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  TOWLDR! 12:32 PM -- Sun April 28, 2013  

I entered Ludum Dare for the first time in a long while this weekend! I made a whole game which is lots of "fun", because it's a Towlr! It's called TOWLDR, and you can play it on Kongregate right now: Kongregate link

You can also vote on it if you're an LD guy yourself, or grab the source code (but don't spoil it for yourself! Towlr is about mystery and wonder!!) as it is located hereabouts on the Ludum Dare site: Ludum Dare TOWLDR page

This was a fun break from my Growtopia duties. The theme of Ludum Dare this weekend was "Minimalism" which made making an entry extra easy. I have been mighty incognito for many weeks, but I am finally feeling mostly healthy, and still doing the same old stuff... cranking out new Growtopia items. A holiday is coming up soon in Growtopia...
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  GDC Bound! 08:58 PM -- Thu March 21, 2013  

I'm heading to GDC for the first time ever on Sunday! I'm a-scared! But I'm ready with my supplies:

Biz cards and "app icon stickers", which apparently you're supposed to trade with other developers. I don't know who started that, but it's a thing this year, so I'm gonna do the thing. Gotta catch 'em all!

Anyway, I never blog anymore as you have noticed, and you know what I'm busy working on ALL the time (hint: see the little red-head guy in the picture above). I've never had anything close to this much success in my entire life (let's see how long it holds out...), but at the same time, it means I don't get to do much I might want to do, but at least the thing I have to do is really fun, and honestly pretty easy. Except for the part where I have to watch 1500+ kids scream at each other and demand retribution and pain all day long. The moderating is not a blast. But making stuff is!

But next week, that is all in Seth's lap, because I'm gonna be roaming the streets of San Francisco. If you're going to GDC, I'll see you there! I'll be the guy with the cards and stickers pictured above. And I look like that guy in the Behind The Dumb videos.
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  New Items In Growtopia! 11:11 PM -- Thu March 7, 2013  

We have new items every week in Growtopia, but this time I made a quick little video, mainly because the special effect on the headphones isn't in-game yet (we're waiting on Apple to approve our latest update), and I wanted to share it. We also have the craziest, most expensive, item the game has ever seen (and yeah, I totally saw RedBone's broadcast about it!):

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  FebROLLary! 12:27 PM -- Thu February 28, 2013  

Well, indeed Growtopia is keeping me busier than I've been in years. Especially with major crises this past week. So I didn't even have time to make my knight-squishing-blobs game go anywhere. But I could leave February gameless, could I? I would never forfeit a chance to keep a combo going! So without further ado, here are the rules for FebROLLary, an original dice game you can play with your friends:

You'll just need (a lot of) dice and some poker chips (or money, I suppose! Or peanut M&Ms, my favorite choice) to bet with. Play Febrollary today! It even got beta tested by my sister's family and received the coveted Thumb's Up award from them.
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  February 1GAM 04:44 PM -- Mon February 18, 2013  

This is a work-in-progress clip from my February 1GAM. It's not really called Knighto, that's just what I named the folder I put it in. It has no name as yet, or point. I'm still busy all the time with Growtopia but I thought I'd do something just for fun, which is almost a new concept to me. So I pixeled a knight (really badly, actually... I don't like doing top-down stuff!), without any idea of what I wanted to do with him, and just kinda went from there. So what we have so far is a knight running around "Super Dungeon Room", swiping at blobs like he's using a windshield wiper instead of a sword. It's kind of fun just because of the massive splatter factor.

I can't say if this will ever amount to anything, but each little bit I add inspires me with ideas for what it could be in the end. I don't really have time to make anything, but hey, pecking away at this is a better way of amusing myself than TV or video games, I think. It's almost productive!

