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Crafting Mead or Launching a Business?

A post-mortem of my company's first game, Mead Crafter. It also touches on another topic like why attending game jams might be beneficial.

This is going to be a post-mortem for a video game so you’ve got your fair warning. The subject matter is Mead Crafter which is the first game that launched our company into the video game industry.

I founded Viroid Games in August 2020 after finding myself recently unemployed due to a mix between Covid and business decisions taken by the company I used to work for. I’ve been employed by web design and development companies since the early 2000s. Changing gears from the web industry into the gaming industry, and starting a business as the first step may seem a bit drastic but it seemed necessary at that moment. I had been looking for a different job prior to finding myself laid off but I already knew how broken the hiring process in IT had been. That’s a story for another day, though.

The story with Mead Crafter actually goes back to a game jam I attended in May 2020. Godot Wild Jam is a game jam running on the Itch.io website. There is actually another one happening right now as I’m writing this. My game was unfortunately not quite finished back then and I did not submit it for obvious reasons but I kept adding a few things here and there over the course of summer 2020. Then, fast-forward to unemployment.

As a fresh business owner, I wanted to move things very quickly. I was new in the game, pun intended, and I had to learn the ropes very quickly. I decided to polish Mead Crafter and launch it on September 30th, in as short as 1.5 months after the start of my company. As you can imagine, 45 days or so passed so quickly, and here is a summary of what was achieved during that timeframe.

Opening a business bank account. Creating a whole bunch of accounts in different service providers: Milanote, TwitterFacebookTwitchDiscord, etc… Building a website. Streaming while fixing the bugs and playtesting. Learning how to make a trailer only 2 days before the release. Most importantly, finishing the game.

Creating accounts on Itch and Gumroad to sell the game was easy enough. They have a very easy process to go through and your work can be up and selling in a matter of a day or two. Steam, on the other hand, was a pain in you know where.

Mead Crafter Video Game

Long story short, Mead Crafter was released on Steam on November 25th, almost 2 months after the initially planned release date. Part of this delay was due to the fact that Steam won’t let you upload your stuff for 30 days. There were some other shenanigans about their system that I don’t want to disclose right now but this kind of thing was exactly what I had anticipated in the first place.

The reason why I wanted to launch a product so early in the history of my company was to see how the whole thing worked from finishing a game to selling it. Putting the last touches on something you’ve worked on is difficult enough because you never want to finalize it for the joy of making it better or the fear of putting it out there - perhaps irrationally - unfinished or less than ideal.

Mead Crafter still has not brought financial success but it has completed its mission already for all the reasons I mentioned above. I can now confidently say that Viroid Games can finish and release a game.

All this gives me hope that I can now focus on other aspects of running my business. To that end, I’ve already noticed a greater need in marketing and networking but I would like to conclude this story first before I go into what’s involved in that department.

Lastly, take this as a post-mortem for our first game; a different post-mortem without sales numbers but one that showcases how to launch a company. Alternatively, this story is a good example of how attending game jams can help you to take the next step. Once you have something going on with an idea and you have a somewhat finished product, maybe, all there is left to do is to build a business around it.

May you craft the best mead or game for yourself!

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