Interview Series 3: Colonist Co-Founder Demiculus

Interview Series 3: Colonist Co-Founder Demiculus

My interview with Demiculus is the third in a series of interviews on the Colonist Blog. Demiculus placed in the top 16 of the Catan World Championships in 2021, is an avid Cities & Knights player, oh, and he is a co-founder of Colonist! Today I had the pleasure of speaking with him about a variety of topics, from Catan strategies to building Colonist.

I hope you are enjoying these interviews, and if you have anyone you'd like to see interviewed in the future, please contact me at [email protected].  

At what point did you realize you wanted to do Colonist full-time?

When we came out with the first version, which barely looked playable. Despite this, people still played it. This gave us the confidence that once we improved and polished the product, it had the potential to be successful.

What has been your favorite part of creating Colonist?

My favorite part has been the weekly update cycles (now they are bi-weekly.) It is amazing to see the product become better every single cycle.

What are some of your biggest goals, for yourself and for Colonist?

The answer is the same for both. My goal is to grow Colonist to the point where it can compete with games like Candy Crush and Clash of Clans on “games” leaderboards.

You’re a big believer in the Pareto Principle, that 80% of results come from 20% of effort. Can you tell me a few decisions you’ve made that are part of that 20%?

My most impactful decision thus far has been to start working on Colonist. At the moment though, the biggest decision I’m making is to focus Colonist on our mobile version. I believe that mobile has the most potential to grow our company. It will take a few years to test the validity of my assumption but I believe it will have a huge impact.

What is the best Colonist move you have ever made and why?

The best Colonist move I’ve ever made was gaining seven VPs in one turn to win a game of Cities & Knights. That move is why I prefer Cities & Knights to the base game. All the added mechanics make for amazing gameplay that makes me need to be constantly alert.

What is the first thing you check when picking a placement in a game of Colonist?

The number distribution, meaning are there any spots with much higher numbers than others. The second thing I do is mentally simulate who is likely to place where. I use this to more accurately assign value to potential placement spots.

What is a Catan strategy you like that you haven’t seen anyone else use?

I have seen people use this, but not enough: being nice. Most players prefer to block players who are annoying. This makes being nice while you play a big advantage.

What is the most common mistake you see Colonist players making?

Not calculating their potential resource income. Resources are everything, so you should always prefer to place on higher/more productive numbers. Only when you hit pro level should you consider going for lower numbers, or even strategies like board control or resource monopolization. This article explains the phenomena pretty well:

Avoiding stupidity is easier than seeking brilliance.

What is your favorite Colonist custom map and why?

I love the USA map. It’s so big, with so many places to play, that my brain runs out of CPU before I can even calculate basic probabilities for my placements.

What is your favorite game to play other than Catan/Colonist?

I haven’t had much time for playing games lately but I would say Don’t Starve Together was my latest favorite game. I spent hundreds of hours on it.

What is a non-Colonist related fun fact about yourself?

I like collecting mental models. These are mental frameworks that I use to increase my output and improve my life in all sorts of ways. I have open-sourced my mental model practices so you can read and emulate them if you’d like.

Is there anything I did not ask you that I should have? If so, please let me know what that question is and answer it!

This is a question for ChatGPT. I’d ask “what is an interview question that when answered will keep the readers most engaged”.

If you're wondering, ChatGPT's answer was "tell us about a time when you faced a significant challenge at work, and how you overcame it." Here's what Demiculus had to say:

Prior to covid lockdowns our servers could handle at most 250 concurrent players. We had one server and it was not build to scale. As people flocked to the site while stuck at home, we upgraded our servers but quickly hit maximum capacity of 400 players. We upgraded, then capped out at 600. Rinse and repeat this process until we hit 9,000 concurrent players. Every day we were putting out fires.
One funny way we were able to handle more users was that we would send people playing vs bots to our testing server. If they logged in, or made a purchase, we would then redirect them to the main server. That's how we were able to eventually get to 9,000 players at once - half were on each server. Still, 5,000 people on one server without lag was a huge accomplishment for just two guys.

I hope you enjoyed reading my interview with Demiculus! If there are any questions you would like to see answered by future interviewers, please email me at [email protected]. Thank you for your support!