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Duck Potatoes

•March 15, 2016 • Leave a Comment

I’ve prepared this dish twice now successfully, which I guess means it’s an actual recipe that I came up with.

Duck Potatoes (better name suggestions welcome)

1 duck, frozen
4 red potatoes
1 onion
2 tbsp parsley flakes
1/2 cup shredded cheese

Thaw the duck until it can be quartered, then quarter it. Slit the skin a few times on each of the pieces – don’t cut all the way through to the meat.

Steam the four duck quarters in a steamer basket in a large pot, covered, for 45 minutes or until no pink can be seen in the duck meat. Remove the quarters and allow to cool. Remove the water from the duck fat in the pot either by boiling the water away, using a gravy separator or putting the water and fat in a container and letting it cool in the freezer. Save the duck fat. Harvest the meat from the duck pieces. I always do this part the night before.

Chop about half of the duck meat into 1/4″ pieces. Dice the onion and chop the red potatoes into 1/4″ pieces.

In a large pan, add 1 tbsp of the duck fat over medium heat and wait until it shimmers. Add the onion and a little salt and stir occasionally until the onions turn translucent. Add the potatoes and a little more salt and cook until soft. Add the chopped duck meat and stir, allowing the meat to reheat. Add the parsley flakes, then taste and add any seasoning you desire (I like a little garlic powder).

Once it tastes the way you like, turn the heat off and sprinkle the shredded cheese on top to form a complete coating. Wait for the cheese to melt and serve. Serves 4-6. You can make two of these with the meat from one duck.

Hammy

•November 14, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Our hamster died tonight.

She was about two years old, so I’d been kind of expecting this. She didn’t appear to be sick or anything; it seems she just ran out of lifespan.

Hammy was a Syrian hamster. She had lovely brown fur and bright black eyes. She was so smart and energetic that it wouldn’t have surprised me to discover that she snuck out of her cage at night to fight crime while we were asleep.

It’s a shame she won’t get to come to Dallas with us. I’m going to miss her.

Missing Cat

•December 15, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Almost three weeks ago, right before Thanksgiving, our cat Figaro ran away.

I’m pretty sure he didn’t mean to do it; he just wanted to poke around outside for a while, the way inside cats do. But he darted out late at night and wouldn’t come back no matter how much my older daughter Megan (who is effectively the Keeper of the Cat) cajoled him.

I fully expected him to come back the next day, but he didn’t. He apparently got lost in the wilderness near our apartment. Days passed and we couldn’t find him, partially because we didn’t have a flashlight and night is the best time to look for a missing cat.

I was certain after a week that we’d never see him again. But Megan refused to give up, going out night after night to look for him.

A few nights ago Jamie and I were at the store and we remembered to pick up a flashlight. That night Jamie and Megan went out and thought they saw a cat that looked like Figaro, but they couldn’t get close to him.

Then, Saturday night, Megan went out again to look for him with the flashlight.

She returned sobbing with joy, Figaro in her arms. He was thin as a rail but otherwise unharmed.

We are all very happy to have our cat back for Christmas.

Um, Hi.

•October 24, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Hey.

Um.

Sorry about not updating for a while. Things have been slightly crazy.

Crazy AWESOME!

In our last episode, I mentioned that I had finally found a way home for myself and my family. ‘Twas a terrible thing to leave you guys hanging without the rest of the story, and I’m sorry. So here it is!

First, I was just amazed at how well the move worked out financially. Aspyr was willing to front us our move allowance, and a recent payment for my work on Fargoal 2 (still in development!) helped a lot too. (Thanks, Jeff!)

The move itself was straining, though. I’ve now moved cross-country three times and it’s been a harrowing experience each time. But there were no accidents or thefts or anything else untoward. Did get pulled over once but the cop let me off with a warning. (Thanks, cop!)

I’d been back to Austin twice, both times for job interviews. I could see that the city had changed a bit in the five years we’d been gone. Einstein’s Arcade on the Drag is gone for good. The Broken Spoke, a famous honky-tonk, is now sandwiched between two apartment buildings. Indeed, there’s been a lot of housing construction, most of it in the big-city “trendy apartments with storefronts on the bottom floor” type. Dunno how much I like that, but even before I left the city planners had announced that they wanted to turn Austin into a “24-hour city” so it’s not that surprising.

But I was still worried. Was it just a nostalgia filter? Or would living in Austin really be better than Florida?

Oh, yes.

triforcecar

In case you can’t make that out (because I Are Not A Photographer), it’s a car with a window decal of the Hyrule Royal Crest on it.

