Careers Revisited

Productivity inspiration from a retail board game.

Health / Finances / Accomplishment

In order to measure my progress on my obligations for 2011, and to (literally) make a game out of it, I decided to adapt the old Parker Brothers game, Careers, first published in 1955 (and now available from Winning Moves).

The feature of Careers that makes it appropriate for my purposes is that the object of the game is to “succeed” by earning a combination of Fame, Money, and Happiness, but the exact “Success Formula” is determined by each individual player.  The formula is determined by assigning a total of 60 points to the three categories.

In my 2011 version of the game, I have selected to play a balanced strategy, with 20 points to be earned in each of these updated categories:  Happiness/Health (), Money/Finances (), and Fame/Accomplishment ().  These correspond to my individual, family, and business goals, respectively.  Of course, I will make progress towards success in the real world, rather than moving around a game board.  No dice involved.

At the start of the game, I assigned 20 points to each of my goals and then broke that down further into points for measurable milestones along the way.  Since each goal has a specific deadline, I assigned 5 points for meeting each deadline, and the remaining 15 points (in each category) were divided into at least five different parts.  Additionally, to indicate that simply reaching the goals was not the ultimate desire, I determined three “superwin” targets to pursue as I (hopefully) I blow right past my committed goals.  I want the overall SuperWin by December 31, 2011.

So far, as of the middle of January, my scores (in deadline order) are:
Fame/Accomplishment:  0
Happiness/Health:  5
Money/Finances:  0

Hey, it’s a start. For those familiar with the game, my Occupation Record has “Game Developer” checked (for decades), though I missed the College path the first time around the board.

2011: The Year of "Shall"

This year means more than resolutions.

Before the new year, I made a hard assessment of my goals, past and present, and how well I performed toward achieving them throughout 2010.  My overall performance grade: B.

Although I am very happy with the progress on most fronts, there were some long-term tasks that remained unresolved and continue to linger, and they are a hindrance to attaining my goals.  Perhaps my biggest fault is that when there was so much happening it was difficult to keep focus, although my default action (working) served me well.  In other words, I can almost always justify game development as a top priority.  Still, I am looking for improvement in the upcoming year.

I observe that there are three levels of commitment toward pursuing goals (beyond simply trying; “There is no try.” — Yoda):

  1. Most people make New Years resolutions; they resolve to do something.  This is tantamount to simply deciding what to do, but without necessarily making a solid commitment to actually carry through, perhaps as much about wanting as doing.  The results, as we all know, tend to be measured by how long it takes before the resolution is broken.
  2. People who are more committed say that they will do something.  From a legal standpoint, the word “will” in a contract creates an obligation, but it can be interpreted to mean essentially that the subject will make all reasonable efforts to perform.  This is a stronger commitment, a promise to take action, but with room for excuses.
  3. I have decided that this year I shall do something (three things, in fact).  The use of the word “shall”, in a contractual sense, makes the obligation mandatory; I must complete the goal.  I have fully committed to perform, and not doing so will be outright failure, no excuses allowed.

As noted above, there are three obligations that I shall fulfill this year, each with specific measurements and deadlines.  I selected one individual goal, one family goal, and one business goal (and as it happens, they all have ties to my company).  The business goal has the nearest completion date, followed by the individual goal, and the other (personal) goal is expected to take most of the year.  Of course, the family goal is also going to take the most time and effort to accomplish, but it will be worth it.

My approach in 2011 has been and will continue to be one of “ruthless efficiency“, wherein any task that does not demonstrably lead to progress toward (at least) one of my goals will be deprioritized.  In truth, I am not terribly comfortable with this, even for just a year, but it has to be done.  (I have met people that live their lives this way, and I often find them unpleasant.)  I accept that I will have loads of deferred tasks come 2012, and maybe even some relationships to repair, but at that point I will be in a much better position to deal with such things.

Of course, one possible victim of this temporary purging of tasks and responsibilities could be this very Gamecraft blog.  For the moment, I find writing about game development and related issues to be beneficial to my focus and positive attitude, but if my next post is the last for a year, so be it.

We must use time creatively — and forever realize that the time is always hope to do great things.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

Mac App Store (times two)

Apple launches the Mac App Store with titles including two of our products.

Last Thursday, Apple released Mac OS X 10.6.6, a free update to Snow Leopard, and the primary change is the addition of the (much anticipated) Mac App Store.  The Mac App Store is an online store for direct purchase and installation of software, modeled after the App Store for iOS; it replaces Apple Downloads, which officially closed on the same day.

At launch, Pretty Good Solitaire Mac Edition 2.14 and Pretty Good MahJongg Mac Edition 2.01 were both in the Mac App Store product lineup.  Pretty Good Solitaire is currently #5 on the ‘Top Grossing’ list for card games, and Pretty Good MahJongg is #100 (with a bullet!) on the same list for puzzle games.  Our other three Mac products (Most Popular Solitaire, Goodsol Solitaire 101, and FreeCell Plus) should be available there in the near future.

The launch of the Mac App Store is the culmination of months of work and waiting on our part (though mostly the latter).  We began the process of getting into the store on November 1 last year, and after numerous automatic failures, then a full month wait, one rejection, and ultimately two dozen application changes, PGS was given the green light (on Boxing Day).  Having properly documented all of the required modifications during the process, we were able to produce the store version of PGMJ in less than a day and submit it successfully with no rejections or rebuilds.  (It spent 3 days in the queue, and only 2 hours in review before final acceptance.)

If there is interest (i.e., comments left to this effect), I can document the various obscure and undocumented problems we faced during the initial submission process in another post.

Welcome to 2011!

Happy New Year!

Even though the New Year is ultimately an arbitrary construct, it is nevertheless customary to take the opportunity to reflect on the past year and plan for the next one.  More practically, of course, there are certain business related items (especially concerning taxes) that need to be handled in a certain calendar year, so getting those tasks completed before the end of the year is important.

In our case, we officially take two weeks off around the holidays, especially since very little work tends to get done anyway, other businesses are often running with skeleton crews (or closed entirely), and most of us would rather focus on family during this time, anyway.  However, we still have things to get completed by year end, so leading up to the break, we have a major project meeting (before two weeks without any) and determine which items have to be finished before the break, or during it in the worst case.  Last year (i.e., a couple weeks ago) we were able to determine that certain “capital improvements” were better deferred until 2011, so this year will begin with some disruptions targeted toward better efficiency in the near future.

For my personal task management, I added to the list all of my recurring items (some of which include general categories, such as ‘development’ or ‘marketing’) and methodically eliminated each item by assuring that everything necessary was finished before taking my break.  Alas, one particular (and important) item on my task list actually became two separate items with 2010 deadlines, so my break only encompassed hours, rather than days, of last year.

As the new year begins, on this first business day, I repeated the same process of starting my task list with all of my recurring items (plus deferred tasks), except this time I review each one to make certain that the foundational aspects are handled and to consider any procedural changes for the upcoming year (including delegating or completely eliminating a task).  I am still officially on a break for another week, so I am (personally) using that time to prepare my work environment physically, organizationally, and mentally, for substantially increased development efficiency when I return.

Of course, these are just the tasks that are performed to pursue our ultimate goals.  We also have planned and established a set of goals for 2011, which these tasks are designed to serve, but that will be the subject of my next post.