2023 Year-In Review
This was one of my busiest years in terms of releases. In this post I want to reflect on each project I released as well as a few prototypes and unreleased projects I worked on.
While my work on Super Raft Boat Together was very minimal, it came out as an amazing project and I want to make sure it’s included in my 2023 highlights. In march I went to PAX East and met a lot of amazing developers, including the team from Brace Yourself Games (the publisher). They are all fantastic folks that I have a lot of respect for, and it was super cool to be a part of a project they published after being such a huge Necrodancer fan :)
My work on Super Raft Boat Together mainly consisted of the remix James Currier (Okinoth) made of Clear Skies, a song I made for the Super Raft Boat Classic OST. I also helped with some minor programming/bug fixes when necessary and helped with playtesting.
With the rise of AI towards the end of 2022 and into the beginning of 2023, I was experimenting a lot with the OpenAI API (and reverse engineered alternatives such as revChatGPT). This lead to me wanting to see if I could put one of the world’s smartest commercially available artificial intelligence technology on one of the silliest pieces of technology, which was naturally the Nintendo 3DS.
This was a fun single I released which is a cover of one of my favourite songs from Paper Mario TTYD. This was incredibly fitting seeing that this year also saw the announcement of a Paper Mario TTYD remake for the Nintendo Switch.
This is an “experimental” plunderphonics album I made over the span of a week or so after being introduced to the genre of plunderphonics. (This genre is also referred to as dariacore) This was a very fun album to make but it’s not something I plan to do again any time soon. Maybe as one-off releases on soundcloud, but I’d like to focus on more original music moving forward.
This was another single I made which is meant to emulate the style of a Hideki Naganuma track. I had a lot of fun making this one and I think it turned out pretty well. Making music like this and stepping outside of my comfort zone is always really fun and broadens my horizons as a musician.
Home could honestly get it’s own blog post, so I’ll try to keep it short. Home is a game I started over the summer, and it’s a game I’m very passionate about. It’s a social game about making friends and building a home of your very own, and sharing that space with the friends you make. It’s a game being developed in S&box, which is currently going under a massive retooling phase and will be for quite a while. I hope to return to it in the future and continue development, but for now it’s on hold.
As for my experiences with it this year, this project helped me learn a lot about networking and multiplayer game development. I also learned that it is difficult to maintain a project of this scale on my own, so I got help from all sorts of people in the s&box community. And I know there’s still a lot left for me to learn, so the project being put on hold is honsetly one of the best things that could have happened to it. The more time I have to learn means the better the game will be when I return to it. If you’re interested in following development you can check out the discord.
This is a game I made in the span of a day (with a recorded timelapse) which was the first s&box game ever made to be cross-game. The game referenced a git sub-module called rhythm4k-core which contained most of the game’s logic, while the game itself was simply a wrapper allowing you to display the game however you’d like, sent inputs however you’d like, and get callbacks for when the game is over. I used this in Home in order to make a DDR-styled arcade cabinet (with thanks to Shadowbrain for making the model) which allowed you to also play the game in your home.
While this game was similarly a cross-game project, it started entirely within Home, and was extracted into a submodule in the same way Rhythm4K was. Biggest thing I learned from making this game is that Razor UI Panels cause lag in S&box
I have no plans to port this game to the scene system with s&box’s new retooling, but that is only because I made a follow-up game in the scene system called Tetros Effect, which is a much more polished version of this game that I will talk about later in the post.
This was my personal Steam release of the year, made entirely by myself on-and-off over the course of the year and the tail end of 2022. I thought to myself that this game would be a quick few-week-to-a-month journey, but boy was I wrong. This game wasn’t a whole lot of work, but it’s prolonged development was a result of 60% of my time going towards Turnip Boy Robs a Bank, and the other 40% went into the full-time classes I’m currently enrolled in.
I’m happy with this game ultimately came out, and I think I would like to make it a goal to release a personal game on steam every year for the future. I already have two in the pipeline so I think it’s definitely reasonable but I don’t want to overwork myself, so we’ll see how it goes.
This is yet another S&box menu game I made in the span of a few days. It’s a simple pictionary styled drawing-and-guessing game that I made using lobby networking. I hope to adapt this game to s&box’s new scene system sometime soon, but I want to wait until networking with the scene system is a bit more concrete.
