Candlelight’s 30th Anniversary

Candlelight Software reaches its 30th anniversary in 2022! I guess it’s about time for a history lesson.

History

Songanizer For DOS

Thirty years ago, I started using the Candlelight Software name, and my first program, Songanizer, was released.  Songanizer was a utility used to manage your physical music collection (albums, tapes, etc), and allowed you to cross-reference songs and artists across your entire collection.  Songanizer was released as a shareware product and was uploaded to BBSs and online services such as CompuServe and AOL.  Yeah, it’s that old.

In 1993 I also developed a “Pro” version of Songanizer for use at a local college radio station and I released a Windows version in 1994. Songanizer for Windows was more than just a port of the DOS version of Songanizer… while the main features and functionality remained, Songanizer for Windows took full advantage of the Microsoft Windows environment to give the user such features as multiple printer support, a report designer, and more.

I also started developing front-end applications for the MajorBBS and WorldLink BBS platform which were developed using Visual Basic for Windows. By the end of 1998, the BBS scene was coming to an end, and I started focusing on other areas.

Favorites Inspector

In 2002, I released Link Checker which is a utility used to manage your Internet Explorer favorites.  Version 1.0 did what it said (checks Favorites to see if they are still live, not much more), but over the next several months, many features were added to enhance the product.  Tons.  Fast and furious. Link Checker was also renamed to Favorites Inspector around version 4.0 in 2003.  The technical side of developing Favorites Inspector is interesting (to me at least), and that too may be a topic for another day.

I kept Favorites Inspector going for 10 years with lots of support, lots of features, lots of UI enhancements. In 2012, I decided that I wanted to give game development a try, and I released Favorites Inspector as a free download.

Games By Candlelight

I left desktop app development and turned to game development in 2012. In the past 10 years, I released games for iOS and Android platforms (you can see the list here… all are still available to download and play). My mobile games are developed with CoronaSDK (now called Solar2D), and I used that platform for close to 8 years.

During the time I was using CoronaSDK, I also wanted to give Unity a try. I wanted to try 3D game development, and CoronaSDK was going through some issues being bought and sold (and eventually Open Sourced). I rewrote a few of my games using Unity, and I also participated in 11 Ludum Dare game jams. Those games are available on itch.io for download or online play via browser.

Back to Apps

I started getting a bit frustrated with Unity. I kept starting and restarting the same games over and over, and I was running into issues while developing and updating my released games… seemed like it took longer to figure out how to fix problems upgrading libraries than releasing my games, so the long development times started to turn me off on game development a bit. I needed a break.

Around that time, I discovered Flutter and Dart for cross platform application development. I decided to rewrite my one CoronaSDK app, Back In The Day, using Flutter, and it was a great experience. I also like that I can write an app and release features as I go (unlike game development) and as of now, my focus is on Flutter development. I have a few ideas I want to try to release.

Conclusion

So, as of this writing, I am still supporting my existing mobile apps using Solar2D and Unity. I am also going to try developing a few new applications using Flutter.

I have not completely given up on game development. I have 2 games that I rewrote with Unity that are very close to release, but I am unsure if I will release them, or if I will restart them using Flutter. For game jams, 3D games, or game I want to write for Windows or Mac, I will go back to Unity.

My 2021 Wrap-Up

Wow, it’s been almost a full year since my last blog post. Hard to believe, but there really hasn’t been too much information to publish this year.

While I enjoy game development, I also enjoy application development, and I have been gravitating to application development this past year. I spent time learning Flutter and Dart and rewrote Back In The Day using Flutter. I enjoy working with Flutter, and I do like developing apps, so I may spend some time here… I have a couple of enhancements planned for Back In The Day, as well as some new ideas for apps.

On the game development side, I worked on a re-write of Spell Them Out and started a re-write of Pumpkin Patch Match, both using Unity. Got very close to completion, but all that “extra” stuff to get the game published on mobile was just not fun and causing a lot of issues for me. Libraries for Ads (Admob), Game Services (iOS Game Center, Google Play), and In-App Purchases were always a nightmare to install, configure, or update, causing build errors and hours of time trying to figure out what went wrong. So, as of now, I have 2 games that are 90% complete… man, I spent a lot of time working on these games. I may revisit these again in the future.

Plans for 2022

The year 2022 marks my 30th year developing apps and games. My current plans are to continue to support my existing games as much as I can (lots of app store changes are making support for my 10 year old games a bit more difficult), develop some apps using Flutter, and perhaps release the games I rewrote with Unity (or perhaps redevelop using Flutter).

I am also considering creating a version of Space Mission: Survival for the PC platform… again. I’ve started a rewrite many, many times before and I don’t want to start and not finish again. The PC version would have some many enhancements, but it seems like I am the only one that likes this retro shooter, so I am a bit unsure I want to take this on.

Or maybe something completely different.

Changes

Time to change web hosting providers! I guess I could have transferred my old site to this new site, but I decided to start from the beginning in order to clean up some of the pages and older posts.

I am going to combine both my Games By Candlelight site and long ignored Candlelight Software site into this one web site. This site will focus on all of my development projects. I am currently developing apps and games using a variety of languages and environments, and everything will be located here.

More detail on my 2022 plans, some new and useful articles, and some old favorites coming soon.