Like most passionate (bored) developers, I’ve worked on a lot of projects. Most of them games, none of them seeing the light of day. I’ve decided to chronicle them here in an attempt to kick other gamedevs to finish their own games, and maybe even entice some people to help me finish these.
Really, it’s more of a just a cathartic experience for me. I have tried my best to explain why I chose to stop working on these projects (for now anyway). These are not all the games I’ve worked on in the recent past (see Toys), just the ones I love.
I love each and every one of these projects. Each one of them has hundreds, sometimes thousands of commits. I’ve spent hundreds, sometimes thousands of hours building them.
I’ve poured my heart into them at one time or another. I’ve broken promises to work on them. I’ve missed deadlines to work on them. I love them, in every sense of the word.
I’m an architect. I’m an engineer. I am not a game developer. However, unfortunately, I love to make multiplayer games, specifically for the web. I like to connect people.
Almost all of these projects die in one spot: game design and assets. It’s incredibly tiresome to be a solo developer with no artistic capabilities.
All the projects are built using strict typescript for both the client and server, and typically react somewhere. Most of them use some type of serverless hosting. All of the source is provided unless otherwise stated, though you will likely not be able to run any of them locally as there is never any documentation. Each one of them contains a treasure trove of good patterns and utility code that anyone can benefit from. If you agree, throw the ones you like a star.
You can consider this website a cry for help. I've learned time and time again that the old adage is true, it's very difficult to be a solo founder. I am looking for someone to go on a journey with me just once, someone with skills that compliment mine. Someone to share in the ups, and downs.
If nothing else, I don't want these projects to die unnoticed, even if they aren't production ready.
Below are the games. I have randomized the order they're shown to not play favorites. They are each my babies, and I love them all equally. Please keep an open mind when reading about them.
A vertical scrolling multiplayer space shootemup. You join an active server, capped at about 60 players. You shoot enemies, get powerups, shoot more enemies, and increase your score.
The purpose is to climb the leaderboard, per game, per day, and all time. Once you die your score is saved and all your stats/powerups reset to zero.
Probably microtransaction around ship upgrades, functional and aesthetic, as well as video ads.
The multiplayer engine was so much fun to work on, writing a good scalable server, as well as being able to spin up new servers automatically to meet demand. The typescript code is so completely sound and scalable. It’s a beautiful codebase.
At some point I ran out of Kenney assets, and I’m not enough of a game designer to make it fun enough to keep playing (a common theme).
A day/week/month long game played out over the course of several hundred or thousand of turns.
You enter the game automatically joining one of three "factions". Your faction owns a subset of the map, and has units that can be controlled.
The gimmick is, you can’t control any one unit yourself. Instead you have the power to vote to make a unit do a certain action: move, attack, create a new unit, mine, etc. You will have some number of votes per round, probably 5 or so.
At the end of the round (probably every 1 minute for fast paced games, or 5 minutes for slower paced games), all the votes are tallied and the winning action on each unit is enacted. This will force players (ideally hundreds on each side) to vote strategically together to do what is best for each unit. Your actions are kept track of and show up on the leaderboard appropriately, things like how many rounds you played, how many units you’ve created, resources mined, damage done, etc.
Video ad every couple rounds or something
I wanted to see if I could build a nice casual, infinitely scalable game. The architecture is 100% serverless which means it can support literally any number of users without falling over.
Balancing the units, and game, is something outside of my wheelhouse. I could also never quite nail down how the game UI should look. I’m happy enough with the game board, but the outer layout was always a challenge. I’m just not good at it.
The bigger reason however is that I don’t know if the game itself is fun enough to make it worth it.
This project is pretty old. Back when mario maker came out I got the itch to make a level editor game, but with some extra programming components.
The idea is you will be able to not only design levels, but script objects and gimmicks in levels. You would be able to share these objects for other game designers to use in their levels as well. Levels would have leaderboards, recorded runs, things like that.
Ad supported? Upgrade storage space? Not sure
I got a pretty good working physics engine (stolen directly from super mario world), dropped in some mario assets, and called it a day. The idea of sharing levels and objects was really intriguing. It’s fun to build tools for other people to build tools.
Assets mostly. I would need a fully custom platformer to design and I just didn’t have the stomach for it at the time.