I saw this within the first two weeks back. I didn’t really want to get back to Austin because it’s a beautiful city (even though it is) or because it’s got wonderfully quirky shops (even though it does) or because it’s got excellent food (even though it does does does does).

It’s because I wanted to be back among like-minded people.

And now I am.

And it’s made me happy.

(does)

Goin’ Home

•July 17, 2014 • 6 Comments

Guess what?

I’m moving back to Austin.

Like, next week.

About a month ago I had an opportunity to interview at Aspyr Media. Yes, the same company that laid me off. They have since backed and filled, shedding unprofitable original titles to return to what they do best – ports. It was nice to hear this because I didn’t really harbor the company any ill will.

Now, I wanted to nail this interview so I did a lot of prep. I bought books on programming interview questions and did countless exercises to remind myself what the difference between public and private inheritance is. In the end, I thought I did okay in the interview, but I didn’t know if a) they’d hire me and b) if we’d be able to work out the mechanics of the move back.

But then they contacted me and told me they wanted me and…it was just the sweetest thing. The heavens parted and light streamed down. Of course, there was a lot of other considerations that might impede our progress back, and I worried that I might have to go back myself and bring the family back later.

But then stuff started to work out. And then it continued to work out. And then it continued to continue to work out.

And now the lease is signed, the truck is rented and we’re starting to pack in earnest. By next Wednesday (God willing) we will be back in Austin, and we will never leave again.

I’d like to publicly thank Ian Bullard for his help; he was the one who told me about the opportunity at Aspyr. My younger children will finish growing up in Texas where they belong and my older daughter will now have access to the greater opportunities a larger city (with a major university) provides.

More updates as the day approaches!

On This Day, Twenty Years Ago…

•May 12, 2014 • 1 Comment

On this day, twenty years ago, my wife Jamie Salter and I were married in the Justice of the Peace’s office in Austin, Texas. It wasn’t a shotgun wedding; I’d already decided I wanted to marry Jamie. But it was…hurried along by the news that our first child, Megan Salter was on the way.

Any regrets I have about the last twenty years are purely on myself. I regret getting overweight and the resulting health problems it caused. I regret moving to Michigan; it turned out to be a disaster for my family. I regret that even though things are getting better, we’re still not completely financially secured and we’re still not where we feel we belong.

Jamie has been at the root of everything great that has happened to me over the last twenty years. She brought me out of my painfully introverted shell. She made me believe a woman could care about and love me. She gave me the experience of being a father. She is the reason I was able to work for Origin Systems, both because she had a contact in Origin’s HR department and because she continually encouraged me to apply when I was sure I had no chance. She gave me two more children, both of which have been blessings, and has stuck with me through thick and thin.

I love you, Jamie Salter. I always have and I’m not stopping any time soon.

Jacqueliene J. Benton Little

•April 30, 2014 • Leave a Comment

My grandmother, and my children’s great-grandmother, passed away on Wednesday, April 23, 2014.

I do not have a single negative memory of my grandmother. We called her “Nanny”. Traveling from our home in Macon, Georgia to visit her in Warner Robins was always one of the highlights of my youth. While she didn’t have a lot of toys, she had a big backyard and, better yet, bordered the local high school outdoor football field.

My mother would tell me stories about how she and her sisters would go out there after games and crawl around under the bleachers looking for dropped money. My sister and I never found any ourselves but it always felt adventuresome to crawl around in that enclosed space looking for treasure and sneaking into the control tower.

Huh. And this was years before I started playing D&D…

Nanny was a very traditional Southern woman. Even after she divorced her husband and began working for herself she still made a lot of time for her family, especially us grandkids. She was old enough and respected enough to earn the title “Miss Jackie” in the community. She loved to cook, and many of my favorite memories of her involve eating the copious amounts of treats she made for us. And when Thanksgiving came around, wow.

After my family moved from Macon to Virginia Beach, VA, I fell out of touch with my grandmother. I can give all kinds of excuses – life was hard, I was working two jobs and going to school, I’m a male and thus have trouble expressing my feelings, etc. But I shouldn’t have let it happen.

And then I took my solo trek to Austin and became even more self-centered as survival became my priority. I hardly thought about Nanny, much less talked to her.

When my oldest child was very young, I took my entire family back to Warner Robins to catch up with everyone. Nanny seemed to be slowing down but was still in her right mind. She loved meeting Megan and she told me that she was proud of me.

I would only speak to her again briefly until our move from the accursed Michigan to Florida. On our way down we made time to visit her in her home. By now I had three children, and the oldest was almost eighteen. Nanny loved seeing them again, but I could tell from her difficulty getting around and the fact that one of her daughters had moved in with her to care for her that she might not last much longer.

