A day in the life of fledgling game company

I thought it might be nice to describe what my average day might look like. Today wasn’t a particularly glamorous or interesting day, but this is what happened (just in case you thought we sat around doing nothing).

8:30 am – Woke up, took a shower, had breakfast. I work from home, so my commute is fairly short.

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9:30 am – Answered a bunch of e-mails from players. One video card tech support issue, a couple “When is NS:Source coming out” e-mails, and a few “When is the site coming back up” mails. I sever a work relationship I’ve been working on for a couple years because it isn’t working out and set up a lunch meeting with a publisher and a conference call with potential new business partners for later this week.

10:00 am – Read up on a potential new contracting client, which we use to pay the bills. This lead was sent to a game company in Boston who referred it to a friend’s game company, who referred it to us. This client does educational web games and while it’s not really our thing, the money could be good. Called them to follow up on their needs but they have gone on vacation since inquiring. Maybe next week.

11 am – Wrote e-mail and called a couple people that owe us money for previous work. Fleshed out the ‘last’ issue with our Shareholder’s Agreement with an investor an our lawyer. The Shareholder’s Agreement is the contract which dictates the terms which company stock can be sold. We’ve actually been hammering out this contract for about two months now, and it has involved a fair amount of research with small business owners, folks that have raised capital and new-found friends that just want to help. I’m not too knowledgeable about shares, buyouts and stock, but we don’t have enough money to just let the lawyer do it all, so I try to do as much work on it as I can. This is how we have to do all our legal work and reflects one of the biggest things I’ve learned: you never have the money to do everything “properly”, so get used to it and figure out where to skimp.

Noon – I have a bit of a panic as I realize my rent check is about to bounce! I quickly flip through my credit cards looking for one that isn’t full…found one! I get a cash advance and with a little maneuvering and two trips to the bank we’re back in business. I really wish those previous contracting checks had come in by now! I pledge (again) to figure out a way to get some more serious money coming in so this doesn’t happen again next month. Too bad the site is down, that means no Constellation income! I curse that blasted hacker, but I know I could’ve prevented it if I knew more.

2 pm – I cook lunch. Linguini with cannelini beans and herbs from the garden. I make extra so I can have it for dinner.

3 pm – We’re looking for some art interns from a local art institute to help us out with NS:Source and NS2. I go through some demo reels I’ve received, browse CGtalk for a local that might be able to help us out and set up a coffee meeting with one promising candidate named Ali. I take a look at some recent concept art that was submitted by a concept artist for NS2 dropships…very cool stuff! I wish I could work more on that right now. Soon, soon.

4 pm – Karl has been doing most of the work on the new Unknown Worlds and NS web site, but there’s some work I can do too. I get up to speed with the new workflow (totally different and much more robust and secure) and now feel a little comfortable making small changes. I talk with Karl a bit and start filling in some of the missing pages. It’s been months since I’ve done any real programming and I’m stoked to get into this, even if it’s just web programming! I crank up the Deep House, do a quick jig and get to work.

6:30 pm – I send out a bunch of e-mails to friends and strangers who work at game companies, showing them our portfolio and reminding them we would love to help them out if they have any need for contractors on their current project.

7:00 pm – The machine that’s hosting our site is reporting some disk errors. We reboot it to run check disk but it doesn’t come back up immediately. I fill out a trouble ticket. I’m disturbed by the fact that our server provider doesn’t ask any personal or identifying information when I call and fill out other tickets to make sure they ask us next time. I create escalation procedures with phone numbers and people they can call if our server ever goes down.

7:30 pm – Quick dinner: fettucini, round 2. I make a personal call: the person I’m dating seems to be coming down with a cold and I think I am too, though we haven’t seen each other for a week! I go over to my neighbors for a quick visit and have a little snack and Karl calls me to tell me the site still isn’t up and he’s starting to get worried. We don’t even have e-mail when the site is down. I run downstairs to meet a buyer for some junk I’m selling on Craig’s list. Wow, I made $75 today!

8:15 pm – I call tech support and fill out another trouble ticket. They’re having problems and being a bit slow to respond.

9:30 pm – I start filling out this blog entry while checking for updates to the ticket.

10 pm – I’m still hoping to do a little NS2 design work tonight, but our server is STILL down.

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11 pm – The server still isn’t up. Karl and I are starting to think we have a bad sector in our OS somehow. This day has gone from slightly panicked to decidedly cruddy real quick. Our latest off-site backups are perhaps a week old, which means in the worst case we lose a lot of data our bug-tracking team has been working on and also our recent changes to the web site.

11:30 pm – Finally, we fix this problem and the placeholder site is back up again! Karl will check to make sure eveything is AOK but at least we’re getting e-mail again. I’m going to read a little and hit the hay.

Most of my days have more to do with NS, and often include at least a couple hours of design or programming, but it’s amazing to me to see how much other junk has to be done alongside it. It’s not just about making good games, it’s about building a company that will get you to the point where it can build good games first! If we can do this without losing the community along the way and without going bankrupt, I think we’re going to be in great shape when we finally release our next game…

I hope this entry wasn’t too mundane. Let me know if you guys want more like this (I could fill tomes)…