First of all, my alma mater's historied men's basketball team, the University of Louisville Cardinals, has just defeated the beast that is the Big East winning both the Regular Season Championship Title and the Big East Tournament Championship Title, and are the Big East Champions, without any more doubt left for naysayers. It's exciting and there's certainly more excitement to come.

Moving on to business: I'm really excited at the progress of my game. (I've been working hard to bring a fun card game to the monitors and HD screens in people's living rooms.) Other than sending out resumes, I've pretty much been working on the game full-time and things really started to show up this week. Programming can sometimes be frustrating because a lot of work can be done and very few visible results come from it (because "stable" and "conceptually clean" and "expandable for the project's next needs" rarely is directly visible). Programming can also sometimes be amazingly thrilling when one small change makes a project visibly sing stronger to its audience. This last week has seen a few long running rewrites hit right into a few tiny tweaks (leveraging the rewrites) to produce a build that I'm quite excited with.

Today I had two good friends stop by for a few good hours of playtesting. It was great to get feedback from fresh eyes to the project and played through a good chunk of the game content. I'm working on making these playtests at least somewhat regular from here on out. At least through the end of March, with (vacation) schedules the way they are we seem somewhat stuck to schedule on anything tighter than an ad hoc basis, but hopefully April will provide opportunities to easier scheduling.

There is one big advantage/disadvantage to April scheduling and that is the Louisville behemoth we call simply Derby. I realize it is sometimes hard to explain the Spring rite that is The Kentucky Derby to a non-Louisvillian, particularly one already ill-informed of "The Best 2 Minutes in Sports". The Derby Festival itself is a nearly month long extravaganza for the city leading up to the Derby (always the first Saturday in May), and thus in April weekends get wilder and wilder until they explode in a day of shared decadence and depravity. That is, a proud, noble centuries-old tradition of drunken debauchery.

My testers still in school will feel the usual pulls between parties/events and final exams as we get deeper into April, which will be a disadvantage going down the stretch. But that will be a useful time measurement as well. Hitting a huge deadline just before Derby makes the Mint Juleps all the sweeter...

So given a Spring deadline such as the PAX 10 submission deadline of May 9th, I cannot, as a native Louisvillian, pass up the chance to round up to that first Saturday in May and proclaim that I have an important Derby deadline to make. Most of my local testers know what I mean by it, and it gives me a random excuse to reminisce about some of my college memories as I extoll that meaning in this rambling blog post.

So there you have it, the most overt part of the current Derby deadline plan: I'm going to try to get my game into the most kick-ass state that I can and try to get it past the PAX 10 judges. That means I need a good "beta-quality" build by Derby. The PAX 10 page this year mentions a focus on gameplay, and I'm a little excited by that, because from what I saw during today's playtest the gameplay itself is probably already at "Web 2.0 Beta" and possibly within striking distance of true beta. (It's also good because at the moment my intended "music team" hasn't yet responded to my deadline challenge.)

I had wanted to apply last year, but didn't think the game was ready enough at this point last year. I'm almost tempted to pull out a build from this time last year just to show how much has changed.

PAX is an important milestone in the history of this game project, and I very much want to rock out PAX. Getting a PAX 10 nod would certainly be a wonderful chance to put my game front in center in front of the awesome PAX crowd.

There's also other PAX goodness in the works this week, and once details get settled I might ramble on more about that excitement.

Suffice it to say Sub-Section 1 of Goal 1 of the Derby Deadline is: I need to find airfare and lodging for PAX. Considering the last two I had my "travel agent" [1] schedule the month before, at nearly the last minute; I need to better that.

I've got a month and half until Derby. Wish me luck. If you are in Louisville and interested in game playtesting and you think that I think that I can trust you (or some reasonable variation thereof), let me know. If you are not in Louisville, ask me about investment opportunities. Maybe an excessive corporate Derby Party to celebrate all of our hard work will be warranted by the time this is done...

[1]She knows that she has my eternal gratitude.