2023: Year in Review

Overall Performance Grade: Incomplete

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It has taken a long time to write this retrospective of last year, mostly because continuing practical demands prevented me from actually taking the time to assess what happened in 2023, from a slow start segue into a local mass shooting, a heavy investment in our internal products paired with a disappointing reduction in client work due to external factors, culminating in a troubling end of the year, paralleling the rough period for individuals and small companies within the game industry at large. I decided that our performance deserves an “incomplete“, which matches the overall mood; we did lots of high caliber work during the year, but did not bring enough to completion to really justify a grade. As with such a grade back in high school, we now have a limited time to complete the work or lose credit.

Last year, Digital Gamecraft® and SophSoft, Incorporated earned a passing grade by virtue of surviving the year. I noted then that we “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.” Well, this year things are definitely worse, with very few resources remaining and another calendar year already more then a quarter gone.

Accomplishments of 2023

Given the circumstances, I must scale back to the top 5 achievements from last year:

  1. For Scooter Software, we shipped the internal feature update intended for future integration into Beyond Compare that we previewed early in the year.
  2. For Goodsol Development, we shipped Pretty Good Solitaire Mac Edition 3.7, which contains 900 different Solitaire games seen in the Windows flagship product, plus an additional 100 bonus games.
  3. We made substantial improvements to our 3D graphics capabilities and active knowledge, knocking off the rust and updating abilities, including technical functionality on multiple platforms, image rendering, file parsing, graphics shaders, and adding (for the first time since 2011) modeling skills.
  4. We made excellent progress on our unannounced Gamecraft Classics™ product previewed last year, showing outstanding enhancements in four (of five) key areas of development on the project. (I anticipate a public announcement soon and an initial release later this year.)
  5. We made fantastic updates and additions to our SophPlay System™, incorporating new capabilities into the library, revising and expanding existing classes, deprecating a few ancient (in computer terms) features [8-bit color palettes, anybody?], and improving external documentation. Most of this work was in service of the above product, but the internal impact extends far beyond that.

What Went Right / Wrong

Looking back to the 2023: Year in Preview, this is how I assess our ultimate results:

The top two product development goals were advanced significantly (reflected as #1 and #2 accomplishments above), although we did not actually ship the product during the year. The other 4 listed goals were essentially unaddressed, although I note that this does indicate an appropriate focus on the (related) top goals, rather than bouncing around among projects.

The client development goals were fully met, as expressed, having shipped one significant deliverable for each client. Alas, factors over which we have no control left the overall results less satisfactory than I had expected, and our income (and, thus, financial well-being) has taken a substantial hit.

The general development goals were partially fulfilled, with limited improvement on blogging (and outreach in general), very good progress on 3D graphics research, but very little movement at all on the pitch deck and company bible (which, to be fair, are important overall but provide no tangible benefit in the current circumstances).

The business goals, unfortunately, were a failure, like last year. Business income decreased significantly, dropping below current expenses, outstanding business paperwork remained outstanding (and now a year older), and the lack of increased income caused the renovation plans to remain on hold. 🙁

Personal goals continue to evolve, and I make progress towards them, tempered only by a challenging financial situation and the corresponding burdensome stress.


Last year was a struggle, and while I could see positive signs and room for some optimism, it seemed that a number of things broke against the company. Taking a lull in client work as an opportunity to advance internal projects did not work out at all as expected. Investing (early) to attend GDC 2024 was followed by an industry downturn (read: crash) that made it potentially the worst year for seeking contracts in the history of the conference.

The most positive aspect of this is that the company continues to function as a full-time game development company, the oldest independent game developer in the world, and it improves its assets and abilities constantly. Likewise, I get to spend my full time (and then some) enhancing my knowledge and skills. Our capabilities remain formidable, not to mention available for hire.