On Tuesday, March 21st at 2:00 PM EST, Seumas McNally lost his battle with Hodgkins Lymphoma, and the world lost a great talent and a great human being.
Seumas, pronounced "shemmus", was the founder and lone programmer of Longbow Digital Arts which had recently released Tread Marks, a fun mutliplayer tank battle game which recently won 3 awards at the Independent Games Festival (IGF). Longbow had been very successful with their previous title DX-Ball 2 and were basically pioneers in independent game developers selling their own software online successfully. Other products Seumas had also programmed included Particle Fire, a screen saver with great graphical effects, Texturizer, for creating wrapping textures, WebProcessor, for creating fast HTML macros, and Tiger's Bane, a game Seumas had worked on for the Amiga platform in BASIC and converted to C in Windows.
Tread Marks had received high reviews from the press, gamers and other programmers as well as its awards, and is known as having one of the best implementations of real-time continuos level of detail in outdoor terrain engines. Seumas had given a lecture on his technology on this aspect at the Game Developer Conference (GDC).
Seumas was only 21, and had been diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma from the age of 18, as he told it, "about the time I started programming in C". Seumas's love of programming and games is easy to see in his track record; already finishing three commercial games at 21, the latest of which could go head to head with any big production title, he was already an acknowledged talent in game development.
While I believe Seumas would probably really liked being known as a great programmer, I think it's also critical to note that he was a really great person too. I only had the pleasure of knowing him for about a year online, and only being able to meet and spend time with him for a week at the GDC, I will really treasure what time I had. He had a friendly demeanor, was confident and very intelligent. I only wish I had more time to spend with him. -Geoff Howland
Seumas and his family at the 2000 GDC with their game Tread Marks.
Two days before winning 3 awards at the IGF: grand design, best programming, best game design.
(from left) Jim, Seumas, Wendy and Philippe McNally
The McNally familly on New Years Eve
(Click to enlarge)
Seumas and his family accepting their 3rd award at the IGF.
A very emotional and joyous event.
Seumas and family being interviewed after the IGF awards.
A shot from Tread Marks, Seumas's latest game.
Tread Marks was a full familly effort, and each of the familly members helped out.
Seumas's brother Philippe did the most of the models and the textures, Seumas's father Jim worked on the level design and Seumas's mother Wendy did some of the models and level art.
(from left) Philippe McNally, Geoff Howland, Seumas McNally, Ben Discoe, Tom Hubina, Jonathan Blow and Jim McNally
(from left) Wendy McNally, Geoff Howland, Seumas McNally, Ben Discoe, Tom Hubina, Jim McNally and Jonathan Blow
(from left front) Wendy McNally, Paul Jaquays and Seumas
(back visible) Robin Green, Barbara Walter, Michael Duffy
at a party after the IGF awards
John Carmack and Seumas w/ John's Ferrari (Larger car shot)
Seumas, Barrett Alexander, Wendy and Philippe
From his friends and colleagues:
When I first started talking to Seumas online about a year ago we were just two guys arguing about network game design strategies. Over time and many AOL Instant Messenger conversations later we developed into good friends. I've often found myself impatiently waiting for him to come online so I could discuss some new idea with him, or to hear about the latest cool thing he'd added to Treadmarks. My primary motivation for going to the GDC this year was to meet him in person, and I'm glad I was able to do so. His loss has affected me deeply, and while its hard for me to grasp the concept that he is gone, I'm very grateful for the time we had. -Tom Hubina
That Seumas had a dazzling moment of glory and affirmation in his short life in no way diminishes the loss, but it is something to be thankful for, and I am glad I got to share in that moment with him. Too few of us ever know whether we're on the right track, let alone have a chance to hit one out of the park. -Mark Barrett
I met Seumas only once, at the recent GDC. The impression he made on me will last a long, long time. My heart goes out to Jim, Philippe and Wendy, and to those who have had the chance to meet this very impressive young man and who feel the loss of a kindred spirit. -Francois Dominic Laramee
