I'm Building a Company
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
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 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.
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:
- 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?
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. Check out all these subtle animations:
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.
Seeing people’s enthusiasm for Athena Crisis made me realize other people want this game to exist as well. I’m thrilled to announce that Nakazawa Tech is partnering with Null Games to bring our first game, Athena Crisis, to you in spring 2024. Null Games is a new publishing company and from the first interaction with them, it was immediately clear to me that we share similar values and vision.
If you sign up for early access, you’ll be able to play Athena Crisis later this year.
Open Source is integral to how Nakazawa Tech will operate. We’ll open source not just as much code and technology as possible, but also the thought processes and journey that go into making good products and tools.
Open Source has shaped my journey as an engineer for the past 20 years. I joined GitHub in June 2008. I always admired the principles behind Linux. I read Just for Fun as a teenager1. The idea of “throwing code over the wall” with the mindset of “this works for me/us, and it’s probably useful for you” without any expectation of getting anything in return has guided my Open Source work for almost 20 years. I always loved Facebook’s Open Source program while working on Jest, Yarn, Metro and React Native. It always felt, and still feels, more altruistic than others2.
Here is a list of small libraries that Nakazawa Tech published in recent months, with many more things coming later this year:
vite-ts-react-tailwind-template, see Fastest Frontend Tooling in 2023
If you want to support this mission so we can devote more time to Open Source, please consider a sponsorship on GitHub.
Athena Crisis is being built by Cristian Iancu, Marcus Dewdney, Naineux, Leo Zavala, Pascal Pixel, Midori Nakazawa and Christoph Nakazawa.
We are currently looking for a narrative designer, a community manager, and a backend hosting partner. If you always wanted to work with me, on Athena Crisis or other ventures, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lastly, I’m still as excited as ever about leadership and management. If you need guidance on engineering leadership, management, team building, motivation, open source, frontend or infrastructure, consider working with me.
Sign up for early access to Athena Crisis. This is just the beginning and we can’t wait to share more with you soon.
Not a fan of Linus Torvalds’ online conduct, but I do recommend checking out the book. ↩
From the inside it was always a love/hate relationship: Love in the sense that I think Facebook does Open Source right, but hate that it was always an uphill battle to justify any further Open Source investment ↩