|One of the textures from the Resurrection Series|
As I posted about a month ago, I was contacted by a major UK game studio with a view to arranging a retainer contract for TRU Textures Ltd to offer texture creation services to several incubator studios they were setting up.
In addition, they want to chat about helping us to generate more revenue and possibly invest directly in TRU Textures Ltd.
A meeting has been arranged for an informal lunch on the 4th Nov with myself and Dave and Tony (from the studio) in Manchester at 12 noon.
Potentially this could be very good for me and may offer at least in part, some financial security. I am really flattered they contacted me, really.
At this stage, I am not really sure what the actual plans are and I guess that's what the meetings about, to find out what we do and where and how we do it then see how they can work "into" that to help and develop TRU Textures Ltd.
Ideally, I want to combine the two sites, iSourceTextures and TRU Textures Ltd one day.
Of the sales we have had at iSourceTextures.com those we know the identities of have been members of Secondlife.com, commercial texture artists or builders who make their own textures for example, so it makes sense to me at least, if we link the two sites and offer two very different products to the same market.
I haven't spoken to Martin (partner of iSourceTextures) yet and I wonder if he may feel like I would be taking over the site in a way by officially and publicly declaring it as a TRU associated company.
I need to chat with him on the subject when we get chance but it just makes sense from on so many levels. One of our biggest purchases was from a new TRU customer who asked me where I sourced my photo stock from as she had been having problems with finding licensed stock online.
When I sent her the link to iSource, she made a surprisingly large purchase of close to 200 textures.
My only real concern with the possibility of going on a retainer contract is time restrictions and obligations.
I am already so very far behind on my Game Art & Animation course as it is, because of 3 months of relentless viruses and colds and the demands of maintaining an existing income in this recession. I already feel so stretched.
How can I fit X number of hours a week in to my life to make textures for game studios, catch up with my training and keep my head above water with TRU (?)
If I hadn't been so poorly lately I don't things would have gotten so bad but I was ill on my holiday in Scotland, then had 3 weeks were I was OK and managed to make 5 volumes of the Resurrection series (which have so far proved to be popular both in and out of Second Life)
Then 2 weeks ago I came down with yet another cold and that's been all over the place from being in bed to feeling "OK" now and again.
It used to be very easy when I had one market (Second Life) and people weren't afraid to spend a dollar. (Post 2008)
Now, competition is aggressive and the whole merchant environment in Second Life is very "cut throat" as more people reduce spending in SL and perhaps instead start to try to generate some money with the worry of the current RL economy or just to pay for their land fees instead of it coming out of their bank accounts.
This causes a massive imbalance in the market of supply and demand.
Textures are materials or "supplies" for builders and commercial/personal content creators in Second Life and in a way it mirrors the real life building industry in this historical recession.
Because mortgage lenders have become "cautious" it's made it almost impossible for a large % of people to be able to buy a new home and as such the demand for new houses being built has decreased.
The real estate and building industry in the UK has been effected badly and my partner, who works in the building industry can testify to this. He has had to re-apply for his own job twice already and the atmosphere is tense and bitter as work associates back stab and grovel for recognition just to keep their jobs.
Within Second Life in order to build, develop, create content or run a business, ideally you need to own or rent land from either the owners of Second Life, Linden Labs or from landlords who make a % of profit and in this economy that isn't cheap.
The island I run TRU Textures on costs me $380.00 a month including the VAT and I am lucky SL still provides me with a good income that covers that outlay.
Some people have not been so lucky, many people have given up their islands and land because they can no longer cover their business overheads as a result of diminished sales or simply cannot justify hundreds of dollars each month just for a creative hobby.
So no land equals no where to build and create content which then equals less demand for textures.
I suspect fashion and avatar accessories are doing fairly well despite the economic climate because although the amount of SLers who own land has been reduced, the people still log in and "hang out" and looking good will always be in demand.
But again, were once your casual SL resident may have just seen and used SL as a social outlet, many are now turning their hand to commercial content creation, creating clothes, buying full perm merchants kits and flooding the market with clothes, shoes and accessories often engaging in price wars to get an edge over the massive and saturated competition.
It's "dog eat dog" in Second Life, just as it is in real life and you have to be always one step ahead of your immediate competition to keep afloat. This is what is so very time consuming.
It's now a "rare treat" to be able to "create" as most of my time spent in marketing and admin.
Because I needed to diversify and not depend solely on sales from Second Life, each time I make a collection of textures I currently have 3 platforms/websites to upload to and each one has different marketing campaigns to best represent each product.
Sometimes the texture format needs to be changed from TGA to PNG and the real kicker is when I have to create alpha maps for the textures with partial transparency.
Right now, iSourceTextures does not support anything other than JPG and in hindsight, we should designed it to allow the upload of PNG, TGA, TIFF and PSDs not to mention zip files so we can offer collections instead of single downloads.
But this was an oversight at the time of development and every change costs us a few hundred pounds which we have had to draw a line in the sand.
So for that particular platform, I have to create alpha maps and it takes ages.
But these are the things I need to consider if I happen to be offered a retainer to work X number of hours a week creating textures for games studios.
Unless the retainer fee equaled or exceeded my current income from the direct sales of my textures, I will be torn between three obligations (no, four if you include the diploma course) and treat each one equally but all for different reasons.
In an ideal world, I would be offered a retainer to match my current income and then I could devote 100% of my time to it and let TRU be managed by Elizabeth Tinsley which will be hard for me.
Letting go of the reins has proved very difficult in the past.
I can't help but log in and just see whats going on and if I spot something that needs attention, I see that as an indication I do indeed need to be there.
I trust Beth, she's been TRUs manager for 4 years now but I still believe in the saying "No one will run your business as good as you" Because it's your business.
So yes, I have some serious thinking to do depending on the outcome of the first meeting.
As it stands I am still suffering from a bloody awful cold/flu type virus and probably because I am over worked, stressed and run down. (I know, poor me, Boo Hoo!)
I am not implying I am "hard done to"
I am always aware of how lucky I am to still be making a living from something I love whilst so many people I know aren't able to anymore.
I think I really need to leave TRU alone for a while and stop trying to control things I can't control, like public spending. I need to focus on my diploma course for a good 2 weeks to catch up.
But, old habits die hard and my habits for 6 years have been to "check in" when I awake.
Coffee, cigarette and log in, then before I know it 7 hours have passed, my partner is home from work and its dinner time.
My creative mood tends to be 9pm onwards so that's when I usually crank Photoshop open..and then another 5 hours has passed and I fall into bed.
I need to really change my habits and quick.