Development on the Road Trip


Joshua tree spotted while doing development on the road trip
The Joshua Tree is native to the Mojave Desert

You can (sometimes) do a surprising amount of development on the road

Day one of Dennis and AnnMaria’s most excellent road trip was fairly productive for me. While Dennis drove to Las Vegas, I was able to get done about 40% of the code for an anxiety measure. These data will be collected in the second in our new game series, as well as start on the structure of that game for login, choices, etc. I also was able to review a program for sound editing and plan out a little more the software to use for the game design class I start teaching next week at Spirit Lake.

Today, even though Dennis only drove less than half the time, I was still able to have three conference calls and go through most of my email. It was hard to get much development done on anything with the Internet not available for hours. Every time I’m somewhere without Internet access, whether it’s an airplane or the middle of a desert, I am once again appalled at the amount of software that just doesn’t work because it was designed assuming everyone, everywhere would always have access to the web.

You can even submit a new game series while driving through the desert

We decided to market our decision-making games through The Julia Group rather than 7 Generation Games because we don’t want people mistakenly downloading these. The content is quite different. Rather than teaching math, English and history, these games cover topics like addiction, dating violence and depression.

When it was my turn to drive, Dennis started the process to submit that game to Apple through a new developer account. The FIRST game in the new series, Crossroads: Decisions , will be in the app store in a few days.

Internet access is all or nothing

Have you ever called tech support for a computer problem and been told,

“It works on my machine”

– Tech Support Employee of the Year

In the past, hotel wifi and rest stops in rural areas have been a good place to test our games for low bandwidth conditions and frequent dropped connections to see how our software functions. So far on this trip, that has not worked out. Either the wifi has improved significantly, like in Las Vegas hotels, or it is completely non-existent – no cell phone access, no wifi – like in the desert in California, Nevada and Arizona.

Lizard on rock we spotted when taking a break from development on the road trip
If this lizard wanted wi-fi, he’d be out of luck

We already have several games with offline modes, but every time I have an experience like this, it motivates me to expedite our push to getting everything possible to run off line. So, my frustration today wasn’t completely wasted. I really try every time I have a bad experience with technology, whether it is lack of Internet or lousy customer support, to reflect on how I can use that information to make sure our company and product doesn’t suck as much as that situation.

On another note, it’s been two days and Dennis and I are still married, so that’s a good sign. We’d never done anything like this before and weren’t sure how it would go.

Deer in the forest screen shot from Making Camp math game

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