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Third Time Games Founder & CEO Ian Cummings Chats with Zima Red

Third Time Games Founder & CEO Ian Cummings recently joined Zima Red and the show's host, Andrew Steinwold, to chat about everything from discovering his lifelong obsession with game development to the events that have followed throughout his 23-year career.

From grinding his way from an intern at EA Sports to the Creative Director of Madden to leaving the mainstream gaming world to embark on founding Time Games and creating the blockchain-based Photo Finish™ LIVE, the discussion features over an hour of Cummings discussing his passion, perseverance, and the evolving landscape of the gaming industry and AI technology.

It's a must-watch for the Photo Finish™ community if you missed the show. Below are some timestamps that will allow you to jump around easily while catching the replay.

From College to Game Development (00:01 – 02:17):

Ian chats about how his journey began in college at the University of Tennessee, where his love for gaming led him to transition from computer science to game development, with a few touch-and-go moments along the way.

Starting as a game tester for NCAA football, Ian discovered the excitement of game testing during a summer job, leading to a pivotal decision that shaped his career.

Challenges at EA and the Spark of Coding (05:56 – 07:53):

Joining EA, Ian faced challenges, but diving deeper into programming courses and learning the ropes ignited his passion for coding. From tester to Creative Director, his experience at EA created the foundation of what drives Third Time Games today.

Transition to Entrepreneurship (11:30 – 13:21):

Ian's transition from corporate life to entrepreneurship unfolded with Row Sham Bow, and lessons learned from struggles with monetization were discussed. He discusses the early days of creating the original Photo Finish, as well as the progression into truly launching a startup gaming company.

The Birth of Photo Finish (17:06 – 18:47):

Inspired by CSR Racing, Photo Finish™ became a hit with unique gameplay. Ian quickly focused on upgrades, timers, and a math-based approach, creating an addictive and competitive horse racing experience.

Evolution with Sequel and Web 3 (22:00 – 23:47):

Ian expanded the Photo Finish universe with a sequel, Photo Finish™ LIVE, delving into breeding and genetics. The shift to Web3 and the concept of ownership opened new possibilities, allowing players to experience the thrill of horse racing without real-world responsibilities.

Monetization and Community Building (28:47 – 33:36):

The game's success extended to real money participation, with a community forming around horse ownership. The community has quickly formed a sense of belonging among players.

Expanding Horizons and Collaboration (37:20 – 39:12):

Ian tackled the challenge of making the Kentucky Derby relevant year-round, collaborating with industry giants like Woodford, Coca-Cola, and BMW.

Photo Finish™ Live's integration with real-life racing is explored, highlighting the potential of virtual racing.

Game Development Wisdom (42:35 – 44:28):

Ian emphasized the importance of focusing on core gameplay and economy before adding polish.

Attention to detail, animations, sounds, and haptic feedback were highlighted as essential for a superior user experience.

AI's Role in Game Development (48:01 – 49:55):

AI, specifically GPT, revolutionized game development, handling a significant portion of the work. The potential implications of advanced technology on future engineering, including a reduction in manual coding, were discussed.

AI in News Article Generation (53:19 – 55:08):

Ian explored the use of AI, particularly GPT, for automatically generating news articles about horse races. This innovative approach injects SEO words and key phrases to enhance visibility.

VR and AR Challenges and Opportunities (58:26 – 1:03:23):

While VR faces challenges like discomfort, niche opportunities, and profitability exist. Indie developers can leverage the unique experiences offered by VR and AR, tapping into a market not explored by larger companies.

Advancements in AI and Medical Technology (1:05:20 – 1:09:11):

Ian delved into the positive impact of AI on quality of life and medical advancements. While acknowledging potential challenges, he remains optimistic about the transformative power of AI.