My story starts way back when I was in university. It was on my placement year at Jagex during university when I first got exposed to the games industry. This was when Jagex was cool and still very much in start-up mode. Constant, Andrew and Paul ran the show and the majority of the company were supplemented by placement students. Before Jagex, I never knew that the path of game development was something that was an option for me. So, after my placement year, I was fully commited to working hard and learning modules in the field of web or games development. I kept my options open as I hadn’t quite figured out which I enjoyed more at the time.
After passing my degree, I was on the hunt for a job. I had just recently moved to Cambridge and had made the decision to go into the games industry. Unforunately, none of the games companies in Cambridge were hiring at that point and it was the start of the recession. So, I found a job at a small company called Curve Studios in London as a Production Assistant which I loved. I helped out the producer of the company and also helped test their latest game, Buzz Brain Bender. Unfortunately, I had to leave after 6 weeks because the cost of commuting was draining my savings. So, I got a job as a software developer in Cambridge.
After spending a lot of time wishing I was back in games, I finally got my chance and landed a Senior Tester role at Frontier Developments. Unlike Curve, Frontier was well established. Unfortunately some of the realities of the games industry were coming to light, like long, long hours, little pay and working as a contractor. At Frontier I worked on the unreleased title, The Outsider, one of the Kinect launch titles, Kinectimals, and Kinect: Disneyland Adventures.
Back to Jagex
Due to having to grow up and buy a house with my fiance, I left Frontier for a permanent QA Tester role at Jagex (yeah, I went back!).
When I left previously they were just drawing concepts on their newest game, MechScape. And when I re-joined…they were still working on MechScape, but the name had changed Stellar Dawn. Overall, it didn’t have bad gameplay but it was way off from being completed. Unfortunately, that game was also cancelled and I got moved onto RuneScape.
With a lot less pressure on my time (as the overtime wasn’t half as bad at Jagex) and a better salary, I tried to focus on getting back into developing games instead of just testing them.
I began concepting a small word puzzle game for mobile. I wasn’t sure of the tech out there or whether I could afford anything, so I started looking at Yoyo Games free cross platform tool, (previously called) Game Maker.
The Beginning of Dreams
I decided to leave Jagex as dreams of building my own apps and games were in my thoughts a lot. Plus, didn’t feel like I was being paid my worth. Games just wasn’t providing me with the same amount of enjoyment to compensate for the low salary and long hours anymore. So I left to increase and broaden my skills within a software testing role…in London.
Commuting took a lot of time up of my day. At the best times, I would be commuting for 4 hours of the day. But as a seasoned commuter, I used this time to read, play or design games, or write on my blog. This ensured that when I get home I spend more time with my family.
During this time, I decided to learn how to publish on Amazon Kindle. So I wrote a short eBook on Kindle called the Cambridge Commuter based on my journey commuting between Cambridge and London from 2012 – 2016.
Unity and my First App
Unity was being talked about more and more in the games industry news and I instantly downloaded the iOS and Android plugins when they went free for a short while in 2013. That became my first step into app development.
This new role also allowed me to purchase a Mac and begin iOS development. So the world of mobile was now my oyster. I first developed Werdz Movies on Android. And later on, I brought out a version on iOS.
In 2014 I discovered Matthew Bowden‘s income reports. This opened my eyes up to the reality of being able to start a business within mobile development and be a solopreneur. After more research I discovered books like 7 Day Start Up by Dan Norris, websites and podcasts like the Smart Passive Income podcast, Entrepreneur On Fire, the App Business Podcast, Mum To Millionaire, Zero to Scale and more recently Startup (to name a few). These podcasts helped me learn more about running a business, kept me up-to-date with mobile development news and ways to diversify my income streams to ensure I build a solid business.
Where I’m Going
I am on a mission to make 2017 the year where I make substantial progress in my business. This year I have defined my goals. My daughter is a visual reminder of why I want to be financially independent. She also reminds me the importance of not wasting time.
My company Junction 5 Studios is now officially formed and I can’t wait to see what this year brings.