You see Angry Birds generating millions of downloads, becoming an international sensation out of nowhere. You say to yourself, heck, I can make that too. So off you go, building the next physics based puzzle game with cutesy animal characters. Three months after the release, you realize your game is not going to be the next Angry Birds. You run out of steam and capital and close up shop.
I had an anger inside, much like Nick in the sitcom New Girl with a persistent, almost comical, fire burning internally.
It took me some time to realize what I was angry about - an anger stemmed from the sharp contrast I’ve observed between the Opportunists and the Craftsmen.
I operate in two related yet different worlds - the passionate, enthusiastic intellectual developer community, and the financially motivated fast-talking business world. Each group has its own sub-groups and individualities, and some developers are very business-savvy while some business people are very product focused. But if you pick one person from each group and put them in a room, it wouldn’t take you half a second to know which world they belong. In the developer community, people talk about technology, tools, interaction and experience design. In the business community, people talk about money, markets, and opportunities.
A little more than a year ago, I started the Unity3D User Group in Seattle (link). And I must first admit that the reason I started the group was rather selfish.
Let me start the story from the very beginning. After I left Sony and started Studio Pepwuper in early 2010, I soon realized a big problem I hadn't considered before making the leap - that I was no longer in a herd.
I was working alone for 99% of the time - just me and the trusted laptop. It never bothered me that I wasn't working with anyone else. I wanted to do everything myself and learn the ins-and-outs of every aspect of making an iPhone game and building a business around making games. I was excited, focused, single-minded.
(My dog in the uber packed car when we drove up to Seattle from LA)
I was going through all the drafts I'd written for this blog, and found this post I started in December 2011. Laura and I had just moved from Los Angeles to Seattle the month before. Everything was new, exciting, exotic. We were in love with the city (and we still are) and we didn't even notice the rain despite the fact that it was the fall going into the winter.
"Indie means you have to work harder." the older brother answered.
I watched a Japanese film called I Wish in July. It's a story about two little brothers trying to re-unite their separated parents - an uplifting film that made me smile.
In the film, the dad of the two kids was a singer/guitarist in a small band that had just published an indie album. The boys didn't really understand the meaning of indie, and had the conversation quoted above.
Washing up, the act of cleaning dirty bowls and dishes, became a meditating ritual for me a year into starting the business.
It was by no means intentional. I never liked doing washing up. In college, my roommate and I would wait until the very last mintue, when we could smell the mold on the dirty dishes in the sink, before we'd go into the serious discussion of whose turn it was to do the dishes.
We didn't have a dish washer at home when I was growing up (very few did in Taiwan back then), so washing dishes had always been an unpopular chore. I'd take the trash out, wipe the table, run to the store... anything I could do to avoid having to put my hands into the sink and scrub the dishes full of grease.
Thunder and lightening, we had a sudden storm yesterday morning in Seattle that knocked out the Internet in the entire apartment for the whole day. Without TV and Internet, I didn't know what to do with myself in the evening when I had planned to catch up on email.
So I turned on the iPad, looking for an app to kill some time with. I remembered that I had downloaded the Korg Analog Synthesizer app when it was on sale a few weeks back, but never got over the initial curiosity to actually understand how it works.
If you also grew up in the 80's, you know how excited I was when I had the chance to go to Nintendo yesterday.
To say my decision to start Studio Pepwuper was influenced by Nintendo would be a huge understatement. Without Nintendo, we wouldn't have what we know as video games today. And despite many industry changes and technology cycles, Nintendo continues to create some of the purest forms of interactive entertainment today.