Focus in 2013 (part 3): Company Support

In the initial article of this series, I reported that I am working on living from my productions which mean I will officially create a company at some point:

Since mid-July 2012 I have been working full-time both on AOS (which resulted in AOSWP 0.1 release) and a video game (which I restarted using previous code I wrote through years). In the same time I’ve been doing the necessary steps in building a company sometime in the next year, for me to live from my projects. [...]

I’ll need my projects to make me live. The game I am making is designed to be commercially viable,  which don’t mean it will be but just that I’m focusing on making it sell-able at least enough to make me live from it. However, none of the current AOS projects is sell-able or even meant to be. [...]

The main point I’m trying to make is that I want AOS to be part of the projects of my future company, while still being open source, [...]

I have some plans [...]

This post will be about these plans.

objectives

Other than having a working and released version of AOS Designer out in the wild, another less technical objective, but still important, will be to make sure Art Of Sequence projects are supported by my future company, which means I benefit enough from it to be able to spend more time on it, or allocate resources or people on it. This will not be easy at all, but I will work to make it happen.

The core projects will stay free and open-source.

It is important that I first state some changes I will not make. The core projects, the AOSL format, AOS Designer and AOS Web Player will definitely stay open source and with a very free license (currently MIT but maybe it will change to a similar one). These projects still need to allow anyone to build commercial or free tools over, without any constraints.

My main commercial projects will be based on these technologies, so any improvements on these will be made public and free too. However, I am not sure if my commercial projects will be open source or not. Maybe some of them. Or if there will be a dual licence or not. The legal details requires to consult a lawyer but I have a general idea of what I want to do: just build some paid tools over my free tools.

Here are some of the tools I plan to build after AOS Designer 0.1 release.

New Players

Currently there is only one player implementation, unfinished actually, which shows how AOSL format can be exploited. Anybody could build other player implementations that would solve specific context problems. I see real opportunities, that I’m sharing without fear of having my ideas stolen as for the moment no serious effort have been made to exploit AOS code for commercial purpose yet, so I think I will have to pioneer them myself both for profit and demonstration. Here are some ideas:

  • Native players: what I mean is a player that can read the generic format I was talking about in the last article. Basically, it would be a player you install on your desktop or tablet or smartphone, then just play any story that you download. I believe this is less interesting commercially than the other projects, so I might do it for free and in less priority than other projects. If this will be open source, I think a lot of people will be interested anyway.
  • Native specific players: there would be an important difference with the previous case: the author of the story would generate a full custom application for his story. This mean the author can sell his story (that can be a series) as an application, the same way you sell a video game. This one is interesting for me because it would both help a lot of authors, it’s interesting technically and it seem viable commercially (by selling a license to the author). Also, it don’t force the author to pay, he still have the choice to use more generic players.
  • Embedded native players: one of the possibilities I envisioned when I started working on Art Of Sequence was to allow game developers to embeds a player implementation in their game code and use it do play some nice cinematic sequences. As a game developer, I know that most game companies have their own technologies to do this or just rely on video. But sometime, video is more expensive (in space at least) than using a custom tool that just display pictures and play sounds in a specific manner, to tell a bit of story. AOS technologies is exactly that, so providing a way to embed a player into a game might help a lot of game developers. It would help any other software company that want to display a story a bit like displaying a PowerPoint, so I think it is a commercially viable project too. What I’m not sure about is the nature of the “native” part of the project. Most game company use C++ to make games, but indie game developers tends to use anything that work. Maybe I’ll provide a C interface.
  • Flash player OR native player in Flash plugin: I’m not sure about this one but it is certain that it shouldn’t be very hard to write a player that runs in Flash. Maybe I’ll start an ActionScript3 implementation that would be free and read the generic format, and then make a native implementation (derived from the previous point) that would just run into the Flash environment (which allow native code now).

New Formats

In coordination with native players implementation, another AOSL-derived format is necessary. It would be a very compressed format, something like just byte instructions. The goal would be to provide this alternative (for a cheap price) in case you want to use AOS technologies in very constrained contexts (like embedded devices).

AOS Designer Plugins

After AOS Designer 0.1 is released, it would be possible to create plugins for it. Basically, plugins would only add some ways to constraint authors for specific platforms, like preventing the author to export a sequence that would not have a canvas size that fit into an iOS device. These plugins would go in pair with exporters that them-self are related to player implementations.

Other than plugins associated with commercial player implementations, I might build some utility plugins that would not be useful to everybody but would appeal to a niche of authors. In this case, providing a useful plugin for a fair price would also help both sides.

End of plans

Now that I exposed all this, it is time for me to first wish you all a happy new year (don’t drink too much!) and get back to work! See you next year!