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Friday braindump

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Hi there. Sorry about the sporadic posts. If you want more up-to-date updates complete with 140 character braindumps and whatever one-liner happens to cross my mind, be sure to follow me at

http://twitter.com/johnhattan

Otherwise here are the topics.

1. Shelly's got a new job.

Barnett Shale (a bigass rock under Fort Worth that's full of natural gas) drilling has come to a near-standstill and will likely continue to stay that way until gasoline hits $4 again. We have enough cash in reserve to weather the storm, but Shelly came across a really great opportunity in the area. It's at a place she worked pre-CivilGrrl, but now she'll be a muckety-muck on a bigass (and by "bigass" I mean >$1 billion) pipeline project. So CivilGrrl is on the back burner for the time being. We're doing a couple of little mini-projects here and there, but I'm back to being a one-person office 95% of the time.

Since starting on Tuesday, Shelly and I are both feeling the culture shock. Much like 1996-1999, I'm cloistered up in my office like a monk eight hours a day. Shelly suddenly has chatty coworkers. Things are a little stressful right now, but we're coping.

On the good side, it's a great job and I think we'll all be the better for it once we're adjusted to the culture.

2. New Project

Well, this all started with the Mochiads Word Game Contest. While dinking around with mobile game platforms, I got the idea to hammer out a quick word-game. Then I got a better idea for a different word-game. Then I pitched to Shelly the idea to make a word game that could work via social networks.

And Shelly made the mistake of telling me that my idea was brilliant and that I should put everything on hold for it.

So I am. I can't talk about it right now, but it'll be a little different from my existing puzzles. It'll work as a standalone word-game that can appear on various sites. But it'll also work in its own domain.

And I still wanna enter it in that contest, as I'm always one to enter a game in those Mochi contests so I can lose.

So my deadline is August. I'm trying to keep the engineering to a minimum. It's a little more "churn" than usual because it's not a straight game but is a game that talks to a server on its own domain. Still, it's not too complicated. I'll certainly be courting beta testers on Twitter, so follow me if you wanna get notified.

3. Casual Connect is Afoot!

I'll be doing Gamedev press for Casual Connect in Seattle later this month. I have about ten requests for interviews, but only about three or four are development related.

And Shelly's demanded that I come home with a pile of new fun freebie games for her laptop, so I'm in the horns of a dilemma. While I can certainly interview the press-agent for "Super Jewel Match Three Quest Whatever" in the hopes of getting a freebie, that's not really good fodder for the gamedev coverage. If I talk to the people who make PhoneHighScoreAPI 1.2, that's more game development related, but there's not a good freebie game in that.

So I have a delicate balance I must strike. The wife and critter won't be there this time, as there's now a day job with which to contend.

And some of these interviews are a general pain because there's very little to tell developers. While game developers would certainly be interested in getting their Flash game listed at SuperUltimateGameWhatever.com, it's a bit of a waste of time to talk to a press-agent for an hour about their site with the only developer-related information being "oh yeah, if you want us to put someone's game on the site, just email submit@superultimategamewhatever.com".

Still, there'll be a bit of fun to be had there. It was a good convention last year and much easier to traverse than the GDC's.

My only complaint is that they're doing it at that Seattle opera house again. While the opera house is terrific for a single big presentation, it's not good for multi-track stuff. The convention ended up renting meeting rooms in adjacent clubs and restaurants, and there was no press room to be found. Most of my meetings either involved clients renting out rooms to hold court ($$$) or us hiking around the place until we found a reasonably quiet spot with chairs.
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