Celebrate with us and donate to future of literary education and arts with #LEAF

To celebrate Glacier Peak’s success, I am going to match 100% of donations to the Literary Education & Arts Foundation (LEAF) from now until the end of March. (Up to a $1,000 total. We’ve been successful, but we’re not wearing hats made of money. Yet.)

LEAF is a 501(c)(3) organization registered with the IRS. All contributions to LEAF are tax deductible and nonrefundable. All the directors and staff of LEAF are strictly unpaid volunteers. 100% of all donations to LEAF go directly to supported programs.

You have several choices for donations to literary arts and education through LEAF:

  • You may contribute to the fund which supports the Northeast School of the Arts’ Creative Writing program. This money is earmarked for the award-winning Literary Magazine and is part of the program that helps these young writers get college scholarships in literature at a higher rate than anywhere else. All surplus funds every year are invested directly to the NESA CW Literary Magazine Endowment.
  • Directly to the LEAF operating fund which supports all LEAF activities, including youth writers programs and other literary foundations and programs. All surplus funds every year are invested directly in one of our endowments.

Please donate to LEAF and the future of literary education and arts.

Modernity preorders are now open!

We are are now ready to take preorders for Modernity, for print, PDF, or both. You choose!

We are offering a 50% discount on all Modernity preorders during ChimaeraCon, for those of you who are attending.

We’ll also be running three sessions of the introductory adventure during ChimaeraCon, in case you want to see Modernity (or David) in action.

If you’ll be in the San Antonio area this weekend (April 4-5-6, 2014), drop in and visit us and get in on the raffle for great prizes!

How tall is that wall… really?

I’ve never thought of myself as an impala, or any other herbivore for that matter. Hrm.

The African impala can jump to a height of over 10 feet and cover a distance of greater than 30 feet.  Yet these magnificent creatures can be kept in an enclosure in any zoo with a three-foot wall.  The animals will not jump if they cannot see where their feet will land.

A lot of humans are like this.  They are afraid to take a risk.  Not I.  I understood at an early age that in order to triple your success ratio, you might have to triple your failure rate.
Harvey Mackay: Make Failure the Beginning of Greatness

Although it wouldn’t be too bad being a brontosaur. That might be pretty cool. Especially if someone mounted machine guns and howitzers on my back!

Does anybody else feel a little nostalgic for Paraworld now? I might have to dig that one out of the closet and set it up for family game night. Since Steam doesn’t seem to have it, I wonder if it’ll run on our Windows 8 PCs?

But I digress… I didn’t start this off to talk about war dinosaurs. Not withstanding the cool factor of giant armed and armored… Never mind.

Harvey Mackay’s post at Ziglar.com included something that I love:

Failure can be one more step on your road to success – you just have to turn it around in a positive direction.  Failure can push you harder to succeed.  Failure can strengthen your determination to overcome obstacles.  Failure can make you braver in the face of opposition.  Failure can help you learn what you need to do in order to succeed.  Failure can teach you what your limitations are – and your strengths.  Failure can encourage you to change your strategy.
Harvey Mackay: Make Failure the Beginning of Greatness

There’ve been decades of my life during which I felt caged in by walls that seemed insurmountable. Afraid to fail. Afraid to start. Just afraid… Looking back on them now, those walls seem about 3-feet tall. Huh.

Have you ever felt fenced in like that?

Do you now?

We may not be laser-equipped dinosaurs (yet) here at Glacier Peak, but we’re definitely pointing our [fictitious] bulldozers at some longstanding walls. It turns out that we can only be caged by our own consent.

You cannot be caged without your consent.

I’m not aiming for failure, but I won’t be daunted by it anymore if (and when =) it finds me. I hope you’ll join me and do that thing you’ve always wanted to do, but were afraid to try (again). We might both fail. So what?

After all, I’m Irish, and Murphy is that horrible second cousin that blows into town a couple times a year, just for fun, to remind me why I should never attend family reunions.

But I digress. Again…

Go do what Eleanor Roosevelt said: Do one thing every day that scares you. The bigger, riskier, and more likely to fail the better!

EDA Sprint 0 is complete!

The number one question we get is, “What game are you working on? When I can play it?” The answer is, “Real soon now!” Heh.

"Talk is cheap. I go to a lot of gaming events, and people come up to me and say ‘I’ve got this great idea for a game’, and I’m like ‘Yeah, that’s great – I want to see your game.’"

Gamasutra – News – Tin Man Games’ Ben Britten: Why ‘Failure is Awesome’

Message received. We’ve driven the requirements spike. We’ve done lots of imaginary playthroughs of the first four “scenarios”. We’ve got the concept art. We have acquired all of the tools and all the toys to launch us into a successful Sprint 1. We’ve done the retrospective and will make some adjustments to our process for future sprints. Perhaps I’ll blog about those more in the future.

