I remember my first interview at Microsoft. They asked me, “How would you like to work on the games that traditionally ship with Windows like Solitaire, Mahjong, and Minesweeper? These games haven’t been updated much in the past 20 years. You could give them a fresh design to try to bring them into the modern era of casual games.”
My response? … “You had me at Solitaire!” Are you kidding? Work on one of the most played video games in history? Who could possibly say no to that? It was incredibly humbling and also anxiety-inducing. I definitely didn’t want to be forever remembered as “the guy who ruined Solitaire.”
So I created the vision and design for Microsoft Solitaire Collection on Windows, iOS, and Android which combined the 5 most popular Solitaire games into one app.
I added retention features like Daily Challenges. I also carefully balanced the customer experience with the revenue potential in an advertisement-based monetization model. The goal was to avoid coming across overly aggressive with the ad-presentation as many other ad-based games do.
After the game launched, I designed an Experience Points & Leveling system. The goal was to help make the game more sticky across all the game modes and features. I also designed a Multiplayer Events feature that currently attracts over 600k players per event and caught the eye of Jimmy Fallon who made a parody video of the feature on the Tonight Show.
I patented a crowdsourcing process and algorithm that allows our Solitaire app to let players choose the difficulty of their games. Microsoft Solitaire is currently the only Solitaire game in the world that offers this feature.
Last but not least, I facilitated the creation of National Solitaire Day through the National Day Calendar Organization to celebrate Solitaire’s inclusion on Windows on May, 22 1990. National Solitaire Day is now celebrated on May 22nd of every year.
Microsoft Solitaire released in 2012 and currently has an average rating of 4.9 out of 5 stars and was inducted into the World Video Game Hall of Fame in 2019.
In addition to Solitaire, I also created the designs and oversaw the execution for all the other Microsoft Casual Games: Microsoft Mahjong, Microsoft Minesweeper, Microsoft Jigsaw, Microsoft Sudoku, Microsoft Ultimate Word Games, Microsoft Bingo, Wordament, and Microsoft Treasure Hunt.
Here’s what I did on Dungeon Siege II.