My Year-End Game Development Review

Another year in the books… I guess its time for a review of my 2018 game development work, and planning on what I want to do in 2019.

2018 Accomplishments

Looking back, it was a busy year (busier than I thought). Here’s some of the things I accomplished, with links to more detail.

Stuff Still Up In The Air

Will I ever finish SMS: The Next Mission?

Back in 2014, I wrote and released Space Mission Survival for mobile platforms. Back in 2015, I decided that this would make a great PC/Console game, and I started work on porting (actually, re-writing) Space Mission Survival to PC and I added some extra modes to play the game using graphics and sounds available in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.

Over the past 4 years, I stopped and restarted development so many times (seven times, I believe). I get close to completion, but that extra 20% needed to release it always discourages me.

  • Do I add a “Shmup” mode? Remove it?
  • Would people pay money for a game that plays exactly the same in each mode?
  • Based on lack of any feedback, does anyone really care if it is released at all?

In my last post, I said I will finish it to release, and I will at some point. It’s so close to completion at this point. It’s better than sitting on a hard drive.

Same thing for Johnny’s Flip Book Adventures. The Ludum Dare version ended with such a great rating, and it seems to be a favorite of those who played it, but I have serious doubts that it will sell well, let alone be noticed, and that is also discouraging.

2019 Plans… Somewhat Undecided

I am finding that I have some other interests I want to pursue outside of game development. After years of waffling, I decided that I am going to learn to play the piano/keyboard. A wonderful Christmas present from my wife will help move that dream along.

I am also finding that I enjoy woodworking and I have a few projects that I want to start (and finish). I started working on a bench last year, and I also have a couple of things on the “to do” list.

2019 will start my 8th year in game development. As 2018 winded down, I find myself questioning whether I should take some time away from game development to take a breather, and dedicate more time to pursue the other things I mentioned. Right now, I am not sure.

These interests will naturally take away from my development time. Currently, I have these development items on the list:

  • I started on an update to Tappy Easter, and I hope to get it out within the next month. I am currently working on some visual improvements, and I am investigating other monetization options.
  • The re-write of Johnny’s Flip Book Adventures is well underway, and I would like to finish it in 2019, with the goal of a mobile and Nintendo Switch release, but as I mentioned I am having some internal thoughts on its overall success.
  • I am still undecided what to do with Space Mission: Survival. I need to decide once and for all what to do about its release.
  • I am toying around with releasing a new space-themed spelling game (I guess an Alphabeta Asteroids: Mission II).
  • Maybe some minor updates to my Object Pooler library.
Conclusion

What a busy 2018 flying under the gamedev radar! I guess I will see where 2019 takes me and what I feel like working on. Only time will tell.

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Talking to Myself About My Ludum Dare Games

As I am writing this, it is two weeks to Ludum Dare 41. This will be my 7th LD, and I’ve enjoyed them all, despite the mounting stress and lack of sleep!

My game entries seem to rate somewhere in the middle of the pack, but I am making small improvements in my scores. I like all of my games, and during the 2 – 3 weeks of rating games, I always think I should continue development. After all, the comments are pretty positive… then the ratings come out and I am a bit disappointed.

In other blog posts here and on the LD site and Twitter, I always ask if I should continue development, and I also ask if there are any suggestions to make my game better. I usually hear crickets, and that furthers the disappointment. What little feedback I do get is appreciated and does goes far in motivation to continue developing games.

Looking at the Ludum Dare games I have developed, I still have thoughts of continuing development on many of them (with the exception of Shape Shifter Match Maker, which is definitely my weakest entry). I really like my last 2 entries… ANTagonist and Inefficient Plasma Weapon.

Is it worth continuing development on any of these? Would people play it? Would people buy it?

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Old File Formats

Recently, I was looking through some cabinets and drawers which contained a lot of old computer equipment, and I found what is basically my entire 35 years of development work.  With the exception of one program I wrote back in 1981, I have source code of every program I have written.  Text dumps of mainframe code, 5.25 and 3.5 floppy disks for various computer systems popular at the time, CDs, DVDs… all there for me to look at, get nostalgic over, and realize I’ve been around the programming game for awhile.

DiskCollection

Why would I keep all of these source files and print-outs?  I’m not really sure, other than I guess it is my body of work, and I need to save it.

So now I have the task of moving all of these files to a single, modern source, and that format is DVD.  Some are easier to move than others.

Anything current (of course) can easily be moved, since that was already on DVD or CD.  This includes my mobile app development, as well as anything in the past 10 or so years.

I was also lucky enough to copy a bunch of diskettes from my days as a “real job” programmer.  I had source files on 3.5 diskettes and moved them to CD years ago, and now I moved the CD files to DVD.

A few items remain, and I am trying to get these files to my PC so I can burn them on a CD or DVD. In my collection of code that I need to copy:

  • My 3.5 diskettes that I recently found.  My current computer no longer has a floppy drive, so I guess I can buy a USB 3.5 drive for about $20 and copy them over.
  • My 5.25 PC diskettes.  I cannot seem to find a USB 5.25 drive, so I am unsure how to copy these files over.  I guess I would need to find a PC that has a 5.25″ drive, as well as either a CD burner or USB port.  No easy task.
  • 5.25 Atari 8-bit diskettes. I do have an Atari 800 here, and I can read the files on the Atari, but I want them moved to my PC.  I’m not even sure if these things will be readable… they are close to 30 years old.  How do I move these source files?  Modem?  USB?  Print, then OCR?  Either way, I need some more hardware.
  • 3.5 Atari ST diskettes.  Same issue… I have an Atari ST, but need to get them over to my PC.

As I mentioned earlier, the only code I no longer have was an early attempt to write a game for the Atari Program Exchange (APX) back in the early 1980s.  That was stored on cassette tape and I am sure I no longer have it.  Looking back now, it was awful, so it is no surprise it was rejected, but I still wish I had the source, as well as the rejection letter.

I would be interested in any ideas to move the older diskettes to my PC… I would love to see some of the code I wrote way back when.