I am not a “gamer,” per se. The only system I use is a Sega Genesis, and that is about once a year for nostalgia’s sake. I hate all the game apps on Facebook that people are constantly sending me requests for (no I won’t help you build your cookie aquarium that’s been attacked my mobsters); things like World of Warcraft are entirely and utterly lost on me – I’m more of a Scrabble or Trivial Pursuit kind of gal. That being said, I like some old school video games and a few on my phone. So clearly, I am not a “gaming” expert, so why would I think to give you an interview with an up-and-coming game designer? Well, it’s definitely not so I can show off the breadth of my knowledge (I had trouble playing Donkey Kong…the old one)
Have you ever met or known a person that was into something or worked in a field that was just totally the opposite of you – maybe you’re an artist and you met someone that made the world of investing suddenly interesting, or you’re an accountant whose best friend inspires you with her pottery – so maybe you’re not always sure what they’re talking about (from grace periods to glazes) but you know that whatever it is, they will make it brilliant? Well, that’s how I feel about Tim and Master Cosmo Solutions. I know jack about gaming, admittedly – programming, coding, even the design portion baffles me. So I don’t know this Jack fellow, but I do know Tim (sorry, bad joke). I’ve known Tim f0r probably about 15 years (holy crap!) and he is is kind and fabulous, incredibly witty, and just a tad nerdy. Despite the fact that I’m way right-brained, and Tim is much more on the super-organized, analytical, left-brained side – he is really creative, very intelligent, and terribly clever. So if I asked Tim to explain to me the particulars of game-design, I guarantee my eyes would glaze over and I would be lost, but from what I know about him and how long I’ve known him, I know that whatever he cooks up will be terrific.
I wish I had a better intro – one more fitting of Tim and the good things he is creating – but I promise, I wouldn’t do them justice – Tim does a much better job.
So without further ado, dear readers, meet Tim; Tim, meet my fabulous readers
Where did the idea for MCS come from?
I am a huge dreamer and always have been. When I was younger, I wanted to be everything from an actor, to a musician, to the Phantom of the Opera, to an inventor, to a business owner, to a video game developer… The list of things I didn’t want to be is actually smaller. For the past two years, I have really focused on the mobile industry. Mobile gaming is almost like the California Gold Rush of today. It is absolutely flooded with copycat games and useless apps all looking to make a few bucks. Many have failed, while some have made billions. I feel that the ideas I have for mobile gaming will stand out from the crowd because of my focus on the user experience, social media, and a unique gameplay design. Instead of trying to sell my ideas to other companies, I have this opportunity to live my entrepreneurial dream and really give this an honest shot.
Where did the name come from?
MasterCosmo is a nickname I acquired while playing the now deceased MMO game Star Wars Galaxies (RIP). In 2003, my brother started an account when the game launched and chose the forum name “MasterCosmo.” Knowing him, I can only assume the “Master” is related to Star Wars and “Cosmo” refers to the one and only Kramer from “Seinfeld”. We were sharing this account for a while and I eventually took it over completely. When people say they are obsessed with something, I don’t think most could hold a candle to how I was with Star Wars Galaxies. I spent countless hours in not only playing, but analyzing the game and trying to come up with the algorithms the developers used in their various mechanics. I made numerous posts on their community forums with graphs and charts of my calculations and worked to discover bugs and areas of improvement. The gamer world knew me as MasterCosmo, so I embraced this name.
Now that Star Wars Galaxies is gone, I wanted to carry it on with me somehow in my venture to create my own gaming company, because it was so instrumental to my passion for the gaming industry. I knew I wanted MasterCosmo to be in my business name somehow, but it needed more. I ended up with MasterCosmo Solutions, because the games I will create are more than just something you play, they give you a whole new way to interact with the world.
Can you explain MCS – where is it at now and where is it going eventually?
