TLDR: This is going to be a long read. The general gist of this post is that I love my wife, I’ve created a new Android app each month so far and look forward to the next 6 months. You can scroll through and look at pictures for each month too.
To Long, Read anyways!
It was fall 2016, I had just graduated college with a major in Accounting and my wife was just entering her senior year. I found myself bored in the evening and looking for something to do. I decided to begin to learn C# and game development using SoloLearn, Unity, Brackeys (Youtube), and countless google searches. I spent the next 1 1/2 years building random Android games, but my desire to code wound down in early 2018.
Then in fall of 2019 I had an idea, to join a Game Jam for a weekend just to see what I could accomplish. That weekend came and went and I didn’t do anything. Eh. This act of laziness/procrastination/lack of motivation really bugged me. And in December 2019 I decided what my New Years Resolution would be in 2020. Create and publish a new Android Application each month.
I spoke with my wife and we bounced ideas off of each other on what this would like. Originally, we thought of me joining a weekend game jam each month. But with our schedule this seemed like setting our-selves up for failure. I could easily miss a month because of Travel, Work, or Friends. So we decided it best to follow some rules:
- 1) 1 Month per App.
- 2) Apps must be publicly published.
- 3) I have to create the app from scratch each month. No reusing assets.
These rules kept me in a monthly rotation of creativity. Now, don’t get me wrong. Many who are reading this could create MASTERPIECES compared to these. Some of these Apps I’m very proud of, others… not so much. In this post I am going to be posting about each app, what I remember about creating it, and how much I enjoyed it, and general stats about the game. Also, I work a normal 8-5 Accounting job. This is purely a hobby goal. Not only that, but I try to spend as much time with my wife as I can. I enjoy her company. Regardless, lets dive in!
JANUARY – Blocky Build
Blocky Build was my first app, made in January. A simple game where you build up to avoid oncoming “Red” blocks. You can only manually go up, and the only way to go back down is a red blocks pushes your generated blocks out from underneath you. Simple enough!
I knew going into this I’d have to start simple. Creating this game was a simple way to re-learn Unity, re-familiarize myself with C#, and just get a general feel about how long I can focus on a month long goal.
Generally, I am very satisfied with how this turned out. It’s an incredibly simple game. And it’s also not the most original idea (Granted non of these are). But it’s gave me a great base to go off of for what I can expect from myself on future projects.
There was no huge coding challenge I had to overcome, and creating this was a generally simple effort.
This game has a whopping 1(!) download. Myslef! Oh, well. I don’t let it get me down. This goal was never to create the next flappy bird, but rather push myself flex my creative muscles. Especially since I don’t really get to do that at my 8-5 accounting job!
FEBRUARY – Dart Game
Dart game is one of the two games I’m not proud of. It’s just so…. uninspired. It wasn’t hard to code, it has no unique graphics, I already had a general idea on how to code and how Unity worked. This is just a “AA” clone. If you’re going to play this style of game, play that one. I don’t remember why I didn’t do more on this. Maybe some February burn out, maybe I was too focused on reading about a new disease spreading in China. I don’t know. But as I look back at this one I’m just… Meh.
That’s not to say I didn’t learn anything, I worked out a level selection UI system (Shown above) to select the level you want, and a star system. That was a fun small challenge, but it was solved using a premade asset from the asset store, that is questionable if that breaks rule 3.
This game has a whopping 1(!) download. Myslef! Is there a theme with this? Oh, well. On to March!.
MARCH – Word Finder
OK, This is the one App I’m most proud of. It was coding challenge after challenge. It was so incredibly fun to make, and in my opinion, fun to play.
This is a simple “Hangman” type game, but instead of drawing a hanging man, you lose hearts. A little bit more family friendly. It was so incredbly hard converting the words to asterisk, and then converting the selected letters back from asterisks to letters. It was so fun and fulfilling once I got it to work correctly. It also gave me additional experience working in a UI based APP, that would help me next month (ooohhh foreshadowing!)
If you haven’t picked up on the tone from the last two paragraphs, I was very pleased with how this game turned out. I think it looks good, plays good, and is generally enjoyable.
This game has a whopping 1(!) download. Myslef! My wife isn’t even downloading these! ugh!
APRIL – Animal Crossing New Horizons Guide
This is my second favorite app that I’ve made (After Marches game). I was enjoying the recently released Animal Crossing New Horizons made by Nintendo, and looked for an android app that I could use to track fish and insects. But I just wasn’t a fan of any of the ones availble on the play store at the time. So… I made my own in April! I downloaded almost every available app at the time to see what I liked, didn’t like, and thought could be improved on. Then implemented the ideas into this app, and including some of my own, including switching between “new arrivals” and “leaving soon” depending if it was in the first or second half of the month.
