Welcome to the Software Liability Simulator. The aim of this exercise is to illustrate the complexities of liability law from the perspective of a software engineer. Please note: all the characters involved are purely ficititous; any similarities to real people, living or dead, are sheer coincidence. No animals were harmed in the creation of this simulation.

The story so far:
The head of a small software company, you are always in search of new potential products. Last night, after falling asleep during a marathon of Terminator 2, Lost in Space, and 2001, you dreamt up an ideal software product -- a product that could skyrocket your developing firm into a Fortune 500 juggernaut.

Your brainchild is a Knowledgeable Assistant and Robo-Electronic Liason, a.k.a. KAREL the Nurse. KAREL would be a software application that would control the day to day activities of a hospital. KAREL interfaces with existing medical hardware, but would expand their functions. KAREL runs on a central computer, communicating with the medical equipment and staff throughout the hospital to monitor and attend to patients. Her duties include turning patients and calling beepers when neccessary.

Unfortunately, a rival competitor was also watching the same movie marathon and came up with a similar idea -- LOGO the Medic. His project is estimated to hit the market in two years, so you don't have much time to get your product out.

Several decisions await you during the development and production of KAREL. Research your decisions wisely. Your mission, should you chose to accept it, is to release KAREL as efficiently and responsibly as possible.

Your first decision is deciding your target market. Should you develop the project under contract with the local hospital or produce a software package tailored for a larger market?

If you choose to contract with the local hospital, you will be designing a custom product with the specifications determined by the hospital, working alongside them every step of the way. You will not make as much money, but at least you won't face competition from LOGO.

If you choose to create a generic software package, you stand to make more money, but you must consider your competition.

What do you choose?