Overall Performance Grade: Pass
The last year was particularly challenging for reasons mostly unrelated to business or development, so rather than give a letter grade, I merely graded our performance on a pass/fail basis. Since we made it through the chaos, that earns a passing grade. Now Digital Gamecraft® and SophSoft, Incorporated, are in a similar position to where we were last year, albeit with fewer resources and a different calendar year. It could have been much worse.
Accomplishments of 2022
We managed to continue development throughout the year, so here is a countdown of our top 10 achievements:
- We shipped a beta version of Action Solitaire in April. The fact that a release version has not yet been published accounts for this being at the bottom (well, top) of the list. However, this is a maintenance release only, so I can still recommend the current version, Action Solitaire 1.6; the next update will be free to all registered users.
- We shipped beta and release versions of FreeCell Plus (for Windows), FreeCell Plus Mac Edition, and FreeCell Plus Touch Edition in December, working right up to the end of the year. FreeCell Plus 4.40 (for Windows), FreeCell Plus Mac Edition 4.40, and FreeCell Plus Touch Edition 1.60 were all published in January 2023.
- We shipped a release version of Pretty Good Solitaire Mini (for iPhone) and Pretty Good Solitaire Mini 1.10 was published in January (2022).
- We shipped beta versions of Most Popular Solitaire and Most Popular Solitaire Mac Edition in March, a beta version of Most Popular Solitaire Touch Edition in April, and release versions of all three in August, when Most Popular Solitaire 2.40 (for Windows), Most Popular Solitaire Mac Edition 3.20, and Most Popular Solitaire Touch Edition 1.60 were published.
- We shipped a beta version of Pretty Good MahJongg in January, a beta version of Pretty Good MahJongg Mac Edition in February, as well as release versions for both; Pretty Good MahJongg 2.80 (for Windows) and Pretty Good MahJongg Mac Edition 2.80 were published in March.
- We completed a fully playable PlayStation 4 prototype of Demolish! Pairs in May. This marked a console development milestone set when we got our PS4 and PS5 kits; from this point we are performing a quasi-port of this proof of concept to PlayStation 5 by means of enhancing our SophPlay System™ for both platforms and converting any remaining code that directly accesses any PlayStation SDK.
- We shipped a beta version of a (deliberately undisclosed) feature for Beyond Compare (Scooter Software) in May. This deliverable demonstrated the feature functioning in an environment programmed in Delphi and represented a concrete milestone of moving from the research phase toward a complete implementation, though potential integration would not happen until 2023 at the earliest.
- We shipped two beta update versions of the Goodsol Solitaire Engine, in July and November, adding 50 more Solitaire games, along with supporting engine changes, each time. This brought the total number of implemented games to 1000, which count includes (100) bonus games. These new games should propagate into Pretty Good Solitaire Mac Edition, and probably Pretty Good Solitaire Touch Edition (for iPad) and Pretty Good Solitaire Mini (for iPhone) as well, in 2023.
- We published Demolish! Pairs 1.10 for Android in January. This represented a significant amount of refresh work, as discussed in an earlier blog post, being the first Android project in more than 3 years. The end result was professionally satisfying, placing this accomplishment near the top of the list, despite earning, literally, nothing. 🙁
- We survived the year, again, with the business still intact, and I personally made it through a myriad of challenges as well. For the third year in a row, existential concerns have been paramount, with a global pandemic and other matters of life and death, literally, factoring into how the company operates. Here’s hoping that 2023 is a relatively uneventful year of outstanding productivity and no existential crises. [Voiceover: “… but that hope would only last until Monday, February 13.“]
What Went Right / Wrong
Looking back to 2022: Year in Preview, here is how I assess the ultimate results:
In general, despite the challenges, we continued to develop and make good progress. We completed 23 projects, including 10 published release versions, 2 active beta versions, one completed beta version pending release, 9 other completed betas, and 1 major prototype. We shipped products in 9 different calendar months (only missing June, as 50 Solitaire games were added to Goodsol Solitaire Engine, and September/October, as another 50 games were added.) Frankly, I was surprised looking back at how much was accomplished.
Our product development goals were not met, although progress was made. None of the (4) unannounced projects made enough progress to actually be publicly announced, although the Gamecraft Classics™ product made major strides and should be revealed soon. SophPlay System™ progress was good on multiple platforms, but significant work remains to be done. Demolish! Pairs got its Android refresh in January (after iOS refreshes in late 2021), as well as completion of the PlayStation 4 playable prototype, but the multi-platform redesign has not taken place yet, much less implementation and release.
Development for client projects, on the other hand, was quite successful. Although it was not explicitly mentioned, I enumerated 13 client projects for completion in 2022 and we completed every one of them. We also got clearance to publicly name Scooter Software as a client (only mentioned here because it was listed as a goal). The only drawbacks were that one beta product got stuck in the doldrums, and that there are fewer client projects for the new year.
General development goals were not met, though primarily because these are the kinds of projects that get deprioritized when resources (especially time) are constrained. We made limited progress on each item, but significant progress on only one, while the focus of the console goals shifted, and I made few blog posts, despite better intentions.
Business goals, alas, were a failure. Simply put, not only did we fail to increase income, but the extra challenges meant repurposing some of the funding for renovations into operations, so there was no time for reviewing paperwork and neither time nor enough money to begin renovations. On the other hand, that leaves these goals unchanged, and despite the larger challenges, I am more motivated than ever to fulfill these goals.
I did not publicly enumerate personal goals, but I did mention spending more time with my grandchild which definitely happened, albeit not as I had imagined, and we have a closer relationship now that I could have ever hoped for, which is the best outcome of the year. All of the other personal goals were totally shaken up by events, but I did my best.
Honestly, much of 2022 was fairly dark for me, so I am relieved to look back and see that the company continued to deliver for clients, and scaling back the goals ever so slightly allowed us to complete all planned client projects. When one is faced with concerns about the immediate welfare of family members or oneself, it becomes difficult to plan for the future, and very hard to dream of much beyond an end to the current crisis (or crises).
Now that most of these concerns have passed, I am beginning to plan and dream for the future again, while adjusting to those things that will never be the same (as I also had to do just four short years ago). I can’t say that I am quite back to 100% yet, but I am close enough that I have been able to get “in the zone” once more, and dismissing humility for a moment, I feel that my 90-95% is still much better than most developers at full strength. 😉
I can even say that I am truly excited for (the rest of) 2023 and the positive progress it will bring, and I am looking forward to much better things. Onward!
Pingback: 2023: Year in Preview | Gamecraft