This was a huge undertaking, and it absolutely took me the most time. I had to learn to work with Lists, classes, user interface, and date functions. And I am VERY pleased with how it turned out. I got it to work out to show what Fish and Insects are available to catch according to the date and time. Also it shows whats leaving at the end of the month and whats new this month.
This was such a fun app to make and it was my most successful app (Stats below). Unfortunately. This app didn’t release in April, but rather early May. Obviously made it break rule 1 since I took more than one month. In my mind it’s like turning in a Game Jam Project 2 hours late. Sure, you’re not THAT late… But you disqualified yourself. While it sucks that I didn’t finish in time, I have to continue on.
This game has a whopping 3,930(!) download. Myslef! And many others! lol. Most of these downloads happened in may. And then the Play store listed the app lower when searching “Animal Crossing” so store visits and downloads were also down.
This App also monetized fairly well. I’ve added ads to each of my apps, but with no downloads, no money. This app as generated $42 off of Banner/Interstial Ads and $80 from $1.99 IAP to remove ads. I’m happy about this lol.
This is also the one app I plan on updating as I have time and into 2021 after this resolution is complete. As Nintendo adds critters, items and such I hope to increase this apps offerings. As of writing this, there are a lot of other tracking apps that have come out that offer a good service too.
MAY – Ball Factory
Large scope and a short schedule. Name a more iconic duo. Not starting this app until the second week of the month certainly didn’t help my efforts. This is a very basic Idle/Incremental Game. Create balls. and sell them. Simple. But the math and code required for this type of game is so incredibly intense and I jumped over my head. I am ashamed of this one. lol
This game is so bare bones, and even though it’s so basic, it’s riddled with bugs and math errors (at least according to users). I did learn quite a bit about functions, working with math equations that near infinitely increases, and working with detecting how data amounts per second (Money/production/sec).
I find it funny how high of hopes I had for this after the success of the previous months app. I was riding a wave of good emotions, and I squandered that energy on this excuse for a game.
This game has a whopping 232 download. At this point I learned the importance of advertising. I’m still figuring it out, but I learned that I can do more that linking the app on my Twitter page that has 1 robot follower.
This app as also earned $2.02 so far! Whoo – Hoo. I’m making that passive income! Again. I’m not doing this for monetary gain. My day job pays enough. I’m trying to learn, and flex my creative muscles.
JUNE – Find the Letter
This was a fun one. You know those annoying thing your aunt shares on Face Book? “Only those with an IQ of over 160 can find the Z!”. Ugh, they’re so annoying, but I regret to inform you that Mays app also went into June (Broke rule 1 again). And we had a family friend pass away. I didn’t really start this app until June 15th… I needed something simple to get myself back on track. And this seemed like a good idea.
The execution was simple. Generate a 10×10 grid full of a certain letter, then change 1 of those to the odd one out. Add more difficulties and we got a game! The funnest part of this was generating a huge 100×100, 300×300 grid and watching my laptop start blowing smoke. I either had to come to terms about having a small board able to spawn, or figure out how to optimize. This was my first time using Unity’s Profiler.
Learning how to identify parts of the code that was CPU heavy, and then make the necessary changes was one of the more satisfying things I’ve done this year. Knowing how to understand this will go miles if I ever decide to make a large game next year.
It’s not the end of the month as of writing this (June 28th), I’m hoping to get Google Leader boards set up and switch up the font to something less type writer.
This just got published. So 1 Download, myself. Hopefully people see it!
I’m so glad that I’ve decided to do this. And looking back to January/February it’s crazy to see what I’ve learned and my general improvements. Regardless of how small they are. I didn’t share it, but my code from January is a mess compared to my most recent June code.
Going forward I hope to expand in two areas. first is graphics. So far I’ve mostly used simple sprites or images found online. I’m no artist, but I don’t think using squares and circles will carry me very far. Second, I hope to learn more about Marketing and SEO. I have to admit, that after a semi successful marketing campaign having my app drop down the list due to poor SEO was a real downer. I have no idea where to even begin on this, but hey, I got 6 more months to figure it out!
If you’ve read this far. Thank you for your time, hopefully you’ve enjoyed the read and it’s encouraged you in some way. Here is to 6 more months.