hrmmm.. as I dig into what I did last year, I have the feeling I'm about to unravel one of the most chaotic and unusual years in terms of projects I've ever had. After I'm done typing out my feelings and thoughts, I'm going to check out my post from last year. I know it was filled with activity but I want to compare it with my end of year outlook. This one is ending a bit "cold".
2011 Games (Ideas/Attempts):
- Sniper, potentially one of the coolest BYOND/Flash shooter games ever but lost due to disinterest on my part and others. I now ponder what I should do with it... the idea and prototype that is.
- Another massive universal space game variation that we all know, love, and wish we could do but never finish.
- Came up with a new variation on dungeon crawls that utilizes a new unique visual effect. It would come across as neat and if done well, might carry a decent fan base but it's all in the details (content/art) which is just murder on a developers motivation.
- ShitzelBurgar. A stupid attempt at making a risk like game in the most generic way possible. This is what eventually spawned my hexgame effort.
- HexGame. I continued to toil on my risk like hex turn based resource game. In 2010, I created the board and in 2011, I created unit movement. While it's just a crappy clone (rip-off) right now, it could be worthwhile given its multi-player capability. It needs nicer graphics, AI, and some enhanced modes not seen in other variations to make it a worth while game. Not too far off really given the simplicity of the genre.
- Yet Another Tower Defense Game... This little gem is not like the others though and has terrific potential for getting a lot of attention. It makes use of some new concepts never before seen and would draw significant attention. If I am going to do anything in the game space, it would likely be this.
- A life simmy like game. The idea is rather old but easy enough to do on BYOND given enough hands. In short, players utilize points to create "DNA" and then spawn their creatures in the world. Its a survival of the fittest type thing and players can unlock various DNA components, artifacts to place in the world to assist their own creatures while warding off others but they do not control their creatures. That is all driven by AI. Creatures do things you would expect like hunt, flee, migrate, herd, evolve, and etc. It's a mix of Spore and other similar games. If your creature goes extinct which many would, players just try, try again to find that perfect mix of DNA. Given an ever changing landscape, you never know when the table will turn on your perfect little creature design.
2011 Projects (Ideas/Attempts):
Project Manager - A very challenging project that I had no business attempting to make. I think that it was pretty impressive but knowing the BYOND landscape, it was just a waste of time. I spent the early part of 2011 trying to integrate it into the Resource Center and while I did, I just didn't have it in me to fix bugs. Some IE/BYOND update screwed with a number of my features and that sort of exhausted any gas I had left for it. I eventually ripped it out of the Resource Center to trim the bloat.
Resource Center - The year was filled with small features, tweaks, and fixes. Massive amounts really. Toward the end though, I redid the entire Resource Center UI and removed a ton of feature bloat. A couple of those features had great potential if they were fully polished and had other supporting features and people to go along with them. A dieing dream really. After doing all that, I got a spur of motivation to add a new feature that I've wanted to do for a long time. It's actually a very interesting feature and I think it will (or could) turn a few heads in terms of external implementation. I didn't think it would take so much out of me to pre-populate the data but after finishing the feature, I had 0 gas left for data. I know that the feature will get mixed reviews. In the end, it appears to be another significant waste of my time.
In this shot, I show that we animate a dropdown tab after a user has asked a question which lets them know that we have an automatic answer for them.
This shot shows all the auto responses that we can provide for a users question.
This shot shows an example of a user clicking on the code example tab which brings up a code snippet.
A user can specify strict or loose responses. When set to loose, any keyword will bring up a set of possible responses. When set to strict, we must match the question exactly in order to bring up the response which is the default setting. In short, if nobody asks questions and I don't pre-populate it with a bunch of stuff, it's a feature that will never see the light of day. To see it in action, you can go to the Resource Center and type: "how do i use vars?" without double quotes. You can also go into settings and toggle the settings. This is just an example for proof of concept.
Fat Race - A stupid attempt at creating an application designed for weight loss competitions. It allows people to login to their competition and track peoples progress via visual graphs. I got about 50% done before realizing its more trouble than its worth.
