Greetings loyal reader. I broke my rule of at least one post every six months by missing the summer solstice! Mea culpa. BTW, in case you are wondering, I try to post on the solstice because it’s an astronomically meaningful event that shakes me out of my blogging stupour, not out of any particular religious conviction. These robes are very comfortable, though.
- I got married in May to the lovely Eunice Moyle (now James)! She’s an entrepeneur, too: her company Hello Lucky makes beautiful stationary. It helps that we have obsessive industriousness in common.
- We went on a fabulous honeymoon to Spain, France and Venice, Italy (and London).
- As a consequence, we are expecting our first child in February! I am very excited to have a tiny minion that will do my bidding at all times. Yes, I have an optimistic view of child development.
I have also been busy with business. A few key things happened that I will probably blog / speak more about later:
- Three Rings adopted a new process for developing games. We call it ‘Customer Development’ after Steve Blank’s and Eric Ries’ entrepreneurial ideas. We’ve introduced testing and metrics much earlier in development, and greater clarity and objectivity to the process of deciding what to make and how to make it. So far it seems to be working pretty well, but the first half of 2010 will really tell.
- We started making Facebook games. Bite Me, a vampire game with WoW-like quests and combat, and Everything, a game about collecting things, are the first two to reach ‘minimum viable product’. Bite Me is doing pretty well. Everything is super fun and simple, but not at all viral, which is a shame. Suggestions welcome! We will release two more FB games early next year.
- With all this Facebook action we have had a smaller team working on Whirled. We remain commited to the project, but it has been hard to find a way to attract players in a sustainable way, and we had to reduce our ongoing investment. Whirled has an incredible group of creative people making cool stuffs, and a small loyal cadre of customers who are buying stuffs from creators for money. So, it’s got legs! Hopefully we’ll find a way to get her running in 2010. I’m grateful to the community for powering this modest success, and thankful that I’m not having to write a blog post like Raph’s today, announcing that Metaplace.com is closing. It’s extraordinarily brave to shut down something that’s had so much love and work poured into it. Best of luck to the team there with the next thing.
- Puzzle Pirates continues to do well and remained remarkably resilient this year in the face of the collapse of Western Civilisation (narrowly averted). Look for more cool things next year.
The last year has been a challenging one for the company and for me personally as glorious leader. It’s practically a requirement as an entrepreneur to assume that everything will go according to plan, but it’s also a practical requirement to adapt as circumstances changes and plans have to be altered. These two traits can be hard to reconcile. Three Rings is getting better at adapting and learning fast, and that’s exciting, but it’s still tough to be wrong — and occasionally to shed a tear for spilt milk. In my case, the incredible rise of Facebook as a platform for games blindsided me, and I spent time trying to build a social network just when I should have been hopping onto theirs. I also failed to test the assumptions behind my grand experiment sufficiently until we’d over-invested in those hypothesis. These are good lessons to learn. I’m thankful to the awesome team at Three Rings for sticking with it and learning with me. In 2010 we get to play again.
Next up: predictions and commentary on the ‘social games’ industry for 2010! I’ll try to get that posted before the end of the calendar year. Paste the floggingwillcontinue.com into your RSS reader and you’ll be alerted to my intermittant blogging, or you can follow me on Twitter where I tweet approximately as often as I blog, but past precedent is not a guide to future performance!
Merry turning of the world, loyal readers. Talking of past precedent, please bring the sun back tomorrow morning, if you would!