Pretty much every day I get emails and messages from people asking why there isn’t a new Cricket Coach game out. This blog post will explain why.
Since 2006 I have been releasing versions of Cricket Coach on the Internet and sales have increased with each new edition. The game has improved immensely since CC2006 and I have many ideas for future enhancements.
I don’t have a “real” job. Cricket Coach has paid my rent and bought me food for many years and continues to do so. However, around late 2012 though I realised that I was going to find myself with a dilemma. I have always prided myself on the fact that Cricket Coach was only released every couple of years, and that I would never succumb to releasing ‘data updates’ and marketing them as new games, like a certain other cricket game has been accused of doing in the past.
This meant that each new version of Cricket Coach had some significant improvements that had taken a long time to complete. With each new version came more ideas, and critically, *every new idea took the game to a new level of complexity*. By this I mean that in 2007 I could add a significant new feature and it might take a week to add, and it would change the game a lot. Fast forward to 2015 and a new feature that is significant enough to be appealing might take 3 months to complete due to the complexity of the game code.
The problem that arose was that with every new epic idea that could take 3 months to complete, the risk that I could totally screw it up and delay the game by a year grew. When you’re relying on a single project to pay your rent and feed you, a delay of a year isn’t something to take lightly.
On the other hand though, I’ve been genuinely so excited about some of the ideas for future Cricket Coach games and would love to add them. One example is audio commentary similar to that what you hear on the BBC’s Test Match Special. I have the knowhow to generate realistic sounding commentary in text, which I could then program the game to read out using text-to-speech technology. Okay so the voice might not quite sound like Aggers, but I really think it could absolutely brilliant to have that as an option.
To add a feature like that though would take a long time, as I write all the code myself. It’s the sort of new feature that could massively delay the game and cause me a minor financial disaster if I wasted 6 months trying to create it and it still wasn’t usable. From a ‘business point of view’, it’s extremely risky to add these epic new features.
When it comes to Cricket Coach though I hate talking like that, about what is right for ‘the business’, I would much prefer to see it as a labour of love. I don’t want to limit the scope of the game because it makes sense to do so from a business perspective, I would much prefer to ‘go nuts’ and add a huge amount of revolutionary features.
So what’s the solution?
I decided in late 2012 that the solution was to diversify a little. If I had more than one income source then I could afford to ‘gamble’ a little with the Cricket Coach project and it not be the end of the world. I would have the freedom to add big new features that may or may not be popular and could take a long time to finish, without worrying that it would result in years of low sales while people waited for the new version to come out.
Just over 2 years later I can report that I have successfully written a new piece of software based on an idea which my brother had. We have taken it to market and successfully sold to a variety of companies. The income from this new venture is now fairly stable meaning that if I was to totally screw up the Cricket Coach side of things, I wouldn’t end up living on the streets!
With more than one income source, I find myself in the position where I can think a little more exotically when it comes to new Cricket Coach features. I can dream up massive new features and spend a long time creating them.
This other project is called Glide and you can read all about it at www.whatsglide.com. I wrote the entire project from scratch, and created the website and backend server system. My brother is trained in that particular industry and so is the one responsible for selling the system. This is good news, as I can spend my time developing Cricket Coach rather than trying to sell business software!
Going forward I will be writing these blogs at regular intervals. I have wanted to get into the habit of doing this for a long time, but always preferred to actually be coding. It was only when a fan of the game queried whether I was still alive and working on the game that I realised I should probably provide more feedback!