I sat down to write the “what the hell happened” post for my last gig three times this month.
The first time, I raised my hands to type and let them fall back into my lap. I had an MMORPG column due that same week, and in the intro, I said “My mentors over the years have taught me that you never draw to an inside straight, you never pee outside on a windy day, and you never write a post-mortem until the body is cold.”
Part of that is professional – you need distance to write up something that will be useful to other people. Part of that is personal – you have no perspective right after the disaster, and the things that inspire you to write when you’re still reeling may not be the things that really matter. Part of that is pure blind hope and optimism, two things that video game people always have in abundance. No one wants to write a post-mortem when there’s any chance of the project being revived or saved.
The second time I sat down to write a blog post, I typed out a bunch of paragraphs and realized they were totally unrelated. One of them was the beginning of a pretty good article on red flags and how to spot them. Another was just a rant on due diligence. Another looked related to due diligence, until I realized it was not about my last job but a job from years ago. I’m long since over it on a personal level, but the perpetrator of that disaster is still somehow acquiring venture capital and pissing it away while posting snotty little comments all over Facebook and LinkedIn about other people’s poor management. The fact that this slimeweasel is on his way to his Nth failure because he has the attention span of a fruit fly and the management acumen of a dog rooting through a litter box, when I know dozens of brilliant people with actual ideas and follow-through ability, and meanwhile VCs lap up his buzzword-laden powerpoints and never once do any research that might turn up an incredibly consistent pattern… well, it’s enraging, but it doesn’t have any place in a post-mortem of a game. Also, I’m getting old and these blood pressure spikes can’t be good for me.
The third time, I was finally ready. The words just starting coming. The problem was they didn’t stop, and I now have the rough draft of an ebook, not a blog post. Also, it’s less to do with Dominus than with everything I’ve learned in the last decade about how things go wrong.
Now I’m pondering what to do with it. On one hand, it’s good information. On the other hands, it’s all rather obvious truth. So, yeah, I’m still making up my mind.
I am still trying to come up with a short version for those of you who had faith in the game just because I did. I feel a huge responsibility to you, and I can’t thank you enough for coming along on the ride. I always want to know “what happened,” and telling you seems like the least I can do.
Funny, but a lot of what went wrong, I’m seeing echoed this week on a much larger scale. Maybe my book of obvious truth does need to be published!