Benjamin Nitschke is the CTO of MobileBits and the CEO of Delta Engine, which is trying to bring a multiplatform game engine to mass market. But more interestingly, Nitschke is creator of the first commercial .NET game, Arena Wars. Nitschke also writes for this blog. You can also follow him on Twitter @exDreamDuck.
Delta Engine uses .NET technology to bring highly scalable games, at lower prices to free, to the gaming community.
This interview is a continuation of our regular series of featured startups in BizSpark that use Microsoft stack technology to create innovative new software solutions for the cloud, and more.
MobileBits created Soulcraft, photo courtesy of Delta Engine.
BizSpark: Tell us who you are and your role in the company.
Benjamin Nitschke: I am Benjamin Nitschke, the CTO of MobileBits and also the CEO of our newly created Delta Engine company with the focus to bring our Multiplatform Game Engine to the Mass Market. While MobileBits still focuses on creating great mobile games (see Soulcraft), the Delta Engine improves on the .NET technologywe have built over the past 10 years.
BizSpark: In 140 characters or less, tell us what your company does.
Nitschke: We develop the Delta Engine, an open source, community driven game engine available in .NET or native C++.
BizSpark: What did you do before creating your company?
Nitschke: Well, before creating Delta Engine, which is just 2 months old now, I was the founder and CTO of MobileBits and exDream in Hannover Germany, where we created a ton of fun games with Microsoft's .NET technology. For example, in 2004 we published the first commercial .NET game Arena Warsworldwide. Working closely with Microsoft and creating hugely successful community games lead to my MVP award for XNA/DirectX in 2006-2010. Before allthat we all were still in school, me and the other 3 founders have been working together since we were little.
BizSpark: What is your company’s mission?
Nitschke: MobileBits mission is to create successful mobile games (iOS, Android, Windows 8) with our .NET Delta Engine game technology. The Delta Engine tries to simplify a game programmers live by providing easy XNA, DirectX and OpenGL conversion support in our .NET and C++ engine to bring any project to any platform.
BizSpark: How did you get the idea for your company?
MobileBits: I was always a big fan of simplifying the amount of work I had to do as a programmer. When C# came out I checked it out and liked the simplicity. This led to our first .NET game, which was very successful and gave our original company exDream a kick start in 2002-2004. Many years and games later we worked with all kinds oftechnologies (Unity, Unreal, native frameworks for console and mobile platforms), but everything got more complex instead of simpler. For that reason we founded the MobileBits company in 2009 to simplify our own live as game developers by providing .NET code converters and cloud services for our own game development. Now in 2012 we have founded another company Delta Engine to take this idea further and go to the mass market.
photo comes from BenjaminNitschke.com
BizSpark: Tell us about your funding history. Are you currently looking for funding? If so, how much?
Nitschke: We are lucky to have great investors here in Germany that helped in founding MobileBits and kept it alive while we developed the base technology. BeforeMobileBits we never had any investors and produced games usually on our own, but then had to share profits with game publishers, which usually never worksout for small indie teams. We are kind of happy that those times are over and now everyone can create and publish games. This year we closed another fundinground to create the Delta Engine company, get rid of all dependencies and now scale up our technology.
BizSpark: How many employees do you have? How many developers?
Nitschke: While MobileBits has about 50% designers and producers and 50% programmers, all of them (~15 people) can be considered developers (even the product managers and producers are actually developing parts of the game). In the newly founded Delta Engine company we have pretty much 100% programmers right now, 5 aresitting here in the office and we are working with a couple of freelancers until we find more people.
BizSpark: Are you hiring? If yes, what are you hiring for and where?
Nitschke: Yes, thanks for asking. Delta Engine is hiring and it is really hard to find good .NET developers in Germany. We are located in Hannover, but we have searchedall over Germany, in November we will be part of the GameCarreer event in Hamburg. For our job listings see: http://DeltaEngine.net/About/Jobs
BizSpark: Which platform are you building on? Why?
Nitschke: We develop on Windows because Visual Studio kicks ass and we don't want to leave the comfort of developing in windows, which has the greatest toolset available for game and .NET development. We target all kinds of platforms of course: iPhone, iPad, Android, Tablets, Windows Phone, Windows 8, PS Vita, Xbox 360,Browsers, etc.
BizSpark: Where do you see opportunities today in the Software/Internet area?
Nitschke: Service Oriented is the future. Why pay a high price for software if you can get it for free or cheap with monthly fees? Just let the users decide what they find most useful and invent ways to pay for things you like. iTunes, Kickstarter and Flattr are good examples, the music and film industry is a bad example.
BizSpark: What do you think about the BizSpark Program?
Nitschke: BizSpark has given us the same technical support I was used to as an MVP, but more importantly has given us great contacts and networking opportunities we would have missed otherwise.
BizSpark: Do you have any advice for young Software entrepreneurs?
Nitschke: I think everyone should do what he enjoys the most. Do not follow hypes and don't think you will create the next Facebook. Just enjoy what you like the most andbecome great at it. With this philosophy management in our company is really easy as we are trying to find people that do great work if you leave them alone and that still get together for collaboration whenever needed.
BizSpark: Who’s your role model?
Nitschke:That changes by the minute. Whatever interests me most. Currently, we all follow Uncle Bob's advice to write Clean Code. He has written amazing books and a greatvideo series on http://cleancoders.com. In the beginning of 2012 I really liked the talk from Bret Victor - Inventing on Principle, something every developer can befit from. I also can recommend TED as there is always something to be inspired by and if you don't have a role model yet, you can find one there.
BizSpark: What’s the ONE THING you would like readers to take away from this interview?
Nitschke: Enjoy your developer life. Checkout what others are doing and that could benefit you. We are at http://DeltaEngine.net