Posts Tagged ‘kids’

I’ve made attempts over the years to play IF with my kids (now 15, 14, 12, 10, and 9) with poor success. Angie (12) had shown some interest with Lost Pig, but no else had any patience for all that reading and typing.

So I made a bargain. In equal amounts, they could play Minecraft for playing IF with me.

I picked up a wireless keyboard and mouse for $34 at BestBuy and plugged my laptop into my 60″ LED TV, fired up Zork I and upped the font to 24pt. It worked out well enough.

Penny, Angie, Tori, and Ben all played for about 90 minutes, but the cacophony of “Minecraft” requests and the whining became overwhelming. That’s as far as we could go. In the process, I did notice that Penny and Ben liked it, but if they had a choice, wouldn’t play. Everyone wanted the keyboard which engaged them more, so that was interesting.

Later, I fired Zork I up on my laptop in the kitchen and restarted it from memory. After about 10 minutes Tori (10) came and sat next to me to help. By this time I had pulled out the map from Treasures so that was something that definitely helped raise interest.

After awhile, Angie came sat with us. We got up to about 150 points before they had to leave to go back to their mom’s house.

Yesterday they were over again and we played most of the afternoon and finished Zork I. They (Angie and Tori) immediately wanted to play Zork II and so they started it on their own.

The parts I enjoyed was that they solved some of the puzzles on their own, but they also got into the rhythm of “save early and often” and understanding the parser well enough to not need my help.

I’m looking forward to playing Zork II when the come back next weekend. I’m really excited to get through the Zorks and on to Enchanter. That should be even more fun.

I’ve been avoiding talking about the behind the scenes aspects of developing Textfyre because it hasn’t gone all that smoothly. It’s been a struggle almost from the beginning and I’m now going to share some of the things that have held us back.

I’ve been married for a little over 12 years now. My wife and I have five awesome kids. One of the things that developed over time in my relationship with Irene was that she decided she didn’t like the ups and downs of consulting. I’ve been independent on and off and also worked at several consulting firms during our marriage and either the hours or the stress of finding “the next client” always caused her enormous anxiety. I admit, the lifestyle is not for everyone.

Some people argue that when you have kids, you shouldn’t take any risks. Some people think that you live your life and your kids learn from that. These aren’t necessarily competing priorities if both parents share the same philosophy, but when you don’t, success is very difficult. Something has to give.

There are other, personal aspects to my marital difficulties, but the fundamental difference is choice in lifestyle. After twelve years of never really figuring out how to accommodate each other, my wife and I are divorcing. The discussion started well before Textfyre was created. Then the legal divorce process started in July of 2008. It’s mostly amicable and we’re sharing the kids jointly and will live close to each other.

In working through the divorce, the economy tanked. Up until March of last year, I was making a considerable amount of consulting income. Enough to take care of personal finances and significantly fund Textfyre and incur no debt outside of a mortgage and a couple of car payments. The economic downturn strangled the investor pool that drove my client, OneDegree.Com, out of business. After that, I couldn’t find work from April through mid-December. It was financially devastating to say the least. There were some very close calls keeping the servers up at times.

Through all of this turmoil, I have managed to keep Textfyre afloat, although certainly not at any pace or direction that I originally planned. A few people have switched gears to leave the work as a lower priority, which is understandable. Some people understand that in any start-up there are “hard times” and are willing to push through. Some people just have to get paid every week or every invoice to keep working. I can’t fault anyone for doing what’s in their own best interests. I very much appreciate everyone that has worked on Textfyre’s development whether they continue to do so or not.

Now the good news. We’re not going anywhere. We’ve struggled to make it this far and we’re very close to doing some amazing things. The iPhone, iPod, and native OS X versions of games are around the corner. The third game is nearing beta and a fourth series is now in the design phase.

I’ve made a personal commitment to help do outreach for the larger hobbyist community because through that process I actually learn how to do my job as owner of Textfyre better. I still learn new things about IF all the time, about how its perceived, about how to develop it, what works and what doesn’t. This is really a never-ending learning process.

As of June 15th I will be divorced and my personal financial situation will both improve and degrade at the same time. I won’t be able to take some of the risks I’ve taken in the past, but I will be able to support and direct Textfyre better than I have in the last two years.

By the way, If anyone’s thinking that Textfyre caused my divorce, that’s silly. Textfyre was a result of knowing that I was going to be divorced.

I don’t plan to share personal information often, if ever again. I just thought that those reading this blog should understand how divorce and the economy can impact a start-up business.