So recently, I was asked to make a presentation to a group of people who hadn’t yet met me, to tell them what it is I do.
Well, first of all, one thing I don’t do is make public presentations. They scare the … Hey! Who took all the toilet paper? (Sorry. Too soon for a COVID-19 reference?)
Seriously though, I really spent time trying to figure out what to say and how to make my work sound interesting, and perhaps even entertaining. But every time I tried, even my reaction was…
How do I make analysis, database design, complex coding algorithms, game theory, and user-interface design sound interesting? Well, unless I’m talking to another programmer or application designer, I don’t.
Then I was reminded of the old saying, "Don’t tell me, show me."
But first, let me back up a little. The people I was presenting to all work for the same company, Bezier Games. Bezier had hired me about a year earlier as a remote contractor to develop an app, a mobile version of their Silver card game. It was an amazing opportunity and a chance to work with talented people who invent creative, fun games. Basically, they play. All day. Every day.
I’ve developed a lot of complex applications. I have a lot of experience designing databases to store, retrieve, and manage data, and I’m no stranger to complex business logic or workflows. But this would be different. This was a chance to create a game, something that was fun to play, something that hopefully would be as addictive as the physical card game.
Silver has 52 cards representing 14 different characters, each with a unique “ability” that triggers an action (for example, view a face-down card or draw an extra card from the draw deck). As with many card games, there is a discard pile, but there’s also the possibility of a second draw deck, and a token with its own ability. And of course there are rules for how and when cards can be used. To top it off, the player has to be able to move cards, flip them over, draw them, discard them, or give them to the other player. All these options have to be enabled or disabled depending on what else has taken place during the player’s turn.
The geek in me, the game theorist, the person who likes finding patterns, really enjoys a challenge like this. My scalp on the other hand, as evidenced by my lack of hair – I’m not so sure.
So, back to the old saying – “show me.”
Shortly after the app was released, the reviews started coming in. There have been some great reviews, including one player who wrote “Great game!” after completing their 1,000th game. Wow! I thought I was the only one who had played 1,000 games, and that’s only through continuous testing and debugging while developing the app. But my favorite review was from my brother who, out-of-the-blue, mentioned that he had downloaded it and was really enjoying playing it. Yes I know, he’s family, but if you knew my family you’d know that they wouldn’t try to spare my feelings.
What I liked most about hearing these reviews is that it finally dawned on me – THIS is what I do. My brother could see it, everyone could see it. There’s no need to talk about the geeky technical stuff. I can show you and you can see for yourself.
That’s what I do.
And recently I was fortunate to be invited to the Bezier Games headquarters to meet all their awesome, creative, fun staff – even if I did have to make a presentation.