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So I understand this section is definitely veering towards blog territory rather than a Professional Portfolio, but adding "The Ray Tracer Challenge" to my website has really motivated me to talk about more books. For professional development, I feel its very important to keep learning...even if the topics are only tangentially related to your professional skillset! I love reading all kinds of books about  videogames: be it game history, programming, memoirs from industry veterans, etc. Even if I'm not learning anything new, a good book sure does pump me up to get into the office the next day and be a kickass Tech Artist!  One day I hope to get a book published to inspire others. I mean, it could happen haha. Anyway, please enjoy, oh and reach out to me about any videogame books that have motivated you!


Man, this book is SO captivating, I read through it twice! Chris Alaimo recommended the book to me when it released, and I'm so glad I purchased it. I read through the entire book in two days back in October 2020 while I was fighting an illness.  Now, I'm sad to say that I am a fraud:: I didn't grow up playing alot of Sierra Adventure games...heck I played more of the Brother Chaps's parody game "Peasant's Quest" then anything by Roberta Williams. But perhaps that's part of what made this book so compelling to me: I didnt know much about the history of Sierra On-Line. The book is a personal biography, company history, and a business guide book all rolled into one. The presentation is so good: all the ground it covers, with plenty of colored pictures to really help spark the images of the scenarios in your head!

I really love reading books, listening to podcasts etc that help me imagine what I might of been doing being born in a different time period. Ken goes into great detail about the early days of computing in college: working on mainframes, punch cards, and tele-type time sharing! The book has tons of photos and picture scans from the era. It really brings me into the 70s, and as the book goes on, the 80s and the 90s. Ken shares alot of personal, anecdotal stories living in Oakhurst, meeting celebrities, going from a mom-n-pop business to a videogame empire. Reading through, you know the chapters, you know the inevitable downfall is coming...but secretly hope the ending is actually somehow different!  Even just the standalone stories about individual games is very fun: from Mystery House (1980) to Donald Duck's Playground (1984) to Phantasmagoria (1995) it covers all kinds of ground in ~375 pages.

Throughout the book, there are several Interlude chapters where Ken tries to give "industry advice", up to and including how to manage time as a software developer. I feel these parts are ok, but they certainly do feel like Ken's game industry knowledge is somewhat frozen in the late 90s. Still, its great to hear his insights. So obviously, the book is from Ken's perspective, and he was fortunate to be at the top of the foodchain of Sierra, looking downward. Was he a good leader, did he step on folks along the way, did he deserve the success he was given? It's always good to listen to multiple perspectives of historical events to get the full picture. I'll say this though, the fact that Ken was a Software Engineer and that he and Roberta made Sierra On-line out of seemingly nothing, that reads like an inspiring story.  Please give it a read!

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