Business Geekyness, DDR update, reposession, the other road

  I’ll warn ya now – this is a long entry  It’s been a week since I’ve set down and did a brain dump to the ‘blog, so grab a cuppa tea (or Mt. Dew, etc. , and be semi-entertained ( yeah, well, not sure if my drivel is entertaining – being a volumous writer doesn’t make one entertaining 
I’m a computer and game geek – there’s no denying that. I love games, love computers, own a game development company, and own Gamer Zone. But, I’m also a business geek. I love beeing able to break my company down into numbers that show trends. I love to-do lists, and watching items getting checked off. I love wheeling and dealing. Oddly enough, the combination of both is a bit rare. Most of the guys I’ve met in the game dev arena are more interested in the creative side – developing games. That’s the part they are passionate about. The business portion is the drudgery. For me, I’m passionate about both portions. It’s kind of cool really.
So, I’ve managed to knock more things off of my To-Do list – the projector that was being used for DDR has moved to a new more logical location now that DDR is on a 32″ monitor. The electrician has gotten his bit done, so all of the cables that were in the DDR / Console area are gone. The extension cords that fed the lights for the front counter are gone. The entire controlpoint area has been reworked with it’s new dedicated circuts (Woohoo! No worries about the control point going down because someone pluged somethign they shouldn’t have into that circut  And a ton o’ other stuff changed and fixed, even if people won’t actually SEE some of those changes. That’s a happy thing 
I’m leaving town tomarrow and headded for glorious Kenosha, WI. One might ask, what’s in Kenosha, WI? Money. See, when I do contract work, I charge $500 / day plus expenses for on-site services. I don’t do it very often, but this comes at a very pivitol point in my life (which I’ll get into shortly) But it also is rather fun, since I only have to work 8 hours a day (instead of the typical 16) then go home. No late nights, no oh-my-god hours, and very low stress. In otherwords – going out on site for me these days is a great opportunity for me to recharge my batteries.
Sure, I’ll still do work from the hotel room – I’ve got 5 games I want to get to as close to done as possible, plus a couple more puzzle games I’d like to experement with (new gameplay concepts – I like doing experemental designs just to see how it would change gameplay. It may still be a puzzle game, but sometimes you can create entirely new concepts just hacking around.) But overall I’ll probably only work 8 hours on site, then set in the hotel room, watch TV and program on game geekery for another 4, then get lots of extra sleep 
If I sound fairly upbeat at the moment, I probably shouldn’t be. While I have to keep some things about business a secret until they have moved from concept -> plan -> execution phases, I’m really not particularly secretive about most of my life. In the process of doing GamerZone, I failed to keep myself as involved in the game development community as a developer as I should have. The result? When contracts dried up finally, there was nothing else out there to work with (didn’t help the EA and a couple of other big ones shed some serious weight, which meant a lot of guy scrambling to get contracts and start new studios all at once, slowing things down considerably). Bugger. 
This lead me to a point where two roads diverge. On one fork was the illusion of security and stability (note the illusion part – always remember, no matter who you work for, there is always uncertainty. The market changes, business collape, govornment programs become irrelevant, or people just make stupid mistakes.), but with the advantage of a short term regular paycheck. Yep, that would mean I go out and get a job. 
The other road leads down a totally different lifestyle with a lot of unknowns. No idea when you get paid – it’s all based on the whim of the market, and on your industriousness (so you better be pretty energetic. Luckly, I am.) Yep, starting your own business.
What’s really odd, is my wife and I didn’t find this fork in the road just once, we’ve found it twice. The first time was when I got laid off from my “real job” after over 10 years (a friggin’ DECADE working in one place. Nearly 1/3rd of my life! That just seems so… bizzare!) I’m the type of guy who normally put in 10 – 12 hour days on a normal week, and 14 – 18 hour days when I was out on site. Lance (who is one of my partners at GZ these days) worked with me for over 3 years as a somewhat sidekick of mine, and I think he was the one that said we were in the “Make it work” business. We didn’t get paid overtime or out of town pay until the very end of my years at the job. You just did what it took to get the job done. Needless to say, when I was laid off it was a very bitter experience. But it also lifted a lot of pressure off of me – we knew it was going to eventually come to an end, and when it finally did it was a relief.
At that time Heabo (my wife) had a full time job, and I was unemployeed, but had started Midnight Ryder Technologies (my game dev company) as a background sort of thing. We could make it, so, we took the one less traveled by, and I started game dev in full swing. And we survived pretty well.
But time passed, and Gamer Zone came along. This presented an interesting concept – Heabo and I had already discussed doing this exact thing, so we jumped on board.
As mentioned, that caused things to slow down for game dev – basically, I didn’t keep my eye on all the balls in the air, and managed to drop a few. Gamer Zone wasn’t making me money – it was costing me money when we were at Harry and Broadway. But we had already began looking at moving the store. I had a plan, and it was time to execute it. We had big problems though. Since there was no cash, things like credit cards (which were now near max or were maxed), car payments, etc. became a game of scrounging to pay ’em.
