Imagine an onion. Layers and layers of juicy sweet nectar that sweeten the food but make you cry in the process of cooking.
I did not put too much thought in the above headline, but I think it fits. You are reading this because you are an important member of the Earth2.io community; a player with stake in the game, or just researching this game with reasonable doubts about pushing that "Pay with credit card" button to join us. Oh, or you're here for my riddles.
We know so little about Shane while we focus so much on the game's phase development, withdrawals, Dubai, and game strategy. Shane is important in all the aspects we focus on because he is Earth2's God making all of this possible.
Also, consider Earth2.io's particularity in the online game universe: No roadmap or specific details about future functionalities. Just vision. This is all Shane's mastermind. (Keep reading, this is not exactly a positive article about the game's founder).
The founder's vision
Earth 2 is a futuristic concept for a second earth; a metaverse, between virtual and physical reality in which real-world geolocations on a sectioned map correspond to user generated digital virtual environments. These environments can be owned, bought, sold, and in the near future deeply customized.
This is deep, vague and extraordinary at the same time. It's the kind of concept you put in your opening pitch deck that instantly draws attention. It doesn't secure your VC funding directly, but it sets the tone and focus on a "great idea".
Another aspect that must be clearly understood is that the roadmap and specific future developments cannot be disclosed because the concept doesn't allow it. Any reveal on specific future in-game mechanics could compromise in-game balance and give advantages (even financial) to the early users.
I am referring to land class, resource mapping and trading, property functionalities, building types and dependencies on geographical areas, transportation, etc. Without these things fully developed, making it public would give strategic advantages to the early players. So, releasing pieces of the puzzle at the right time is essential (in my opinion) for the whole game.
So, who comes up with these ideas? What kind of person gives birth to such a concept, and what do they need to have inside (brain and heart) to plan, execute and go live with such a concept? And, also do a great job?
First of all, in my opinion, you need to be Australian. Australia is that place where fauna is permanently and continuously trying to end you, so you are very aware of "the external world / nature / surroundings". Joking. Just saw a meme with this and thought to put it here for no reason.
To create a concept like this is easily achievable. To execute a concept like this is also achievable (with enough funding), but to create the concept and execute it you need three things:
Immense creative capacity to contain your thoughts about it and build structure
Extreme ambition and determination to force the concept to 3rd parties without altering it or accepting compromises
Outstanding people skills to be able to find and put together a team to work on it
This opinion-article is just about the second thing, because the headline says "onion" and we need to fit Shane in the onion profile while highlighting his ambition and determination skills from what we know about the man (his interventions on the wild Discord chat).
The CEO's plan implementation
It was a time in December when Earth2 developers had multiple interventions on the Official Discord chat almost every day. While everyone was super excited about the conversation, some of us (at least us in AGV organization) started to notice contradictory statements (one developer saying the same thing another said but with different nuance). At the beginning we thought they had no idea what they were doing.
Then it started to make sense that they have a visionary who makes no compromises when it comes to execution. More than this, think about the fact that Shane (the visionary) is not an terrain system expert, nor an MMPOG in-game economy expert, nor a Mapbox developer. He is an ambitious onion that will push his vision on you (the specialist) at all costs, and with the promise (and guarantee) that the soup will be delicious when ready. So, their "slightly different" declarations in the general chat were actually the "opened points" on how to implement some of the concepts that only exist in Shane's head and heart. And they still do it.
On top of it, he is God with enough money to make you find a way.
While Nathaniel is fully immersed in the Terrain System (the world engine), Wolfgang's part is more in the creativity zone. And because Vision has a lot to do with Creativity, I see Shane as a bigger impediment in Wolfgang's work than Nathaniel's. Meaning that Wolfgang must have a lot more issues/debates with Shane on how to implement certain "unicorn" functionalities from Shane's vision. And, if you paid attention to their live stream, the non-verbal between Shane and Wolfgang (also Nathaniel) was similar to what you see when you put Marketing (Business) at the same table with IT (development team) and start brainstorming or planning a project.
One example of a useless "unicorn" that Shane pushed and pushed until it was released is the "Ads" thing. Why is this important now, and without a real direct value for players? It's just an annoying set of black rectangular ghosts making me break the laptop or phone when trying to select that tile under it. This is something Shane "really, really, really" wanted and having a low story point estimation in the backlog they just added it. Bam, release, "let's say we test some interest so users will give it a scope, but not fully describe what I thought when coming up with this idea".
How is this bad?
Well, first of all, the ambitious leader can easily go rigid. And after they make a habit of not compromising when specialists (from the team) advise, they will certainly do the same with users. And not listening to your customers is usually bad. Even if you are a God.
In my previous article, I listed "Shane" as the first reason why a marketing and communication agency will have a tough job in creating a proper strategy for Earth2. (Brand positioning, advertising, full package).
The reason I believe this is that extreme determination and ambition can make you blind to how "the others" interpret your vision. Earth2 is Shane's baby and he managed to get it this far. In my opinion, nothing will make him stop until he gets this baby to college, graduated, and married with kids.
Why is this bad?
Because marketing and communication is vital for filling the gap between what the game is about in the creators' heads and what people that have never heard of it understand when they first find out about it. Also, one function of marketing is research, and research is about "what others say". Not too Shane, is it?
Long story short (lol): I see the CEO hat in a conflict with the Founder-Visionary hat. I don't (yet) think that Shane can't wear them both, but time will say.
Good luck with the Riddle ;)
Leave your thoughts in the comments and if you liked this and you're a millionaire, just..