Update: Milestones and Priority Changes

Time for my obligatory biannual update post! I need to do these way more often.

Here are a few awesome milestones:

  • My YouTube channel just passed 10,000 lifetime views! Wow! Thanks to everyone who’s watched.
  • The channel’s also about to hit 100 subscribers – we’ve got 7 to go!
  • Dungeon Mage turned 2 years old! I finished coding it in July 2013, and got it published in August – Where has the time gone?!
  • SpeakEasy, Infinite Parallax, and Easy Mobile Controls are all on the front page of the GameMaker Marketplace!

Other than that, not much has changed, because I have not spent much time programming! (At least not games.) Life has just been way too busy.

I’ve also had some emotional ups and downs along with a few reflective moments that have made me start to reevaluate whether or not game development is a hobby I really want to pursue any more.

I haven’t disclosed this before, but I’m a high school student. I’ll be a senior in the fall. Going into high school, I was pretty crazy about getting an actual game shipped. The closest I got to this was publishing Dungeon Mage, which I coded in about a month and a half during the summer following my freshman year. Most of the major projects, published and unpublished, that I’ve worked on got developed around this time period. My work output peaked during early high school, and since then, as I’ve gotten more and more busy with other things, I’ve worked on and published games less and less. (I have three or four fairly polished prototypes I’ve just been too lazy to put out there.)

In addition to being busier, as a person I’ve started to burn out a bit, and my life priorities have shifted. I’m not yet sure how or even if game development fits into them.

Most recently I’ve been working in web app development using a platform called Meteor; it’s pretty nifty (and also reactive). But even webdev I haven’t touched in over a month, and I’m not sure when I’ll go back to it. I’m kind of taking a break from computers.

I’m currently doing an internship in New York City working with refugees; it’s turning out pretty great, and I’m enjoying spending comparatively less time in front of screens.

What I’ve slowly been coming to realize is that time is a very limited commodity: I don’t have a lot of it, and it’s most important for me to spend the little that I do have on things that really matter to me. And right now, I’m not sure gamedev is one of those things.

I’ve learned a ton from the work I’ve done; I’ve picked up a lot of skills, and I’ve got the beginnings of a resumé. But it’s time to move on. I’ve been doing this since I was eight years old (almost a decade now), and I’m going to try something else. I’ve been screwing around on SoundCloud lately (and when I say screwing around, I mean screwing around – it’s all pretty bad), and I’m thinking about starting a new non-gamedev-related YouTube channel. I might even start regularly writing a blog. (Medium is a pretty cool website for getting written content out.) I’d also like to improve my art skills. One of my biggest priorities is to establish an actual social media presence, because so far I’ve done a terrible job of networking. (As an introvert, I’m kind of terrified of the social Internet. Gonna change that!)

But honestly, I have no real plans for anything specific, or even anything technology-related. I’m just going with the flow. If that flow leads me back to computers, great. If not, great.

Thanks to everyone who’s followed my sporadic progress over all these years. I appreciate you and the support you’ve given me. You guys are great!

I’ll probably come back to gamedev, maybe when I have a little more time on my hands.

But for now, I’m putting the game-development side of ShroomDoom Studios on hiatus.

SpeakEasy goes live on the GameMaker Marketplace!

Announcing SpeakEasy, my third asset on the GameMaker Marketplace!

Using in-game lipsync with your animated characters is easier than ever before.

Import keyframe data from the lipsync program Papagayo and play it back in-game to bring your characters to life.

SpeakEasy can be easily integrated with GameMaker’s Spine runtime, letting you bring animated dialogue to your skeletal animations!

ShroomDoom Assets Top Over 200 Downloads on the GameMaker Marketplace!

Great news, everyone!

I haven’t written about this on this blog before (I honestly just forgot to), but way back in August, I started publishing assets on the GameMaker Marketplace, an art and software distribution platform that’s basically the GameMaker equivalent of the Unity Asset Store.

And my assets have been doing really well!

Asset Sales November

(Note: December 1st hasn’t happened yet, which is why the numbers for that day are zero.)

Easy Mobile Controls

My first asset was Easy Mobile Controls, a set of scripts for more easily implementing control schemes specific to mobile platforms in games.

It’s done really well – as of this writing it’s been downloaded 174 times, and made about $9 in revenue (although I’ve been giving it away for free lately).

Infinite Parallax

My second asset is Infinite Parallax – although I uploaded the final polished version of it to the Marketplace two days ago, I actually started working on it towards the end of August. It got shelved until this week because of school. But it’s finally out, and free through tonight!

Infinite Parallax uses fancy trigonometry (or really, just geometry) to calculate layer positions for an unlimited number of objects on the fly. It makes faking 3D environments in 2D games really easy by implementing parallax scrolling.

It’s also doing really well – it’s had 34 downloads in 2 days! (Although no revenue. Yet.)

The combined total number of downloads is 208, which for obscure software products on a fledgling niche platform is amazing!

If I have time (and I probably won’t, since I’m going back to school Tuesday), I’m going to polish components of the Indies vs. Pewdiepie game jam project and upload them as assets.

Indies vs Pewdiepie Game Jam Timelapse!

Here it is, as promised.

19 hours of game development condensed into 7 minutes.

(I actually spent more like 22 hours on the game, but a lot of that either didn’t get recorded or was spent sketching on post-it notes in the real world. And then I spent another 4 to 6 hours configuring twitch, editing this blog, and editing/uploading YouTube videos.)

You can play Super ‘Splosion Fun Time Go!!! on GameJolt.

Indies vs Pewdiepie Game Jam Update #2!

Few! It’s over. Those were three really intense days – especially Sunday (non-stop development from 8 AM to 12 AM, except for a brief running break).

Unfortunately, I didn’t actually finish a game.

I finished a very promising prototype of a game that implemented a whole bunch of new tools and ideas I’ve never been able to use before. But I didn’t actually finish a game.

Here it is on GameJolt: Super ‘Splosion Fun Time Go!!!

The game’s a half-baked mess, but it’s got good parts:

  • The under-the-hood AI and character control system are really solid and flexible
  • A complex implementation of Esoteric Software’s Spine runtime let me make some really cool procedural animations
  • The art I was able to finish is (for the most part) high-quality and stylistically unified

I also recorded 19 hours of twitch footage which I’m using to make a timelapse of the entire development process. (It’s really cool to watch an empty source file explode into a 2D-shooter over the course of 7 minutes. The video is sped up by something like 120 times.)

Would I do this again? Maybe. But I’d do a few things very differently:

  • Keep the features list to a minimum, and take a very rational, this-is-cool-but-we-probably-won’t-have-time-for-this approach to cutting from the final design document.
  • Solidify game mechanics before art. It doesn’t matter if your game looks pretty if it doesn’t play well.
  • If possible, I’d work in a team. I might have finished this project if I had had twice as much time to split between art and code – or if I had had another person sharing part of the workload. (Double productivity = more possibilities.)

Have I learned anything? Not really, or at least not anything life-changing. But I do have a cool base project to work from and the beginnings of some very high-quality art assets I could potentially sell on the GameMaker Marketplace. And I’ve also gained a few YouTube subscribers from my Update videos. (I think the timelapse will really bring in views once it’s uploaded.)

It’s been a crazy weekend – thanks for coming for the ride.

Indies vs Pewdiepie Game Jam Update #1!

It’s Day 2 of the Indies vs Pewdiepie Game Jam!

I’ve made progress, but I’m behind schedule. The basic mechanics are (sort of) in place, so now I’ve gotta start working on art assets.

I’ll be streaming on and off again on my twitch channel.

Stuff’s happening!!!