Profile: Gregg Seelhoff
The Association of Software Professionals started out in 1987. Our members ended the rule of software boxes on shelves by inventing try-before-you-buy, and now, that’s how all good software is sold.
Here’s another in our series of profiles of our members. All we asked was this: How did you get started?
Gregg Seelhoff, of Digital Gamecraft, joined the ASP on December 30th, 1999, and is online at http://blog.gamecraft.org/
Jerry Stern, Editor, ASPects
I grew up with a love of games, and I spent a couple of weeks each summer at my uncle’s pinball arcade, just at the time when video games were starting to appear, so I literally grew up alongside video games. I also really enjoyed board games, card games (including lots of solitaire), and had a growing interest in Dungeons and Dragons.
Then, in late 1978, a friend took me to the local computer store, where I was able to play computer games on microcomputers, including a game called Wizard’s Castle, a role-playing game (like D&D), on the Exidy Sorceror. An in-game death experience caused me to learn that the game’s author worked in the store, and he talked me through a couple of BASIC commands which resurrected my character, and this first “programming” experience caused me to start learning BASIC that very day. The next day, I was back at the store and ended up (at the age of 12) helping a college student debug and fix his number-theory program, and I have been programming ever since.
Of course, I always wanted to create games on the computer, so I spent most of my time teaching myself programming (from books) and designing (and even coding) games on paper, all while trying to borrow computer time whenever and wherever I could. Even though I did not have my own computer yet, I formed my company in 1982 for the purpose of programming video games. I tried to sell one game, written for the TRS-80, via Computer Shopper. Later that year, I got my first programming job, earning enough over the summer to buy myself a Commodore VIC-20 (but not enough for an Apple ][ like the ones I had been primarily using). I wrote lots of games for the VIC-20 and attempted (naively) to publish one of those video games via retail channels.
After high school I had a couple of full-time programming jobs on the (new) IBM PC, so I changed my focus to writing games for DOS. I learned about shareware and managed to obtain a decent development system, so I bought a couple of inexpensive compilers and struck out on my own. Shortly thereafter, I learned that there was (incredibly) a game development company, Quest Software, writing retail games near my hometown, and I soon got hired as their lead programmer, where I worked on two retail games, Legacy of the Ancients (Electronic Arts) and Legend of Blacksilver (Epyx). Unfortunately, Quest went out of business in 1990, but during the decline, I managed to finish and release my first shareware game, Pacmania 1.1, a Pac-Man clone.
It was a moderate success, and led to several interesting opportunities, but it was not enough to feed my family, so I worked for a couple of years programming in the emerging field of multimedia, before deciding to get back into retail games. I had a short stint working at (fellow ASP member) TechSmith, as the only programmer (at the time) working on SnagIt (version 2.1), before receiving a few job offers from the West Coast. I accepted a Senior Software Engineer position at Spectrum HoloByte and was soon the lead programmer on Star Trek: The Next Generation, “A Final Unity.” Toward the end of that project, several issues converged to bring me back to Michigan where, in late 1994, my company went full-time.
The next year, I brought in a partner to handle the artwork for the games we planned to create, and we pursued retail game funding while surviving on contract work for a number of different companies, including Zombie Games, Legend Entertainment, and MVP Software, culminating in work on Microsoft Plus! Game Pack: Cards and Puzzles, as we shifted our focus back towards shareware. Our (long overdue) membership in the ASP led to working with Goodsol Development, initially on artwork and a custom library for Pretty Good Solitaire, and subsequently on several new products, including (SIA winner) Pretty Good MahJongg, and an expansion to new platforms. This collaboration has now continued for 10 years!
Digital Gamecraft plans to release a new (IOS) product later this year.