And last Wednesday she breathed her last. I’m just very grateful I got to see her one more time and that she got to see three of her seven great-grandchildren.

Goodbye, Nanny. I will miss you.

Important News About The Blog!

•April 10, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I started this blog (looks through archives) Holy Toledo, in 2003! That means this blog celebrated its tenth anniversary last year. And I didn’t even realize it.

I am so lame.

And I was calling it “Games Without Frontiers” back then. That’s before I decided to start Viridian Games.

Wow.

Anyway, a few years ago I decided to use ViridianGames.com exclusively as my store and move the blog to GameDevDad.com. It was probably the worst thing I could have possibly done short of accidentally deleting everything on my web space and in my SVN repository. I had a fairly good readership back then (this was also when I was doing Name That Game! regularly) and I just destroyed it by moving the blog.

So you’ll be happy to know that I’m moving the blog! Actually, I’m moving part of the blog. I’m going to sort out all the posts (which is a chore I am not looking forward to) into all the game development and commentary and move that back to ViridianGames.com. Name That Game! will also move to ViridianGames.com.

Stuff about me personally, my family, and PSRD breaches will stay here. So if you just want to read about what I’m doing with my game development or participate in gaming trivia contests, you’ll want to head (back) to ViridianGames.com. If you want to see tons of pictures of my kids and hear me mope, this is the place.

Plus, both sites are going to get a new coat of paint. I’m getting really sick of this theme, but it’s going to take a while because it’s not a standard theme; it’s something I hacked together. So now I have to hack something new together.

Once again, I wish I had some real website design skills.

I Miss Austin

•March 6, 2014 • 1 Comment

I’m feeling a little maudlin today.

I’m sure this will come as no surprise, but I miss the hell out of Austin. We’ve been gone for three years now and it feels like an eternity.

Our move to Michigan could not have been more ill-advised. I’d been out of work for months and we were getting kind of desperate but I still shouldn’t have done it. The company I went to work for was well-respected and making interesting games and I still shouldn’t have done it. I should have held out.

Because there really is more to life than money.

I didn’t realize how good I had it in Austin until I left. Michigan is a cultural WASTELAND. Dragon’s Lair? Nothing like that in the entire state of Michigan. Alamo Drafthouse? Nothing like that in the entire state of Michigan. All those quirky little shops on South Congress? Nothing like them in the entire state of Michigan. Half-Price Books, dozens of quirky different restaurants, the Broken Spoke, Einstein’s Arcade, the beautiful UT campus, Barton Springs…not only does nothing like these things exist in Michigan they sure as hell don’t all exist in the same city. Austin has so much awesome crammed into it that I’m surprised it hasn’t spontaneously combusted.

Hell, Michigan only has one game development house and I’d already been fired from it so after the first year I didn’t even have that.

And you may say, “Well, Austin has a lot of that stuff because it’s a college town.” Nuh-uh. I went to Ann Arbor several times for job interviews; it was just as sterile as the rest of the state.

And let’s not even go into Detroit. I sure as hell wish I never had. On the day we moved in someone broke into our house and stole both our TVs, my Xbox and my PS3. Welcome to the fucking neighborhood, suckers!

But now I’m in Boca Raton; that’s better, right? Well, yes. I’m employed. There aren’t any more gunshots outside. I don’t fear for my family’s life. I don’t feel like our house could be broken into any time. But…

Boca Raton’s a retirement town. It’s beautiful and the weather is temperate but it’s almost specifically designed to not be overstimulating. So all that stuff I mentioned earlier? Boca doesn’t have anything like it either.

So I’m seriously homesick. It’s gotten to the point that I’ve taken to using Google Maps to zoom around Austin and look at all the places I’m missing.

And then I realized…

This must be what it’s like to be dead.

You yearn. And you can look down from above and see, kind of. You can hear what certain people are saying and doing, to a limited extent – especially the people you really care about.

But you can’t participate. And as hard as you might try to pretend, you aren’t really there.

So to all of my friends who are – enjoy it. Please. For me.

PTFSD Update: Week 1

•February 28, 2014 • 2 Comments

Weight Loss: Week 1
Previous Weight: 403.4
Current Weight: 395
Loss: -8.4 Pounds
Total Weight Loss: -8.4 Pounds

This week was probably the toughest I’m going to have, and it wasn’t THAT tough. The really bad part was when everyone else got to eat Boston Market last night. But I persevered and I feel like I was rewarded for it.