Promotional Artwork for the game Athena Crisis

I'm Building a Company And Launching Athena Crisis

It's time to build. After 12 years at Facebook and Stripe I'm establishing an indie game studio and open source tech company, Nakazawa Tech, in Tokyo.

A year ago our second daughter Lena was born. A big life change usually triggers a re-evaluation of priorities and I committed myself to finding more fulfillment in my work. This led me to define new goals:

  • Build things that I wish existed
  • Focus on what truly matters to me
  • Create memorable experiences and make art
  • Push myself out of my comfort zone by doing something hard
a level from the steam game athena crisis

New Principles

Along with new personal goals, I came up with two new principles that I integrated into my decision-making process:

  • Meaningful work: For every day spent working, will I be able to look back in ten years and remember it as meaningful? Does the way I spend my time feel meaningful enough that it's ok to miss out on time with my family?
  • Make three versions of myself happy:
    • The teenage self: I built JavaScript-based web games that I published for free as a teenager. They each had several thousand players. I also built a social network for myself and my friends. Having spent 10 years working at Facebook, I've checked the “social networking” box. Now, it's time to return to my roots in game development.
    • The current self: I should be happy with what I'm doing _right now_.
    • The 80-year-old self: No regrets. This version of myself should be happy that I tried.

Reflecting on these principles and my past experiences, I realized the only way to achieve my new goals is by building a company. When I was able to follow similar goals in the past, I was able to build foundational JavaScript infrastructure in the open and therefore Nakazawa Tech is an indie game studio and tech company with a deep-rooted passion for Open Source and developer tooling.

Athena Crisis

The first game Nakazawa Tech is creating is [Athena Crisis], a modern retro turn-based strategy game with beautiful 2d pixel art, likable characters and meaningful gameplay.

I've always been in love with turn-based strategy games and I even built a small turn-based game in high school. Athena Crisis started mostly as a hobby and meditation project focused on three aspects:

  • Always bet on JavaScript: How far can I get with just JavaScript, React and CSS if I only allow myself to use libraries that I fully understand?
  • Learn: Learn concepts like building an AI, fog of war and study new technologies like advanced CSS features and edge computing
  • Developer Experience: What is the ideal developer experience for building video games?

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Pushing browsers to the maximum has always been exciting to me, as well as applying a high level of craftsmanship to build the best possible user experience. I want to bring this attention to detail to every visible and invisible part of the game.

I hyper-optimized the Developer Experience for working on Athena Crisis. I auto-save while typing and the game updates in place in less than 100 milliseconds.

I've always found it fascinating to challenge conventional wisdom and despite certain limitations of the web, the technology stack I'm developing allows me to move fast with stable infrastructure. During an indie game event, we had dozens of people play from 10am until 6pm and there was not a single gameplay bug!

I treated Athena Crisis as a hobby project for the past year. I worked on it for about an hour or two at night instead of sleeping and it helped me find balance in my days. Over time this hobby turned into something more and more exciting. When I share it with other people, they usually take my laptop and won’t stop playing for at least an hour.

This article was originally [published here] and was reposted with permission, for up to date information on Athena Crisis please check out their official page

athena crisis steam wishlist

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