Looking Forward to 2018

Happy New Year! 🙂

Digital GamecraftThe Roman calendar started in March (Mensis Martius), so by that measure I am not too late.

OK, so we are already two months into the Gregorian year, and this is only my second post.  Frankly, those of you who know me personally will appreciate that I often have a lot to say, but when it comes to setting aside time in my busy schedule to write it down, well, my preference always tends to actual development (and my task list reflects that preference).

So, SophSoft, Incorporated and Digital Gamecraft have been acting like a duck, appearing calm and quiet on the surface, but paddling like crazy under the water.

Yes, we have been ducking. 😉

That said, we have been doing a great deal of development work on a few fronts.

What We Have Been Doing

Recent development work has been divided pretty clearly into three categories:

  1. SophSoft has been continuing our long-term association with Goodsol Development, and there are a couple of products in the pipeline for release in the near future and, of course, more to come thereafter.  There is a major release scheduled for March 21st (stay tuned), followed shortly by our two products, the first of which is already “in the can”, and the other being completed now.
  2. Digital Gamecraft is going to be releasing Demolish! Pairs for Android soon, in conjunction with the refresh of Demolish! Pairs for iOS, which is currently in progress (as required by Apple).  Another game is prototyped and approved for full production once that simultaneous release is (successfully) completed.
  3. I have been leading a team, the Advanced Concepts Group, at DAQRI, to produce AR (augmented reality) software for enterprises (Professional Grade AR™), including the majority of the Worksense™ productivity suite, as well as the development tools necessary to build applications for the DAQRI Smart Glasses®.

With more than a dozen products actively developed already this year, not to mention also properly purchasing our Michigan home/office during the same period, perhaps that will put some perspective on my lack of blog progress.  Now…

What (else) We Will Be Doing

In addition to the work mentioned above:

  • SophSoft has another (unannounced) product designed and in the early (prototype) phase.  It is a slight departure from other projects we have previously done, but it should be groundbreaking.  The first version is scheduled for release in “late Q3”.
  • Digital Gamecraft has a planned and prioritized list of game projects to undertake, with four more expected to be developed during 2018.  However, we should probably emphasize the “agile” nature of this schedule.
  • With DAQRI, there are several exciting (but, alas, non-game) projects scheduled throughout the year and into 2019 and beyond.  I am not at liberty to reveal any of these plans, of course, but I have seen the future of industry.

Personally, I have two close family weddings and a big family reunion all scheduled during the summer (in three different months), so I should be increasing my air miles, too.

Conclusion

Everything is looking quite positive, and after Looking Back at 2017, I fully expect 2018 to every more productive and fulfilling.  In fact, composing this blog post reminded me why I should be doing it more regularly: it helps me increase both my enthusiasm and my focus.

Looking Back at 2017

Overall Performance Grade: C-

Digital Gamecraft / SophSoft, IncorporatedIt has been more than four years since we have done a proper ‘Year in Review‘ post and, frankly, it will be still longer before we do a proper one.  However, we should take a look back on the previous year and take an honest appraisal of our performance and the work we have done at Digital Gamecraft and SophSoft, Incorporated.

Overview

Excluding politics, 2017 was not a terrible year for us, and for the most part we moved in a positive direction, with no catastrophic setbacks.  However, it must be noted that our ostensible performance was disappointing.  While we made big strides with internal development, we did not publish enough product (nothing directly from Digital Gamecraft) and did a poor job of communicating and marketing.

When one is spinning plates, it does not take much loss of focus to allow things to come crashing down.  Right now, SophSoft is as “streamlined” as it has been since 1994, so with fewer manhours to utilize, we tend to focus on the crucial issues (e.g., paying bills) and the tasks that we perform best and enjoy the most (i.e., development).

What Went Wrong

Because I gave us a below-average grade, we will start with the negatives for 2017:

  • We did not publish any Digital Gamecraft products (or even updates).
  • One of our Demolish! Pairs products was removed (forcibly) from the App Store.
  • Our primary web server crashed (hard) in the summer and we are still recovering.
  • Time spent in Los Angeles is far less productive than East Lansing (for reasons).
  • The current US Government is attempting to destroy this country for generations.

What Went Right

Now, we can end this with the positives about 2017:

Conclusion

Ultimately, being disappointed with shipping an average of more than one product update per month is probably a good thing; however, we can definitely do better, and that will be the subject of my next post, Looking Forward to 2018.

