Before co-founding Popsicle Games, I also had another startup called Pixelkit. And in this startup, our main line of business was making mobile apps and websites for clients. Although, when we founded Pixelkit, one of the startup’s long-term goals was to make mobiles games and doing these projects for clients was just one of the stepping stones to help us get there.
It sounded good on paper, but let me tell you how wrong that strategy was and ultimately affected my well-being.
During our stint of doing client work, I remember those times being one of the toughest and most miserable times of my life, dealing with unreasonable deadlines, crazy requests and putting in some over-time just to get the project done. It was putting a lot of stress on me that my wife noticed how stressed I look everytime I get home. There was always that nagging feeling in the back of my mind that something had to be finished. It was so bad that sometimes I even had dreams (nightmares) about meeting our clients and having to talk to them about the project.
I also couldn’t take vacations, in the fear that the client would call a meeting and I had to be there at their beck and call. AND when I took vacations, my clients would usually give me a call expecting me to fulfill their requests. It was really a frustrating time since it was eating into my precious family time, which I didn’t have too much of in the first place!
One night, I had to do a reassessment on what I was doing with my life. Did I want to continue this kind of lifestyle and was it a sustainable one? Or should I just pursue my dreams and go all-in on game development? I was at a crossroads and a little lost on what I wanted to do. On one hand, our client work was helping sustain the startup financially and giving us a predictable source of revenue, but the work was really driving me up the wall. On the other hand, I could pursue my passions of making games, but this is a riskier endeavor as revenue is super unpredictable. It was really a tough decision to make, but a decision that had to be made. My knee-jerk reaction due to my Filipino-Chinese upbringing told me that I was a fool for pursuing my dream which was unpredictable and risky, but my gut told me that I was doing the right thing.
So I had a talk with my co-founder, Jed (who’s also a co-found of Popsicle Games!), and told him about my decision. Luckily, he agreed totally with everything and we’re jumping into the video game industry with both feet! We quickly had an all-hands meeting back in our office to announce our new direction and everybody in the team gladly accepted our decision.
For some reason, the video game gods must have heard our plan and sent Erick to us. He came to us with a proposal that we should partner up and form a game studio that focuses on making quick addictive games with a rapid release schedule. Coincidentally, that was also the strategy that we were going to take for making games. The decision to partner up with Erick was decided rather quickly. How can you say no to Mr. Streetfood Tycoon! So on July 2015, Popsicle Games was born.
As I transitioned to making games, 9 months and counting, I noticed in myself that I was feeling less stressed nowadays. Work never feels like work anymore since all our projects now are about making games! Coming in the office is always fun and exciting now since you get to see bit by bit on how the game is shaping up to be. It’s also nice to see that everyone now takes incredible care when building a project because everyone now believes in the work that they are doing. It’s always gratifying to do meaningful work. Best of all, I now have more time with my family as my schedule is now more predictable.
I’m really glad that we made the switch to making games sooner rather than later, although making games is no easy task. I would say it’s even harder. Nevertheless, I welcome these challenges as I’m confident that each one of us in Popsicle Games has the heart to overcome any challenge that will be presented to us.