Happy New Year 2012!

Best wishes from all of us here at Digital Gamecraft.


The upcoming year corresponds to the Chinese Year of the Dragon, which should make it ideal for productivity, growth, and success.  Less mystically, 2012 is going to be our year of connection, as we continue to build our online presence and social network, both professionally and personally.

At the turn of the year, it is traditional to look forward into the future, and we will doing this in the coming days, as well as honestly assessing our performance over the past 12 months.  Expect some more significant activity on this blog in the coming days.  In the meantime…

Happy New Year!


Curmudgeon Day 2011

Stay Home and Do What You Want.

Today is Curmudgeon Day, a holiday which is traditionally celebrated by not going anywhere (especially avoiding the shopping frenzy and the idiots who fuel it) and enjoying activities that make you happy.  For a reasonably complete definition and history of Curmudgeon Day (for you Wikipedia editors), see the Curmudgeon Day category of this blog.

Warning: There can be consequences to not participating in Curmudgeon Day, such as people being injured at Walmarts around the country.  (I remain safe and warm at home, and never go to Walmart.)

Think about the things you enjoy doing, those activities that you would do if you had a little more time.  If you have the luxury of not having to work serving the braindead on this day, stay home and do those things.  Spend time with family, play a game you have not had time to open, work on a creative project you want to accomplish, or just relax.  Take the day, or even the whole holiday weekend, to remember what makes you happy.

For my part, I slept in, then watched Formula 1 practice from Brazil, and now I am writing this blog post before programming a project I have not been able to find time for recently.  Even doing what I love for a living, I still have lots of other things to do on this one day for doing strictly what I want.

Occupy Home!

A Personal History of Thanksgiving

I come by my love of Thanksgiving honestly.

In 1621, the settlers of Plymouth Plantation held what is widely regarded as the First Thanksgiving, under the second Governor of Plymouth Colony, William Bradford.

In 1624, William Bradford had a second son, his first to be born in the new world, also named William Bradford.

In 1651, William Bradford (the younger) had a son, Thomas Bradford.

In 1693, Thomas Bradford and his wife, Anne, had a daughter, Jerusha Bradford.

In 1716, Jerusha Bradford married Hezekah Newcomb.
In 1717, Jerusha Newcomb gave birth to a son, Silas Newcomb.

In 1752, Silas Newcomb and his wife, Submit, had a son, Paul Newcomb.

In 1776, Paul Newcomb and his wife, Martha, had a son, Silas Newcomb.

In 1806, Silas Newcomb (the younger) and his wife, Betsy, had a daughter, Eliza Newcomb.

In 1832, Eliza Newcomb married Jerry Williams Pierce.
In 1844, Eliza Pierce gave birth to a son, Jerry Williams Pierce (II).

In 1872, Jerry Williams Pierce and his wife, Polly, had a daughter, Minnie Sophia Pierce, born here in Michigan (as was every person mentioned hereafter).

In 1899, Minnie Sophia Pierce married Jesse George Wilson.
In 1902, Minnie Wilson gave birth to my grandmother, Mildred Leona Wilson, who compiled all of the information herein prior to the existence of the internet.

In 1926, Mildred Leona Wilson married Manley Russell Seelhoff (my grandfather).
In 1941, Mildred Seelhoff gave birth to Gerald Norman Seelhoff, my father.

As you can see, I descend directly from the founder of our American Thanksgiving, as documented in his journal, Of Plimoth Plantation.  For this, I am also thankful.

RIP: Rick Tumanis (1956-2011)

Our good friend and Art Director has passed away.

Rick Tumanis (1956-2011)Last Friday, Richard A. “Rick” Tumanis, my long-time business partner and longer term friend, died unexpectedly in his sleep.  Rick served as Art Director for SophSoft, Incorporated and Digital Gamecraft, of which he was a founding member.

Raised in Battle Creek, Michigan, Rick received a degree in English from the University of Michigan, followed by a law degree from Cooley Law School, but he chose to pursue a career in video game artwork, as well as his personal love of making music.  Rick began in the video game industry in 1987 when he joined Quest Software and provided artwork for the classic title, Legacy of the Ancients (Electronic Arts); he followed that up by creating all of the artwork for its quasi-sequel, Legend of Blacksilver (Epyx).

