Rivet is a story of creators helping creators: Two energetic and ambitious friends from a small town in Arizona leveraged startup programs to launch and grow a niche gaming platform that helps developers bring their projects to internet gamers quickly and painlessly.
Nicholas Kissel’s first memory of gaming was playing his neighbor’s PlayStation when he was four years old. From there, he moved on to playing “Tropico 2: Pirate Cove” on his family’s PC. For Nathan Flurry, it was discovering the addictive nature of mobile games in fourth grade that drove his parents to prohibit video games altogether… unless — by a stroke of parental genius — he built them himself. Their friendship started in middle school, where creating web-based space strategy games became their favorite pastime.
“We learned that backend infrastructure development was a struggle in multiplayer games,” shared Nick. “It’s very expensive, time-consuming, and requires a lot of skill. We love the mechanics of multiplayer games, but infrastructure isn’t nearly as fun for most game developers.”
As the pair’s friendship and collaborations grew, they started taking on consulting projects. They did some work with Yendis, the creator of Krunker.io, and some other small browser game companies. The browser games category was exploding, and the friends found themselves toiling over infrastructure work for developers. They decided to start a business and do a private beta for several clients. Their hometown wasn’t a hotbed for IT or game development, so Nicholas applied for Y Combinator on a whim, knowing little about venture capitalism and startups.
The Y Combinator experience was a whirlwind. Nicholas and Nathan recall an intense, 10-minute interview with the YC team that they were not prepared for, leaving them questioning if starting a business was the right call.
However, the YC team was impressed, and a call informing the two founders of Rivet’s acceptance to YC came while they were on a stress-relieving hike in the hills near their homes. Nathan and Nicholas abandoned the hike and ran home to send the information YC needed to finalize the deal. They were formally accepted into the Y Combinator program the next day and, within weeks, were on their way to San Francisco and officially launched Rivet.gg.
Wise resource allocation
Rivet is perfect for A and AA game developers, hobbyists who want to get their games out in the world, and small- or medium-sized studios looking to scale their infrastructure while directing their internal resources toward game mechanics.
“Game developers are artists first and foremost,” said Nicholas. “They want to see their art reach the world; they want people to play their games. That’s their focus. They don’t want to do infrastructure backend development, so we have to serve those people by making it easy to get a game up and running in minutes. That’s the goal.”
Game studios of all sizes face the challenges of infrastructure scaling, such as security and DDoS protection, but Rivet gives smaller teams an open source infrastructure option that allows them to focus on what they love doing. For Nathan and Nicholas, the unique experience of working with many different developers, taking risks, and creating various game types and player types is especially fun.
Rivet was originally built on DigitalOcean, as the founders had previous experience working with the cloud provider. Challenges with pricing, support, and reliability led them to look for a different option, and in their search, they discovered Rise, Akamai’s cloud computing startup program.
Rivet quickly got up and running on Linode (now Akamai), praising the company’s fantastic support. “We built Rivet to be multicloud, but with Akamai’s pricing and strong region support, we don’t need to use another cloud provider at this time,” said Nathan. “From the start, we were offered competitive pricing and some credits to move over, which allowed some buffer time to get onboarded without being hit with an outrageous autoscale bill like we did with DigtalOcean. I was a digital nomad living out of my Hondata Fit. Those credits gave us a financial buffer while we built Rivet to the scale we are today.”
Running infrastructure with ease
Akamai enables Rivet to run its Infrastructure as Code on dedicated servers for a fair price. Rivet also runs Nomad and Terraform from HashiCorp with ease, firewalls are straightforward, and the diverse regional availability of data centers means Rivet hasn’t had to add other cloud providers to meet the needs of their clients.
When talking with game developers, Nathan and Nicholas recommend Akamai for great customer support. They also note the simple pricing and global support for anything being done on the edge and the confidence that comes with working with a company that has been around for a while.
“The enterprise-level service we get at our entry-level stage is awesome,” said Nicholas. “I find the support dashboard responsive enough for most of our needs, but when something is affecting production, I pick up the phone and get a live person right away. That’s just not common with other cloud providers. Even if we call in the middle of the night, someone who knows what they’re doing always answers the phone.”
The childhood friends took their love of gaming, said yes to a rare opportunity, and saw a need for creators who inspired them. They are now growing Rivet to be the open-source infrastructure solution for multiplayer games to deploy, scale, and operate worldwide.