Saturday, 28 February 2015

Huge announcement time! We're fully funded!

We finally did it! We recently received a letter from the Canadian Media Fund stating that they were willing to provide VoidSpace with one million dollars in funding putting the total funding for the second phase of development at over 1.3 million!

The CMF announcement can be seen here.

The funding will be used to develop VoidSpace, and more importantly the Universe Engine over the next 2 years with an official start date happening in the next few months. At the end of these 2 years, VoidSpace will be officially released and the Universe Engine at that time will be complete.

What happens now?

There is quite a bit to get ready before we can begin full time work with a full team, so for the next few months we will be preparing for full time development in our spare time while we continue to work at our existing jobs. There are 3 reasons for this delay:
  1. It allows us to take our time during the hiring phase. This will give us extra time to find the perfect candidates for the positions that still need to be filled. 
  2. It gives everyone involved time to transition from their existing positions gracefully.
  3. It allows us to "hit the ground running", which maximizes the funding we have received. Otherwise, I (Nik) would be spending a lot of time getting the business side put together instead of putting valuable time into coding and getting everyone up-to-speed.
Once we do begin full time development, we will be resume regular development updates.

How did you get here?

March 7th, 2013 marked the day I (Nik) officially began mostly full time work on the Universe Project. Up to that point, I had been working on it in my spare time while maintaining a full time job. It was at this point that Paul Korepanov joined me and for the next 6 months, we began laying the groundwork for the Networking & Simulation Framework while working on the VoidSpace game itself. At that point, Paul had put in as much time as he could and needed to find employment that actually paid with something other than monopoly money. Fortunately, I lucked out and found Oskar Stangenberg who had been tearing it up in the Open Development Program. In fact, he was doing so well that we decided to invite him into core development and we have been working side by side on the codebase ever since.

By June 2014 I had been working on VoidSpace for well over a year and things were getting rough financially and it was time for me to find a job. I wanted to run a Kickstarter to try and raise funds for full time development of the game, but at the time we lacked the marketing materials to do it effectively. This proved to be a bit of a conundrum because my intention to run a Kickstarter was readily available on the web, and this made potential employers wary of hiring me as they thought I wouldn't stick around for very long. So I went ahead with the Kickstarter knowing that it was quite a long shot, and I'm glad I did!

While the Kickstarter did end up failing to raise enough for our goal (we ended up cancelling it) the campaign did manage to raise awareness of the game and someone mentioned that I should try to get funding through the CMF. To that point, I had never heard of the CMF and I didn't even look into it right away. After a few weeks, I finally got around to looking at what the CMF had to offer and decided to go for it. It took about a month to put the application together. Then finally, on September 23rd, 2014 I submitted the application which officially marked the end of my full time involvement in VoidSpace as I was scheduled to start a new job on the 24th.

After the 24th of September, I felt it was necessary to scale back my online presence as I now had a full-time job that took the majority of my available time. I did continue working on the project, but publicly things would have seemed to go somewhat dead beyond a few relatively minor releases and status updates. On average, I was still putting in a couple hours per day which usually involved coding, architecture design, management, and marketing.

Then the letter came. 

November 28th, 2014 the CMF had accepted my application, but there were some pretty major issues that needed to be overcome. In particular, we needed quite a bit more funding from another source before the CMF would continue to work with us. For the next couple months, I spent a good part of my life on the phone. Luckily I had a lot of time for this during my morning and evening commutes to and from work. I eventually found a company that was willing to help finance the project in order to satisfy the CMF's requirements, and as of this week, we can finally say that we are ready for phase 2 of development!

I have so many questions! Where can I ask them?

Questions can be asked here in the VoidSpace subreddit. This is a forum that emphasises user votes and allows people to see question and answers based on popularity. If you are new to Reddit, it is extremely easy to create an account (you don't even need an email address) and I would encourage you to ask questions or just read through the questions and answers already given.