This husband and wife team are out to earn a living from the indie dream

Start-Up Spotlight: 2P Games

The importance of education to future career prospects cannot be understated. But to land a job in a competitive field you also need determination.

Pawel Pieciak demonstrates that with his independent company, 2P Games, as well as his path into the UK games industry.

Pieciak grew up in Poland, where he studied an electronics degree because “there was no ‘serious’ games industry in Poland.” This self-taught programmer wrote two books on the subject before moving to the UK, where he managed to land a job with Blitz Games.

From his home in Leamington Spa he’s started 2P Games along with wife Julie – his confidence and critical friend when it comes to testing.

How did you start your company?
My first job [in the UK] was as an electronics engineer, but that was just a temporary job to keep food on a table. I left it to focus on preparing a game demo as a showcase for my future employer. I just believed in myself and my abilities plus money that I’ve saved from previous job was running out so this was another motivational factor. One of the companies [Blitz Games Studios] liked my demo, invited me to an interview and then hired me. I worked for them nearly four years and left to forge my own path, to make my own mark in the games industry. Together with my wife we’ve founded 2P Games.

How many people work at your company?
There are two of us at the moment working full-time – partners in life and business. I take care of games development, publishing, marketing, etc. Julia, my wife, takes care of business administration. The operation is small but we are thinking to expand in the future.

What’s your company culture like?
Since I’m the only developer I have a full control over the project and what goes into it and I absolutely love that freedom. There are times when I have to fight off some ‘feature creep’ or ‘gold plating’ moments, but so far I’m winning these battles. I have to thank my wife for that – when I say I want to add feature X, she always brings me back to Earth saying: “You’re never going to finish this game if you’ll keep adding stuff all the time,” and most of the time she’s right.

Five days a week I work for very long hours (sometimes even 16+) and I could say that I’m very productive. I think that’s because of how I organize my work – instead of having huge, scary list of things to do I pick just a few tasks that I know I could complete in a day and work on them. At the end of the day I check what was completed and if something wasn’t I know that I have to take less work for the next time. Saturday and Sunday are reserved for my family, so I don’t do any work. Working from home has its advantages and disadvantages. One the one side you spent more time with your family, on the other side there are many distractions during the day that you just have to say a definite “no” to.

Tell us a little-known fact or anecdote about your company.
No one probably knows about ‘2P Games’ logo and its genesis. Why I picked white and red colours and what 2P means. Colours: These are the same colours that appear on my country’s flag. 2P has got a few meanings: Pawel Pieciak, Pieciak & Pieciak or Pure Play. I came up with its shape by an accident – I spilled some tea on a piece of paper and the sign revealed itself to me – spooky stuff.

What could you, and/or your team members, not do without on a daily basis?
Computers and all the tools that allow me to produce bug-free code. I just can’t imagine life without XCode or MS Visual Studio.

Being on the subject, I also have to give credit to all brilliant people behind web portals that are providing news and information without which I could not track current trends, read about new marketing strategies or promote my brand and products.

Why did you decide to enter the casual gaming market?
The birth of mobile platforms like iPhone, iPad, Android and WP7 opened doors to many casual gamers who maybe wanted to play games but the idea of using a computer to do it scared them off. Availability is the key and because of the platforms mentioned earlier games are now available to everyone, anytime. Non-gamers have transformed into casual gamers making this market even bigger.

There’s a huge potential there and casual game developers are facing new challenges of creating something simple as well as appealing. Forget 3D graphics with shaders, forget complicated controls; instead focus on pure gameplay and simple user interface. I always wanted to be challenged as well as make my own games from start to finish like in the old days. Thanks to the current market shift it’s possible again. It has come full circle and ‘bedroom coders’ are back. I’m proud to be one of them and I’m happy that I’ve grasped the opportunity and made my move.

What are you working on right now, and what stage is the project at?
I’m working on an iPhone/iPad game which is 40 per cent complete. I’m planning on releasing it in June 2011. It’s too soon to reveal more details or even a title, but what I can say is that it’s an adventure puzzle game which involves giant ice cubes. Sounds intriguing? Check out 2P Games website for some art.

What are your aspirations for the company?
I want to keep it small and produce great and very polished games. I would like to work with bunch of talented people where I can generously reward them for their hard work. I think that being employed by a small company gives that person much more significant and unique role as a bigger gear in the whole machine. People want recognition and appreciation for the work they are doing. Knowing that you are John Smith – person responsible for whole or half of game’s code – is better than being programmer #354 from the 3rd floor who has written five lines of code and the rest is programmer #320’s code, copied from a previous project.

The other thing is that I always want to be actively involved in the game development process. I don’t want to be a big boss who only calls the shots. The only way to get that “this is my baby and I’m proud of it” type of feeling is to actively contribute towards your project.

Who do you admire in the games industry and/or beyond?
In the games industry that would have to be my ex-bosses, Andrew and Philip Oliver from Blitz Games Studios. They’re very passionate about games and they are one of the pioneers of the games industry. They are always actively involved in the industry and are supporting small studios with great initiatives like Blitz1Up or IndieCity. I would like to be as successful as them in the future.

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