This post will be a little different and a lot longer than normal as I want to get anyone interested, up to speed with the future of the game.
Before I get into it, I would just like to acknowledge and thank the players and those that have engaged with the project in game and on social media. Your enthusiasm is fantastic to hear! I’d also like to give massive thank you to each and every Member that has signed up thus far, I very much appreciate that you have not only given your time but also spent your hard-earned money on the game and for that I am incredibly grateful and hope you can stick around and watch the game grow.
This ended up longer than intended, so if you just want a quick summary:
Please note that this is not a comprehensive list, I have been thinking about this game for many, many years! These however are seen as being especially notable and valuable in the medium to long term. These are not in any particular order:
Seen as one the most unique and fun features of the game, I would like to give this area a lot more love on-top of what it has already had, especially notable:
I.e. the visuals of the game, in general make it more streamlined, visual and engaging like:
Up until recently this game has been on the back burner for my entire career. This means MotorNation is effectively now almost 16 years old. It has mostly been kept private during that time. It has of course evolved but consequently much of the interface is now broadly over 10 years old. This ironically fits into the aesthetic and era of the game, so I need to be slightly careful to update the game without losing what helps make it unique and befitting of the time.
There are permutations of MotorNation going past even that, certainly to the early 2000s and the basic premise can be traced back to the early/mid 90s…. There is an offline incomplete prototype version in Java circa 2003, there was once a front page made in Pascal (MS DOS) and originally, I used to write out car adverts from the Auto Trader into Microsoft Works - the DOS version.
It became apparent in January 2021 that the pandemic, living in isolation with a new-born, an aborted house move, schooling a by then six-year-old at home had unsurprisingly taken its toll on us as a family. With my wife shortly going back to work and me being frustrated at a lack of autonomy, variety and flexibility from my own, the then current arrangement did not work for us any longer. I had enough and I reluctantly left my job. My first break in employment since my first full-time role in 2005 when I started my career in web development following my Degree in Computing.
At the start of the new financial year, April 2021, I declared myself self-employed and began working on my own business, Software Taylors. Much time and expense has gone into setting it up and much of my working focus has thus far gone into MotorNation, learning all the different skills I need to run my own business and marketing the game.
I would love to continue investing my time into MotorNation exclusively as I have been, but I do need to support myself and my family. I therefore need to take steps to address this.
Since the beginning of the year I have delivered a lot of new features to the game and spent a lot of time improving it. Some examples of major features since the beginning of the year include:
In terms of finances the game is broadly bringing in just about enough to cover the server and associated direct expenses. It is however by no means covering my business or advertising expenses and furthermore is unfortunately not yet paying any sort of salary.
Due to my self-employed nature, I need to make my own income. I love spending time on the game, improving it and adding content – it is my passion. But I of course need to make money. This is the only way the game will ultimately become sustainable and with features delivered at the sort of pace I would like to work at.
I intend to increase the transparency of the game costs and to set financial goals against the membership intake. This will be an important part in deciding the timescales and what features get delivered and when.
Therefore in the shorter term I aim to shift the focus to add more content, to fill out the game more and add quality of life improvements to existing features while focusing on marketing and encouraging more players to sign-up for membership. At the time of writing, membership starts at a very small minimum monthly tier (£1+VAT) which also offers a permanent discount for those who sign up during the beta stage.
I would also like to add more payment options, especially since I do not believe players should pay any VAT if buying membership directly from me at least since I am earning (very little) below £80k a year. Patreon handles VAT as the money technically goes to them and whilst it is easy to implement and somewhat well known, it is unfortunately very limiting and they take a large cut.
It is important to re-iterate that I am extremely grateful for the existing members and the financial support that they have thus far provided. I certainly do not take this for granted! It is this that has kept the project moving since the start of the year as well as the enthusiasm several people have shown for the project which has been especially humbling to hear!
If it were not for our childcare basically falling to bits due to COVID-19 (our child minder’s family got it and then she did too) then by now I would have started diversifying a bit and begun working more on other projects in parallel in hope to create new revenue streams. I still intend to do this, but with the childcare issues I have basically put all my time into MotorNation thus far and have worked in evenings and weekends trying to make up lost time due to childcare. This is not sustainable unless the game is earning significantly more money.
The short answer is – it depends on the numbers of paying members. The more and higher paying members there are, the more time can be spent on the game and the more resources I can utilise on it. Having lots of players is fantastic, but there needs to be a certain level of paying members to make the project work and be sustainable long term.
I have been stepping up my project management game a lot in the past month and I have been working on improving my longer-term planning. It would be nice to start implementing roadmaps, but it will be difficult to create realistic time scales until I know what time I have available, and therefore budget, to spend on the game. This relies on my promotion of the game, the game being good enough for people wanting to pay to support it and of course a degree of luck!
Firstly I hope you have enjoyed my frankness and honesty and have not found this post arrogant, greedy or needy (if you did that was not my intention!). I am trying to be realistic between what I would like to do and what resources I have available. I would like to re-iterate a big thank you to the existing players, especially those that have and continue to contribute towards membership, I am not exaggerating when I say every penny makes a difference right now! But it is amazing to be making any money from doing what I love so that is fantastic, I just hope I can continue to give the game the love I think it deserves.
The game is growing all the time, the numbers are looking good and I am pleased with the progress being made. However I am concerned that things need to pick up pace financially and there may be some difficult decisions ahead, but rest assured I will not be giving up on the game any time soon.
If you have read this far then, thank you for taking such an interest in my rantings and I hope you enjoyed an open insight to how things are going with me and the game.
As always, thank you for your support and keep safe!