Anybody who's been wondering what the hell I've been doing with my life lately I can now answer: I am now a partner with Bill Dugan at Torpex Games. Http://www.torpexgames.com. My official title is "technical director" but I hopefully will be much more.
I've been wanting to do something entrepeneurial for a while now. I've been kicking myself ever since I turned Pete & Don down for a partnership in Treyarch, back when Treyarch was just a twinkle in their eye, only to join up with them anyhow, half a year later, for a much, much, much smaller stake. And you can't read all the business and management books I've read without getting psyched for trying it yourself. And I've written a fair amount about management myself, so this is an opportunity to really put my money where my mouth is. So since I quit Treyarch I've been looking around for the right opportunity and this is it.
Maybe you're wondering, why Torpex?
I worked with Bill Dugan on Spider-Man 2 and he's what Good To Great calls "The Level Five Leader." The gist of it is a Level Five Leader doesn't have a big ego; they don't need to take credit for everything; it doesn't have to be "their way or the highway" all the time; they listen to (and argue with) their trusted advisors and in the end do the right thing, quietly getting results. Not that there isn't a point where the buck stops with Bill – there were a couple issues we argued about with Spidey 2 where I eventually caved (and, later had to admit, yes, Bill was right.)
Bill and I had a long conversation before I decided to join up where we talked about our values and it seems like we're on the same page about everything: we should do right by our employees; we're about making games rather than making franchiseable characters or worlds or brands; excessive crunch time is toxic; we need to be humble at first, taking whatever projects we can get, and build our way up to the giant dream projects; talent is everything—it's better to not hire a mediocre person and limp along understaffed than to dilute your talent pool; and much more that I can't remember all of right now. It was after that conversation that I decided Bill was the guy to go with.
And Richard Garfield and Skaff Elias are our allies; these guys invented a whole genre of gaming, for Christ's sake. Who wouldn't want to work with them?
Finally, Torpex is a cool name. I could write a whole article on why it's such a cool name. Maybe that'll be my next blog entry.