Heather and I discussed it over and over. We fought over it. We talked about it. We went through the entire gamut of emotions. But the result was the same – we decided to risk everything and continue down the road less taken. We knew there was going to be a heavy cost. Simply put, I was going to loose everything to do it. I left myself an “out” plan for a bit, just in case – when we got to the Delano location and discover that “suckage – it doesn’t work any better here”, we could still bail and I get a job. Heabo moved to Colorado – she had to begin the process of setting up shop there for us (eventually I am moving to Co, but not until everything is stablized the way I want at GZ, and I can hand it to someone I trust to handle day to day operations on a long term), and jumped out of the fire, leaving me here. At first that might sound pretty cruel – leaving your husband behind to fight on the front line while you head off for other things. Trust me, it’s not – we laid out a pretty good plan after we decided this was a viable way of doing things.
GZ is getting pretty solid now – I’ve got deals I’m working that are phenominal, and leveraging them to create further opportunities. Business has been pretty good flow (until last week – it was very slow last week, but after talking to some people it was that way for nearly everyone business wise!) Of course, it still doesn’t pay the personal bills. It pays all of GZ’s bills, just not mine.
So, the time came – I had prepared for it, planned for it, and came to terms with it before it happened. My car was reposessed about 2 AM Friday night. Yep, that’s right – I’m one of “those deadbeats” now  Honestly, I wish they would have waited another week to repo it – then I could have gotten to Kenosha, WI and back pretty easily. As it stands, I’m going to have to run a 1992 Caddy there and back instead (which is sort of iffy, but, I’ll make ‘er work, and I’m definitely capable of repairs on the road.) Ah well, at least it’s a workable plan, and gets me there and back.
I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference (in case no one noticed until this point, yes, I was making allusions to Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” the whole time  Wait – this doesn’t sound like I’ve came out well on this deal – my car is gone, and I’ve got to get my house sold sometime soon (hey, if anyone is looking for a cheap house – I’ve got one for sale right around $50k. Nice little place actually, and a motivated seller or I loose it. How could these be good things?
When Heabo and I sat down a plan (that sounds like we did it all in one setting – this is actually quite a few discussions put together to come to these conclusions) to pull off what really needed to happen, we had to shed the extra stuff. If it came down to just plain sacrificing it and moving on, so be it. Those moves created a life that we could both be happier with (even if we are geographically separated at the moment – that’s the suck part for us), and we could build solid foundations on top of. And, eventually, create a debt free environment for ourselves where pretty much anything is possible. What looks like a failure? That’s a success in the plan. How odd 
But with everything going on now, it looks like we chose a road that does indeed lead to our intended goals. Thank ye gods for that. Woulda sucked to have gone down this road, had GZ fail, loose everything, all because we thought it sounded like a good idea 
What about transportation though? Well… I discovered that it’s too far to bike (8 miles to GZ – actually it’s an easy ride, taking about 30 minutes when you include all the downtown stoplights, but that’s too long of a reaction time when there’s a problem, and when it’s 90+ outside it would SUCK!). Back to my original plan – time for a motorcycle. Cheap to operate gas wise, fun and cool, but a bit impractical somedays (‘specially when it gets cold!) I’m going to drive it around for about 2 months, then convert it to a full-electric motorcycle. Yep – zero dependance on gasoline prices 
Now on to other less wordy things…  
DDR – it’s shut down for just a bit. I’m leaving town, and won’t be able to work on it for a week, so sorry to anyone who’s waiting on me to get our crap done  Fear not – after I get back I’m getting back to work on the pads. I found the error in my design (acutally, error in execution – the design was valid and has proved out, the execution was bad on two pads), and will re work ’em.
The other problem is we’re still knocking down plaster in Agents, but I’ve got an idea how to fix this problem, once and for all. I’ll talk to Doc Tim and see what he thinks of this idea. If it works, then we’ve finally got it conqured and I have a little less stress over one o’ my favorite games. Yay 
OK, I think I covered enough territory for one blog post  2k words is actually probably way way way too much actually 
till next time!
Davis, Gamer Zone
PS: FINE, there’s your update Chelsie! 
thanks for the update… but uhh. you spelled my name wrong this time. you had it right last time ._.
*sighs* lolz, it’s okay. see you when you get back ^^
Posted 5/1/2006 9:29 PM by Aur0raXXBorealis – reply
Enjoy the recharge, lol. GL with the pads when you get back to it, and remember I’ll be happy to help any way I can with ’em. 
Later man.
Posted 5/2/2006 9:45 PM by wizitchizit – reply
Yes hurry back so the emploees can have our fun pickin on ya and learning new things!! its like school all over again 😛
Posted 5/4/2006 12:43 AM by flairburns – reply

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