Jed Merrill, Producer/Game Designer

Week 6

Monday, February 15, 2016.

logoMore good news!  I’ve been accepted to spend three weeks to a month in Prague as part of the Royal Business Academy this summer!  I sent in my acceptance, though it is possible the outcome of the Imagine Cup could affect my ability to go this year.  The RBA is focused on entrepreneurship, and Phase 1 starts now.  (Phase 2 in Prague is July 11 to August 5, 2016.)

Also significant today, our partner The Void is showing off their technology at TED Dream in Vancouver, Canada tonight!  Photos from my former professor Joseph Bourrie, who designs for The Void.  The Void featured in the official TED blog.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016.

iclogoWe’ve all had the weekend to let our selection as Finalists for the Microsoft US Imagine Cup sink in.  Wow!  Coming in for a second day video shoot appears to have paid off!  Learning that we were selected was a bit like getting struck by lightning, but in a good way.

Our morning meeting leads to action on features that have been backlogged for months.  We really want to show the game off well.

Now we have just over five weeks to prepare, with Microsoft and EAE’s assistance, for the finals at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, a site that will be pretty familiar considering we will be there just a week or two in advance for GDC.  I will take at least some time during GDC to get familiar with the place where we will present.

Officially going to the finals are Ahmad, Eric, Shahbaz, and myself, though Charlie and Nidal are equally important members of our team and we will chip in to have them come if necessary.

Whether we have a big day at the finals or not, just being selected should be enough to help us raise additional capital.  I would love to raise at least some money prior to the event, though the calendar will be tight given GDC and continuing development.  I’ve built a list of people and organizations to approach once our documents are finalized.  Accredited investors only, for now.

Alternately, we could try crowd funding given the appeal of the issue and the availability of news coverage because of Imagine.  There is something to be said for both traditional and crowd funding approaches, but the preference right now is to build a relationship with professional investors, as long as the terms make sense.  We can partner with the public in other ways.

Over the weekend I start work on an investor facing, password protected website to help us select partners (and vice versa) when meeting in person is not an option.  Sometimes there is more to making a game than making the game!

In Experimental Games Tuesday afternoon, we play several unusual games and learn the theme for our third project, Roll and Move.

Version 3After class, I stop by the Street Fighter V launch party at the Union Building.  Nearly everyone present has a $150 to $220 aftermarket controller, but I prove the only hardware your really need is a world championship thumb.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016.

TED2016_webI attend session eight “Nightmares” of TED Dream through a remote broadcast to the Eccles Center theater in Park City.  Al Gore is the opening speaker, presenting a follow up to his famous polar bear speech ten years ago, and shows several moving, non-polar bear images and stats that ultimately convince me that economics is a more powerful force than the entire green lobby combined.  When it is cheaper to use solar or wind than to burn coal, our usage flips, but for most people, environmentally friendly change, like organic eating, is a luxury until then.  We are reaching that point…

Five other speakers or performers talk or sing about genetic modification, locally sourced architecture, guns (the least popular talk locally), slavery, and world hunger.  I can’t help but think about the pitch we will make next month in San Francisco at the Imagine Cup finals, and come up with language even more powerful than what we used for the semi-finals video.

I also renew plans to attend TED in person in the next two to five years.  (Tickets are currently $7,500 to $15,000.)  I have more than a little to bring to the conversation.  Before the main event, I will attend TEDxBYU this March in Provo (tickets go on sale February 24 at 10 am.)

Thursday, February 18, 2016.

I work on the investor facing website during most of class and make sure everyone submits their information to Microsoft so we can get plane tickets to the Imagine Cup Finals.  Everyone seems pleased at the language I came up with for our pitch.  Sometimes a simple insight does more to shape a game than a hundred page design document!