We are ready to roll!

Heads down, heads up?

It’s the end of week one of my “vacation”. Samia convinced me that instead of dragging the family on an unplanned road trip (the best kind!) for three weeks that I should instead take a practice run at being self-employed (again) – if I’m serious about making Glacier Peak a fulltime daylight gig some time in the next 463 days… Apparently writing the next number in the countdown on the bathroom mirror every morning isn’t enough. It’s not the first time she’s called my bluff. Heh.

After almost 20 years of being married to a wonderful career coach and business partner, I’ve learned that taking her advice is usually the wisest course of action. Every time I don’t, it winds up costing me money, blood, sweat and tears. But, I shan’t digress into my recent Toastmasters speech on the subject, but suffice to say, I’ve learnt my lesson.

I feel pretty good about the progress that I’ve made on the current project. (Sorry, no spoilers to share yet!) It feels pretty good to shut the [home] office door, fire up the tool chain and plug away at specific tasks when I haven’t already spent eight to 12 hours at the day job and then survived a krav maga training session. (A after year post-motorcycle misadventure surgery, the surgeon gave me the green light to get back on the sparring mat this month. He says that he’ll be ready when I show up with my next injury. What a cynic! Yes, my attention deficit disorder is very evident today.)

However, in order to validate my current business plan, I’m going to have to start keeping closer track of how much time each of the components take at a more granular level. The more that I practice, the better I get at modeling, painting, sound design, game logic scripting and level building, and the faster that I get at producing great output, but I really need to validate the pre-production, production and post-production time costs for the various assets in order to prove out the creative velocity that we’ll need to achieve the business plan’s predictions for success. Hrm.

In other news, I’m pretty excited to see that Autodesk dropped some PhysX support into 3ds Max with the most recent Subscription Advantage Pack. I plan to give it a work out next week and see how much time it can save me…

More anecdotal evidence to support The Quiz!

A long time ago (in previous employment-lives), but in this very galaxy, I blogged about The Quiz that we used when someone made the mistake of promoting me to hiring manager and we needed a way to reasonably judge the capacity of job applicants. It worked very well at narrowing down a huge candidate pool to the kind of rock stars that we were looking for.

The most fun that I’ve had as a candidate taking similar “tests” prior to an interview was with Blizzard this past year. Although their “test” wasn’t a real job task/scenario like The Quiz, the coding puzzles were interesting. (For the record, I didn’t get the job. I think admitting that I did not play World of Warcraft had something to do with it. Heh.)

Antonio talks about a very similar process that he went through recently when hiring interns for the DB2 team @ IBM. Although he had it easy, since he only got 100 resumes to wade through. (I still have nightmares sometimes about wading through the zillions of probably-not-qualified resumes that were spewed out by Monster.com another other job sites whenever we made the mistake of posting an open position there. I think I’ll restrict posting my future open positions to headhunters and TheLadders.com.)

The coding assignment was a huge asset in determining people’s real abilities. Some of the nicest assignments came from those with academically weaker performances. You could clearly see who the hackers and potential future computer science professors were. Without the assignment, the selection process would have been much harder, so I’m glad that it was something we required the applicants to do.

Things I’ve learned from hiring interns for IBM

That echoes my experiences as a hiring manager, too. Some of the best coders that I ever hired had degrees in biology, law, physics and political science. Go figure. That is one thing that I truly admire about the Microsoft hiring process, too. Typically @ Microsoft, it doesn’t matter what your educational background is or how you acquired your technical skill, so long as you can demonstrate it. Under pressure.

For those of you future applicants to Glacier Peak. You have been warned. Expect to be able to demonstrate your skill. Under pressure. On The Quiz!

Teams or Stars?

When I have been a hiring manager in previous work lives, the question frequently came up: Is it better to hire a few rock stars (aka prima donnas) or a few more really competent people who know how to play well with others? In many software engineering circles, the conundrum is known as the Myth of the Heroic Programmer.

It’s always nice to see someone with quantitative research that backs up and validates the decisions that you’ve made in the past, and help to inform similar decisions that you’ll make in the future.

For the answer to that question, we don’t have to rely on hunches, or instincts, or a handful of individual cases. It turns out that some careful research has been done on this point. Data were gathered from a wide range of companies in an effort to settle the question of which is more important in generating superior performance: teamwork, or "stars?" The answer, hands down, turned out to be teamwork.

Caseplace: Teams, Not Stars, Are the Key to High Performance

Of course, if you can hire rock stars who are great team players, that’s the best of both worlds! However, in my experience, the personalities who gravitate toward building a “star brand” for themselves are generally the antithesis of team players. C’est la guerre.

I’m looking forward to growing Glacier Peak and adding quality team members to the mix, because there is nothing more satisfying than results that a small group of talented and highly motivated people can produce who are kicking ass, taking names and producing great products together.