Ümloud! 2012: Done

Another Ümloud! is in the bag! While there’s still paperwork and other bits of things to do, the show is over and we have lots of money to give to the hospitals. Have to wait for the numbers to settle before giving a final count, but needless to say, it’s a much larger number than the year prior. 😀

This year we had a new host for the event: Tim Schafer. Growing up with the SCUMM era of games, never would I thought I’d be introducing him onto the stage of a show I’m putting on. Certainly a highlight of my life.

This year I'm getting a lot fewer complaints about how the show went. Sure, there are still improvements that need to be made, but we're starting to actually know how to do this show now. Moving forward, I hope we can expand the team even more and thus become a better production.

I'm still processing all of the things that went on with the show, hence this rambling of a blog post. One thing is clear for me. After all the bad things that happened to me this year, the show shined a very bright light into a darkness. There are many people to thank for that, which will be the subject of another blog post.

My next steps: Employment via employer or myself!

Child’s Play, Ümloud! & Anitdote

A few quick items of what’s been going on in my life and what’s to come.

Child’s Play, Ümloud!, PAX East Panels

For PAX East 2011, I reprised my role in the Child’s Play Charity panel. This time it was extra special as Kristin revealed the first full-time hire for Child’s Play, Jamie Dillion! You can see her interview process on PATV (Part 1, Part 2). Her roll with Child’s Play is to help expand upon the org and deal with community fundraiser people like me. I’m really excited about working with Jamie and see a lot of cool and awesome things in the future for Child’s Play.

For the panel, I wrote this document as an extended outline for the panel. It will soon be expanded upon and made into a Child’s Play publication with a lot more info soon.


The other panel I was on was AJ’s “The Sorting Workshop”. It started out with a game “preview” in which attendees had to write about the game for 10 minutes. From there, the other panelest would read the writings and comment with notes on how to write for journalism, marketing, pr, etc. AJ asked me to be the dev to preview a game. She was expecting something of MSPaint quality — Something with little effort to use. Instead, I used a live-action video game called Antidote. 😉

This got me thinking that I should release the thing, though I am nervous about it. I’ll just go out and say that this isn’t a good game to play and I don’t plan on fixing it. I don’t worry about people trashing it in reviews, but I worry a little that people think I’ve at that level with the art form when I’ve grown well beyond that in the years. So the website’s going to have notable disclaimer setting the exceptions low and pointing them to better games I’ve worked on like Puzzle Agent.

On the tech side, I was glad to see that the Mac build was able to run on an Intel based Mac. This is especially key as the version of Director that I used was before the Intel business and thus a PowerPC executable. The saving grace is the Rosetta layer on Mac OS X. It’s technically an optional install with a “just-in-time” download and install when the user first runs a PowerPC executable. However, Rosetta will be removed from Mac OS X 10.7 “Lion”, so the time is now to release the thing. For the curious, it would cost me $300+ to get a version of Director to make the Intel version — which I don’t plan to spend.

The Windows version runs without problems on Win7. I did remake an installer last night using Inno Setup so the install process flows better. There is the requirement of having Quicktime installed, but if you have iTunes you have it. I also have the Mac installer redone, but still need to make the DMG background for it. From there, I’m going to clean up the website and make it pretty. I’ll be using Amazon S3 to distribute the builds as straight downloads and Bittorent. The download is big at 240-260mb, but bandwidth is much cheaper these days than five years ago.

I plan to get everything ready and released by the end of April, if not sooner.

Google & Non-Profits

With Ümloud! a real boy and granted full 501(c)(3) status, there are an avenue of options available to non-profit organizations. There are services and goods which companies provide for free or discounted based on non-profit status. I’m going to take Google as an example and talk about how this process goes in one particular case and how it could be better.

There are a few things that Google makes available to non-profits in their range of products. Some don’t need to check your non-profit status. One requires extreme but understandable scrutiny. Then there’s this middle ground which for a company such as Google, is surprisingly more complex and resource intensive than it should be.

