This gamedev story starts years ago. Times were different back then, I wasn’t a father, or a husband, and there certainly wasn’t a pandemic shutting down the planet. Back then I was primarily focused on running a photography forum called PhoGro. PhoGro has since been retired, but the lessons I learned through that experience will carry on for years to come.
WWDC – The Itch, Inspiration & Push
I’ve been an Apple fan for many years, probably since my first iPod back in the early 2000s. That being said, it certainly escalated after my first iPhone. In the early 2010s I started watching Apple’s WWDC conference to get an early look at the next version of iOS, but it also started to give me the itch to develop my own app. While working on PhoGro I had taught myself enough PHP, HTML and CSS to get by. However, making an app was an entirely new challenge, a challenge that I wasn’t prepared for.
My first attempts at learning to code were not successful at all, but year after year WWDC would drag me back in. “This time I’m going to push harder and learn more” I’d say to myself. Only to fail after a few days, weeks or months. Things started to change when Apple unveiled Swift – a promising new coding language. Swift was supposed to be easier to learn and was built right into Xcode making it easy to deploy your Apps to the iPhone.
The first versions of Swift were still rough and with little documentation available learning wasn’t easy. Finally, Swift 3.0 and Swift Playgrounds were unveiled. The language had started to mature and Swift Playgrounds was the tool I needed to learn the basics. Also, by this time, the internet was starting to fill up with helpful articles and examples for a curious mind start digging into. While I still struggled to make anything useful or fun I was making more progress than I’d ever made in the past.
But – I failed again. I had pushed myself too hard on a project that was far too big for my skill level and burnt myself out. So, I switched gears. I decided to drop Xcode and Swift and picked up C# and Unity instead.
Trying Out C# and Unity
Moving from Swift to C# wasn’t all that difficult. Both languages are based on C and having learned enough Swift to start making “functional” games I was able to pick up the basics of C# quickly. The tricky bit was learning the Unity development environment.
By the middle of 2019 I had successfully made a few smaller demo projects with functional game loops, but I still was a long way from creating a project with a clear intention. Then, towards the end of the 2019 summer my gamedev journey hit the pause button as two significant things happened. First, I found out that I was going to become a father. Second I got a second job working for, Apple Retail.
The job at Apple took so much time I completely fell away from coding all together. The three months I spent working this job was, amazing, and entirely and utterly draining. By the end of the seasonal contract I was burnt out – completely.
Parenthood and a Pandemic
After the new year rolled over to 2020 I found myself with nights and weekends again. I started to dabble in some of my other hobbies – guitar, gaming, and even tried out podcasting. Then… in March I became a father and the world shut down.
Becoming a father has been an amazing, life changing, experience. It’s amazing how priorities shift when a little person is put into your arms. Of course, raising a newborn during a pandemic is not what I expected so it took some time to adjust. So, here I am, adjusted and back behind a computer again ready to start a new gamedev journey. But this time is different. This time – I have rules – and a very supportive wife.
GameDev Again… This Time It’s Different!
After reflecting on the past few years of my development journey I came to the conclusion that I was pushing myself too far too fast. My previous projects may have seemed small on paper, but once I started diving into the code, I soon realized that even small games can be fairly large undertakings. So this time around I decided to set myself two rules from the start.
- Rule #1 – Keep it small, simple, and concise. And then make it smaller.
- Rule #2 – Publish something.
With these two rules in place I set off once again to create a game. Even though I spent a considerable amount of time learning C# and Unity, I felt that it was just too big a task to take on, especially when Rule #2 is to publish. Therefore, I’m back in Xcode, using Spritekit and Swift, to make a very small and simple game. My first game.
The concept is a game of addition and subtraction, with some arcade style twists thrown in to distract and confuse the player. Below you’ll see a few screenshots of the early versions of this game which I’ve dubbed: ZER0ED. Please don’t laugh at the meager attempts at placeholder art.
This is the furthest and most comfortable I’ve been with game development since starting on this adventure. In fact, I’m so happy with where I’m at currently with the game, I do actually plan to publish ZER0ED on the Apple AppStore at some point this fall! I hope that you’ll download it, give it a whirl, and send me your feedback.
I will be continuing to share updates on ZER0ED and other neat gamedev related topics here on DidLoadGames. I’d like to thank you for taking the time to read about this introduction of sorts! If you’d like to stay updated on all things related to my gamedev or if you’d just like to chat join me on twitter.