empowerthyself at gmail.com
Sat Jan 18 04:44:17 UTC 2014
It pains me that you think ill of me because I highly respect you, your
book, your work teaching programming, and your contributions to
Noisebridge. (The lockers you added recently are amazing.)
I do think your view of me and my work is based on incomplete
and inaccurate reports by journalists, online critics and disappointed team
As bleak as the picture they paint of me and Code Hero may seem, it is not
the whole story.
I know you've posted negative remarks about me online in the past and I
regret not speaking to you previously.
I've responded to backer concerns already, but as a fellow Noisebridge
community member bringing this up on the mailing list your concerns deserve
an answer here.
I would like to take this opportunity to clear a few things up.
I'd also like to speak to you in person so you can express whatever
concerns you have with me and we can address them.
I started Code Hero to make a game that teaches people programming. I was
inexperienced at the outset and made a lot of mistakes along the way.
I overreached on the design and tried to do more than our Kickstarter
budget allowed for, our team ran out of funding and we all suffered because
I didn't update Kickstarter backers often enough and I upset a lot of
people who felt betrayed because they thought I had abandoned the project
I've never stopped working on Code Hero and it has come a long way closer
to completion since then.
I apologized to everyone who was hurt by my miscommunication about our
I promised to deliver what people were owed and I continue working with the
development team to achieve that.
I apologized to David and everyone on the team who worked without pay at
the end of our funding and I do so again now for not being able to pay
folks until we first fulfill our obligations to the backers.
I apologize to you Al as a member of the Noisebridge community for the
negativity this cloud of disappointment has made you feel.
We're now working hard on the game and delivering backer T-shirt rewards.
You can try the latest beta at http://www.primerlabs.com (click Guest Mode
in-game) and let us know what you think.
For Al and whomever else wants to know more of the Code Hero's history:
I started Code Hero, a game that teaches Unity game programming.
I applied to YCombinator with a friend and we recruited a small team to
help build the prototype.
We got interviewed but didn't get accepted to YCombinator.
The team split up after that, as often happens with teams who are counting
on funding and don't get it.
I continued working on it for a year and raised a small amount of money to
I released a first alpha that taught the player enough to solve Portal-like
puzzle levels and beat FizzBoss.
The game showed enough promise that it was time to hire a team to work on
We raised $170K on Kickstarter with the help of many supporters.
We hired and paid most of the team to work on it full time. Some of us
already had jobs and worked on it part-time. David was one of those.
We worked together at IGN's Indie Open House incubator alongside other
indie game dev teams and learned a lot from them and other game dev mentors.
An investor offered to fund us beyond the Kickstarter and we worked with
them to set up the company for that to happen.
We were invited by Kickstarter to exhibit with them at PAX East and we
showed the second alpha there with a new orientation level.
We worked on it more to implement the rest of the game's introductory
levels and level editor gameplay mechanics.
We were invited to show the third alpha at PAX Prime in the Indie Megabooth.
What we showed was a big step forward but it was still buggy and incomplete
and there was a lot of work remaining.
At that point we were nearly out of funds and were counting on the investor
to fund us further.
While we were there, the investor withdrew their offer and we were faced
with a difficult financial situation:
If we continued working on it, there was no guarantee that we'd have the
money to get paid for it.
I paid some of the developers out of my own pocket at that point to keep
things going but without a funding source, the paid team stopped working at
the end of the month.
I and a few other volunteer programmers continued working on it and
released more alphas.
We made Kickstarter updates, but there were long delays between them and
Kickstarter backers got frustrated.
I tried to raise money to rehire team members to work on the project and I
continued working on it unpaid.
Then some frustrated Kickstarter backers made threats and shared their
complaints with journalists.
The writers spoke to some team members who were understandably disappointed
at not getting paid after the project ran out of funds before completion.
In our Kickstarter update, we apologized to backers for delays.
We vowed to fulfill backer rewards, to complete the game, to rebuild the
team, and to eventually refund backers and repay teammates including David
wages we couldn't pay when we ran out of funds.
I recruited a project coordinator who has helped organize our new team and
I did contract work to earn enough money to start producing Kickstarter
Since then, we've released Code Hero Beta 0.2 and we're preparing to print
and ship the t-shirts for backers.
