It's been four months since I promised an announcement, and I still haven't delivered. I had every intention to do so. Turf War was a success, even if it didn't fill the niche I had hoped that it would. I knew what I needed to tweak, and I knew the approach I needed to experiment with to see if it could flourish, even if in a different way from what I had originally hoped for. The necessary modifications wouldn't take more than two, maybe three weeks, and a second game could have begun in mid-to-late January. Yet I didn't.
Why I didn't is something that's taken me a long time to understand, and I'm still not completely sure that my understanding is correct. At first, it didn't make sense. I had a business model that I planned to unveil in a video announcement: Sparkbomb would focus on gaming, and to that end I would be developing new games for at least the first half of 2015. Each game would start out as a simple but playable construct (like Turf War) and include obvious avenues for additions to be made. In Turf War's case, that would have included new actions, a class system, new Invent options, Achievements, Leader Boards, and other possibilities that I've either forgotten or weren't well enough planned to list here. Donations would become explicit crowdfunding: once certain benchmarks were reached, I would develop and release additions to the games.
Realistically, this would have resulted in perhaps one or two additional games being released by mid-2015. Conceiving of good game ideas is difficult, and I'm a bit baffled by how Turf War came together so quickly in my mind (with a lot of sound boarding off of Rex). I've always been better at springboarding off of existing systems (such as with the Spark Game).
These games would have also been released on the IPS Marketplace to serve as an additional revenue stream.
I don't know if this would have been a financially sustainable model. It was certainly a stronger plan than I'd had throughout 2014, but I don't know if it would have worked. I suppose it would have depended on the game I released to follow Turf War.
I've considered several possible games during the past four months, and I began to draft out ideas, including digging up my fairly extensive notes from Anarchy to see if it might be adapted in some way. However, none of the ideas felt right. When Turf War started coming together so easily, I knew it was the right idea even if the implementation ultimately left something to be desired. One idea came close to feeling right, and I was working on it a little over a month ago, but it, too, never quite gained the right traction in my mind.
Perhaps the best approach would have been to take any one of these ideas and run with it. After years of working on the Spark Game, I'm well aware that the behind-the-scenes work is rarely noticed or respected, but it is forgiven when a product hits the shelf. My empty hands today may cheapen this account, but the explanation is long overdue.
During these past four months, I've given some serious thought and begun to pursue a career as a dance instructor. This past month has been spent in interviews and training. I haven't received a job offer yet, and I wanted to hold off on saying anything until I did, but it feels like today is the time to give an account for the past four months.
Training has opened my eyes much more than I ever expected, both with the limits of my dancing ability and what I had been overlooking and not doing while running Sparkbomb. As much as I thought I had been focusing on the person-to-person elements of Sparkbomb, I think I had forgotten them, or I haven't pushed them strongly enough. It's something that's always been a struggle for me (coding and writing aren't particularly interactive, and they're quite time-consuming), but I had mistakenly thought that joining in on Werewolf games when I could was making enough of a difference in this regard. A foray into role playing PTU with Dyl, Blacjak, Nell, and Rex have reminded me just how far from the ground I've been.
There's also the fact that the Internet's landscape has changed immensely during the past decade. Sparkbomb's done a good job of surviving where many of its sister sites have ultimately become memory, but I've overlooked some of the ingredients necessary to truly flourish. I made an effort to adapt and expand, but it wasn't done in the right ways.
Once I receive a job offer (and I'm confident that I will), I'll have more to say about the future of Sparkbomb. For today, I simply wanted to give an account and an idea of where my head has been at these past four months.