It's especially sad to see someone pass away just at the beginning of their life's work. Seumas did so much in such a short amount of time; we can only imagine the dazzling things he would have created after TreadMarks. If there's a tiny bit of saving grace here, it's that Seumas was visibly delighted with the well-deserved recognition that TreadMarks received at the IGF. In the short amount of time I knew him face-to-face, what I remember the most is how gratified he was, and I feel glad he was able to share that with his family and with a few fellow developers. -Thatcher Ulrich
I had known Seumas from conversations over e-mail and IRC, and was glad to finally be able to meet him, and his family, at the GDC. He was a great person, and was obviously very talented. It's regrettable that he has left us so soon, but at least his pain has ended, and he's in a better place. At the very least, I'm glad he was able to accomplish so much, and that he was able to have his family with him the whole time. -Dave Astle
I only briefly met Seumas and the McNally family at the GDC, but I'm glad that Seumas was able to see his outstanding work get the recognition that it deserved. Seumas was a role model for us all, and his games and his success will continue to serve as inspiring examples for myself and many other people. The fact that I didn't even realize Seumas was sick until the GDC speaks volumes about his ability to stick to his dreams and succeed, despite prolonged, horrible hardships, and for that he will always have my respect and admiration. -Mason McCuskey
I just wanted to send my condolences to your family. While none of us can imagine your family's feeling of loss, I do know that the game development community as a whole has lost a great person, a great mind, and a great mentor. His accomplishments are an inspiration to conquer the unconquerable and to tread the impossible. May we all remember Seumas throughout our lives as a prime example of what it means to be human. -Kevin Hawkins
I dont know what to say, just that I lost a friend and I hope he's in a better place. And Seumas, thanks! -Bruno Sousa (Akura)
Seumas has touched millions of lives with his work, and certainly changed mine. He gave me good advice and good examples when I needed them the most. You will be missed Seumas. -Sasha Djurovic
Sharing knowledge is so important. He knew that. I didn't know him well, but he helped me from time to time with my terrain questions and I saw from the gamedev lists that he was willing to help others with what he knew. Someday I hope to contribute as much as he did. His loss is far reaching for sure. -David Smith
I just like to say that I'm going to miss Seumas, even though I never knew him on a personal level - the entire gamedev community just isn't going to be the same without him, and I wish the best for his family. -Jesse Towner
It is never easy to hear of a worthy colleagues passing. He took the judges by storm at the Indie Games Festival at GDC this year. His work was impressive. I am glad to see he received some well deserved recognition before he left us. -Jeff House
Even though I only talked to him a couple of times, he was always friendly and ready to help. Its awful to see bad things happen to good people. -Jacob Coby
Though I never had the pleasure of meeting Seumas in person, I spoke with him several times via email. He was one of the brightest young minds in the industry, and he was also the most open developer with his fans that I've ever known. He was a great guy, and he'll be sorely missed. -Zack Schiel
I didn't know him inperson, but he was a person that I'd like to hang out with, do stuff, have fun. He always helped me, listened to my coding problems, and always inspired me with new ideas while being the same age as I am. While writting this I shed many tears for you, Seumas you will be missed. -Ales Mlakar
I didn't personally know Seumas, but I spend a few hours with him every evening after work. After downloading DX Ball 2, I became addicted and purchased two more boards. This is the best game I've ever played. Today I went to the home page, as usual, to see what's new, and read the sad news. It touched me very deeply. My sympathies go out to his family and friends. I feel like I've lost a friend also. -Kim Taylor
I'm terribly shocked by the loss of simply put, one of the best... Seumas has given me unvaluable help with my own programming work, and his belief in the importance of sharing knowledge had always impressed me. I'll miss you Seumas, and try to remember the way you gave so much to the community. I'll do my best in attempting to perpetuate this incredible spirit of yours. -Jerome St-Louis
There was an online memorial held on an IRC server, Saturday March 25th at 10PM EST.
Click here to read the transcript from the memorial.
About Hodgkin's Lymphoma:
Seumas had been battling Hodgkin's Lymphoma for three years now, and had undergone chemotherapy, radiation treatment and a bone marrow transplant. Hodgkin's Lymphoma is a type of cancer which affects the lymph nodes. For more information about Hodgkin's Lymphoma you can see the Lymphoma Information Network.