Where I’ve Been and Where I’m Going

“Some people try to turn back their odometers. Not me. I want people to know why I look this way. I’ve traveled a long way and some of the roads weren’t paved.”  – Will Rogers

A lot has happened since I last posted here.  We had one major project slowly grind to a halt, abandoned by the publisher. Not a fun story, even if we did learn a lot.  And we had another flash briefly, just long enough to prove out the design and technology, if not long enough to make back its production costs.

Social games have continued their astonishing fast-forward pace.  The game industry changes faster than any I know of, and I have never seen things change this fast.  One of my new mottos is

If you don’t have whiplash, you’re not paying attention.

What was a wide open blue-ocean part of the games industry a year ago is quickly consolidating and stratifying into Huge Players, Big Players, and Everyone Else.  There are good games and money to be made at each level, but on different scales and with different difficulties. And game designs or production practices that worked less than a year ago have to be discarded now to stay current with the market.

For myself and my company, Online Alchemy, the latest blows we endured were too much.  I’ve rebooted the company before — after a triple-play debacle in 2007 (DARPA project killed by world events, development contract pulled at the last moment, and the long-lamented demise of the Firefly MMO at the hands of Fox and Universal), so I know how to do it.  And I have an amazing team of people to work with.  But the costs of rebooting again now seemed too high and too risky.

So, time for a pivot: I have joined Kabam as an Executive Producer.  This is a terrific company with a clear focus and top-notch talent all around. I’ve been very impressed with the blend of agility and process I’ve found there. I can’t yet say what I’m working on, but as with everything in this part of the industry, all will be clear soon enough.

Online Alchemy will be sticking around, but will be returning to its focus on “social AI” research and development.  This is definitely an area for research, building on the company’s existing work in artificial emotions, relationships, and reputation, but as yet no real consumer market has appeared for such AI.  I still believe one will, but it may be ten or twenty years before it happens.  I’m content to be patient, and persistent.

So, what’s next?


Explore posts in the same categories: AI, corporate, games, social games

7 Comments on “Where I’ve Been and Where I’m Going”

  1. Scott Says:

    Hey Mike – I’m sorry to hear that, although it sounds like you’re in a decent place about it now. Having gone through almost the same situation at the end of last year, I have a great deal of sympathy.

    Thanks very much for taking the time to throw some advice my way last year when we got in contact. It was really vital to our making a go of things with Mustache Mercenaries.


  2. Congratulations on the Kabam move, Mike, which sounds very exciting.

    Good luck to Online Alchemy. I admire your dogged patience.


  3. Philip Flesher Says:

    Good luck, Mike. I’m rooting for you.

    (P.S. – In 20 years, we’ll be within striking distance of the singularity, and then you *know* there’s going to be a market for virtual emotional agents. Or will we even call them “virtual” at that point?)


  4. Dr. Cat Says:

    I’ll still be keeping my own personal projects going 20 years from now too, so I know where you’re coming from. Don’t ever stop!


  5. ZBL Says:

    hi, i just chanced upon your blog while searching for more information about arpu and social games. kabam is a company that i follow closely with and think that it is headed in the right direction. my company is also thinking about revamping and pivoting again in the facebook social games space. cheers


  6. onlinegamer Says:

    i love online alchemy games , i have one for my android , beside your blog is deep


  7. I love social games.


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