Not long after my last post, I got offered a job answering email! I never would have thought that would suit me, but it’s working out really well, and has done me a lot of good. Hooray for gainful employment! Money-per-hour on that is so much better than I’ve managed with software development, but of course it’s not nearly as fun. It does mean that just about all the goals I listed were immediately thrown out of the window, but it serves me right for trying to be organised.
App 2 continues to be worked on as I find time. Recently I finally started reading The Pragmatic Programmer and it’s given me a much-needed nudge to try some new techniques. Right now I’m in the middle of rewriting all database-access code to use generated code, which I’ve been chipping away at for a month now. Is it the most productive use of my time? Probably not. But it’s a useful thing to know how to do, and it is helping to make many parts of the codebase simpler and more consistent. Plus it’s fun! But then I’m weird and find refactoring code to be very enjoyable. If anyone’s interested, I’ve uploaded the input file and result here. I’m using JavaPoet which makes manipulating code much easier than messing with Strings. I haven’t included the code that actually does the generation but maybe I will when it’s done — I hope to use it again in future apps.
Also, a few weeks ago I entered Ludum Dare 36 with my brother. It was the first time I’ve actually worked on a game with someone else, so that was cool and frustrating in new and exciting ways! The game, Boulderama! is not something I ever would have made on my own, and it’s much more polished than anything I ever produce, so check it out if you like casual/puzzle type games. I would like to apologise in advance for the music though.
I’m also now a moderator for an online game, Growtopia. That’s been an interesting experience too! As a shy person, suddenly becoming some kind of minor celebrity is super weird. Lots of kids get super excited to meet me or talk to me, or sometimes try to confide in me about their problems. It feels like an honour to be involved in it, but it’s also completely exhausting so I tend to hide a lot.
Growtopia simultaneously fills me with ideas for multiplayer games, and how I would structure the code… and also makes me never want to make an online game. There are so many complicated issues that come up, and the pressure of having 500,000 people log in every day, who all want different things from the game, makes it really hard for the 2 developers to please them. I’m also not sure I could ever actually finish a project that big and complicated, but that’s a whole other issue!
A couple of days ago I released a free little typing web game called Mavis Bacon Teaches Typing. Give it a try – it only takes a minute or two to play.
I’m very pleased with how this turned out – much happier than I have been with a game for a while, so that’s built up my confidence a bit. I did hit a wall as usual, and almost released it without the food flying everywhere, but I’m really glad that I did, as it makes a huge difference to the feel of the game. I guess the lesson there is that silly little details and effects matter a lot. There’s a great talk about this called Juice It or Lose It, which I highly recommend to anyone making a game – it’s embedded below.
Meanwhile, I’ve mostly rewritten the rendering code for Impressionable to use OpenGL. Quite a lot of work, but it’ll be much faster, and allow things like zooming in and out, and special effects via shaders at some point. It’ll also mean way less fuss if and when I start working in 3D.
Now though, it’s back to work on App 2!
So, it’s been a little while since I’ve posted. Rest assured, no news is good news!
Firstly, App 2 is continuing on well. I’ve just about reached the point where I can get people to test it – feature complete, but with some rough edges. There are just one or two bugs that need fixing first.
I’ve been dabbling a bit with designs for city-building games, both SimCity-like and Caesar-like. The current idea in my head involves mixing the two: a Caesar-like set in the modern era, with proper traffic simulation. I think it would be a good replacement for the traditional “walker” mechanic. Other city-builder designs include a near-future one set across multiple space colonies, and a casual browser-based SimCity-style thing. As you might be able to tell, this genre is a mild obsession of mine! One day I’ll make one, but it’s a huge undertaking for one person, and I’m not ready for that quite yet.
The next Ludum Dare is next month! I’m looking forward to participating again, and am in the middle of a MiniLD entry right now. The theme is Pong, and I’m making a fairly plain Pong game, but where the paddles gradually disintegrate as they hit the ball. It’s not much, but I really want to keep my 1GAM up.
After spending January rewriting this website, going on holiday, and then working on Spacelunky, I came back to Quick Quote and realised that it’s not the most important thing I could be working on. It just plain doesn’t sell well enough. I’m not cancelling the 1.5 update for it, as I do think that resolving some of the issues it has will help sales, it probably won’t make enough of a difference to warrant more time spent on it.
So! What am I working on? It’s another Android app, specifically the one I alluded to back in August. Still keeping it under wraps for now, but development is going really well. Being able to start fresh after working on Quick Quote for so long is great, and I’ve been able to avoid a lot of the mistakes I made when developing that.
Feature creep has been a real problem for me in the past, so I’m focusing on the absolute minimum that the app needs to do, will get some people I know to test it, make any necessary changes, and then release. Only if it actually succeeds will I consider adding to it this time! Hopefully, as I have an actual target market, and I haven’t found any competitors, it has a good chance of succeeding.