Meet Ivan Shyika, an indie game developer and a YouTuber from Ukraine and members of the Ruul community of solo talents. We have invited Ivan to join us for a conversation as part of our new dialogue series, Talent Talks on the Ruul Blog and discussed how he started out working solo, highlights from his work routine, his experience with our platform, and his suggestions for aspiring or new freelancers. Keep reading to get to know Ivan and step into the world of an independent game professional.
Hello Ivan, great to host you on Talent Talks. Let’s start by hearing a little bit about you and your work.
Hi, thanks for having me. My name is Ivan Shyika, though I may be more known with my alias John Ivess in the media. Currently, I am a student at a renowned private university Full Sail, and I am eager to develop my skills further to increase my impact.My dream is to inspire and encourage others to make their dreams come true. For the past couple of years, I have been doing it by teaching, sharing stories and expertise, and creating experiences. I have been;
- creating tutorials
- making devlogs
- organizing events and collaborations
- providing feedback
- developing games
I played on the computer for the first time when I was just one year old. At 11 years old, inspired by my favorite games, I started developing my own. To a degree, I am driven by the dear memories of my beloved games.
How and why did you start doing solo work?
It came naturally to me. I started working on my projects when I was in school, and I did not have a team for several years. Moreover, I didn't feel like I had enough expertise to apply for a job as a full-time employee in my field. Thus, I just worked on personal projects at my own pace. Being my own boss taught me self-discipline, organization, goal-setting, and planning - essential skills for a solo worker.
Where are you located and how is that country in terms of solo work / digital nomadism regulations?
I was in Ukraine when I started using Ruul. Ukraine is on its way to digitalization and becomes more and more convenient for digital nomadism. We were one of the first countries to legally approve the digital representation of passports and many other fundamental documents. Ukraine has many passionate vision-driven young people who are innovating the country, and the environment for solo work / digital nomadism opportunities is slowly improving even despite the ongoing war.
Where have you relocated to and what has driven the decision for the destination?
I have relocated from Ukraine to the USA. One of the main reasons was education; I saw that I have the most opportunities to grow as a game developer here.
Can you share some thoughts about the current gaming infrastructure at your new destination? How is it in terms of game professional networks, gaming events and game production?
Probably needless to say, USA's gaming infrastructure is one the biggest - with many most notable companies (ex., EA, Activision Blizzard), events (E3 and The Game Awards), and opportunities of the gaming industry present here. The US market is a lucrative target for many companies, regardless of their location. The networking opportunities are endless: you can meet people from the indie up to the AAA-game industry. All in all, I believe that the gaming infrastructure of the US is in good shape opportunity-wise.
How did you come across Ruul and how long have you been using our features?
Adrian from Redefine Gamedev and I were running a big game engine festival called GoGodotJam. On its second installment in the Autumn of 2021, we raised funds and wanted our contributors to get paid compliantly. We discovered Ruul (which was branded as Rimuut back then) and we loved it because Ruul simplified business payment and reduced bureaucratic hassles related to it.
What do you love about Ruul and how does it contribute to your solo business?
I loved Ruul for its simplicity. International business payment is already a challenge in itself because of the legal peculiarities. To make matters worse, I was minor when I started receiving my first business transfers, which only created more inconveniences. Nevertheless, Ruul helped me set up my account quickly and I was ready to receive my money soon.What I also love about Ruul is its weekly newsletter. You share a lot of practical knowledge, tips, and tricks, not only common reads about "how to be a more productive freelancer," but also valuable knowledge about remote team management and work-life balance, for instance. I occasionally find something I am interested in there.
Where do you work from daily?
I work from home at my own desk. I do all my work and studies at home.
How do you plan your work day? Can you walk us through your daily work routine?
I am an early bird, so I love to start working from about 6 AM until 9 AM. During this time, I do the top-priority tasks that require the most focus. After that, I have a break. I return to work at roughly 11 AM for another 3 hours of work. This usually requires less focus, like emailing, research, etc. I strive to complete everything by 3 PM so I have the rest of the day to myself. At the end of the day, I go to bed by 9 PM. My weekends are similar. When I don't have any work, I invest my time in self-education. I love deepening my knowledge of already familiar topics and exploring new ones.
A good example of what we call nonlinear work routine nowadays. What would be your advice to solo workers who are beginners?
Keep sharpening your ax
Keep developing your skills. This is how you stand out as a passionate and potentially valuable person.
Be outgoing and proactive
Do not expect people to get to you first. Reach out, thank others, and network - here are just a few examples. You never know what a treasure you might find with other people.
Never back down from your dreams
It is OK to be afraid and have doubts; but not OK to bury your dreams just because you are not sure if you can make them happen. Because you definitely can - even if you do not believe in it in the beginning.
What are your assumptions about the future of the gaming industry and being a solo talent in that particular field?
It depends on how close this "future" is. In a few years, the graphics will become even more photorealistic, and AI will become more advanced. Ten years from now and beyond, I believe VR and AR will become common and no longer be something outlandish. I believe solo talents will find their place in the game industry as indie game developers, freelancers, and marketplace content creators. Many may start solo but build or join teams as they expand their impact. It is hard for me to see big companies (releasing AA and AAA titles) hiring solo workers for significant tasks. Not to say it is impossible, but I think solo talents are more likely to be recruited full-time and part-time for such jobs.
Where can Ruulers find you and examples of your work online?
You can find my video content on YouTube, my professional profile on LinkedIn, and access my game portfolio on itch.io. Glory to Ukraine! And thanks for having me - it was my pleasure to have this interview!
Be heard on Talent Talks
We thank Ivan for his time and insightful responses. Now it is your turn! Are you a solo talent ready to open your door to us and discuss modern work, freelancing, trends in your field and your best practices? Reach us at email@example.com, briefly introduce yourself, get featured on our blog and inspire others working autonomously.