This game is easily the most simple of the S&box games I made this year. But this game had much more serious intentions. This game was the start of a vendetta I had against people creating and uploading “web panel games” to S&box. This is where people would create a game that consists of a single web panel which simply links out to an html game hosted on another website (typically not even made by the person uploading the game). What these people were doing was inexplicably a breach of copyright law and I wanted to desaturate the market by creating more REAL games.
Gmodify is an addon for s&box’s outdated “sandbox” gamemode which reskins the entirety of the UI and game sounds to look and feel nearly identical to Garry’s Mod. This was a fun excercise in CSS and UI design and I’m really happy with how it turned out. I hope to remake this addon for s&box’s new “sandbox” gamemode whenever facepunch begins development on that.
Pizza Clicker has grown to become my most played S&box game (surpassing Home) and was made as just another 3-day project that I didn’t think much of. I was just having so much fun making stuff in S&box that I wasn’t really thinking about how the reception to each game would even be. It’s a tried-and-true clicker game with a formula very similar to that of the original Cookie Clicker, so it’s not a huge surprise that it’s so popular.
The game had it’s fair share of controversy however, when someone re-uploaded the game to S&box as “Booba Clicker”, featuring NSFW imagery that was entirely AI generated. This was a huge issue for me since I had made the game open-source but had not included any license on the github, meaning that I maintained full ownership of the game. I was able to get the game taken down, but it was a needed wake-up call for me to start including licenses on my github repositories that are more explicit about what people can and can’t do with my code.
A few months after releasing the game, I decided to release the soundtrack as well. The songs are nothing of note, but I think it would be silly not to include songs I made for any video game for any reason with the rest of my discography. The track “Game A” in the soundtrack also has an extended version made exclusively for the album release.
My last released game of the year, and the first S&box game I made using the new scene system. This game is a much more polished version of Tetros and is a I’m genuinely very proud of. It includes all the improvements I wanted to make over the original Tetros with tons of other tweaks and changes to make the game feel more polished and complete. Maybe I will consider adding multiplayer once s&box’s networking is more concrete, but for now I’m happy with the game as-is.
I also made all the music and sfx for the game, which was a fun audio design challenge (especially to have only thrown together in a few days)
As I wrap up the year, with only a week and a half left, I thought I’d made one last thing. This time, a tool! D&W is a Digital Audio Workstation made in S&box. It’s a very rudimentary DAW, but it’s a great proof-of-concept for what is possible in terms of audio synthesis in S&box. I made it alongside an SFXR-like library which is a component library for S&box that allows you to create and play audio similarly to SFXR. I will release this library once I have some more time with it and a few bugs are fixed.
In the 3 or 4 days I took to make this, I also developed “DawNet” alongside it, which is a built-in cloud service for publishing your creations in D&W to the world. You can upload as many projects as you’d like to the service, upload them as public or private, rate the projects made by others to increase or decrease their score. It was a really good learning experience for me (like most things this year… I’m starting to realize a pattern….) and it seems to work flawlessly :P
While the game hasn’t been released yet, it’s right around the corner and I’ve never been more exicited. This is the game I’ve been putting most of my hours into this year (and last). Ensuring that the game is as fun and polished as possible. I’m very excited to see how people react to the game when it releases in January!
I could write hundreds of thousands of words about the game but I will wait until you’ve all had a chance to play :)
While I would love to go in-detail about each of these prototypes, I think I would rather wait until I have some more time with each of them beforehand. If there’s anything I’ve learned in my years of game development, it’s that you can never make too much. Throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks is the best way to find your next best game idea and I think it’s important to share that process with others.
With that being said, here are some vague names of prototype names of projects I worked on this year that I did not finish:
I have two Steam games in the pipeline that I hope to release next year. Both have music, art, and programming done entirely by me. I’m very excited to share more about these projects in the future, but for now I want to keep them under wraps.
I’m also working on a game about frogs with the lovely Danduw3D. He has been making lovely concepts and art for the game while I’ve been finishing up work and classes. It’s taking a slow start but it’s also necessary to make sure we don’t get ahead of ourselves.
Lots of exciting stuff to look forward to for the future, considering there are also 2 games from the prototype list that I’d love to go back to as well on top of everything else mentioned 😳
Thanks for reading!
I love these kinds of self-reflecting posts, so if you enjoyed reading mine, consider making one of your own! Wish you all the best in 2024 :)