A very simple IO-esque game. It’s basically a multiplayer version of the popular game Auralux.
You spawn in, owning one planet/island/molehill/whatever. Every second or so you the planets you own generates some number of new units. You can move these units to take over other planets, or attack other players.
The game goes on effectively until someone takes over the entire game. Another leaderboard based game, track number of planets captured, units killed, time alive, etc.
Another casual game, the main technical gimmick was how can I support a hundred players that each control literally thousands of units each.
Once I solved the above problem the game was no longer fun to work on, so I moved on.
This is a twitch extension for streamers to play a bingo game with their viewers. Streamers configure the game, start it, and then play it out for their viewers in real time via an extension.
This project is in a bit of a different category because I did release it, however I have completely stopped working on it.
Twitch extensions are magic. They allow you to run code on viewers machines in one of the biggest networks on earth. Millions of people use twitch every day and I can deploy code to all of them, if you can make something interesting enough for streamers to use.
The project was a stepping stone into twitch development, and I would like to do more of it. Just need to think of something fun enough to entice streamers to give me 30% of their bit revenue from the game.
This is a different approach to the twitch extension, it is actually a stand alone channel game. You visit bounceblockparty on twitch and watch the latest game play out live on stream.
While you're watching the stream you can spend credits (obtained through bits or winning or whatever) to participate in the next game.
The game is simple, bounce to climb to the top, last player gets the glory of appearing on the leaderboard. Daily/weekly/all time leaderboards show players who made it the highest, played the longest, things like that. Chat also interacts with the game in real time, causing things like wind storms, extra gravity, etc.
Twitch bits to play and for skins
As stated above: Twitch extensions are magic. Also as the channel I get 100% of the bits spent, which means I can make the cost to play super trivial, 5 bits or so, and stack up major revenue.
Also the technical aspect was delicious. I needed to be able to stream a webpage to a twitch channel 24 hours a day via aws. The jumping action is also done completely serverlessly which means I could literally support 100k players without a hiccup, just exorbitant cost (which is mitigated by the bits).
Network effect is mitigated by bots initially.
This one I am still actively working on, I haven’t lost my spark for it yet, but I am in desperate need of assets and game design. It is not fun yet, just technically appealing.
This is one of my first POC never see the light of day games. I’ve been tinkering with it since 2012. Not only does it have every sonic 2 and 3 level exported from the rom (using some crafty custom stuff from https://sonicretro.org), but it has a mostly working physics engine, and is actually a full blown level and object editor.
None, I own none of the assets
I built the engine to render and act as the original genesis did, with regards to tile and palette rendering. This was a disaster for html canvas, so there was a tremendous amount of optimization that had to go into drawing.
Also, I love Sonic, always have.
I don’t own any of the assets, and if I wanted to build a custom level editor type game (see runrunjump), I would not use any of the rendering techniques that made this project so damn complicated.
This project is so old I don’t even have a video of it, and I found the screenshot in my storage archives from 2013. Nevertheless, this is one of my truly favorite projects. It’s the one I pick up every few years. It’s the one my wife hates the most.
As a developer, when someone plays your game, you will be compensated with a percent of ad revenue generated. I’ve built and rebuilt this project more times than I care to actually count.
Ads, percent paid to developers
This is the ultimate game engine. Strict boundaries, clear goals, developer oriented. What’s not to love?
Mostly, it became very difficult to enable the developers to declaratively design fun and engaging animations for their card games.
Also, the fear is that there is only a limited amount of fun card games. The first developer to build blackjack and three card poker will dwarf all other developers. I would probably have to branch out to board games too eventually.
This is one of my latest projects. It's a multiplayer engine and hosting platform. Developers build their games in whatever framework they'd like (so long as its deployable to the web), build their multiplayer server using our framework or not, and deploy it to us. We handle all hosting and scaling. If the game goes viral you don't have to worry about a 3am phone call or $200,000 AWS bill.
Developers are compensated by a lion's share cut of ad and micro-transaction revenue generated while people are playing their game.
I submitted this game to YC W20 and even made it to the interview stage, but that's a story for another day.
Ads & Micro Transactions, percent paid to developers
I'm not a game developer, I'm a game engine developer (at best)
I haven't quite stopped yet, just not my main focus.