Three(ish) years agos we began working on Atomic Brawl. Two years ago we thought “maybe we can launch this Christmas”. One(ish) year ago, we thought we would launch in the summer.
Making software is difficult. Making software whose objective is as abstract as fun compounds that.
Last Sunday, we launched Atomic Brawl. Atomic Brawl is an in-browser strategy game where you can take turns in bite-sized chunks, allowing it to fit into any schedule. You collect brawlers, formulate strategies, and compete online against other players.
As Time Passed
Three years is a long time to commit to anything. Both of us having day jobs meant that free time was almost always spent on the project. Over these three years we:
- Had 1,867,713 additions, 1,748,514 deletions and 4,923 project commits.
- Had 10,557 games played, with 1,646,689 brawlers killed in action.
- Introduced a third partner, then watched, as he left to do fantastic work on Sim City 5.
- Saw my youngest daughter learn to speak properly, read, write, finish kindergarten, and start grade 1.
- Had amazing support from our families and loved ones who supported us unconditionally.
I believe both of us would’ve thrown our hands in the air and moved onto something else if it wasn’t for a few key things:
- Like who you work with: In life, and in business, surrounding yourself with people you enjoy makes difficult times easy.
- Argue well: Keep emotions out of arguments. Understand that you have the same objective with differing opinions on how to get there.
- Get feedback early: We’ve been in beta for the last year. We’ve been playable for much longer. Fun is a subjective term, having people play and provide feedback was key to crystallizing our vision.
- Be a servant: You should do anything you can to help and respect your users. In doing so you’ll develop friendships and relationships that will help you for years to come.
- Work your strengths: Understand what you are, and are not, good at – optimize around this. Trade favours (or cash) for things you need help with. Don’t waste hours hours on something someone else can do in minutes. Value your time.
For most games this post would be a post-mortem, marking the end of a journey – for us, this marks the beginning. As a free online product we need to work hard on live-support, marketing, and growth, in addition to development, so that we can turn this into a sustainable venture.
If failure does happen, we’ll be happy having known that we went from nothing to something, without compromising our vision, and took a shot at something we were passionate about.