February 2007


It started with a discussion among friends about a play-by-mail game. Some companies were updating to use email as the communication channel but the style of game play was still turn based. Remember, the world-wide-web was still pretty new at this point; Mosaic Communications Corp had just released Netscape v.1.0 and it was not a viable front-end for interactive game play.

Once a week, the group of us would get together and discuss the project and what we had accomplished during the week. We still had full-time day jobs, so progress was somewhat slow.

Mistake #1: It was too big. We had grand ideas for what a finished product should be able to do and worked towards that goal on whichever piece seemed interesting or important on any given day. Instead, we should have catalogued those features and narrowed it down to a minimum list for v1.0, then ranked those in order of importantance, and then worked on each in turn. Yes, it had to sing & dance, but it didn’t have to do so in twelve different languages and with thirty-eight styles of music right from day one.

images.jpegIn addition to the game plan, we were also working on a business plan. We were naive, but not clueless. As a service, we would give the front-end software away for free and charge a small monthly amount to play a game. With hundreds or thousands of players per game and the ability to run as many games in parallel as we wanted, there was some very real upside potential. All we needed was to get it working and do so before someone else beat us to the market, and so four of us proceeded to quit our day jobs and work on it full time.