You can download it at http://www.primerlabs.com and try it (just click
Guest Mode in-game).
We've got a long way to go still.
We've been rewriting the server backend, redesigning the alpha levels to
match the new beta level design style, and we welcome feedback and
suggestions to make it better.
There are still many critics who've interpreted our delays between updates
as proof that Code Hero is a scam, skeptics who think we can't finish the
game, and worried supporters who wonder if we can pull it off.
Despite all the mistakes, setbacks and criticism so far we're learning from
it and persevering to finish Code Hero.
We have a lot of enthusiasm to finish the game and teach people programming,
I am also dedicated to teaching Unity programming at Noisebridge and I'd
like to expand the number of teachers who can do that so it doesn't depend
on just me and whomever I can bring to help teach for the class to happen.
I've taught Gamebridge classes for over a year with a few breaks when
travel or work prevented me from being there, and lately I've been too busy
working on Code Hero to make it.
If anybody is interested in learning Unity programming and/or learning to
teach, I'll be expanding on the the teaching materials I've used for the
classes at Noisebridge, Hack The Future and other workshops and sharing
them in an organized spot with a mailing list for people who are teaching
and attending to notify each other of class plans.
I'd like to hold a teacher teaching class soon and I'll contact everyone
who contacts me with interest in participating.
I have not addressed every single concern or claim people have made here
because this is already too long for those dedicated enough to read it all.
However, I'll answer any questions people have via email or here.
Keep in mind that there are some made-up claims out there like people
saying I flew to Amsterdam with Kickstarter funds.
In reality, I was paid including flight and expenses to teach a programming
workshop in Amsterdam. No Kickstarter money was spent on that.
People speculated that we somehow misused our funds simply because they
were worried at our lack of communication and assuming the worst.
We were required to keep careful accounting of project costs by investors
who required us to spend project money carefully.
The reality is one which many game projects have in common: We put all our
resources into paying staff to build a game that took longer to finish than
we had funding for.
In hindsight, I should have made half as ambitious a game and polished it
with the resources we had and set aside our bigger plans for component
scripting and editor gameplay till after the first polished release.
What we completed with the funding we had was the technical core of the
ambitious editor design, and what we're completing now is the polished
content that makes good on that design one level at a time.
I owe a thanks to those who speak up on my behalf, and I hope the critics
will give us another chance as they see the game improve.
On Fri, Jan 17, 2014 at 4:23 PM, Al Sweigart <asweigart at gmail.com> wrote:
> If he's ever around the space again, I'll introduce you to David. He was a
> 3D artist employed at a studio who left his job to work for Alex. The
> agreement was that Alex would match his previous salary. After 3 months,
> David was only paid for one month, and less than what they had agreed on.
> David finally realized he wasn't going to ever see a check, and quit. The
> thing is, this was only a couple months after the Kickstarter, so Alex had
> plenty of funds. David will also tell you how Alex's personality made him
> difficult to work with, how he took credit for other people's work, and
> basically exploited people who really believed in the project. There were
> several people who worked with him, got fed up, and then left. He's always
> recruiting new people.
> Meanwhile, Alex has no accounting whatsoever for how the $170,000 he
> received was spent. He didn't even reveal it was all gone until half a year
> after the fact.
> If he wants to help train new teachers in Unity or lead some classes,
> that's great. But as soon as he asks them to contribute to Code Hero,
> that's when people need to politely and firmly tell him No.
> On Fri, Jan 17, 2014 at 4:09 PM, jarrod hicks <hicksu at gmail.com> wrote:
>> I was not aware of troubles with the Code Hero project, that is a bummer.
>> As far as being a positive example, contributor, and someone who
>> should have the nerve to be at Noisebridge. Alex was one of those who
>> stepped up when my partner asked the Noisebridge community for help
>> showing her physics students the wonders and possibilities of
>> Noisebridge, and in turn the greater hacker/maker community. He worked
>> with rotating groups of her students and within 20 - 30 minutes he had
>> them making games and seeing the basic possibilities of programming
>> that many of them were not aware of. Alex, and all those who helped,
>> showed Noisebridge at its best that day, and my ongoing commitment to
>> this space/community is in large part because of people like Alex.
> Noisebridge-discuss mailing list
> Noisebridge-discuss at lists.noisebridge.net
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