Honoring Seumas McNally

Saturday, January 12, 2013
By: Matthew Doucette

IGF never retweets anyone. In fact, in their 103 tweets to date, they've only retweeted once and I am proud to be the first:



The links mentioned in detail Seumas McNally's eulogy by his mother and John Carmack's post on Seumas McNally.

Seumas McNally was an indie game developer who won the IGF Grand Prize in 2000 with Tread Marks and died shortly after winning it, and IGF honored him by naming the prize after him. He was an inspriation to us all.

Seumas McNally, an indie game developer honored by IGF.

Only years after his death did I realize he was the developer of DX-Ball (and DX-Ball 2), and I had an extensive email exchange with him. This was before I entered game development on a professional level with Xona Games. He was one of the few people who would respond with emails bigger than my own. Remember that he was "somebody" at the time where I was "nobody". He had no reason to give out so much advice to a "nobody".

Once I made the connection it was the same person, his death affected me more than any other death I had faced so far. I realized that a small, but still significant, portion of his short 21 years of life was spend with me, reading and listening to my thoughts and responding with great detail.

I won't go into it more. Instead, I wish for you to know about him by reading the two links in my twitter post above. You owe it to yourself if you are an indie game developer.

A few quotes from those links:

"Over email about finishing the technology in Treadmarks, Seumas once said “I hope I can make it”. Not “be a huge success” or “beat the competition”. Just “make it”. That is a yardstick to measure oneself by." - John Carmack

"He made it. Treadmarks started shipping a couple months ago, and was entered in the Independent Games Festival at the Game Developer’s Conference this last month. It came away with the awards for technical excellence, game design, and the grand prize." - John Carmack

Laboring to breathe and appearing increasingly toxic, Seumas looked at me with intensely frightened eyes then anxiously asked, “What is the name of the game?” Assuming that he was confused and had forgotten the name of his own recent game title I said, “Do you mean, Tread Marks?” He replied quickly and sternly with outstretched arms describing his oxygen-deprived desire to know the answer, “No, No! Not that game! What is the name of this game?” With an overwhelming feeling of defeat, I reluctantly but knowingly answered, “Seumas, the name of this game is Life. And, you are fighting so hard to win!” He slumped back onto his pillows and murmured to himself, “Life, that’s it! I’m fighting for my life.”" - Seumas McNally's mother

Seumas McNally with John Carmack and his Ferrari F50.

Above is a pic of Seumas visiting Carmack, a wish granted to him by the Startlight Foundation, where he got to talk about coding, and also got to drive in an most amazing Ferrari F50.

(P.S. Notice Carmack is wearing a Pyramid 3D t-shirt. The Pyramid 3D was an accelerated graphics card when there was no accelerated graphics cards, created by members of Future Crew from the demoscene famous for Second Reality.)

It's too bad that gamedev.net has taken down (likely without realizing) their Seumas McNally Memorial page. So, here's to the honor of Seumas McNally. You are not forgotten.


2012-JAN-01 UPDATE:

Just wanted to post a great CBC interview of Seumas McNally taken just after his IGF Grand Prize win:

Longbow Games honoring Seumas McNally ten years after his passing.


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About the Author: I am Matthew Doucette of Xona Games, an award-winning indie game studio that I founded with my twin brother. We make intensified arcade-style retro games. Our business, our games, our technology, and we as competitive gamers have won prestigious awards and received worldwide press. Our business has won $190,000 in contests. Our games have ranked from #1 in Canada to #1 in Japan, have become #1 best sellers in multiple countries, have won game contests, and have held 3 of the top 5 rated spots in Japan of all Xbox LIVE indie games. Our game engines have been awarded for technical excellence. And we, the developers, have placed #1 in competitive gaming competitions -- relating to the games we make. Read about our story, our awards, our games, and view our blog.