Posts Tagged ‘business’

I’ve been winding down some things relating to Textfyre and have talked with a few people about when exactly I should officially close it. There are some legal and accounting hurdles to overcome and those will take time. I separated my consulting practice from it so that’s no longer a concern.

So it looks like Textfyre will “survive” for another year. I’m not exactly sure what it will do, if anything, but I’m working on IF projects that may or may not fall under the Textfyre banner at some point. But most of my IF endeavors are open source and freely available.

These include:

  • Completing the game Reflections. This is not going to be open source, but it will be free. It’s likely going to be a non-competition release in a non-standard web-based user interface.
  • A friend of mine is adapting Quixe so that it can run FyreVM games. Once this is completed, I’m going to finish up a toolkit for building custom web applications for parser based IF. This is similar to Vorple by Juhana Leinonen, but because the IO model is significantly different, the tooling will be different.
  • These new tools will be similar to Ionic/Angular in that you can use a command line to quickly create an IF app from a template. I plan to have several templates ready on first release and these templates should be relatively easy to modify if you know HTML and possibly a little JavaScript.
  • A web application version of the Inform 7 IDE. I’ve only mucked around with this so far, but it’s something I want to spend time on in the next year or two.
  • A web-based IF hub for educational content. I’ve actually already built several versions of this for Textfyre, but will build a new one in the next couple of years and release it for public sharing of educational content. I think this is a really important platform to build and share.

Textfyre plans:

  • I’m still trying to figure out how to get Empath’s Gift completed. I need an I7 programmer to own it. Paul and Chris are happy to help with additional writing and testing. I’m willing to pay a reasonable fee to see this happen.
  • I have a unique touch-based UI for Shadow about 70% completed testing. This is on me to finish and release, whether it’s a success or not. At this point, I’ll probably release it for free just to get feedback on the UI concepts and share ideas with the community.

Feel free to share your thoughts about Textfyre’s future.


I’ve been avoiding talking about the behind the scenes aspects of developing Textfyre because it hasn’t gone all that smoothly. It’s been a struggle almost from the beginning and I’m now going to share some of the things that have held us back.

I’ve been married for a little over 12 years now. My wife and I have five awesome kids. One of the things that developed over time in my relationship with Irene was that she decided she didn’t like the ups and downs of consulting. I’ve been independent on and off and also worked at several consulting firms during our marriage and either the hours or the stress of finding “the next client” always caused her enormous anxiety. I admit, the lifestyle is not for everyone.

Some people argue that when you have kids, you shouldn’t take any risks. Some people think that you live your life and your kids learn from that. These aren’t necessarily competing priorities if both parents share the same philosophy, but when you don’t, success is very difficult. Something has to give.

There are other, personal aspects to my marital difficulties, but the fundamental difference is choice in lifestyle. After twelve years of never really figuring out how to accommodate each other, my wife and I are divorcing. The discussion started well before Textfyre was created. Then the legal divorce process started in July of 2008. It’s mostly amicable and we’re sharing the kids jointly and will live close to each other.

In working through the divorce, the economy tanked. Up until March of last year, I was making a considerable amount of consulting income. Enough to take care of personal finances and significantly fund Textfyre and incur no debt outside of a mortgage and a couple of car payments. The economic downturn strangled the investor pool that drove my client, OneDegree.Com, out of business. After that, I couldn’t find work from April through mid-December. It was financially devastating to say the least. There were some very close calls keeping the servers up at times.

Through all of this turmoil, I have managed to keep Textfyre afloat, although certainly not at any pace or direction that I originally planned. A few people have switched gears to leave the work as a lower priority, which is understandable. Some people understand that in any start-up there are “hard times” and are willing to push through. Some people just have to get paid every week or every invoice to keep working. I can’t fault anyone for doing what’s in their own best interests. I very much appreciate everyone that has worked on Textfyre’s development whether they continue to do so or not.

Now the good news. We’re not going anywhere. We’ve struggled to make it this far and we’re very close to doing some amazing things. The iPhone, iPod, and native OS X versions of games are around the corner. The third game is nearing beta and a fourth series is now in the design phase.

I’ve made a personal commitment to help do outreach for the larger hobbyist community because through that process I actually learn how to do my job as owner of Textfyre better. I still learn new things about IF all the time, about how its perceived, about how to develop it, what works and what doesn’t. This is really a never-ending learning process.

As of June 15th I will be divorced and my personal financial situation will both improve and degrade at the same time. I won’t be able to take some of the risks I’ve taken in the past, but I will be able to support and direct Textfyre better than I have in the last two years.

By the way, If anyone’s thinking that Textfyre caused my divorce, that’s silly. Textfyre was a result of knowing that I was going to be divorced.

I don’t plan to share personal information often, if ever again. I just thought that those reading this blog should understand how divorce and the economy can impact a start-up business.