Of course I should be working on Dr. Exploro if I'm going to have a side project, but I needed something small and simple, just to mess around. Digging into a major game while still hacking on Growtopia every day is a real brain burner, whereas this thing is... I don't know, fun I guess you call it?
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  One Flu Over, Got Beaucoup Rest 11:19 AM -- Tue February 5, 2013  

It's been a rough couple weeks! My wife came home with the flu, so I took care of her for three or four days, and you know where that's going... I ended up laying around exhausted and coughing for the next four or five days. Even once I thought I was better, I relapsed into more fever the next day. Now I think I really am all better, but it's like I just lost a week and a half of life, and I'm still so tired! Spent the whole time just watching TV (when I was conscious).

I don't know what you care about that, I just felt like I wanted to explain where I've been for the last couple weeks! Got back into Growtopia work in the last couple days (still coughing though!). Lots of big updates are coming there! I want to keep some as surprises, but I can tell you the trade system is done, awesome and rock-solid, and being tested now, and there are dozens of new items that are going to appear in the game at various points in the next couple weeks (some use technology that isn't in the game yet, so they can't be enabled until updates come out, and others may have... other reasons? for not being added just yet).

So it's February! I'm supposed to release one game a month! That is going to be really tough. Growtopia remains all-consuming. It also continues to grow! This past weekend we hit a new record of 1500 users online at once.
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  Growing Like A Topia 02:09 PM -- Sun January 20, 2013  

All those little flags are players!

So it's been a crazy week. Only a week? Maybe it's been two crazy weeks. It's been crazy! Growtopia set a new record yesterday of 1,000 users online at the same time (it went beyond that, but 1000 sounds nice, and we didn't reach 1,100... that I know of!). So as you can imagine, it's kind of exploded. What's really scary/crazy/cool/whatever about it is that we are doing terribly in the App Store rankings, and we're getting almost no press coverage. Now that doesn't sound cool, and it's not. But what's cool is that we have this immense, ever-increasing growth of players, despite not having the press in our corner or anybody big talking about us at all. It's purely organic word-of-mouth growth. We have had brief mentions on some of the major iOS and Android sites, but in each case it was just one little quick "this game is coming soon" and nothing more, so we're definitely not riding a wave of PR here! Relatively speaking, we don't have very many players, but the ones we do have are online for hours. We have made the most addictive game ever.

So the craziness isn't just sitting here and marveling at the numbers rising. It's more the craziness of constantly battling hacks and fraud (don't try either one, the system auto-bans people who try! And hoo boy, do we get emails about it!), constantly helping people, constantly monitoring issues as we resolve problems with the server and its ability to handle such a ridiculous number of players. And of course developing the major updates that we want to get out there anyway. There are a lot of core game features we still haven't even put in! Wish we had time to really focus on the new stuff, because that's the fun part.

I had so many plans of other games to work on, and other things I wanted to do with my life (I am trying to study music! That's the educational goal I came up with), but Growtopia grows and consumes every inch of my life. I literally wake up and turn on the logs and do my first checks. Anything else I do, I come back every few minutes to check the email, logs, etc. When I go for walks with my wife, or we eat together, Topia is the topic. It just always changes to that. There's just so much to be done with it, and so much to think about, it's really overwhelming. I wouldn't want to live like this forever, but it's very exciting for now. And I'm not the one who's really working hard - my partner Seth is doing all the serious work. I just make goofy little pictures.

I think I'm gonna have a real problem with 1 Game A Month, because I can see the rest of this year being consumed in a frenzy of Punch. Build. Grow. And you know, that might be okay.
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  Growtopia for iOS is out! 11:18 PM -- Thu January 10, 2013  

It's really fun. I am on right now, along with 166 other people! It is one majorly busy world. Well, many many majorly busy worlds.
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  Growtopia: Soulmates 07:03 PM -- Wed January 9, 2013  

Growtopia is coming out in two more days (on iOS that is - it's already out on Android). Check out our second teaser video:

That tagline is pretty Hamumuey to me! And I had nothing to do with it. The game has really taken off already, just on Android. Today all day we've had over 100 players at a time consistently. That's nuts! A real testament to Seth's network code that it functions so well through the craziness.

