2012 in Review and Plans for 2013

weddingThis is now a Bytesize Adventures blog tradition; The yearly review and setting goals for next year.

2012 is about to be over and we’re on the cusp of entering 2013; A brand new year with many exciting, and currently unknown, opportunities ahead.

In this post we’re going to review what went down in 2012 and set a few goals for 2013.

First up, lets look at some website stats…

23,887 visits from 17,262 unique visitors.
38,832 Pageviews
306 visits in a single day at its high point.

Random, but awesome, traffic generating search query: “sonic the hedgehog core game mechanics” (which I believe comes from this post)

The stats are down a little on last year but I’m still deeply proud of the growth this blog has seen since its inception. 2013, with a redesign and focus on community, will see even more growth.

The Top 5 most popular posts of 2012 were… Drum roll please…

  1. 10 Don’ts of iPhone Game Development
  2. A beginners guide to iPhone game development
  3. App Development: The Testing
  4. Getting started with MOAI
  5. iPhone game development Toolkit

If I were in this purely for traffic, and put my SEO hat on for a moment, I’d tell you that factual “How To” posts, packaged into lists, drive traffic.

Lets move on to what I achieved in 2012.

2012 Achievements

Half way through 2012 it looked like the year was doomed to be a total disaster. I’d sunk 6 months into my puzzle RPG only to put the project on indefinite hold. I dabbled in Moai and started a new, rather ambitious, game.

Eventually I took a step back and re-evaluated my opportunities. The subsequent decisions resulted in one of my best App/Game development years ever! Here’s how it went down…

Project Puzzle RPG

Level 1 WIP

Come up with a puzzle mechanic, add RPG (Role Play Game) elements, release as an easy-to-play but in-depth iPhone game. It seemed like a good idea at the time and allowed me to scratch my RPG itch.

Things started well and I even released 15 diary updates on my progress. The project was plagued with game design difficulties and unfortunately I lost interest big time.

I keep falling foul of scope.

I think I’m finally seeing the light though and my recent Ludum Dare 25 entry has been a huge learning for me. Ultimately I don’t have that much time to spend developing in my spare time and I need to be more careful about what I take on.

Subterranea

Subterranea isn’t a game. Its an organic experiment for testing the MOAI SDK. What started as a screen of texture quads became a lesson in procedurally generated worlds and cellular automata.

I don’t know what Subterranea is going to become but I’m happy just keeping it in the sidelines for the time being (working on it as and when). Its taught me a lot and I wouldn’t have entered Ludum Dare 25 without it. It was also a much needed creative break.

And then, in the second half of the year, things got awesome…

I got Married

wedding

The 21st September 2012 was the best day of my life! I can highly recommend marriage, its insanely awesome.

Coffee Cellar 2.0

Coffee Cellar

After our honeymoon I got started on a new version of Coffee Cellar. I made a list of everything that I thought was missing from the original and brought out a new, revamped version of Coffee Cellar. It took another few hundred hours but the resulting App is something that I’m really proud of.

Coffee Cellar TUAW

Then, out of nowhere, something totally amazing and unexpected happened – Coffee Cellar was reviewed on TUAW. This validated the creation of Coffee Cellar for me and has really re-ignited my interest in iOS development.

Its also going to bring me within touching distance of my original goal for Coffee Cellar – purchasing a new espresso machine (as a permanent reminder of its success).

Ludum Dare 25

Gameplay

Ludum Dare 25 is a game development competition in which you build a game from scratch in 48 hours.

This is the first time I’ve entered a jam and I’m really happy with the result. It was lots of fun to take part in and I learnt a lot about what can be achieved in a short amount of time and which things take a lot of time in game development. Here’s the diary.

Tidied Catalogue

In 2012 I took the opportunity to tidy my game/App catalogue. My older games such as Star Fusion and the original Rocket Santa had already been removed and now I’ve also removed Astro Noughts (my only iPad game).

My catalogue now just consists of Rocket Santa Remix and Coffee Cellar. These are products that I’m pleased with and I’m happy to support and continue expanding in 2013.

2013 Plans

I’m not going to commit to anything too serious this year. I’m purposely not mentioning Subterranea because I really don’t know where it’s going to go. I’ll more than likely dabble with it but with no firm plans.

I do have a few firm goals though…

Micro Mob – My Ludum Dare 25 Entry

I developed this game for Ludum Dare 25 and I’m honestly hugely excited by the prospect of working on it some more. It has so much room for improvement and what’s great is building upon an already simple but solid gameplay mechanic.

I’m going to bring it to the iPhone where I think its a perfect fit. I want to add some deeper tactics, variety, and some fancy new features. I may also use it as an opportunity to test out freemium.

It will be a good game to start the year with because its small in scope and has a solid base. I can begin adding layers of complexity without fear of being overwhelmed.

The prototype was written using the MOAI SDK but I may end up porting to cocos2d for deployment to the iPhone (we shall see).

Conferences

I really want to engage with the game development community some more. I’m going to try to attend as many conferences as I can fit in (and my wallet allows).

Game Jams

Ludum Dare 25 was my first and definitely won’t be my last. I’m sure they won’t always result in a viable idea that can be extended past the jam but they’re amazing for sharpening your skills. There’s no denying the buzz of creating a playable game in such a short space of time.

Website

Its time to renovate my web empire. I want to make bytesizeadventures.com more focussed on the blog which means it will also receive a redesign. I’ll then create smaller satellite sites for each of my games/Apps. These will be used purely as landing pages to promote the product (and to build communities where relevant).

In Summary

So 2012 ended up being a really successful year despite the rocky start. I feel my plans for 2013 are very grounded and I’m really looking forward to launching into the development of Micro Mob.

A heartfelt thank you for your support and for continuing to read this blog. Have a great last few days of 2012. See you in the new Year.

(Feel free to link to your own 2012 review and goals in the comments)

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