VVVVVV is debuting in Leeds next week, so I’m crunching to get it ready in time! There were a lot of unexpected complications with my non-linear approach, but I think it’ll be worth all the extra work, in the end, when it’s finally done. It could be a very long time before I tackle something as big as this again, so I’m not going to rush it. You know what they say about the last 10%.

My browser start page is this – a countdown to the IGF submission deadline. Right now 12 days, 6 hours, 16 minutes and 55 seconds remain. So I figured it was about time I submitted something! I’ve thought about it a bit and decided that I’d like to submit two games – Don’t Look Back and VVVVVV. There’s just one problem; I don’t have the money.

I don’t talk about this a lot, so there’s a good chance a lot of people reading this don’t actually know what my working situation is. I actually make games full time – and full time as in, well, all the time; all day, every day. I quit my job two years ago and I’ve been trying to find some way to balance making the games I wanna make and being able to afford doing it since. My savings from work are long gone, and I got a loan about a year ago which has since run out.

So this is reality: very soon I will have to stop making games full time and start dealing with my debts.

My original plan with VVVVVV was to look for a sponsorship, but it’s grown too big for that to really be realistic. In any case, I find it hard to imagine it with a sponsor’s logo on the front, surrounded by ads. So recently I’ve decided that I want to try something else – I’m going to sell VVVVVV as shareware. It’s a big, scary decision to make, but it’s pretty much the only shot I have at this point at continuing to do what I love into the future! ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ve love to know what you think about this. Please let me know! I haven’t really thought this through yet and I don’t really know how I’m going to do it…

A more immediate problem is that I really want to enter these games into the IGF, but can’t afford to! So I’m asking for your help! If you’d like to see me or my games in the IGF, please contribute.

The submission fee is $95 per game! Any contribution is appreciated, but as suggested by some friends here are a few kickstarter style targets to motivate you!

If you donate $10, I’ll send you a copy of VVVVVV once it’s finished. You can think of this as a preorder!

If you donate $20, you’ll get a copy of VVVVVV when it’s done and access to the beta when it’s ready at the start of November (if you like!).

Finally, if you donate $30 or more, you get all the above and I’ll credit you as a patron in the game.

(While donations are still welcome, preorders are no longer available. Thanks for the support! 3rd Jan)
(Beta access and the patron’s list are no longer available. 7th Dec)

Of course, any help at all is appreciated! I’ve never, ever asked for donations before.

Thanks for reading down this far. This was a really hard post for me to write.


56 Comments so far

  1. Elijah Katz on October 20th, 2009

    you should maybe think of posting this on kickstarter ๐Ÿ˜€

  2. Terry on October 20th, 2009

    Kickstarter is Americans only, I believe ๐Ÿ™

  3. Allen on October 20th, 2009

    I get paid tuesday, after bills are said and done I’ll see if I can. I’m glad you are selling it, full time game rough (I assume)

    i made a tweet, if you want me to remove it i will. i should have asked for. i apologize in advance if that makes you uncomfortable. but i dont have many folloiws so it no big deal.

    yyoull amke it.i hope. ๐Ÿ™‚ you certianly deserve it to be onest

  4. six on October 20th, 2009

    Terry, I’m still a bit shocked by your courage when I remember that you do this full-time. And having heard you talk about this project so much and with such enthusiasm over the past few months, I can only begin to guess at how much of yourself you’ve poured into it. So I certainly don’t think you should be shy about soliciting donations and switching to shareware model — I know I can scrape together at least a few bucks for the cause, and I’m sure I’m not alone.

  5. Sparky on October 20th, 2009

    It seems so backward to me that good intentioned people like you who know exactly what they need to be doing with their time aren’t allowed, by default, to make a living doing so. But that’s the way things are right now, I suppose. I can think of few people as deserving as you of being able to pursue game development full time, and I wish you all the best.

  6. Mark Johns on October 20th, 2009

    Hey Terry,

    I love your games and I think shareware can work. I’m really looking forward to the game. Best of luck crunching for IGF, and I hope to see you in San Francisco next year!

  7. bburbank on October 20th, 2009

    For the past 4 years I’ve donated money to people trying to get into IGF, and this year will be no different. I work fulltime on games, too, except I didn’t go the indie route and I live vicariously through people like you. I’ll do what I can for you, sir, and I wish you good luck once you have your entry ready!

  8. notmyusualname on October 20th, 2009

    Speaking as both an indie developer and someone who loves games but is far too poor to pay money for them most of the time, I’m going to be slightly contrary. By all means you should ask for money! You’re making a quality product that people are genuinely excited about. I just want to try to talk you out of insisting on payment, and rather doing a suggested donation / pay-what-you-like sort of deal. I honestly think it’s the only reasonable approach when it comes to post-scarcity media distribution. Speaking as one isolated data point, at $10 I’d probably look for a torrent and feel guilty, but given the option I’d gladly throw $5 in your bucket.