MasterCosmo Solutions is an indie startup venture consisting of a massive team of: myself and the newly added graphic extraordinaire, Ben Cloutier. Our first game, Aera, is going to be our prototype to explore the market, see what we can and cannot do, and learn from that experience. If I feel the mobile industry is right for our ideas, I plan to grow the business with a team of developers and artists from the Metro Detroit area. I really want to create a company that could ultimately give back to the community in the form of jobs, community fun, and involvement. I think that Michigan’s resurgence is going to come from Generation Y’s commitment to change the status quo. I just want to be a part of that.
What are you most proud of about your business and why?
Being my business is so young, I am most proud of the support I have from friends and family from all over the world. It is going to take some time before my first game hits the marketplace, but it is going to be so much easier with everyone supporting me. I have received a lot of valuable feedback and it has helped me shape my approach and gameplay. I think it is important for all indie businesses to approach their friends and family with their ideas and to get as much feedback as you can from all walks of life. You may even find the smallest detail could be a complete game changer to what you are trying to do with your business.
What is the best part about being indie? The most difficult?
The best part to me is having the freedom to proceed at my own schedule and develop what my business is as I go. I have gone back and modified my business plan 5 times in the last year and modified my mission a few times as well. It is best to really get to the bottom of what you are trying to accomplish before getting too far into the process. I also love being able to use my own imagination and creativity in the work that I am doing. It gives me a great sense of accomplishment showing my progress to others and being proud of what I’m doing. It’s doing what you love, and there is nothing better than that!
The difficult side of a startup is the great unknown. There is a lot of legal documentation I need to wrap my head around, ways to protect myself and my ideas, and of course the money side of the business. It’s easy to think up a ton of ideas, but creating them costs money, and every startup and indie knows how difficult it can be when you’re staring at a $0 budget. What I learned from this is to never let money stop you from living your dream. If you are determined, you will be able to find a way.
What do you know now that you wish you had known when you started?
For me, I was worrying way too much about the business end of things and not focusing enough attention on my product. Yes the business part is extremely important, but I lost a lot of valuable time which I could have spent developing my concept more. There are a million people out there that have experience starting their own business, but only you know exactly what you want to bring to the world in the form of your business.
Tell us something about your business or product that people may not know.
The first game that I will be launching is called Aera. It is a mobile game that will allow you to collect, train, and adventure the world with creatures called Aeri. These Aeri will also be able to battle against friends and others. I will be rolling out a lot more game mechanics as I go, but I expect to have a working demo version of this game by December of 2012. I’m always looking for interested mobile gamers out there for beta testers
What is a business or product that really inspires you and why?
Some of the businesses that I have been following lately are local Detroit tech startups such as DetroitLabs and a business accelerator, Bizdom. Both are newly established and are bringing a fresh approach to their respective markets. Seeing all the passionate entrepreneurs at the Bizdom events is a very refreshing experience. There are a few non-profits I’ve been following as well such as The Youth Entrepreneur Council and The Collaborative Group. The YEC has a ton of great content for entrepreneurs and are especially active in finding ways to help the Gen Y entrepreneurs break out of the student loan trap and pursue their dreams of starting their own business. The Collaborative Group formed an initiative to bring a lot of young talent to Detroit and build their skills to help them launch future businesses in Detroit. I recommend everyone interested in entrepreneurship and the evolution of Detroit to check out Challenge Detroit.
What is coming soon for Master Cosmo Solutions?
As I continue to develop my game, I’m also preparing to launch a crowd-funding campaign to raise some funds to help me pay for a lot of the license fees. These things really add up! I will be launching my campaign on Kickstarter and I am hoping to generate enough from pledges to give my project that “kick start” I need to take it to the next step.
And since I’m sure you now love Tim too – for more information on his business, game, and Kickstarter, make sure to check out the Facebook page and the MCS webpage (complete with blog)! (Don’t forget to check out the Indie Maven Facebook page, too!)
Thanks for stopping by and I will see you next week