PopLava Challenge #1:
A total bust. An effort to motivate people into a genre I felt would do really well for BYOND but it bombed in every which way. I think the impact this one had on me is still bouncing around long after the fact.
I tried to recruit a few people with the promise of collaboration, money up front for feature work in addition to long term earnings potential but this also bombed. I dumped hours and hours into workflow and designs just to have a miserable turn out. This last failing effort pretty much ended my 2011 spree on BYOND with the exception of the RC revamp.
- An application to execute automated QTP tests
- An application to inject version information into the footer of a website
- An application to inject any number of related entities into our projects DB.
- A number of SMTP emailers and libraries
- An application called WinClickPro that has been a couple years in the making. A while back, I lost motivation because of the complicated licensing options. Just recently, I decided to come up with my own little key generator which should be sufficient for my needs. I'm gearing up for public beta testing right now.
This screenshot of WinClickPro is funny but only to me. This is the starting interface of WinClickPro.
Other things I've played around with or learned this last year.
- Quick Test Pro for automating web site testing. I've mainly just edited existing tests but have strong familiarity with its interfaces now.
- VB.net - I rewrote a good 50% of an existing application designed for running our QTP automation. Oh, how I hate the syntax choices in that language.
- HP Quality Center - designed for tracking tests and defects. This is used throughout the software industry so having this on my resume is an easy 10k more a year I can make.
- vSphere and general VM management. I just got introduced into VMs this last year and now I'm the resident expert at my work. This is another huge ++ on my resume.
- Lotus Notes is one of the worst programs I've ever had the displeasure of using. It's terrible in every way but I get to add it to my resume.
What does the future hold for me?
- At work, we are moving to Microsoft Team Foundation Server so I get to ramp up on that over the next 6 months. When I first started, I actually told them I'm really interested in working for a company that doesn't use MS technology and now they are diving into it head first. Oh well. My resume will be a sparkling jewel after I get TFS on there. Anyway, I'm now acutely aware of my worth. Before working at this company, I had no idea how much I could really make. If this company wasn't sky rocketing in terms of growth, I would have had to leave knowing I could make so much more but now they are throwing raises and promotions at me so things are looking good for the moment. Although, I think I put in a couple extra months of overtime this last year which is fairly taxing. That can't go on much longer.
- In terms of BYOND... I think my efforts will quietly die off with the exception of checking in on the flash client. I really have little interest in what's going on in the BYOND community right now. With the number of failed projects, sour personalities, and lacking creativity, it leaves little to be desired. I wish I didn't feel that way. I'm intending on opening a feedback door for the future of the Resource Center along with any efforts using the PopLava account. It will ask in short, what can I do to help myself and BYOND? If nothing, than I can simply call it good and be done.
- At home, I need to step up some non-computer activities and lose a bunch of weight. I also need to start investing in my career or in profitable projects. My choices seem to be, .net development although it seems like a saturated market with nothing but problems. If WinClickPro does well, that will certainly dictate a direction. My other choices are Java which is a great choice given how it would look on my resume as well as be useful for droid development. The other option is iPhone development. I've got a cousin-in-law who made some pretty cheesy games on apple devices and he's actually making money due to sheer volume. For that, he has a bit of my attention.
Java or apple development is going to be years more of toiling. That obviously weighs heavy on motivation. Neither efforts would apply to my career right now either. It would be like taking on a second job much like BYOND has been. By the end of my short vacation, I will choose a direction. Unless I'm magically pulled back into the BYOND realm through my PopLava post, this will likely by my last post. tsfreaks is officially being retired.
It's been a good ride. I wish all my efforts would have amounted to something more tangible but they didn't. Suck it up and move on I guess. Please, don't feel like I need encouragement or a pep talk. I'm not looking for anything. This is merely a brain dump and I expect few to make it this far anyway. I'm just done with investing my time into dead ends. Now is a good time to pull the plug.
p.s. Off to read last years to see how I ended it. Similar I think.