P.S. I have a few more iTunes promo codes if you want to play it on iOS right now... WJYAWJYJXRTH - JETFXRXFTAX6 - FHKYPHYAYERX - Grab one and say you got it in the comments so nobody else tries to take it! You just click on Redeem in the iTunes store and enter that code.
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  Looking Forward to 2013 02:41 PM -- Tue January 1, 2013  

So the game market is a terrible mess. What do I intend to do about it in the coming year? I'm not sure. For the most part, it's a catch-22: I don't have the resources to spend time on a large game and take the chance that it might be a hit (a slim chance, in my experience). Yet plugging away on little games doesn't seem to be breaking me out of the rut. For a couple years now, our savings have depleted (sometimes very fast, thanks to dog cancer) bit by bit, and we're heading toward a real deadline where there's just nothing left and something has to give. That deadline is in a lot less than a year, by my calculations. So whatever happens in the coming year, something is definitely going to happen.

That thing might be me getting a job. I don't know how to get a job, and I certainly don't want to get a job, but that's one way to return to stability for sure.

That thing might be the magic of Growtopia exceeding my wildest dreams and actually making life comfortable for the first time since the 90's when playing in the stock market was just plain free money. That seems like a nicer thing, but also not the most plausible.

As far as an actual strategy going forward, it's called throw everything at the wall and see what sticks. I don't feel like I have any grasp on how this business works these days, and every bit of success I've had in 5 or more years has always been based on a random opportunity that cropped up because of something I did. So if I do a lot of somethings, then a lot of opportunities should randomly appear, and that should turn out well. That's the theory.

These are the actual plans for the year to do this throwing of everything:
  • First, I'm participating in One Game A Month, more as an inspiration than a hard-and-fast rule. I will definitely try to release some new game each month.

  • Second, there's Growtopia of course, which is my January release, and I'll be continuing to update that throughout the year.

  • Third, I'm making Dr. Exploro (hopefully my February release), and I actually plan to make 2 versions - one is the level-editor-focused fast-action game I have mostly finished, and then I hope to later on do a Robot Wants Kitty type Metroidvania thing with it, something where you explore different tombs and then buy better powers at your archaeology camp in order to be able to explore them further.

  • Fourth, I may be doing more Boys' Life games if the opportunity arises. We'll see about that.

  • Fifth, I'm hoping that Raptisoft will finish the project he's been working on for a year or more and get back to Robot Wants Puppy iPhone! That's extra nice because I don't have to do the work, he does.

  • Sixth, I'm going to attend GDC in March, which I hear is full of random opportunities and inspiration.

  • Seventh, I would like to sit down and make something in Unity. How many years have I wanted to do that? Learning always seems like too much time away from actual productivity, but if you never take time for it, you're still making DOS games!

  • Eighth, I have the crazy notion of trying a Kickstarter at some point. I think the gold rush there is long past, but it's free to try, if you're willing to spare the time. The idea of knowing in advance that the money is there to pay living expenses for the year it would take would make creating something like Dr. Lunatic 3 or Loonyland 3 a perfectly reasonable opportunity instead of a suicidal gamble. The catch here of course is that you need a big fanbase to begin with to actually put in the money... and apparently a lot of free time to run the Kickstarter. It is no hands-off money machine. So to even do this, I'd have to be financially comfortable enough to take the time off to set it up. Irony!

  • Ninth, I intend to find a way (still working on it) to cut games partially out of my life. Instead of going workworkwork,gamegamegame,sleepsleepsleep, it would be nice to reclaim that spare time and put it to creative pursuits. Not more work, but more worthwhile time-usage than playing games. Creativity, exercise, family, education.

  • Tenth, specifically, I'd like to spend some of that time pursuing an education, most likely in business, so that I have some clue how to run one. It might be useful information if I were to, for example, attempt to run a business of some type.

  • And lastly, I know that no plan ever survives contact with a new year. Mysteries will abound in 2013, and I will pursue them if they seem promising. I don't know what I'll have done by the end of this year, but I can declare with near-certainty that it won't be what I have in mind. Every year is like that: new opportunities, projects that fail and require reevaluation, personal crises, and just plain surprises. You can't plan a whole year, so I'm just taking it a week at a time. This week, I work on Growtopia.
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