Bytesize Adventures
Crafting bite-sized digital worlds

2013 in Review and Plans for 2014

Whisky and MusicHappy new year! Its been a while.

Lets kick off 2014 as we mean to go on, with a post. In this one we’re reviewing 2013 and discussing what’s in store for 2014. It’s going to make for some sobering reading but it is tradition.

First up, some stats regarding this website:-

12,815 visits from 9,190 unique visitors
20,722 pageviews
Most visits in a single day: 163

The 5 most popular posts were:-

1. Getting started with Moai
2. A beginners guide to iPhone game development
3. App development: The design document
4. 10 don’ts of iPhone game development
5. App development: The wireframes

Overall, visits are down 50% year on year. Ouch! Engagement with this blog is down big time. I have a few theories as to the cause of this.

1. My Low interaction with the community

During 2013 I pretty much ceased the majority of my engagement with the iPhone gaming community. Both on Twitter and on this blog. It wasn’t intentional but things in my personal life just panned out such that I wasn’t engaged with game development.

2. Poor redesign

I accept that the current redesign, whilst well intentioned, is wide of the mark in terms of aesthetic, attention to detail, and encouraging engagement. I need another redesign but that won’t be my focus for a while.

3. Rise of social media and immediacy of information, without visiting websites

I think that the way we consume content is changing and traditional blogs are no longer what they once were. Micro blogs and temporary, disposable content seems to be gaining traction.

I don’t want to focus too heavily on the blog in 2014 since this is primarily a means of chronicling my work.

Achievements in 2013

Coffee Cellar hit a big milestone, reaching its original financial goal in February

This was really satisfying. Coffee Cellar was a project conceived to learn more about the iOS SDK and to follow a plan that could be blogged for others to learn from. The goal was fairly modest – to buy some new coffee equipment – but based on my previous experience it still felt like it would be a struggle. It took a full redesign and some luck to eventually achieve its goal.

In February I took a little time researching and ended up buying some nice coffee equipment to mark the success of Coffee Cellar.

I was asked to review a book and I did

An actual publisher reached out and asked if I’d review a book on Moai. It was a pretty interesting experience, especially the realisation that I would actually have to read the book :) I was flattered to have been asked.

I redesigned this website

In hindsight it wasn’t the best redesign. I like the cleaner look but I’ve lost something in the process.

I cancelled mini mob and picked my puzzle rpg back up again

I feel like I’m in a trap of part completed projects. I’m attempting to crawl out of this. This is my current active project but I haven’t worked on it since August.

Sometimes it feels like we’re endlessly reviewing what makes game development tough, how to avoid the traps, and inevitably writing the same posts about how things have gone wrong. I think it all boils down to hard work and perseverance (in the face of, often, extreme doubt).

I attended the 2013 Apple tech talk in London

I got some really useful nuggets of information out of this. It felt much more targeted but also, oddly, much more subdued than the event in 2009. Perhaps its a sign of the natural progression of iOS games from hobby to business.

What’s in store for 2014?

I’ve really struggled with deciding what my focus should be in 2014. I’ve contemplated throwing in the towel altogether and closing my App store account. Ultimately, I have an innate desire to create and game development still represents the right blend of skills for me to find the process satisfying.

I’ve considered a few 2014 goals. Things I thought about but have ultimately sidelined.

1. Playing with tech and developing something organically. I’m fascinated by the Oculus Rift and would love to dive into some experiments around that. Unity has long been on my list of platforms to properly experiment with too.

2. Website redesign. I can’t seem to shake the desire to redesign and improve this website. The current incarnation is possibly one of my worst.

3. Coffee Cellar 3.0 – Another redesign! Thing is, if I want Coffee Cellar to remain relevant, it needs a redesign again. Something to bring it inline with iOS7 and to add some of the features that could make it really useful.

What I’ve ultimately settled on is the delivery of a single project in 2014. My troubled Puzzle RPG project.

Its been dumped once already, picked back up, rewritten, and I’m still struggling with motivation. Its something I need to do though. Something keeps bringing me back to it. I’m under no illusions. Its still lots of work.

What I want is a solid vertical slice. Something really polished to act as a yardstick for the rest of the game. I’m part of the way there but its hugely lacking attention to detail (sound, music, animation, feedback, graphical polish).

My first step is to migrate the project from Cocos2D to Apple’s Sprite Kit. I was really impressed by some of the features shown at the Apple Tech Talk I recently attended. Not least, the texture atlas stuff. I’m aiming for efficiency gains here (not in terms of processing but in terms of development time). I’ll also finally take the opportunity to turn this into a universal project so that iPad devices are supported from day 1.

So my goal for 2014 is the release of my puzzle game. For the blog, I’m going to eschew heavy blog posts and instead focus on smaller snippets of information at more regular intervals. I do want to commit to something though so lets start by being ambitious; weekly development posts. These will be short and simple, recounting progress in the proceeding week.

2014, more than ever, needs to be the year that I release a new game.