February 25, 2008
I updated my linked in profile, and thought it might be worth re-posting here
Heatwave was started 1 year ago with the idea that we would bootstrap through consulting. While that consulting did pay well, it became clear pretty quickly that consulting wouldn't provide enough of a buffer for the pre-pro teams to get enough done while meeting their obligations to their clients. That said, Heatwave is now in the process of securing outside funding. GDC went very well for us in that regard. We've gotten fantastic feedback on our business plan's unique strategy for dealing with the ups and downs of the game business, while focusing on great products. That said, I was reviewing my linkedin.com profile and decided "I make games" was a little out-of-date.
Here's what the new one says, and I think it sums up my feelings nicely:
I co-founded Heatwave Interactive on the premise that interactive entertainment is more than a way for young men to combat boredom; games are an important medium that can challenge individuals on multiple levels and tell stories that matter. Stories about ourselves, and stories about people we may otherwise never have the opportunity to understand.
I believe that by providing an environment that fosters not only creativity, but also respect for the individual and the highest of expectations, we can create powerful experiences, and be an example for the rest of the industry.
I truly believe all of that. And combined with a strong understanding of how games are and should be made, I'm looking forward to the challenges of re-entering this space in big way.
As we talked to various people at the conference, one thing was clear, some people are really down on the "MMO" space because of predictable failures like Tabula Rasa, Gods & Heroes and Hellgate: London, but I have two thoughts about that.
First, they WERE predictable failures. Anyone who paid any attention to those games (even if you just checked them out at E3 each year) should have had a good idea about how they'd do in the face of WoW, even if they avoided major launch problems (which some of them did not).
My criticism of those products isn't a reflection of my opinion of the many talented people who worked so hard for years on them, but rather it is an expression of my frustration at the business/production leadership that allows these things to happen.
I can guarantee you two things. First, neither of those teams had a working version of the game that they fundamentally believed was KICKASS within the first three months of pre-production. Second, neither of these teams had measurable feedback from the audience that they had a KICKASS idea within the first three months of pre-production. I'm sure I'm upsetting a lot of people I know and hope to work with in the future by these comments, but I have a tendency to tell it like it is (which is why I post so infrequently here, most of what I have to say is bound to irritate a lot of people).
My second response to that concern is that Heatwave isn't an "MMO company." Sure, we're considering an MMO concept or two, but don't be surprised if the first thing we do is a console RPG with a twist or a multi-platform action game with a cool story. Yes, they will all have persistence and connectivity, but no, they will not all be long-session multi-user dependent slog fests.
In any case, my personal goal for Heatwave is to provide a strong business for highly creative people to make successful products in Austin. There are tons of talented people here, but for some reason, the same few keep mucking it up for everyone else. No more.