  9. Dock on October 20th, 2009

    I’ve gladly paid $30 as a donation. This isn’t just for VVVVVV, but it’s thank-you for all the games you’ve made over the last two years that I’ve enjoyed immensely for free. I’m always very impressed by your motivation and bravery, and I really hope things work out well for you soon.

    I’d encourage everyone to dig deep and donate anything they can in support of indie games!

  10. superflat on October 20th, 2009

    I’ve matched Dock’s. You’re my first donatee! Should be almost there for submission fees now right? Best of luck with it man.


  11. Anonymous on October 20th, 2009

    It’s kinda sad.Either you make this crapy mainstream games like call of duty or gear of war and have lots of money,or you make such creative and interesting titles as you,and get nothing.I think you really should make your game shareware,there s totall nothing wrong with it.

  12. Mike on October 20th, 2009

    I could only manage the $10, but I’ll throw you some more on payday! You must have enough to submit one game now already!

  13. Paul on October 20th, 2009

    I’m happy that you’re going to be selling this, you’ve got to make a living.

  14. Stephen on October 20th, 2009

    Wow, I really had no idea. You deserve a lot of respect for everything here. I wish you all the best.

  15. Guillaume on October 20th, 2009

    10$ more in the jar. I loved “Don’t look back” and I can’t wait for VVVVVV! Good luck for your submission.

  16. […] the Irish developer is unable to take advantage of the U.S.-only Kickstarter platform, he’s offering similar donation rewards, promising game copies, beta access, and in-game credits depending on the size of your […]

  17. Aubrey on October 20th, 2009

    As others have said, you’re long overdue for monetary compensation. You’ve done so many cool games, and get to make what you want! Some days I wish I had your job. Then other days, I realize I wouldn’t have the ability.

    Oh well, have my money, and keep going, making good games.

  18. Aquin on October 20th, 2009


  19. Jazmeister on October 20th, 2009

    Dropped a little something in there. Have you considered sending something to Steam or Impulse to see what they think?

  20. Jimbob on October 20th, 2009

    I’ve donated for all the great games you’ve created so far and all the ones to come… good luck!

  21. Terry on October 20th, 2009

    I don’t know what to say. Thank you all, so much, for the support ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve just put up a new post about it.

    Jazmeister: Have you considered sending something to Steam or Impulse to see what they think?

    That would be kinda cool ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s probably worth a shot!

  22. Badgerglovepuppet on October 20th, 2009

    It’s projects like yours that are keeping the real creativity of games alive. It’s like the old days of the home computer boom in the UK where we made games because we wanted to, it’s what we were passionate about, and they were FUN. I applaud you. Good luck.

  23. David on October 21st, 2009

    Paying for your games is OKAY with me, they’re worth paying for, and I also think it’ll cause you to make them even better (and quicker ^^’) in the future, so yeah, go for it!

  24. Casey on October 21st, 2009

    Can I suggest making your games donationware instead of shareware? I’m more than happy to donate $20, but with donationware you could let more people experience your games and still get paid for them. I know that I at least am far more likely to buy something if I think of it as a donation and not as a real purchase.

    Anyway, good luck, Terry!

  25. Brendan on October 21st, 2009

    I am going to donate $10 as soon as I figure out either a) how to create a paypal account, or b) figure out if I already have one that I have forgotten about.

    The trailers I have seen for VVVVVV have bee amazing and I certainly don’t mind paying someone for making a great game. Certainly beats just chucking more money at the big corps.

  26. Denis on October 21st, 2009

    I’ve no money, but I’ll buy you a cup of tea sometime…

  27. Jazmeister on October 21st, 2009

    Brendan: Paypal is sneaky. Click the donate button, hit Ctrl F, and search for “Use your credit card”. That should sort you out. This works for any paypal purchase, too.

  28. Theo Tanaka on October 21st, 2009

    hi, just made a donation of US$10! Don’t Look Back was a game that really touched me, and one of the reasons I’m still pursuing a career in game design! I hope you keep on doing these memorable experiences, and VVVVV looks amazing (I don’t fancy the name, though…)
    A donation from Brazil, so people realise that not all brazilians are into piracy! G’luck pal!

  29. Marcel on October 21st, 2009

    Well Terry Im going to try to donate 30. I’m not promising anything, but theres a chance you’ll get 30 bucks in the next week.

  30. Phillip on October 22nd, 2009

    Terry, I love VVVVVV as much as your previous games, and really want to help you out. I’ll try to get you some money very soon. Don’t give up, we’ve got your back.

  31. Magnus on October 22nd, 2009

    There, another $30 donated and put to good use. I have great faith in your ability to produce immersive games with a great story to them. Bring it on, show the world, and overcome all obstacles in the quest for your dream!

  32. Angel on October 23rd, 2009

    Just sent you $30 too. After Pathways, Don’t Look Back, Judith and The Best Years of my Life, I’m 100% sure that VVVVVV is gonna be well worth it… not to say that I relate quite a lot (and envy your courage) to your “artist trying to make a life out of what he loves” story, so glad to help. ๐Ÿ™‚

  33. James Monkman (RGCD) on November 4th, 2009

    Just dropped you $10 for Self Destruct and Xoldiers – my two favourites from you collection so far ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I wish I could have paid more, but at the moment I really can’t even afford the small ammount I donated!

