Published in Phaser World Issue 95 on 6th September 2017 by Richard Davey   @photonstorm

Phaser 3 MOSS award.

This Dev Log is going to be slightly different. There won't be any discussion of new features in Phaser, or cool examples to try - and for that, I apologize. Instead, I want to explain what has been happening over the past month - because it has been hell of a roller-coaster ride and it impacts everything we've been doing.

If you look at the previous Dev Logs you'll see that work has been carrying on as usual. We added stacks of cool features: real-time lighting effects, Impact physics and lots more. But behind the scenes, things were falling apart and the cause of this was the bank (HSBC) that manages the Photon Storm business account.

In short, they suspended our account. This instantly froze all of our assets. We were unable to pay ourselves or any of the bills or services that we use. I wrote about this in detail in an article I posted to Medium: How HSBC is killing my business, piece by piece. I know a lot of you will have already read it but if not it's a sobering few minutes cautionary tale. I'd urge you to skim it before carrying on as it underpins everything that happened.

It's important to understand how Phaser development is financed to understand the implications this had. I started out the year doing a large batch of client work. It was yet another challenging BBC project but it went well and earned a good amount of money. We kept the money in a quite large balance in our HSBC account. The idea being that we'd cover monthly expenses by using the income from Patreon and shop revenue, and then make-up the difference by dipping into our business account. Each month I would "top-up" our external income, adding around £2000, and salaries, rent, and bills were all covered.

And for months this worked. Both Felipe and I were able to spend virtually all of our time on Phaser development and related tasks, such as the newsletter and site updates. I didn't have to take on any more client projects because income was mostly sustained (although it did ebb and flow) and I was ever so carefully using my savings. I considered it an investment in Phaser and I knew it needed to happen if we were ever going to finish v3.

Applying for MOSS

In April I was told about MOSS. This is the Mozilla Open Source Support program. They set aside a large sum of money and open source projects can apply for a portion of it. I knew it would take several days away from development to complete the process but I believed in my heart that Phaser was a good match. I worked hard on the application and my eternal thanks go to Belén Albeza and Matthew Humphries for their support. Belén was Phaser's sponsor (i.e. someone from Mozilla who believed it was a good match for MOSS), and Matthew helped cram my verbose text into the strict word limits of the Google Doc.

The application was submitted and all I could do was sit back wait.

Two months passed and then in the middle of June Mozilla informed me that our application had been successful! I was over the moon. I couldn't talk about it though until the contract had been finalised and signed, so more waiting began, but at least I knew we now had financial support incoming that would last us for the next 6 months.

Enter villain, stage left

In early August I received the first contract draft. Everything was fine, so we returned it back and the MOSS application started to become tantalizingly really. Then, on August 10th, the shit hit the fan. If you've read my Medium post about what HSBC did then you'll know this was the date they froze our bank account. I feel I have covered the huge impact this had in plenty of detail in my article, so I won't reiterate it here.

Suffice to say it was like living through a nightmare. I couldn't pay Felipe the money he was owed, I couldn't even pay for this mailing list service. We were closed down and slowly dying. After almost a month of inaction from HSBC I was at rock bottom. I hadn't wanted to write about what they were doing to my business. It's the kind of permanent record you don't really want lingering around. But I didn't know what else to do. During these nightmare weeks I carry on with Phaser 3 but Felipe has to find work elsewhere because I simply cannot pay him (I don't blame him at all for this, I would have done the same too). This is both screwing with our Mozilla milestones and even worse if the bank didn't fix it in time there literally would have been no business left for Mozilla to pay money in to. It really did get that close.

On Monday I got into the office and sat down to write this newsletter. Except I couldn't because MadMimi (our newsletter provider) had closed our account because it was overdue. At my wit's end, I posted my Medium article instead, sent out a single tweet, sat back and watched. The result was spectacular.

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My article really hit a nerve. It went properly viral. At the moment my tweet alone is over a quarter of a million impressions and still going. I know of several friends who tweeted about it who have similar stats. The Medium article was the top read article on the whole of Medium that day, and #3 the day after:

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It hit the top of Hacker News and reddit (I didn't submit it anywhere, this was all organic spread) and my inbox utterly exploded. Within 2 hours of the tweet landing (in which I tagged the bank) HSBC called me. As if by magic all restrictions had been lifted. The nightmare was over and not a moment too soon. My wife and I celebrated by quickly logging in to our online banking and paying a large tax bill!

Since posting the article on Monday I've been contacted by Reuters, Bloomberg, BBC Money, the Mirror and similar organisations. I've also heard from lots of other companies who experienced the exact same treatment, which was heart breaking. My story worked because I was the first to openly write about it. No-one ever wants to take the nuclear option - I just had no choices left. For me, it worked but I could cry for all the other companies who have no course of action to take other than to watch their hard work crumble away before them.

I was finally able to pay Felipe, who is able to return to Phaser work next week. And I was finally able to talk about the MOSS award too! The contract was finalised a couple of weeks ago but I held-off talking because of the issues with the bank. Now we're back to normal I can do so.

Phaser awarded $50,000 from MOSS program

Yes, you read that right :)

This is a fantastic amount and covers development right up to the v3 launch and then 2 months after as well. I've written a Patreon post which explains how the money is handled - as you'd expect, we have to work for it, they don't just hand it over in a shoebox. We've milestones to hit and payments are released based on those. We're behind schedule because of all the shit that has gone on with the bank, but with that resolved and the contract signed, it's like a giant cloud lifted from my vision - I can see the end goal and I can aim directly for it.

We've got a lot of work ahead of us, make no mistake about it. But I've never been afraid of hard work. It has been one hell of a journey but this is the home stretch now.

Thank you to everyone who supported me by retweeting my story, commenting on it, donating and supporting via Patreon. The title of this section may sound like we're rolling in cash, but we're really not yet! We're still operating as before, eating through savings and revenue, just with a huge incentive waiting for us at the end of the month :)

Next issue we'll be back to normal with v3 updates and examples. Sorry that this issue was taken-up with business discussions, but open source is a strange beast: equal parts passion and code. Sometimes the personal sides of it are just as important as the technical.

Phaser 3 Labs

Visit the Phaser 3 Labs to view the new API structure in depth, read the FAQ, previous Developer Logs and contribution guides. You can also join the Phaser 3 Google Group. The group is for anyone who wishes to discuss what the Phaser 3 API will contain.