Elega Corp November 2018 Update
Taking a quick break from editing audio on Project Edu 5, the 5th Pluralsight course from me as an author, to write this update. The pace has been pretty furious and admittedly it slowed down a bit into October after getting Salesforce Sharing and Security Fundamentals out. The sharing and security course really took it out of me even though it was produced, by all accounts of the number of hours spent, pretty efficiently.
A while back, I hired Jacob Ahlbrand AKA indiejacob to assist with audio/video editing and graphic design. Well, his YouTube channel has seen quite a lot of success recently when he was featured as a Gaming Creator on the Rise and appeared on YouTube's Trending tab. I think from there it goes without saying that he has not been doing as much Elega Corp work.
So, that leaves us with really just finishing out 2018 to the best of our possible ability. Overall, 2018 has been a successful year. And since the remaining time available will be a lot of crunching, I figure now is a good time to do a year end review of everything we have accomplished this year and so far.
Comparing to 2017
Last year, Elega Corp put 414 hours on the clock, and a large chunk of that time was split between the first and second Pluralsight course. Another large chunk was work on RevelationRTS - the real-time strategy game framework being created for the Unity game engine, and Age of Nomads: the content layer to what was going to go on top of RevelationRTS. This year, those hours were easily surpassed and thanks to no event similar to Hurricane Harvey coming along to wreak havoc on personal and company property there is a boost year over year for total number of hours worked.
More than that, the need for working these additional hours has exploded with the additional activity that has resulted from the first few products that Elega Corp has produced. It might seem trivial but having maintenance needs for even the 4 different courses that exist now has presented a new challenge in thinking about having efficient systems for managing workload over last year.
2017 was such an important year. Literally, the company started at zero, sold a single t-shirt, and then earned revenue off the very first course. It doesn't sound like a lot but there were so many other foundational things going on. Relationships were being formed, the coding on RevelationRTS will potentially prove valuable in the future, and the work on the second course allowed 2018 to start off with a boost. The Elega Corp dashboard was built out to help track social media growth, and this will be expanded on in the future.
This year, 3 new courses were released and another one is now in progress. RevelationRTS and Age of Nomads are both on the shelf with plans to return to them later. The Elega Corp blog launched and work began on implementing a user authentication system here (which you should see later on once it's ready). Project Papa also began in earnest with some number of hours put into it, although no details can yet be announced. All in all, this is not the exciting story that people like to read about regarding a runaway indie success.
I won't be running off to buy a mansion (not that I would want to) or a Tesla (would be awesome) anytime too soon. But the important part is that 2018 was a year in which I began to understand the rhythm of the company. Creating new courses is hopefully a very regular part of operating now, and it works. Age of Nomads is nearly to alpha and it will be primed for when I can finally return to the project to pour in new hours. Between Age of Nomads and Project Papa: I am hoping that I'll be able to hit the market with two products within a short period of time.
While I cannot discuss revenue numbers specifically, I can say with great satisfaction that revenue grew by about 400% year over year, which is not saying a lot given there has yet to be a baseline of a product catalogue that is all that meaningful. Within a grand 5 to 10 year plan or something similar: there is still a long way to go.
2019 (And Beyond?)
January 7th, 2019 is a target date for when an announcement can be made about what Project Papa actually is, although do not take that date as being set in stone. It originally was an uncertain date for December and it could very well move up or slide outward depending on what happens in the next few weeks. There is a lot of careful effort going into this announcement, and I am expecting it to bring a new dimension to Elega Corp as a company name.
The original goal for 2018 was to produce 5 courses within the year and unfortunately this might have been overly ambitious. Of course, it is not all about the pure number of courses produced: Salesforce Sharing and Security was a record running time for me to handle and each course requires a new special effort to give it the energy and care that it needs. The hands-on exercises are also very important to the educational experience and I try to do examples that have a lot of relevance to the real world.
To adjust expectations, I am hoping that I can repeat the same number of courses produced in 2019 while ramping up hours on Project Papa. If I am extremely lucky, Age of Nomads will also pick back up sometime this next year but the image for that happening is currently very, very fuzzy (and unlikely).
Product Ideas and Research
I've been personally focusing on getting additional Salesforce certifications in between creating courses while keeping up with the Unity engine and learning bits and pieces about C++. From a game development perspective, my plan is to transition from super ambitious projects like Age of Nomads to scale way, way down. To do this, my long term skill path is aimed toward using C++ and the Godot Engine in preference over Unity. And really, the Godot Engine is there to handle small nuts and bolts but eventually it too may be done away with for these smaller scale initiatives. Still, one step at a time, and Godot has demonstrated that it is capable of offering enough to make the proposition worthwhile.
A few people have expressed bewilderment at my decision to switch engines after being a Unity guy for a few years now. To be clear, Unity is still my engine of choice for some of my larger scale projects and probably any project that would require wicked nice 3D graphics. Yes, Unity for wicked nice graphics is a thing. From a business perspective, it would probably be ugly and backwards to take the time to write my own rendering engine, or even hire a team to do so. All that being said, I will never say never, but as of now: the plan is to leverage existing tech instead.
What might these smaller scale projects be in the future? Oh, all kinds of things, most of which would be 2D. Perhaps card games, board games, strategy games, city simulators, puzzle games, and many other possible genres. The primary motivation for pursuing the newer skillset that goes deeper into the machine in terms of coding and switching to an open-source game engine with the likes of Godot is to a) be able to produce game projects within a shorter period of time, b) to remove reliance on outside technologies that could go upside down at the whim of any market collapse, and c) keep more of the revenue earned off of a game instead of having to shell out another small percentage on top of what some game storefronts already take (like Steam getting a 30% cut).
In addition to ideas from a technology perspective, I think it could be argued that the company is also actively involved in the production of media. Documentary video series, writing a book, creating music - these are all possibilities as well but admittedly I have not explored them anywhere near seriously. Little bits and pieces have been written down for these without any major, cohesive concepts forming on paper.
Creating merchandise is something I have been interested in for a long time as well but the prospects there do not look terribly likely. It will make a lot more sense to do as the community around the company grows a bit larger, and some new products emerge (especially games) where merch just makes a lot more sense.
Of course, all of this is subject to change! Talking about any of it may be entirely pointless, as some of what I am describing here may not come to fruition in any meaningful way for up to another 2 to 5 years from now. The point of describing it all, I guess, is that research and development is happening even when it is just me running for the gold all by my lonesome.
I do not anticipate writing an update post for December because there is a lot of work to do. Because you will not likely hear from me during that time, I can leave you with the effort underway on Project Papa - I hope that you have a great surprise to look forward to there. I am hoping to shock and amaze as much as possible, and I know that it will not be easy.
Thank you so much for reading and taking an interest in what we are doing here. The efforts in education have had a profound impact on me from the standpoint of the difference they are making in others' lives. Learners have been getting certifications, creating cool things, and transforming their quality of life with knowledge. It is surreal seeing that our efforts here were a part of that.
I hope you will join me when I write a similar post here in 2019. Talk to you soon!