If you’re both the entrepreneurial type and the game developer type, then Tom Ketola is your guy. Tom and I were brothers-in-arms at Wideload Games, where we shared a love of profanity, terrible fashion sense, and a complete disregard for status quos. Tom’s career includes stints at Activision, Jaleco, Konami, and Midway. And that’s just his career in the games industry. He’s also been involved in a number of start-ups, and seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of contracts. After reading my post about conversations for studio co-founders, Tom had a, shall we say, voluminous round of comments on the nuances of shares, acceleration, and vesting. Rather than abandoning me to badly interpret his thoughts, he took pity and offered to share his experience with all of you. I leave you in his capable, knowing, manly hands. Enjoy!
Managing any long-term project is already hard enough. Throw founder conflict gasoline onto that blaze and hoo-boy. It’s impossible to effectively manage production if the studio owners are infighting, politicking, and not working as a cohesive unit. Disagreements and arguments are fine, even healthy. But if the studio owners don’t have a shared vision, the path ahead will be littered with bad blood and tears. If you’re thinking about or are in the process of starting a video game company, taking some time to ask tough questions up front can save a lot of heartache.