Monday, December 31, 2012

A look back at 2012

What a crazy year this has been! I can think of a ton of ways I've improved as a developer these past twelve months, and even more ways I could get even better, but let's focus on what happened first.

I started out the year by experimenting with a bunch of ideas, both for games as well as how to make those games. I still find Flash to be the most useful platform to build games on based on how easy ActionScript is to learn and understand compared to other programming languages. Flash's flexibility to run on many platforms also gives me a lot more confidence in using it, too, and that proved to be a lifesaver recently.

Around March, I started using the Starling framework that gives a huge performance boost for Flash on mobile devices, and after a small learning curve, I've grown to love and and continue to use it for, well, everything. I'm hoping at some point to give Unity a genuine try, too--from what I have seen so far, it seems to have similar qualities to those that make me love using Flash and Starling so much.

This year, I released two iOS games, Bugs and Bacon and Fight on State. I'm pleased with the way that both turned out (I mean, I wouldn't have released them if I wasn't 100% confident in their quality), but Fight on State is the one that really stood out.

And really, I've never been so proud of a game as I am with FOS. It has been successful both critically and in popularity, with about a 99% rating overall on the app store and over 9,000 downloads between iOS and Android devices (there's another first for me too--releasing something on Android)!

I attribute the biggest factor to this success in that I, for once, was not working alone. Many Blue Band members gave great positive and constructive feedback, which encouraged me to continue developing it--that itself being no easy task, as I was student teaching and marching in the Blue Band at the same time.

However, there was one person who had the biggest impact on the success of the game--not to mention the game's very existence. Becky Guldin won't take credit for coming up with the original idea for the game, but it's completely true. She might have thought she was just throwing out some crazy ideas when she talked to me after I showed her Bugs and Bacon, but if I learned only one thing this year, it's this: if an idea doesn't sound crazy at first, it's probably not a very interesting one.

One of my biggest problems with developing games prior to FOS was letting people know that the games exist in the first place. Becky, on the other hand, is a natural at this, and I learned a crazy amount just by watching her. Over 3,000 downloads on release day? If that doesn't tell you that there's an incredibly intelligent person behind the PR, nothing does.

So, yes, I have learned so much this year: I learned how to create games using new frameworks, I learned that I am capable of doing about ten quadrillion things at once without missing a beat (left, right, left, right), and I learned just how beneficial it can be to surround yourself with smart, supportive people.

I don't know what's in store for 2013. Since I just graduated from Penn State, I'll be a substitute teacher for a little while, but hopefully I'll find a full-time teaching job soon. In the meantime, I'll be developing away--not just games, but hopefully I can create other things that resonate with people as well. I'm already tinkering with a few ideas for non-gaming apps that I'm pretty excited about.

But games, too. Of course games. Lots of games.

Here's to a fun--and crazy--2013!

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