Slow progress, more discussions with other companies, heading for the goal line, MidnightRyder.Com re-deployed

Trajectory Zone is still plodding along. I took a vacation two weeks back, and things too a while to recover. Amazing how much work you make for yourself with just a week of vacation! I’m FINALLY getting back on track again, and my punch list for the next version is dwindling again. I’ll probably have my next release to the team Saturday or Sunday, and the first beta team version not too long after that.
MidnightRyder.Com has finally gotten re-deployed in a much more usable way. Check it out 🙂 It’s still not ‘done’, and I’ve got a couple o’ features to add yet (screenshot of the moment, and my logo isn’t on there, just to name two.) But it’s a MUCH better looking site, and the beginings of my shift in strategy for the puzzle game line. I’ve already got some work done on integrating exclusive features for people who actually own copies of my games – exclusive access to ‘owners’ forums where they can discuss the games, and always get the most current version of the game from the forums. I emailed my customer base on Saturday, and slowly the are showing up, and I’m getting a lot of positive feedback on the site, and the ability to snag the most current version (Without having to resort to emailing the author 😉 However, no discussions have started up yet. I’m hoping to see a community build up around the games, but until online high scores, challenges, etc. are available, I doubt too much of that happens.
Oddly enough, I’m also repeating the work I did at MidnightRyder.Com for Phil C.’s site ( He needed a solution that was right in line of what I was needing, so, I’m installing it for him too. Works out fairly well, since everything is fresh in my mind (I’ve got the basic install done, gonna add the mods I’ve done to mine over the next couple o’ days) Funny, I’ve never considered myself a web developer, but, along with Phil’s site, my site(s – some haven’t been mentioned here before), I’ve also been doing consulting work for a guy in Oregon that I know who does pneumatics work. I could get used to doing web consulting, if it wasn’t for the fact it’s not the field I’m interested in 😉
Had another long conversation on the phone with Justin M. with 21-6 over the weekend. Wow – those are some busy people! Spent an hour and a half discussing various topics ranging from some of the tech they have that I’m seriously considering licensing for both the Panic! puzzle games and for Trajectory Zone, to possibly doing some sub-contract work for them. As usual with conversations that involve NDA’s, it’s hard to tell what falls under the NDA and what doesn’t, so I won’t talk too much about what tech I’m lookin’ at licensing from them until it gets to the point of an announcement type thing. But, it’s some cool stuff, and I think it’s really gonna help push my smaller games alot. Anything I can do to help sales is great! 🙂
Talkin’ to 21-6 aways feels a bit encouraging for my company. They aren’t doin’ bad, and thier future is looking brighter all the time. I need a little of thier magic for my situation! 
I’m already planning my last day at my day job. Dec 19th, 2003. After that, I’m planning on going to work for Midnight Ryder Technologies full time. Yes, I will be one of those dorks who quits thier day job to write games for a living 😉 If things go as planned, I should be ready for it by then, with sufficent sales to support me. If not… well, I just extend the quit by date until I’m ready. By my wife is behind me on this, and has gotten a job (which means we can pay off debts quicker before then, and get some cushion for the exit from the company. In fact, since I’ll have been there 11 years as of Dec. 10th, I’ll also have 3 weeks of vacation to get started, giving me just a little more overlap.) I’m excited as hell, and it’s damned hard not to just walk out the door right now. In fact, I kinda think about this a little backwords – I think of it as how long I have to work until I can quit, not the date that I have to prepare until. I’d really walk out now if I could, even if they did give me a $.40/hour raise (which after 3 years without a raise is an insult – but I’ll take the insult and extra cash 😉 I feel positive, and energized about this. It’s amazing how good you feel once you work past the fear of financial failure 😉
I should note this one thing – if for some reason I end up with a contract job that requires me to work full-time on it, and pays good enough, then I’ll consider Dec 19th to be invalid. I’ll quit right now if I’ve got a signed contract in hand 🙂
Dan MacDonald   (Sep 02, 2003 at 14:50)
Davis goes full time. Sweet 🙂 and how in the heck did you convince your wife to go to work so you could stay home and make games? I thought I was good when I convinced my wife to let me get a motorcycle!
Davis Ray Sickmon, Jr   (Sep 02, 2003 at 15:01)  
I didn’t convince her. We both believe in the same thing – making our own destiny. And I’m not sure if this is said passionately enough to describe the situation, but, she HATES my day job. She hates me being at thier whims, ‘specially after the last couple of months where I’ve had a reduction in the number of days a week I work, etc.
As for motorcycles – well, it would be the other way around. She’d be trying to convince me to let her get a motorcycle (and it wouldn’t take much effort 🙂 I have my convertable, and someday I’ll buy me another toy – but for now the 91 Dodge Shadow convertable is enough 🙂
Gareth Davies   (Sep 03, 2003 at 14:26)
That’s sounds like really good news, you’ve got a strong set of puzzle games. I’d always expected they could be leveraged better… thus allowing you to get out of the day job. Which if I recall from previous essay’s isn’t well liked 😉
The site has some rather obvious errors on it at the moment. I assume it hasn’t been updated?
Well good luck… not that luck has anything to do with it. It’ll be good to see your presentation at the IGC again.
Davis Ray Sickmon, Jr   (Sep 03, 2003 at 14:34)  
Thanks for the complements and well wishes, Gareth! I like the three puzzle games I have, they just don’t have high enough production values yet to really merit pushing them hard marketing wise. Next rev, I’ve got a lot in mind for them. I’ve been talkin’ to a good number of puzzle addicts, findin’ out what they enjoy about the various bigger Indie puzzle developers works, so I can emulate those qualities. But, of course, that’s not enough – I hate “Me Too!” products (which is why I’ve never produced a Puzzle Bobble, Arcade Lines, or similar product. I would if I had a unique take on ’em though) I need to do one better – I need to come up with some new concepts for within the games. I’ve already got a couple of ’em, but play testing will determine if they are worthwhile.
What you see at StormChaser Studios at the moment is Phil C.’s original site work for it. What I’m doing is still hidden at the moment. Sometime this week (I plan on taking Friday off from work) the beginings of the new one will be visible.
Thanks – I’m lookin’ forward to meetin’ up and chattin’ with everyone at IGC again 🙂

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