My journey to gamedev world. (part 1)

It was a friday in August 2019, the work at Blackraken Design was relatively slow and lunch-time was almost up, my brother and partner Rod enters the office, walks to my desk with a smile and tells me we have an interesting meeting with one of our best clients, lets go!.

I hate driving, specially at lunch time in downtown Monterrey, Mexico, things tend to get pretty chaotic, but luckily Rod doesn’t seems to mind it much so we hop on his car and get on our way, the meeting is at a ramen restaurant not too far away. During the ride my brother tells me that Andrés (our client) has some kind of business proposal for us that he wants to discuss, by the time we get to the place my curiosity is almost palpable.

Andrés is already there, we exchange greetings, sit at the table and do some small talk while we browse the menu and place our orders with the waitress, not long after, we start talking about what brought us all here. Andrés is a firm believer that one’s income should not depend on a single source: the more diverse your income roots, the better, and right now our incomes depended from just one source: for Rod and me it was Blackraken Design, for Andrés it was his job at an international company, and that needed to change.

On that meeting I learned that they were working on starting together a new business of DIY modern furniture that was extremely easy to assemble without the need of any tools: Rod would input his knowledge on design, materials, processes and the intangible lessons about being an entrepreneur in México, while Andrés would be in charge of financial planning, administration and business smarts so … where did I fit in all this? As it happens they would need to outsource all things related to graphic design, and there was a golden opportunity that had presented itself: The international company’s local branch in which Andrés worked was thinking on outsourcing most of their graphic design requirements and Andrés was in charge of the selection process.

What they proposed was totally outside of any expectations I had on the way to the meeting: I was to create a company that would meet the needs of both businesses, and it had to be done ASAP or the opportunity window would disappear. I felt the familiar fluttering in the stomach that comes when you have to make critical decisions that alter your future in unplanned ways. Think about it but don’t sit on it too long, he said, should you accept you need to move quickly. The meeting was over soon after, we took a picture to commemorate the occasion:

Andrés, my brother Rod and myself on that day.

I had always dreamt that one day I would create video game but I had never seen a clear path that would take me closer to that dream, until that very moment. That was the opportunity I had been waiting for: the chance to start a company as the sole owner so that I could take it anywhere I wanted, no partner meetings, no joint decisions, no convincing others. Doing graphic design projects for this two companies would ensure I had a regular income as long as I could keep up with the work, the rest of the time I would be able to focus the company resources on making video games, how hard could it be? even the required skills for making both things were similar enough, or so I though.

Before I got into bed that night I was convinced, I could do this! The world is for the bold, the ones who take risks, every worthy decision is preceded with this feeling of fear and resistance to change, so that’s how I know I must go forward with this… that was my mindset and what I told myself, after all if I didn’t take the chance then, when? I was 34, no significant other, no kids, my plan of getting a place for myself could wait a little longer, no pressing responsibilities other than Blackraken. I falled asleep feeling excited for the future.

The next morning I told my brother I was in, I had a plan: I would hire a graphic designer, sub-rent the storage room next to the kitchen, commission a desk from the spare materials in Blackraken’s workshop, get a computer and start working, I would take care of my responsibilities as head of the design department in Blackraken during the day and supervise and work as needed on the new company in the afternoon, after all both were in the same place, no need to commute anywhere.

The following weeks I started the legal paperwork with Hacienda (Mexican IRS), opened the business bank account, decided on the name, commissioned the logo ( I didn’t created it myself because I consider it would be biased, like a psychiatrist treating himself) and prepared the storage room to become an office space:

Chronograph Office renovation

I interviewed ten candidates for the position, could only afford to hire one person and I was making sure that besides their skills as graphic designers they were interested in doing videogames and were good illustrators, after some time I found the right person for the job, all that was left was to get paid, Andrés had accepted the quotation I sent him, he had offered a four month contract paid in advance, we would have to take a crash course in the company’s policies, regulations, product image guidelines and brand rules.

The new business bank account was not ready to receive any payments yet, so the only solution was to get paid through Blackraken, which in turn would outsource the work to Chronograph (my new company), I would lose Blackraken’s utility margin but it was the only way. The payment got trough and the crash course was already scheduled, my designer and I would take it and start working in November, which was two weeks from now.

Then, the worst thing that could happen, happened: Andrés was laid off, rendering all plans of Chronograph working with the international company extremely unlikely.

Te be continued…

I’m a mexican designer and illustrator that started creating “Catorce” a video game inspired on a former ghost town, currently living in Monterrey, México.