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Reflecting on 2023

Looking ahead to 2024

2023 was another rewarding year for my game development journey. In my fourth year of taking it seriously, I’ve found that much of the difficult work is finally coming together. Please join me for a short reflection on my significant milestones and what’s next.

My wins of 2023

I don’t celebrate my accomplishments as often as we maybe should. However, for 2024, I wanted to briefly look back on what made 2023 an important year for me, and let that inform how I see the new year.

Over the past four years I’ve documented my game development journey pretty thoroughly on this blog. There is an impressive paper trail with a post for everything, from big release announcements to every minor update in between. This year was no exception, with a total of 43 posts spanning a variety of projects.

Here’s a recap of my most important updates:

March 31: Side B preview

The Side B preview was released for Periphery Synthetic EP. The update was a huge milestone which alleviated a ton of anxieties about the viability of the EP. With the new portal system, it became a shared universe of experiences that I could expand as I please!

April 22: Fishyphus release

Fishyphus was created for the Games for Blind Gamers 2 jam. It was the first game that I created in my upgraded toolkit. The quality-of-life improvements, along with lessons learned from the EP, helped me quickly iterate on the game over a month. Participating in this jam was a treat due to its kind community, creative submissions, and the online friendships it formed along the way.

June 19: Steam Next Fest

Periphery Synthetic EP participated in Steam Next Fest. The Steam-exclusive demo lets folks explore the first world with zero limitations. For the event, it received a minor update which added a playable instrument to the title screen. Although I only earned a few wishlists, it was good to get my first experience with streaming the EP.

September 21: SYNTH jam

I announced that I would be hosting SYNTH jam. As of writing, we are starting the third week of the jam, with 74 participants and eight early submissions. I’m finding a ton of joy in building Project Ephemera for the jam, and I’m excited to rate and review all of the submissions when they close.

October 2: Fishyphus on Steam

Fishyphus was released on Steam. After some encouragement from the community, and my desire to put it on a Steam Deck, I ate the submission fee to release the game more generally. It received a small hotfix on release day. Before this, I was unaware of the sheer number of meme reviews that free games receive on Steam. The crow one was especially funny!

October 16: Wurmus on Steam

Wurmus was released on Steam for free. It received a significant overhaul which tweaked every aspect of the game. Thankfully the crow returned to the Steam reviews! Later it would become my first verified game for Steam Deck—perhaps only for its simplicity, but an achievement nonetheless.

October 26: E.X.O. upgrade

E.X.O. received an unexpected graphical upgrade. The forgotten changes, available in the source repository since August 2021, were built for general release. With this update I also started a small marketing strategy for the EP by linking my older games to their remakes.

November 10: M+DEV conference

Periphery Synthetic EP participated in the Midwest Games Showcase with 27 other games. The conference-exclusive demo started folks on the surface of the new water world with everything unlocked. I also submitted a special trailer that was one of four finalists for its art competition. At the booth I met so many delightful folks with insightful feedback and substantive conversations! Here are some of their projects: Cowboy’s Chorus, Golfella, Checkmight, and Cottontail Valley.

December 15: Side C preview

The Side C preview was released for Periphery Synthetic EP. This was my main project all year, with its earliest code written on February 25. Completing it was a significant accomplishment for me for how it wrapped up three years of dreaming. S.E.A. also received a small hotfix that added an advertisement for the remake. All that’s left is completing the EP!

My goals for 2024

I found that I was very meticulous with my time last year to avoid the major burnout I felt in early 2022. My major milestones were carefully balanced around big life events, vacations, and smaller projects as life started to return to normal from the first pandemic years. At the time the burnout may have saved my journey, but now it would derail it. I’d like to continue this life-work balance into the new year.

My game development goals for 2024 are rather straightforward as I work toward my second major game release:

  • Finish Project Ephemera for SYNTH jam.
  • Finish Periphery Synthetic EP and release it on Steam.
  • Support the EP release with hotfixes as needed.
  • Release a free Side D update for the EP before the end of the year.

There could be some unexpected fun along the way. For example, there will be a Games for Blind Gamers 3 sometime this year. If I have the time and ideas, I’d like to carve out a month to continue supporting the community. Game jams are just detours along the way—you may lose some time from the main project, but none of it is ever wasted.

Ultimately, I want to start transitioning away from the EP toward new projects in 2025. Later in the year I’ll be assessing how to continue supporting the project, likely with longer timelines between major expansions, rather than ending development altogether. This would allow me to more freely explore different concepts for the next big thing.

Thanks for reading

At the end of the year I’m extremely grateful for the excellent community of folks who support my creativity.

The generous donations I’ve received for the EP have helped keep its community copy program alive and robust. So far over 600 free copies have been claimed, in addition to over 2700 free copies from other giveaways. Yet, despite my efforts to make it essentially free, you all choose to support the project anyway!

I recently rejoined my Discord server after a long hiatus to celebrate the Side C preview release and start of SYNTH jam. I was humbled by all the folks who had stuck around and left kind messages of support at my return. It’s been lovely having you all along for this journey, even if I’m not the greatest at staying in touch.

Throughout the year I’ve also asked for feedback on the EP releases in various places. Many of you have reached out to share your personal experiences with my work, how it brings you joy, and what could be better. Everything you share is invaluable to me.

Thanks for playing, and have a happy new year! 🎉