This is the interview I mentioned in the original post as requested by @ShinigamiB
The quote box is me and the rest is the responses from @MacMan
Did you ever work for someone else? If so, why did you stop?
Yes. I’ve been working in games for 18 years. 12 of those years were spent working for other people. The first Turtle Rock Studios was owned by someone else. That studio was closed so I didn’t have much choice in the matter. smile
Why did you want to go into business for yourself?
I never wanted to own a business. It came out of necessity. I worked at six different studios in twelve years. Turtle Rock Studios was the best experience by far so when it closed down, Phil Robb and I had two choices; reboot Turtle Rock Studios and run it ourselves, or go work somewhere else. We wanted to work at TRS bad enough that we were willing to take on the extra risks and go into business together.
What expectations did you have when you started the business?
The #1 priority was making sure TRS was a great place to work. That probably sounds too simple, but that was the whole point of saving the studio. We loved the casual atmosphere and the lack of a strict hierarchy. We loved the games that we worked on and the people that we worked with. Those things seemed the most important. We believe that everything else; a good product, financial success, etc. is a side effect of doing something you love in an environment that you love.
Which of these expectations were fulfilled?
We are always trying to improve but for the most part, I think we succeeded. Now we have a team of 100 people all striving for the same goals so it’s not something that Phil and I need to do alone anymore. We have a lot of help.
Which of your expectations were not fulfilled?
Personally I wanted to make everyone at TRS wealthy. We pay competitively but everyone here is so valuable, their efforts mean so much that I wish we could spoil the hell out of them. Maybe one day, but it hasn’t happened so far.
What advice do you have for an entrepreneur thinking of starting a new business today?
Depends on what your goals are. If your goal as an entrepreneur is making lots of money, or if your motivation is being the “boss”, I’ve got nothing for you. I don’t know how to do those things very well.
We have managed to keep the doors open and the lights on though, the studio is still growing and we have an environment where people are happy and have shipped a successful product. If you want to know how to do that, I can tell you to always think about things from the employee’s perspective. I have a desk out in the open with everyone else. I have a list of milestone deliverables just like everyone else. I try to follow any rules set up for anyone else. I don’t ever want to loose touch with the team and I want to earn their trust and respect. I don’t want anything to be given to me because I’m “the boss”.
Speaking of team, the only time I use “I” is when I am talking about my personal experience or my personal opinion. Other than that, it’s “we” because there is a team of amazingly talented people here all of whom deserve credit for anything TRS does.
And as far as talent goes, Phil and I are only smart enough to know what we don’t know. So we hire people who are smarter than us, more talented than us. People who DO know. We rely on their expertise day in and day out and it helps guarantee that when I wake up on Monday morning, I still want to come to work.