Dev Personal Blog: Moving Forward with Restructure

Hello, as I said in my previous blogs, we’re going to be moving forward with restructuring the company, and I wanted to continue to share my plans on that for those who are interested in the nitty-gritty details of how ADS runs.

But first, I’ve seen some confusion lately: ADS is NOT an entire company of all the people and staff that are listed in the credits. For a moment, after Egle left, it was literally just me creatively, before Jackie decided to “rejoin” on a larger capacity. The artists and other names you see listed in credits are freelancers working under my direction.

So they aren’t associated with us as a company, but are independent professionals in their own right that we (the current core members of myself and Jackie) are blessed to work with, but aren’t part of my discussions about the company. We have never had more than three core members at a time. That is who I am referring to when I say “we”, past or present. Hopefully this list will help clarify who has worked on what up till now. I don’t currently have a freelancer list of works with us prepared, but intend to eventually.

Anyway, with all of the experience I have gained, I’m now applying it when deciding the direction of the company. Luckily, Jackie and I now work together physically as well, so that has already helped. I wrote this for myself, but decided to share it to clarify the direction we’re headed in.

My goals for the company are to:

- Reduce likelihood of delays. I am not foolish enough to think there will never be a delay again, when even major games multi-million dollar games are routinely delayed. Life happens to all of us, and with a small team, life happening means delays since there’s no one to replace each other. But I know we can drastically reduce the amount with the improvement of our internal workflow practices and how the work is distributed internally.

Already, as Jackie is now physically with me full time, I can see that things have improved and benefitted in ways creatively and workflow-wise that we didn’t predict. We can and will also improve by extending development timelines so we have more time to work. This means more infrequent releases going forward, but more reliable ones.

- Improve communication between fans/customers and “the company”. There are messages I simply don’t have time to look at, as with my amount of roles, my work time has to be focused on creating or directing. I’ve largely cut social media out of my life to focus on positivity and creating…Just sharing my thoughts on social media can cause anxiety. So this task is at times, incredibly stressful and negative to our mental and ultimately, our physical health. It has always been the task that drained the people that worked with us the most, including myself.

But I recognize the need for it to be consistent and reliable if we are to be a company we can be proud of. Besides that, I personally feel terrible when people can’t get the help they need because I can’t even see it, or I miss genuine and kind fan messages. This isn’t up to my personal standards, yet I’m already at the limits of how much I can do. That is why I’ve decided to outsource to third parties who aren’t involved in the creative process.

- Begin beta testing our games. Testing takes a great deal of development time. Every release must be tested over and over and over by myself and the lead programmer I work with. Bugs are difficult to catch across thousands of devices, not to mention various platforms too.

I would like to build a reliable and trustworthy beta team for games that can thoroughly test for bugs/typos and help cut down on development time and raise quality across releases. In the past, we simply didn’t have the development time to meet our deadlines and still have time to beta test, but that’s all changing. I will be looking to build the team in the coming months.

- Release all delayed crowdfunding rewards. Another thing that isn’t up to my standards, is that we have been unable to ship all of the physical rewards yet. This is partially a temporary budgetary issue, and partially a lack of administrative manpower. If it comes down to it, I will personally do it myself along with Jackie, but I am still searching for a good solution to how we can best release these and catch up on our commitments.

Like many crowdfunding start-ups, we underestimated the manpower required to actually distribute rewards. It is for this reason, that I currently do not plan to do any crowdfunding again, even if it means we have to take a break from making games to accumulate revenue to develop. We will focus on other paths, like novels at those times.

- Release everything we’ve promised thus far. This is actually the easy and fun part for us. Ultimately, we are creators and enjoy creating. That’s why we keep at it. Most of the work and framework for any pending releases is already done, but we need to get the budget for actually releasing it. It hangs over our head everyday, thinking about the fans who have been waiting so long that trusted us. We want to see everything released, too. And it’s not up to our personal standards or vision for the delays to have happened the way they have. That’s why we’re spending 2019 without creating any new projects.

Solutions I came up with:

  • Improve internal workflow structure/practices and communication to speed up our creative work and smooth out the kinks. Extend development time to allow for life to happen.

  • Customer support and possibly majority of social media will be handled by a third party freelancer or service outside of the company, as soon as we are off hiatus.

  • Begin beta testing group to improve game release quality.

  • Continue fulfillment of crowdfunding rewards. Avoid crowdfunding campaigns in the future as part of our business model.

  • Work on completing existing projects. 2019 will not have any new ones for ADS. Possibly not 2020 either. We need to play catch-up, but we also need to maintain a healthy pace for us.

I’ll continue to serve as the creative core as I teach Jackie more about game development and we write together. Here are the latest roles and openings I plan to fill after our budgetary hiatus. All will freelance and hourly/as needed.

  • Administrative Assistant

  • Customer Support

  • Social Media Coordinator

At the moment, there is no one filling these roles, which is part of why we are on hiatus. So, these are my internal plans for this year. Jackie and I decided that we personally are best at being ourselves. We'’ll continue to be honest and direct in our personal communications with others, treating people not as customers (that’s what the customer support rep will be for), but as human beings.

Honestly, the capitalist attitude between companies and customers is just something that suits neither of us, and I don’t think we can do that comfortably. We believe in being polite, but honest with people. Whatever people think about us, or our past as a company, the two of us have decided to continue to work to fulfill our obligations, however long it takes, and continue to share our creations with the world, simply out of the passion of creating art.