I’m going to ask you a question at the end of this post so just hold on and go through my random rambling if you don’t mind.

Today it was announced that Dextrose has been acquired by Zynga, the standout leader in mindless social gaming as it’s said on the website (or something like it). Since I saw the first demo of the Avec engine from Dextrose I have been following closely the progress made about it. Not much because I thought they built something revolutionary but simply because I thought it was about to become the first platform to build games based on an “almost” standard which is what any browser can handle without any plugin.

In case you are not aware I used similar tech to build an MMO. At first it was just a matter of using what I already knew but it then became some kind of “mini quest” to prove that the web didn’t need any proprietary gimmick to offer games. We’re not quite there yet (JavaScript engines are still far from acceptable performances… even Google is) but I thought (and still think to some degree) that one day we’ll be able to drop Flash, Unity and all those “I claim I am a web game even if I ask you to download an obscur plugin that has nothing to do with any web technology” things. NO, Wizard 101 ISN’T a web game… sigh…

Anyway… When I saw what Dextrose was developing I thought we were “getting there”. Small steps but getting there. From a programmer point of view what they “seem” to have achieve is quite interesting (we only saw videos so far but the guys behind it are what I would consider believable). Maybe not interesting enough to take over the world but still. I was somehow expecting some kind of framework that developers could pay for to develop their own game. I have no idea if this would have been a successful way of keeping a business alive (after recent events I guess not) but from someone with my background and interest it was really exciting.

Well now Dextrose is part of the Zynga family. That means that at best it will remain some kind of in-house tool that will be used to develop games that are targeted at the “non-gamer crowd”. You know… those people who weren’t playing games before Facebook and MySpace came in…

Of course that’s great for Dextrose! They probably made some interesting money out of this deal and honestly they probably needed such deal to keep on. So much for that interesting work though. But how could I tell these guys they shouldn’t have accepted that deal. I guess I would have made the same thing. Or would I?…

Some people are building business just in the hope that one day they will be bought by something bigger. That’s one way to make a living. Some try to make something nice but in the end lack something to really make something out of it so they end up being swallowed by that big corporation. In the end we all need money and often we end up closing our eyes on some issues we might have (in our distorted minds) and accept the money just to get a bit higher (in some case to not lose our home…). Money wins. It often do. The work doesn’t matter anymore… money needs to get in our pocket. From my point of view that’s exactly what happened to Dextrose recently.

So for me the tiny indie game dev that have been following Dextrose progress for some time it’s just like someone had a good laugh at me for some time. What’s my interest of knowing that some big corporation doing games I think are stupids (that’s honestly what I think, don’t waste your time telling me I’m wrong) ended up buying a company I thought was doing amazing work? I’m not some kind of disturbed fanboy. What do I care of company X pulling out Y success. That wasn’t how the whole thing was sold to me in the first place. Why not blatantly say right away “we are just looking to have someone to buy us and we don’t care about building something on our own and see it grow”.

But like I said money… Blame it on money. We all do. Me included I guess? And can we really be upset about this? If it’s going nowhere… are we ready to completely crash to the ground just to not “sell our souls to mindless corporations”?. Maybe that depends on what your priorities are or what are your main motivations? I don’t believe in “black or white”. There’s always some gray in there…

The same happened to Metaplace. I was a big fan of Raph Koster mainly because of all the awesome things posted on his blog (sadly the content has been quite poor for the past few months) and his work on SWG even if it never became what it could have been. For some time I almost thought of building Golemizer around Metaplace but went my own way because they still were in alpha stage at the time. Metaplace didn’t have the success required to survive to they went to Facebook games and then were bought by Playdom. From my point of view of being nobody of importance that’s a really sad story. But who am I to ask someone to go into bankrupt just to keep his ideas alive. Money is required and money they got. I will not ask someone to put his financial health to risk just to do something nice even though I think the whole thing is still sad. Oh they made money yes… that still seems awfully far from what I was inspired to be interested in…

But Dave… what if Disney was to offer you a couple of millions for the Golemizer IP?… It happened before to some fellow canadians… I guess I would suck it up and sell the whole thing. I’m not better than anyone else. I guess I wouldn’t care about Disney messing up with the IP and destroying what current players like about the game because I would have become “a guy that doesn’t have to care about the money in his bank account to pay his mortgage”.

Still… I denied such offer in the past on a much smaller case. And believe me or not (seriously if you don’t believe me why are you reading this blog at all in the first place…) it wasn’t related to the amount of money I could pull from this. I have been working at the same place for 10 years now, a small company, and have been offered to become a “boss” many times. That means higher salary, shares in the company and of course more responsability. Well now that I’m looking at a way to leave my job to become a full-time indie game dev it would have been a gift from heaven to be able to get money out of shares from this company right now. I didn’t. I didn’t because I had no damn interest whatsoever in this. Sure it was appealing to a young worker in his twenties and today I would be damn happy to get that money while I’m trying to move on to something else but I didn’t. Money WASN’T a factor. My INTEREST was. I knew at a very early age at what I was good at and what I could handle and what I couldn’t. The money was right there under my nose (we’re not talking about millions here but still something that could have made a nice difference about my home, my stupid car and stupid end of the line computer) but I said “no”. A polite no. But a “no” anyway.

So money often wins because we get to a point where we think “I had enough I want my cake”. There’s nothing wrong in this. My question I promised you though is did you ever turned back from an opportunity you were not comfortable with even though it would have been a nice financial opportunity? Did you say no to money just to keep to what you believed in or what you were passionate about? I know that sometimes we have to take the money and shut our mouth but also sometimes we can take the decision to just say “no” and stick to what we like.

So that’s my question. I’m not interested to know about times where you had to take the money. I know about these times. I’m just interested here about those times where you decided (or could afford…) that money wouldn’t come first.

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