    I hope it helps,


  34. Ash on November 7th, 2009

    I just sent ร‚ยฃ25 (well, $42) which is still great value for the all of the great games you offer and I’m especially pleased that you offer them for the Mac as we’re often (read: usually) forgotten!

    I was wondering – would you be able to port your games to the iPhone? Might be a good way to get some revenue through the doors.

  35. Terry on November 8th, 2009

    Thanks again! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Ash: Developing something for the iPhone is a bit out of my price range unfortunately… Plus I’m really not convinced it’s worth the hassle anyway in terms of “getting revenue through the doors” – that might have been true nearer to the launch but I don’t think it’s really the case anymore? Maybe I’m wrong though.

    In any case, I’m not sure VVVVVV is very well suited to the iPhone ๐Ÿ˜›

  36. NoFriendsNoToys on November 12th, 2009

    $10 more from Spain!! Will you send it to my country too?

    I wish you the best luck!

  37. NoFriendsNoToys on November 12th, 2009

    Uhm, maybe you meant send the game by email and I’m retarded… Sorry about my english

  38. Terry on November 12th, 2009

    Sorry, I don’t have any plans to distribute the game in a box – though in the unlikely event that that somehow ever happens you can be sure that anyone who donated can have one ๐Ÿ™‚

  39. NoFriendsNoToys on November 13th, 2009

    Thanks. Anyway I’m really hyped!!!! arf, arf.

  40. RuberEaglenest on November 20th, 2009

    My wallet is quite dead right now, but I think I could help you to get some fundings if you allow me to translate your game to Spanish. You know, more languages supported, more public, more money. I offer to you my work for free.

    If you are interested, follow my website and locate my email.

    One more thing is that you will be covered in an article in my blog the next week, as you can read. It is not too much, but ey! I will mention about your new game too.

    Regards, and good luck on your enterprises.

  41. Terry on November 20th, 2009

    Cheers ๐Ÿ™‚ I probably won’t be doing anything like that until after a release, since chances are most of the dialogue won’t be final until the very last minute. But I’ll keep it in mind!

  42. RuberEaglenest on November 21st, 2009

    Yeah, you have two choices, or make a game that have the text in an external database, so you could add and switch between languages easily, or the wrong one ๐Ÿ™‚ Of course no indie devs make the proper things for localizations… so better if you have a very stable version before translate anything.
    The better if you manage a proper code to handle several languages. Simply you don’t want to mantain two or several codes for each different language. Really, you don’t want it… ๐Ÿ˜‰

  43. Terry (No, a different one.) on November 26th, 2009

    Looks like I missed the boat on getting you into IGF, but have some cash anyway. I loved Don’t Look Back and I’ve been itching to get my hands on VVVVV since I first read about it.

    Here’s to someone doing what they love for a living. (and having such a cool name):)

  44. Chetyre on November 27th, 2009

    I know this is old news now, but I second trying to get this on Steam. Not only am I more willing to buy games on Steam (due to ease, etc) but you’ll get a LOT more exposure. Keep pestering them! ๐Ÿ˜€

  45. Sergey Marfin on November 27th, 2009

    20$ to you from Russia!!!
    I can’t wait to play the beta!

  46. FishyBoy on November 28th, 2009

    Donated 30 bucks. You deserve it. Best of luck to you in this business, hope it works out okay.

  47. VVVVVV on November 28th, 2009

    […] Terry’s Blog Post “Reality” where he describes the situation in great detail. Well when you like platformers and want to play a […]

  48. Tim Bragan on November 30th, 2009

    Just donated $30 to support the cause! It’s good to see people like you sticking your neck out in order to get some interesting and creative work out into the world. I look forward to seeing the final release and of course playing the beta. Best of luck!

  49. x on December 19th, 2009

    I am in Lebanon, and we are blacklisted by paypal. Some other countries are blacklisted by paypal also (under the pretext of terrorism whatever), so by using paypal you are removing a chunk of potential customers…Just thought I’d let you know (feel free to remove this comment once you read it).
    If you give me another way to pay, I’ll donate gladly.
    Anyway, good luck!

  50. HeyHowdyHey on December 29th, 2009

    Sorry for getting to this so late in the game, but I’ll be sending you $10 bucks as soon as I get home from my holidays. I’m really looking forward to this game and I also want to add that I admire your courage for making this game available through Shareware, and I wanted to let you know that you’re doing the right thing. This is how games should be sold (through Shareware), and if it wasn’t for indies such as yourself (and others, such as – Paul, Derek, Alec, Edmund, Cactus (his real name is long forgotten :-)) And the many other indie developers that have contributed (so many that I could take an entire hour just writing first names here), I probably would have lost faith in the games industry a few years ago if it wasn’t for you and other guys and gals like you.

    Keep up the great work – and get this game done! ๐Ÿ™‚ I can’t wait to play it in full!!!

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