Happened Narrated

A Love Letter To Freeverse

Touch Arcade and Techcrunch have details on ngmoco:)‘s acquisition of Freeverse Software. This has a lot of implications for the iPhone software market, but I’ll let the business wonks talk about that.

Freeverse is entwined in the last 15 years of my life in ways that few things can compare. Their games and software toys helped keep me sane during high school. When my life went into a slight free-fall during college, I became anchored with an internship with them.

In 2002 – just out of school, married, and failing to find a job in a down economy – Ian and Colin swooped in again, bringing me on full time. I have joked about the number of hats I wear in my current position, but thinking back, things weren’t much different then. I was a server admin, a support specialist, a PR writer, a game tester, a community manager, a PHP developer, an asset manipulator, a game producer, a documentation writer. It was a small company. We all pitched in wherever we could.

I proposed to Katie at the Freeverse booth at Macworld New York in 2001. It was certainly not the most romantic place in the world, but we were surrounded by our close friends. Out of everywhere I could be in NYC at the time, that seemed like the most appropriate. I may act a little shy when telling the story, but I have no regrets.

Freeverse is the reason we moved to New York City in 2003. Had I not been asked to start working out of the office, so many of the incredible things over the last six years wouldn’t have been a part of my life.

Freeverse is responsible for many of my friendships – people I worked with, people who came to the company after I left, people who dated or married employees, people who I ran into at office parties.

Everyone has The Dream: the job you envision the first time someone asks you what you wanted to be, the first time you realize that you need to have a plan. My Dream was to make video games. And for four years, I did that – games that made it at retail, games that got bundled on Macs, games that no one has heard of. I squeezed in easter eggs and references to my friends. I wrote horrible jokes in press releases. I flew across the country and waved my arms around at trade shows to demo games. I got to be a featured presenter — twice! — at Apple Store SoHo.

I got to live The Dream. I cannot put into words how much, to this day, that means to me.

There was one project I started at Freeverse in 2004 that never got to finished due to my departure. Despite the extreme popularity of the Internet even after the company started, Freeverse had always churned out demo CDs and DVDs. They were easier to mail, and a lot of our customers had been on dial-up.

2004 was the 10th anniversary of Freeverse, and we had every old CD from the history of the company at the office. So I set out to compile what would be the ultimate love letter to Freeverse. I began scraping together all the software off the discs, ripping CD tracks, and finding anything that seemed worthwhile towards the history of the company. At one point, I was handed a pile of old pictures, which probably only made it home with me because I had a scanner.

Pawing through our bookshelf Friday night, I found a stack of them. Then this news hit tonight. So I’m considering this post the completion of that project.
Few things in my life have bloomed as much fruit as Freeverse, both while I was there and the years that followed. I wish the entire team all the best as they enter the next phase of existence, and keep releasing games that are worth playing. Try not to rule the world *too* much, guys.

For more Freeverse memories:

* Defying The Machine – where I reflect on how independent game development can intersect with smaller shops and create great things.
* Cheat To Win – a retelling of the time I used a Freeverse game to win a bet where a girl would have to write me an eight page letter.
* A Short Marathon of Marathon Anecdotes – reflection surrounding the XBLA port of Marathon 2.
* Blinded By The Lights – where I give notice.