a family, surf, animation and game design dream … PART 1

Good evening world…

Jon Draper - Animator - Game Developer - Beard Grower

Jon Draper – Animator – Game Developer – Beard Grower

My name is Jon and I’m a professional animator, motion graphics designer and indie game developer who has/had a dream of living by the sea with my young family. The plan is to work on my own self funded projects along side my own clients animation and app projects. No bosses (other than the odd client) and a lot of passion to create great stuff to pay the bills. I’m not aiming for mega riches, just enough to make ends meet, pay the bills, keep the car full of petrol and maybe buy a new surfboard once in a while.

I’m the guy behind Stormy Studio, a website I’ve been running for many years now to showcase my own animation work, win some private animation jobs, showcase and sell my iOS games and professional (Gamesalad SDK) game templates (recent releases include a pro universal adventure game template and a 3D room template). I’ve also been known to run a popular indie game design contest from the site called ‘Think Outside The Game Box‘ though its been a while since the last one. I’ll hopefully soon be adding more of my recent work to the animation portfolio section.. well at least its on the list.



Yours truly...

Jon Draper (Me) – Animator – Game Dev – Mediocre Surfer

After a couple of years of thinking, planning and working, I’ve nearly made it to the end goal. My wife, kids and I took the big plunge 2 weeks ago as we completed the sale of our house in ‘Staines Upon Thames’ just outside of London and moved us and the our 7 chickens to a gorgeous little village on the South Devon coast in the UK. A minutes drive from the sea, views of fields and a nice square slightly knackered box to call home. It turns out moving house with a 3 year old and a 12 week old is as easy as you’d expect… Some sad news though, ‘Barry’ one of our girl chickens didn’t survive the 3.5hr drive in the summer heat. Either the heat got to much for her or she had finally had enough of being called Barry.

We moved from Staines Upon Thames, (just outside of London), to South Devon.

Pic of our removal lorry packing up the old house…

But yes, we are here. I’m pleased to say the move went really smoothly (ignoring the roast chicken), the beach is as awesome as I’d hoped, one hour lunchtime surfs are a reality, our knackered square box house is far better than I remembered and I’ve got the spare room with a view as my new office.

I’m still working full time on corporate video productions for my long time employers and friends. Which is great and is allowing me to ease into the new life. I realise I’m incredibly lucky to have that as an option but I still want to work towards producing my own animation and games full time. I’m not gonna completely leap in, well not yet. I’ve got two routes to pursue.

Home Office Video

Current office setup in the spare room with a view…


OPTION A: “Slowly, slowly catchy monkey”

Firstly the safest and slowest option. Like others I could slowly build up my income through game releases, game templates and animation templates until it covers all our out goings. Now I’ve been doing this already in one shape or another for the past 2 years, the odd game release (with varied success and failure), a growing selection of GameSalad game templates, plus animation templates and animation clients of our own. It certainly all adds up at times but not to a life changing amount and its also being a learning journey as well, as I’ve got to grips with a little bit of every aspect of game design, marketing and development. It’s no doubt an endless cycle of learning and improvement… but I’m getting there.

Our new South Devon Beach...

Our new South Devon Beach…


OPTION B: “Jump two feet in and “

The other option is something I’ve been working on over the past year, to source some funding to produce one stellar or a selection of game titles, this is not without risk as it would mean cutting a large gaping hole in my regular corporate video safety net and trusting in my ability and skills to produce a game that could eventually earn enough to repay the investment as well as bring in the final needed income. Or at least tide me over until the 2nd and 3rd games are released. This is obviously the option that normally rings everyones alarm bells, and everyone starts shouting ‘NO! NO!… don’t be crazy you’ve got a wife and kids you selfish ….^&*&^%!” . But there are some interesting opportunities out there if you put the time in and I’ve got some great contacts off the back of our exciting but ultimately failed kickstarter attempt.

Surfs Up, Waxing my new (2nd hand) board.

Surfs Up, Waxing my new (2nd hand) board.

So we shall see how this idea all pans out….

One thing is for sure, I’m absolutely loving the journey so far. Working from home for the past 2 weeks has been simply fantastic, I’m around to answer the door for parcels, I can play with my kids when ever I like, I can start work early or end work late and everything in between. I can go to the beach for lunch or head down there for a family picnic for dinner. We can eat dinner as a family (something we simply could never do in the week before due to commuting). There are certainly aspects of self drive and commitment needed to put the hours in to get my full time jobs hours done, but so far I’ve got the right mind set in place to want to do the hours, please my current employer, the clients and create better animation work.

Inspiration for the dream and the blog post:

As a closing remark I’d like to mention some of the fellow developers that have inspired my goals and also this blog. I’ve been inspired by seeing fellow game developers succeed (Firemaple Games has been a long time inspiration) as well as a couple of other peoples blogs ( particularly Barry Grubbs recent blog) who have similar plans on the go and so have pushed me to write about my own experience so far and the ultimate goal.

Anyway, that’s it for part one of ‘a family, surf, animation and game design dream’ but I’ll update everyone again after the next big steps have happened.

To make me feel good and popular, please leave a comment and share the blog with like minded souls.