Dead Server was Dead

The Gamecraft blog hiatus is now over.

Digital GamecraftBack in the summer, our primary web server died.  When I say, “died”, I mean that it completely lost power suddenly and never came back on again.

Fortunately, we had a much more powerful server already online ready to take on the new hosting responsibilities (having been acquired to do just that).  Alas, the transition was planned to be a slow rollout, not an under-the-gun quick turnaround.

Resource prioritization

There were some services provided by the late server that needed to be replaced and restored post haste, so those clearly had priority.  However, the number of employees here skilled to handle server administration duties can be counted on the index finger of my left hand.  We took care of the emergency issues as soon as possible, and then we triaged services that felt like high priorities but which could actually wait.

Restoring this site was one of those lesser items.  The measurable ROI (return on investment) for the blog was negative, it takes a significant amount of time to manage and provide content, and the readership was dropping far below its peak.  In fact, we had been cutting back on the number of posts out of necessity.  On the other hand, we had as much contract work as we could handle, one product needing some critical attention, and a new project in danger of falling further behind our planned (albeit arbitrary) schedule.

After getting over the initial emotional reaction and making the decision to wait to restore the blog, it became easier to keep pushing that effort further into the future.  Not only did we save (well, postpone) the immediate time requirements, we also saved the time it takes to write original content and maintain the site.

As an interesting bonus, traffic to our Facebook page increased by 1600% shortly after the server went down.  However, that boost was short-lived.

The intangibles

I surmised that the unexpected boost to Facebook views, which trailed off reasonably quickly (especially since we have not posted an update there in a long time), was actually an influx of blog readers checking to see whether we were still “alive” as a company.

We were very much alive, just too busy (and short on resources) to restore the blog.

Additionally, there were a small number of items that came up which we would have liked to communicate to our readers, but given that such a post required the initial time investment to revive the blog, many of these were simply dropped or forgotten.  We have also had three (unannounced) product update releases during this “hiatus”.

Finally, however, I made the call to relaunch the blog when we had a lull in time-sensitive work, combined with a number of upcoming announcements in the next few months (not to mention a growing concern about the impression left by a landing page).

As is so often the case with such tasks, once the decision was made to go ahead and get it done, it took less time than feared and embarrasses me to have procrastinated so long.

We are back

Now, the Gamecraft blog is back, and we have lots of posts to make and, as noted above, expectations of news to announce in the coming weeks.  Of course, because of the abrupt and complete failure of the previous server, there are still a few niggles that have to be worked out of the system, and a few changes to be made, but that is always the case.

Welcome back, readers!

Curmudgeon Day 2017

Stay home and do exactly what you want.

Stay Home. Do What You Want.It is Curmudgeon Day again.  This is a day to stay safe at home, avoid the insane traffic and idiotic spending, and do something that you want to do.

This year, I watched practice for the Abu Dhabi Formula 1 Grand Prix, put on some comfortable clothes in which to lounge around the house, played some games, and write to you just before I work on a personal project that makes me happy.  Food consists of turkey sandwiches and cherry pie left over from Thanksgiving dinner.

Last year, I celebrated in style by not writing about Curmudgeon Day. 😉

For more information about this holiday event, read my previous Curmudgeon Day posts, which I have been writing since I started this blog back in 2004.

Please feel free to comment on how you spent your Curmudgeon Day.

… and stay off of my lawn!

Happy Thanksgiving 2017!

Why I Am Thankful This Year

I have many reasons to be thankful this year:

  • On the business side, I am thankful that my company (SophSoft, Incorporated) continues to survive in a difficult and challenging industry.
  • On the development side, I am thankful that I have a large list of interesting projects on which to work and that I still get excited about programming games.
  • On the marketing side, I am thankful that I have been able to restore the new server and this blog site to something resembling its prior glory.
  • On the employment side, I am thankful that I have an excellent team of elite programmers who can pull off amazing projects and from whom I can still learn.
  • On the social side, I am thankful that I have some astonishing friends who are truly wonderful, giving me something to which I can aspire.
  • On the family side, I am thankful that my family remains so wonderful and continues to support me and each other, even when times are tough.
  • On the personal side, I am thankful that I am still healthy and active and that I can be comfortable without compromising my values or integrity.

I wish great happiness for all of you on this special holiday.

