to exist in regular spaces. Many doors would close to me if I was super known for drawing furry smut, and also, drawing furry smut isn't even a guaranteed thing to make you a lot of money. There are people who make lots of money doing it, but they are the exception, not the rule - contrary to the comics you may have seen about "I don't make any money but 18+ artists make a ton of money." Hot take, I think they may not make money because they are complaining all the time and it's not desireable to their audience, but I digress.
Basically, becoming a hardcore furry smut artist could be a viable option, but it's not guaranteed, and it's also a one way street with no take backsies.
I forgot to put this in, but someone brought it up after I published this post, so I'm putting it in now. I'm sure you guys have noticed that I do know how to do some web development, but honestly, it's not really something I do for fun as much as it's just a means to an end. I enjoy doing it in short bursts, but it's usually just to get something done that I need. I couldn't really imagine doing it professionally every day, but it's not entirely out of my mind as something I could potentially do. However, I find game programming much more interesting, and if I'm gonna be writing code, I'd rather be doing that.
Maybe there's a golden solution that's just out of sight for me, and I'll post this, and someone will go "why didn't you consider this? It'll solve all your problems?" But since I've been ruminating on this for a couple years now, and watching everything slowly erode around me, I don't think a golden solution exists.
I should take some time to cover stuff that I won't or can't do for various reasons, just so that people don't suggest it to me:
I haven't wanted to write this post, but it's been on my mind for a while, which is why I ended up writing a ton of stuff. I don't know what I'll accomplish by putting it out there. Maybe I'll get more patrons, maybe I'll lose more patrons, I can't really know. If anything, I can at least hope that it casts some understanding on the following issues:
Note: If you're reading this and wonder why I haven't been in Furcadia much lately, well, now you know. It's all A Lot and I can't really imagine logging in and being a beautiful butterfly on most days.
I don't know what putting all this out there will do, but I feel like I've wasted a chunk of time today writing this post instead of working on art, and I'm also missing an event in Furcadia I was gonna help out with because I just do not have the energy for it right now, and, yea that's it. I need money, and I just don't know where it's gonna come from or if it's even gonna come, and I am just very, very tired.