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2013 in Review (Part 2)

2013 in Review (Part 2)
Continued from Part 1.


As soon as I got back from my trip to Game Developers Conference I was starting to feel like I wasn't really working on the right things. I was working on my Heartbeat game from the Global Game Jam earlier in the year, but the more I looked at it, the more I realized that I didn't care enough about it to work on it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with the game, and my patience for using Flash as a game development platform was wearing thin.

I eventually decided to just scrap the whole project. It's still sitting in my Flash Projects folder somewhere, but I won't be going back to it at all at this point. The most frustrating thing that I was running into was that even with just a 320 x 240 game window with a couple of layers of pixel art I could not get the game to run at a stable 60fps. It would continuously drop to 30fps and I couldn't figure out any way to fix it. I had a lot of performance issues with Offspring Fling and I was lucky that I was able to solve most of them, but even still the game runs like garbage on older CPUs and this frustrates me and any of my players that are running older PCs.

I made the decision to jump ship from Flash and begin to explore the ocean of game development platforms and programming languages. I started out by using Haxe along with HaxePunk which was a port of Flashpunk to Haxe. Haxe was very similar to using ActionScript so I felt comfortable in it. I was also able to continue with using FlashDevelop as my IDE.

My early experiments with HaxePunk were great, but the problem I eventually ran into was that HaxePunk was just starting out and was nowhere close to being usable to make a full game with. HaxeFlixel looked promising, but I have no experience with Flixel, and I vastly prefer the style of Flashpunk's architecture, so I had little interest in switching.

During this time I also experimented with Adobe AIR on iOS. I managed to get some stuff running on an iPad 4, but the performance of Flashpunk on the iPad was just completely awful. I tried using a new version of Flashpunk that was never released that used Stage 3d as the core, but even with that the performance was not to my liking. My time spent developing mobile games was very brief, as I quickly realized that I do not like playing games with the touch interface. I also discovered that most of the games available on the app store are just disgusting. Looking at the top selling games in the app store felt very similar to walking through a gross casino in Las Vegas... but I digress!

By the end of this month I made the TIGJam 5 website, another site for my friend's game, and I was feeling pretty lost when it came to making video games.


I began May with a blog post that seemed to get a lot of attention from people. I talked through my current state of mind of not knowing where to go next with game development. The response to the blog post was huge and a lot of people reached out with their advice.

I had tried a lot of things, including something called SFML for C++. SFML is a multimedia framework for C++ that provides an easy to use API for graphics, sound, and even networking to some degree. I tried using it in C++ but quickly found that C++ is still not the language for me. Through the comments on my blog though and chatting with some other developers I found that SFML had a C# binding, and that seemed like the most promising road to take.

This is when I officially started working on what would eventually become Otter. I just started with an empty project in Visual Studio, downloaded the latest version of SFML for C#, and started cranking away. I was using most of my knowledge from FlashPunk to construct the engine, and I was learning C# as I went. I was pretty much just flying by the seat of my pants.


I spent some of June in San Jose for the wonderful TIGJam 5. It was an amazing time and I spent a lot of time making some progress on Otter, and experimenting with what would be my next game. I also spent a lot of time playing Magic the Gathering.

I believe this was also the month that Steam announced that they would be introducing Trading Cards. I worked like crazy to get some Offspring Fling cards into the system as early as possible, and it ended up paying off with a small spike in sales for me when the cards were released. I was able to get my cards out before a majority of games.

After getting back I was working more on Otter. Nothing too exciting, but little did I know that looming ahead was a few weeks of depression and not being able to get anything done.

Stay tuned for Part 3!
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