I've been hinting lately that I have some big news to share. I'm a day late in posting this, so it's been a long time coming. The big news is this: I've left my job at appssavvy to make my side project, Mappdev, into a fully-fledged games company. This was one of the hardest decisions I've ever made, but before I get into the details, I need to go back, and talk about some things I've never mentioned on this blog before.
I've always wanted to be a games designer. I studied computer engineering in college because I didn't think I would be good at much else, and I went into the web industry afterward because I realized I would have been bored as an engineer. When I got involved with DotA on Facebook back in 2007, it was then that I realized that I had the potential to make a successful game; something people play more than once, and something they tell their friends about. The feeling of having other people enjoy something that I made got me hooked. I knew, right then, that I would never be completely happy working on anything else.
What followed was a chain of events that happened exactly the way they shouldn't have.
When I was recruited by SGN, I thought that being the first person hired to work there, contributing to the initial foundation of the company, and helping the founders get through some terrible "growing pains" would secure me a good place at a startup that was supposed to make waves in the gaming world. I even did some really good work on Fight Club, an outdated game that saw 33% growth in daily players during my two months of work on it. And I had plans too; I walked into that place with ideas that I intended to develop into real products while I was there.
But months passed, new people came along, and I was never allowed to work on games. I was one of the few employees with real prior experience making successful games, at a startup devoted to game development, and the majority of my time was devoted to a project that nobody cared about but I was responsible for anyway. Still, as lousy as my situation was, I was still optimistic, because I kept telling myself, "as much as it seemed impossible, I have a job in the games industry." So it goes without saying that when I was forced to leave the company in July, I was crushed. I pretended to be happy, because I was free to do my own thing, but there was no way that I was going to be able to continue working on games independently, with no capital and no support. Plus, I found myself broke for the umpteenth time after graduation after I had to relocate BACK to the east coast.
Now, at this point I had managed to build a game on Facebook, entirely on my own, something you've properly heard about a million times already but hey, it's the biggest thing I've ever done. At the time, however, it was a struggle. The Facebook platform isn't what it used to be; while it doesn't have the market saturation of other game platforms, it is still a lot more saturated than it was when it launched, and there are much fewer options for user-to-user virality than there used to be a year ago. It was only a couple of weeks after I moved to New Jersey that I realized I needed to find a job.
So I went to a place where I knew I could trust the people I was going to work for. I enjoyed working there, too. The only problem was that I wasn't working on games. There was this nagging feeling in the back of my mind, this little voice telling me, "everyone else is doing what you want to do, and here you are, thinking about games and working on business software." I couldn't take it anymore. I would spend more than 40 hours a week working this job, and then another 40 working on my own stuff, and I was always exhausted.
Clearly, I had to make a decision: stay at a place where I liked the people a lot and I had a lot of job security but I didn't like the work, or take the ultimate risk with a venture that still hasn't reached a reasonable revenue point but involves me doing exactly what I want, building the exact reputation that I want to have. I had to make a change.
So this is the big news: I am now an independent games developer. Mappdev is my company, I'm the CEO, and I can't afford to hire anyone else. I now have two very successful games, which I built, designed, and launched entirely on my own, one with 50,000 monthly players and another with 30,000 monthly players, and I'm working on a handful of projects that I've been dreaming about for months.
I'm going to do this for as long as I can. My work isn't generating much revenue yet, but for now I can make that up with consulting. And who knows? Maybe I'll have a breakout success story, or maybe I'll find someone willing to provide the capital to get my work in front of enough people. For now, I'm just staying focused, building out my ideas. The silver lining, for you, is that as an independent developer doing public-facing work, I can finally return to talking about the stuff that I'm doing; something I haven't been able to do for over a year. So you might see some more blog posts from me, which I hope you've been missing. Or maybe I'll just keep posting links to my work. It all depends how the next couple weeks go. Here's hoping for the best!