After a month of waiting on FlickEm sales, and just some much needed time away from it all, Rudy and I got back together in San Diego. We talked about what we might do next, besides continuing our search for a full-time paying gig. Most of our conversations revolved around the fact that we got to the iPhone app thing way too late. By the time we got there there, the market was entirely fished out. There were just too many games released every day to stick out, and as we all know, there is no formula for success, so that meant that every game was going to be a crap shoot. We just couldn’t afford to keep making games at the level of quality that we did with FlickEm and hope that one would take off. We just didn’t have that kind of money or time. We needed to hit the jackpot on the first pull of the lever and that only happens when you either are new to something and corner the market, or you create something for someone else. If we were going to continue on, we needed to get into an area of gaming that was low barrier to entry with a guaranteed return on our investment. Then by luck we read about MocoSpace Mobile Network’s Mobile Game Developer Fund. We contacted them, and then we pitched them a social game called “In The Club” at the end of March.
Time To Upgrade….ed
Shortly after we left Xaviant, one of the things Rudy and I did was plan to form an entertainment company called Upgraded Studios. We had this plan way back in August or September of 2010, but we didn’t pull the trigger on it for two reasons, one was we couldn’t get any funding, and the other was starting an LLC before you had a product that makes money was too risky. The California franchise tax board is no joke…trust me, and the last thing we wanted was to pay over $800.00 a year for nothing. So we went the partnership route, that way if we didn’t make a dime, we wouldn’t have that expensive franchise fee, and upfront expense.
So while we waited to hear from MocoSpace about whether or not “In The Club” would get the green light, we went to look for a some programming help. One of the things we knew for sure, there was no way I was going to be able to code this game by myself, like I did with FlickEm. We needed to bring on an experienced programmer that had knowledge of database and web programming. So, after thinking about possible fits, we talked to Frank Wallen about joining our merry band and he accepted.
We Be Clubbin!
Now that we had the core of Upgraded complete, and a contract signed, we set out to create the game. Challenges were many since a lot of us on the team were looking for full time jobs, had other side jobs, or family obligations that kept us from giving it the time we really needed to get the game done before the deadline. We were supposed to finish the game on June 15th, 8 weeks after the contract was signed, but there was no way that we were going to write the sheer amount of code to get the game done in 8 weeks. We were going to go long, and when you go long, any potential profit quickly turns to loss.
The game was delivered late by about 6 weeks. And with such a long amount of time spent, it meant some of us had to make some tough decisions. The first person we lost was Tina Hou, she got a job with Zynga, and we were very happy she got a full time gig. Game jobs are in such short supply, especially ones in San Diego. Then we lost Frank, and that was a very big loss, but luckily he let us know just shortly after In The Club went live. We figured that Frank would probably not be able to support us fully while working a full time job, which meant we needed to find a replacement. The Main reason we needed to find a replacement for him was that we were counting on gold sales from In The Club. And to keep those sales rolling in, we would have to keep adding content. And with Frank out, that would be harder to do, even if we brought someone on, he would have to learn the codebase, which is no easy task. Luckily, a solution to all our problems were found for us.