A brief history of Frienzzle

The idea of writing games is almost as old as my adventure with computers, but only recently I started turning it into reality. This article is a brief history of a jigsaw puzzle game called Frienzzle that will soon be published by the company that I co-founded, Bulletcode.

The idea

We kept working on the platformer game, until one day I read an article about the tech stack used by Trello. That’s how I discovered Node.js and socket.io, the foundation of real-time communication for web browsers. I always liked how you could drag a card in Trello and everyone else could immediately see that in their browsers. And then it downed on me: we could create a multi-player online game, where people could play jigsaw puzzle together, moving the puzzles around in real time.

The prototype

I started learning Node.js and socket.io by writing the classic chat application; later the chat became part of Frienzzle. Then I started working on the new multi-player prototype. I tested it with my friends and I was thrilled when I saw puzzles moving smoothly in real-time.

First multi-player prototype of the game

A few days later we were brainstorming with Łukasz, discussing the idea of creating games as a sort of creative outlet. We were also looking for a name and I came up with Frienzzle. The next day we purchased the frienzzle.com domain and Łukasz designed a logo for the game.

The Frienzzle logo

The hard reality

I didn’t want to divide our attention, but deep inside I always felt regret that we spent so much effort on building this game and we never finished it. I knew it had potential. I also knew it was a chance for us to learn something. I struggled with this for a long time, until a few days I read an excellent book “Learning to Launch” by Fred Rivett and Mike Gatward. It helped me decide that we should finish what we have started and finally launch Frienzzle.

“Just ship something. It doesn’t matter if it gets seen by thousands, whether the press write about it, heck it doesn’t even matter if anyone uses it. Step 1 is launch. Until you’ve done that, launching should be your only focus.” — Learning to Launch, Fred Rivett and Mike Gatward

Okay, but what about all the other projects that we’re already working on? Isn’t it better to just focus on one thing at a time?

The problem is that when you focus on one thing for too long, your focus tends to blur away and the chances that you’re going to finish the project rapidly decrease. It’s better to work on smaller projects that can be finished in a month or two, then switch your focus to something else. This way, in the long term, you will be able to complete more projects, you will learn more and there is a greater chance that one of the projects will eventually succeed. On the other hand, if you only focus on succeeding, you will just keep moving in circles.

“If you’re looking for how to be successful, you’re going about it all wrong. You’re doing it for the wrong reasons. And you’ll continuously be left searching for the next patch of land to find gold.” — Benjamin P. Hardy

The commitment

I will continually report our progress in this blog, but if you’re curious about the game and you don’t want to miss the launch date, you can go to frienzzle.com and subscribe. We will send you an invitation as soon as the game is ready for public beta testing.

Author of open source projects at www.mimec.org, technical writer, co-founder of www.bulletcode.com

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