No plan survives first contact with customers.
– Steve Blank
It’s a fitting quote for product development, especially for teams in search of product/market fit. It’s a war. If you’re working on a mature product it’s more akin to peace time preparations for the next war, pontificating where the war will be fought. Personally, it’s the war that excites me. The front lines.
The world looks one way in peacetime but very different when you must fight for your life every day.
– Ben Horowitz
It’s the post-industrial economy, the creative economy, and we’re on the front lines of trying to create value in something new – innovation. There aren’t any recipes, especially as the pursuit of a larger audience pushes more of Silicon Valley into the realm of entertainment products. It isn’t easy, it isn’t fun, but it can be rewarding if you succeed. Most will fail.
With chance for failure so high, it’s paramount to go into battle with a flexible and resilient team. You’re going to have setbacks, opportunities will come and go, and if you can capitalize on one of those opportunities or just get lucky it’ll then be a question of whether you can hold on. Over the years I’ve had the privilege to work with and build some great teams that pulled off some amazing stuff. Many of those teams also began in less than ideal situations, but you do whatever is needed to get them to gel and perform. Many times it’s more about the little things rather than the grand gestures. In that light, I consider myself a “team ninja” as some call themselves “code ninjas”.
I’ve always dreamed of writing the Great American screenplay and discovering the canonical example for interactive story. On the screenwriting front I’ve spent 10 years or more pursuing the dream in one form or another. I even did the Hollywood thing for a couple of years. The latest product of that pursuit is a screenplay and soon to be graphic novel – KillRez.
As for interactive story, the examples range from visual novels to Choose Your Own Adventure but none has proven to be that popular or established itself as the canonical example. My personal search has lead me through two virtual worlds startups, a few attempts of my own, and I even dipped my toe into casual games. I was fortunate enough to actually build a few interactive stories while at Visual Purple, oddly enough as training simulations for the FBI and Intelligence Community. At Visual Purple I also got to work with some of the pioneers of interactive movies which was great learning. All in all though, I’m like most of the interactive story enthusiasts – still searching. Hopefully virtual reality will prove to be the missing ingredient.