Of all the programs and services Google offers, there are three levels of involvement to use these products. These are terms I made up since Google doesn’t classify products this way.

No Application are products that work once you set them up with no need to confirm non-profit status. Besides Google Apps, these are products that are no different to anyone, individual or organization.

Non-Profit Status Clearance are products that require a non-profit status check, but not discerning beyond established rules. Checkout falls into this category as Google wants to make sure the entity has the non-profit status for tax and legal reasons. The idea being any valid non-profit gets clearance.

Full Evaluation is on the other end of the spectrum. It’s not enough to be a non-profit, but Google making the decision to go beyond what they do for any non-profit. For Google, it’s the Grants program which goes beyond free product and is a direct partnership with the company. High bars of entry are expected here.

The difficulty I’ve had with Google is in this middle category, status clearance. The problem with these Google products is the lack of centralized application process. When you apply to any one product, the forms are similar enough as far as status clearance is concerned. The prerequisites are the same which all focus around having an entry in GuideStar to validate status. However, each product goes though each step from square one, regardless if you have already established a relationship with another product.

I would like to see Google have a one-stop shop for this middle ground. As a non-profit, I want to establish and register with Google once. Where I as the non-profit admin go to one place and have Google recognize the entity of Ümloud! as a non-profit. Then when I go to other status clearance products, the process is simply setting up the tool, rather than a human being checking if I’m a non-profit again.

Besides the reduction of time for staff to go though applications for every product, it should be easier for current and future Google products to latch onto the status clearance. Then a non-profit set of features wouldn’t need to reinvent the approval process for that product.

I could see an expansion of this with the Grants program. The first step being on the non-profit clearance list, then an organization can apply to Grants. At least then the applications to Google won’t require basic validation and spend more time on the premium standards Google has for Grants recipients.

If this can happen, then non-profits can spend more time doing their work, rather than waiting on procedure. Not to mention Google having a better handle on the organizations who use their services.

If by the off chance someone from Google reads this, I would love to talk and consult with you and your staff about this. I’m in the Bay Area and wouldn’t mind stopping by for a chat!

Ümloud! Worked!

To say Ümloud! was a huge success is an understatement!

In 8 weeks we rebranded, filed as a non-profit, and made a successful event for our first year. $7000+ to Child’s Play successful. We certainly learned a few lessons this year which we’ll implement along with our ‘for next year’ list. Right now I’m compiling my thoughts, specifically for a panel I’ll be moderating for PAX-East this year.

Oh, it looks like I’ll be talking with Chris and others at PAX-East this year in March. While PAX will always be in Seattle around Labor Day, a second one for the East Coast in Boston is happening. I’m gathering up other panelists from other events and Child’s Play itself. The direction I plan to take is illustrate the ’empty box’ of doing a fundraiser, rather than listing specifics of any particular event. I hope to inspire others to do events with their own flavor, rather than copy/paste existing events.

For me, this is about how and why to file for non-profit status on our own. We wanted to do a local event, enlist sponsors, get a venue, and spend money on an event. We were ‘touching’ the money. We had to be a non-profit ourselves for our protection and the ability for donators/sponsors to count their contributions as charitable. It’s been a process, let me tell you! But most of it is start-up stress which will be much easier next year.

For the Internet based fundraisers like the wildly successful Desert Bus for Hope, the money earned went to a Chip-in button directly to CP. Sponsors (to my knowledge) donated mostly physical objects, so there wasn’t money taken in by the operators. Thus the operators were protected as they never ‘touched’ the donated money.

In addition to getting back to using this blog, I’ll be covering my process on creating this panel in the next few weeks. It will be mostly me and Chris developing the Ümloud! (a local event) section.

If you’re in the Boston area March , I highly recommend you come to PAX-East! The full 3-day pass is $45 if you order by Dec 31st. $55 after that, but there’s a cap at the amount sold.

Hope you all had an awesome holiday! Have a safe and fun New Years!