In 1995, Rick joined up with (then) Sophisticated Software Systems, contributing to games such as Mission Critical (Legend Entertainment), ZPC (Zombie), Vegas Fever (Encore), Card Crazy 2 (Encore), Slot City 2 (Encore), and MVP Backgammon Professional (MVP Software).  He was lead artist on Bicycle Card Collection (Microsoft), included in Microsoft Plus! Game Pack: Cards & Puzzles.  This led to a collaboration with Goodsol Development, for which he provided almost all artwork for more than 10 years, on games including Pretty Good Solitaire, Most Popular Solitaire, Action Solitaire, FreeCell Plus, and Pretty Good MahJongg.

At the time of his death, Rick was working on a couple of upcoming iOS games and completing work on his most recent solo album, Earfull.

Services were held 1:30pm, Thursday, August 4, at Farley-Estes & Dowdle in Battle Creek, with visitation an hour prior.  Click here for Rick’s obituary page.  [edited 08/08/2011]

Rest In Peace, Rick.  It is a shame that you did not see all of our big plans come to fruition.  You will be greatly missed.

Careers (April Update)

February/March spent some time in the doldrums.

productivity gameIn this periodic update to my productivity game based on Careers (for accountability), I have to admit to slower than expected progress.  As a reminder, the basic goal and object of the game is to reach 20 points in each of the three categories.

At this point, my scores (in deadline order) are:
Fame/Accomplishment: 6
Happiness/Health: 6
Money/Finances: 1

I was expecting to have reached my goal (20 points) in the Fame/Accomplishment category by April 1st, and that would have a knock-on effect for the Money/Finances category, but instead my focus reduced progress in the Happiness/Health area instead.  Bah.

“An explanation, not an excuse.”

Although the tangible progress is less than I hoped right now, I have (with the exception of one bad week) been working hard and long on a number of different projects.  My work on the Goodsol Solitaire Engine (which powers all of our solitaire games) got bogged down in a couple of new features and the associated interface changes on Mac and Windows, but that is almost resolved now, and the iPad version has been making progress, too.  I count five (5!) new titles and major product upgrades due in the next month or two.

Careers (February Update)

Decent progress was made in January.

productivity gameIn order to enhance accountability in this productivity game based on Careers, I plan to post monthly updates to my progress.  As a reminder, the basic goal and object of the game is to reach 20 points in each of the three categories.

At this point, my scores (in deadline order) are:
Fame/Accomplishment:  3
Happiness/Health:  6
Money/Finances:  0  (or 0.7)

I certainly have a way to go on the last one, but my deadline for that is Thanksgiving, and the nature of the challenge is such that that momentum should build throughout the year.  (Anybody truly concerned can, of course, send me large checks or just wads of cash in an envelope.)

Happy Groundhog Day (and Imbolc)!

Today our local groundhog was not able to come out from his burrow without a shovel, so he slept in (rather than looking for a shadow); I think that means that we just got most of our winter at once.

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.

Curmudgeon Day 2010

Curmudgeon Day: It is now official!

Now this blog/site is recognized by no less an authority than Google as being the primary source of information about the holiday non-celebration that is Curmudgeon Day.

For those new to this phenomenon, Curmudgeon Day is recognized (not necessarily celebrated) by staying home all day, spending no money (in general), and participating in whatever activity makes one happy, or at least relaxed and contented.  I recommend reading the annual Curmudgeon Day posts from the past several years.

[Editor’s note:  True to the spirit of the day, this post was not edited until much later.]

On this particular Curmudgeon Day, with my status set to Out of Office all day, I actually spent my entire day off of the development computers.  After sleeping in, I did spend a little bit of time in the office (physically), tidying up and removing some excess “stuff” that had been placed here immediately prior to the arrival of our Thanksgiving Day visitors.  I then spent time watching some classic movies, including Dial M for Murder and Strangers on a Train, as well as generally putting the TiVo on a diet and fitness regimen.  (The same cannot be said for me, as I indulged on the food left over from the prior day’s feast.)

I did actually do some research and design for an upcoming game title, and I also contemplated some productivity improvements in conjunction with a weekend “reboot” of my task list.  That, however, is a subject for a future post…