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Sean Patrick Hagen

Vancouver based programmer who also does stuff with ttrpgs and video games.

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Thinking About Patreon

I’m pretty close to getting my whole Twitch/YouTube thing set up. I’ve talked to a friend about getting some branding/graphics stuff done so that all my stuff looks nice. I’ve got some equipment coming that will hopefully help my audio sound a bit better, and allow me to do stuff like stream board games and tabletop RPGs. Hopefully, some time in the next month or so I’ll be able to really launch this whole thing.

Part of the launch includes making my personal Patreon thing public.

If you don’t know what Patreon is, it’s a platform that lets creators get paid for making things directly by their fan community. If you want a more in-depth answer, check out the Patreon article that explains it a bit better. Basically, creators make things, fans support them by paying them to create those things. Some people are making webcomics, others podcasts, some are doing live streaming, some are doing amazing photography work – there are a bunch of categories on Patreon for the types of stuff people are doing.

There are a few reasons I’ve set up a Patreon.

The first is that if people want to pay me money to do more of the kind of stuff I’m doing, I’m not going to stop them. If they’re enjoying it so much that they want to pay for more, that’s both awesome and humbling.

The second is more of a longer-term goal: I want to get out of the tech industry. I’m kind of burnt-out on being a programmer. Maybe it’s just the last few years of do-nothing start-ups, but I’m not feeling any kind of fulfilment in this work lately. A few years ago I discovered the Vancouver Hackspace, an awesome space for those who want to work on stuff but don’t have their own private workshops. They’re mostly focused on tech stuff, but they do other stuff too. I also discovered the Vancouver Community Laboratory, which is like VHS but for woodworking & metalworking.

Finding a place I could actually make things was intoxicating. I got into blacksmithing, and took a few lessons. I taught myself how to do molding & casting with silicone and resin. I ended up buying a 3d-printer, and outfitting a small corner of my apartment as a little workspace. Not big enough to work on some of the larger projects I’d like to do, but enough for some of the small electronics tinkering I’ve got plans for. Recently I decided I was going to start doing reviews of all the games that have been piling up in my Steam library, and put all that on YouTube.

Here’s a list of just some of the things bouncing around inside my head that I’d like to have the time to work on:

  • re-work my current D&D campaign setting, and publish it on DriveThruRPG
  • prototype the rythym-action game I’ve got in my head
  • prototype the new video game RPG fight mechanic I’ve got in my head
  • if those prototypes are engaging, make them into full video games
  • stream live sessions of D&D and other tabletop roleplaying games
  • stream live sessions of board games, especially episodic ones like Pandemic Legacy
  • work through my steam library, streaming as I play and writing & recording a YouTube video review once I’m done
  • start building some cosplay stuff for local enthusaists
  • maybe try and do some practical effects for local indie movies
  • get back into writing – both blogging, and short stories
  • work on the web project for cataloging and searching D&D adventure modules
  • work on the web/mobile project for tracking gas mileage and usage
  • schedule some D&D events under the DMs of Vancouver name
  • figure out another thing or two I could start a podcast for
  • start doing some book/comic reviews of some of my favorite stuff
  • build ( and document ) some of the Raspberry Pi & Arduino projects I want to do

Basically, I’ve just got a lot of stuff I’d like to create, and get it out into the world. Doing that takes time though, and I’m not the best at being patient. On top of the whole work thing, I don’t want my girlfriend to feel neglected, and I’ve got other social stuff to stay on top of as well.

This is stuff that I’ve been thinking about in fits and starts for the past few months. What I’ve basically figured out is this: I can’t wait until I feel like I’ve got enough time to start doing these things. I have to just start doing them in whatever free time I’ve got. Life isn’t just going to hand me a windfall of time and money so I can just quit my job, I’m going to have to get down and dirty and wrestle every spare minute out of my day to put towards these things.

Got a spare minute? I should do some video or podcast editing.

A half hour of time? Instead of jumping into a game, I should work on that prototype.

Two hours of free time before I go to bed? Is it a night I’ve scheduled for myself to stream a game? No? Then work on something else.

I know that I’ve been pretty lucky in my life. I didn’t finish college, but I’m working as a programmer. But I got the job as a programmer because the interviewer saw something in me and gave me a chance. I think what he saw was that I had spent the last few years programming for fun in my spare time, that I had started to teach myself programming in Grade 11 and never stopped. I got a two week contract based on “you sound like you know what you’re talking about”, and that was entirely because I had spent most of my free time tinkering with programming over the previous 5 years. That two week contract has turned into nearly a decade of work as a programmer.

That’s what I’ve got to do with this creative stuff. Any free time I’ve got needs to be spent doing these things, so that in a few years I’ve got the portfolio and experience to go confidently go to a video game review site and say “hire me as a reviewer, check out all this stuff I’ve done”. Or maybe to go to a special effects workshop and say “look at all this stuff I’ve done for local indie films”. Or have the portfolio to go to a convention and tell people to commission me to build them cosplay stuff. Or be able to launch a Kickstarter for the video game I’ve been slowly building and just needs some funds so I can pay an artist and musician to help me finish it. Whatever ends up happening, I need to be spending my free time working towards realising those goals.

Balancing all this against work and social stuff1 isn’t going to be easy. It’s going to take work and dedication. It’s not going to be easy, and will probably really suck some times. But I think that’s where Patreon could help me out.

I set up a Patreon so that if someone likes what I’m doing and is willing to send a dollar my way every month, that’s one extra dollar I can put towards gear, or software, or hiring someone to make graphics/do editing/whatever. It’d also be a good way of interacting directly with the people who like what I’m doing the most – the people willing to pay for it.

I’d love to get to the point where the creative stuff I’m doing creates enough of a Patreon community that I could do creative stuff full-time. I know that even if I work at the creative stuff every day, that A) I might never get enough Patreon backers to quit my day job and that B) even if I do, that moment might be five years away ( or longer! ). I might never be able to fully quit having a “regular” day-job.

At the end of the day, what I know is that I’ve spent the last ten years being a knowledge worker, sitting in front of a computer writing code.

I’d like to spend a decade being a creative, and putting stuff out into the world for people to enjoy. I think that’d be more fun.

Don’t you?

  1. I don’t want to neglect my girlfriend, friends, or family after all – my goal isn’t to become a social reculse ↩︎

This post was authored by Sean Patrick Hagen on 2021-01-31 14:29:52 -0800 PST

Wanna see the commit? Go here: 8dae7b5a7658caef8feef6fa8ffb582636c687c7