Gregg Seelhoff

AWESOME Solitaire AR

Digital Gamecraft™ is delighted to announce its latest development project, AWESOME Solitaire AR Edition™, shipping in July.

You have known us as the development force behind the award-winning, best-selling, and most numerous Solitaire games, Pretty Good Solitaire, Goodsol Solitaire 101, Most Popular Solitaire, FreeCell Plus, and A Little Solitaire for iPad (to name a few).

Today, we announce the upcoming availability of AWESOME Solitaire AR Edition™, the world’s first augmented reality Solitaire product shipped with its own AR hardware.

Imagine being able to take all your favorite solitaire games with you wherever you go.  Play FreeCell on the wall of a building.  Find your Spider moves spread out over a city block.  Meet people on the street and explain to them that, “The game is called ‘Klondike‘ and, yes, there are many different types of solitaire.”  See the cards right out in front of you, almost as if they could be real, physical objects.

Best of all, AWESOME Solitaire AR Edition will come with premium augmented reality hardware from our friends at DAQRI, which hardware you can also use for, you know, other stuff (when not playing solitaire, of course).

Unique Features

  • includes hundreds of types of solitaire, complete with rules on how to play
  • ability to select virtually any size playing cards and tableaux up to 1 mile wide
  • play multiplayer mode and fight strangers for the cards you need to win
  • choose between two hardware configurations based on quality of neighborhood
  • ships with special “decks” of 52 cards each for low power desktop operation

Prices

Professional system, includes AWESOME Solitaire AR Edition software, DAQRI Smart Glasses, and two decks of standard playing cards – $7495

Even more professional system, includes AWESOME Solitaire AR Edition, DAQRI Smart Helmet, and 4 decks of Poker size playing cards – $call for price

Solitaire gang discount on fleet purchases – call for details

Preorder now!  Due to anticipated overwhelming demand, orders will be shipped on a first-come, first-served basis, so reserve your place in line today.

 

35th Anniversary!

SophSoft has been in business for 35 years as of today.

Digital GamecraftOn Wednesday, January 13, 1982, thirty-five years ago today, Sophisticated Software Systems was officially founded.  That company was later incorporated as SophSoft, Incorporated (because that domain, sophsoft.com, was still available).

Five years ago, I wrote a post, 30 Years in Business, giving more information.  You can also see the About SophSoft and Digital Gamecraft page (and sidebar).

Over time, some years have been more productive, and some have been more “interesting” than others.  Notably, back on the 25th anniversary, I actually posted about the results of our annual off-site meeting, rather than the major milestone; in that vein, I will keep this celebration limited and generally mark the occasion with more development. Still…

SophSoft, Incorporated is the oldest indie game development company in the world!

Ha!  Beat that. 🙂

Pretty Good Solitaire ME 3.30

The latest upgrade to our flagship macOS product is available.

Pretty Good Solitaire Mac Edition 3.3Pretty Good Solitaire Mac Edition 3.30, available from Goodsol Development, is the best Solitaire game for Mac computers.  This version of the game can be purchased and immediately downloaded for only $24.95, and it is a free upgrade for customers.

This Pretty Good Solitaire Mac Edition update adds another 100 games, for a total of 700 games, plus another 90 bonus games not accessible in the trial version (for those who want to try it first).

In addition to the new games, this version 3.30 update addresses several minor requests from customers, fixes all known bugs, and fully supports Apple macOS Sierra.

Fifteen Years with Goodsol

We have been working with Goodsol Development for 15 years now!

Goodsol DevelopmentOn this date back in 2001, SophSoft, Incorporated made our first software delivery to Goodsol Development.  Since that time, we have never stopped working together, producing the best solitaire software ever created.

I posted about this collaboration 5 years ago in my post, 10 Years of the GDcard Library.  We have continued our progress since then, adding an entire line of iOS products and 400 more games to Pretty Good Solitaire Mac Edition, along with much more.

For fun, I thought that I would take a look at some of the numbers:

To save everybody a little bit of math, this means that, on average, we have delivered a new product version once every 10 days, and we have added a new game of Solitaire every two days, for the entire 15 years.  Amazingly, the number of delivered versions for Pretty Good MahJongg and for Pretty Good Solitaire Mac Edition are currently exactly the same: 88 of each.  [Spoiler: PGMJ will take the lead with a macOS Sierra bug fix.]

In lieu of anniversary gifts 🙂 , just tell your friends about our excellent products!