Given that 2022 was challenging, and then the first part of 2023 has been a disaster, there is no choice for SophSoft, Incorporated and Digital Gamecraft® but to make (the remainder of) 2023 a much better year. We are working to be somewhat more focused, and I am willing to push enticing projects to next year or later to keep a clearer direction now. This should be a year of resilience, recovery, and great progress.
Product Development Goals
The priorities for our major internal development projects have changed slightly from last year, but these same six projects top the list.
- Unannounced Gamecraft Classics™ product – this project is on the brink of being revealed (and I have dropped hints 😉 ), but we are waiting until a specific milestone is reached, so we can confirm certain features. This is a traditional game title that has been under planning and development, intermittently, for decades, but it was moved to the top priority late last year as a point of focus for production on multiple platforms. We hope to have an announcement soon, and initial releases before the end of this year.
- SophPlay System™ – this product combines libraries, tools, standards, and procedures into a complete development system for creating robust games on multiple platforms, and it has been in use here for more than 25 years. The primary work on this project at the moment is in support of the above project, with the fundamental new features being improvements to 3D rendering and cross-platform support.
- Unannounced productivity tool – this product has been under development for, now, 33 years, though obviously not continuously. Because progress on this ground to a halt last year, yet we managed to muddle through with existing processes and workflow, this whole project has been dropped slightly in priority this year. It is still massively important for the long run, but the decision was made to use more resources on the above projects in the short term.
- Unannounced console title – this is a game title that (perhaps unusually) focuses on accessibility and inclusion. The initial phase of product development is for PlayStation 5, and the product directly benefits from SophPlay improvements made to support the higher priority project, while also serving as a test platform, helping to confirm that these improvements are generally beneficial.
- Unannounced reference website – this is yet another project that has been in the conceptual and prototype design and development phases for ages. It is given this high a priority now as it helps support the highest priority project, and it also gives me a great deal of excitement and purpose, but as noted last year, it is still in search of a viable business model.
- Demolish! Pairs – this product has been available in its initial form since 2013 (on iOS, 2018 on Android). We refreshed the iOS versions in late 2021 and the Android version in early 2022. We still have an extensive roadmap that includes a free-to-play version for Android and a massive (2.0) redesign with additional platforms, which plans we have not abandoned, but have somewhat deprioritized. Currently, this title doesn’t quite earn enough to justify the time it takes to bring up the sales reports; its primary benefits are the exercising of SophPlay and demonstration of our various development capabilities.
There is a certain amount of interaction among these items, especially between the top two projects, which are being developed/improved more or less in parallel. However, for this year, if we can ship initial versions of one new product, on some platforms, which requires associated improvements to SophPlay, I will be pleased. If we can get much of that done in the first half of the year, allowing us to make significant progress on the other listed projects, that would be awesome; that is the target.
Client Development Goals
Right now, we have two active clients for whom we are doing product development work. However, unlike last year, when I posted that we were not seeking more clients, the financial hit we took means that we are now, in fact, seeking additional opportunities to increase our funding and replenish the coffers to enable more time to be spent on our own projects. If you or someone you know needs game development assistance, especially programming and production, please check our SophSoft site and contact me.
For Goodsol Development, we pretty much decimated the roadmap, in a good way 😉 , leaving few projects from last year to roll over into 2023; however, we also have not yet determined a solid plan for the new year, so I can only say with confidence that a new update for Pretty Good Solitaire Mac Edition, with 900 games plus 100 bonus games, will be released fairly soon, since that is what we are currently developing. One could extrapolate previous patterns to guess what else might be updated and/or released this year, but it would not be a surprise that some products and platforms perform better than others, so there may (or may not) be a narrowing of focus there, too. Hence, beyond the product currently in production, I cannot officially say what else to expect.
For Scooter Software, we are just finishing an internal update that completes all of the core development for a feature that could potentially be added to Beyond Compare. (Like the previous update, there are enough “moving pieces” that finalizing the deliverable is taking longer than anticipated.) After that, our plan calls for an official alpha version that expands to a full implementation, and then a beta version that is feature complete. That said, the process for actual integration (if/when that happens) is very deliberate and outside our influence, so it will likely be quite a while before the public sees it.
General Development Goals
There are several dozen general development tasks on the list, including categories such as marketing, education, and research, in addition to many small projects that advance the business. This year, though we will perform as many of these tasks as possible, I am narrowing the focus to three priorities in particular:
- Blogging – this is reasserting a commitment to greater openness and transparency via blog posts in 2023. I want to get back to posting more about development topics and not solely business plans and exercises in marketing (time permitting).
- Continuing research into 3D graphics – this is the effort to support SophPlay improvements, which feed into all of our games going forward, and includes API design for cross-platform functionality. With OpenGL, Direct3D, PlayStation 4 and 5, Vulkan, and other APIs to support (eventually), this is a monumental task.
- Pitch deck and company bible – these documents give information about the structure and purpose of the company and its various divisions. Like this blog post, writing and editing these documents provides clarity of vision, which is a foundation of growth and, simultaneously, provides continuity should the remaining company principal (i.e., yours truly) become unavailable.
Our financial runway has been shortened significantly, so proper execution of the plan in place is more critical, thus the business priorities are (still):
- Substantially increase business income – clearly, the primary way to do this is to release new products, so that is the main focus, but increasing client work may also be necessary.
- Resolve outstanding business paperwork – organization and review of all business paperwork, and probably some consultation with our attorneys, should go a long way toward peace of mind.
- Advance home/office renovations – this will provide benefits such as additional safe and secure storage for equipment and documents, as well as a larger space for testing console and AR/VR products (not to mention a nicer place for breaks when nature calls).
Taking over the world is still in the cards. 🙂
My personal goal is to make small, but consistent, steps toward an even better life. I will continue to be a strong presence in my grandchild’s life (as they get old enough that the number of enriching activities available greatly increases), and I will continue to exercise, enjoy nature, read more, play games, and write for myself.
I expect to find more ways to improve my outlook and mood, and after trying loads of different things recently, with varying degrees of success, I can confirm that developing games does as much as almost anything else for that improvement.
As always, the company has loads of work to do, on our own products, on client projects, and on support functions. Everything is in place to increase income significantly and then the foundations are sound to begin to grow again.
Most importantly, we have to acknowledge where we currently are and not spend a lot of time looking back, instead drawing a bar under the past and only moving forward.