So this is it. The end. Just over 3 years after starting my career as a PlayStation Mobile developer, the feel good story has come to a sad, disappointing end. It’s one that I can take great heart in what I have achieved, the friends I have made, and what is possible in the future. But before I say my thanks to all, it’s worth going back to where it all began.
What started as a 2nd year university project back in 2010 quickly turned into an escape from writing my final year dissertation during 2011/2012. I spent most of my final year writing very little code and wanted to do something I’d enjoy. The PSM SDK allowed me to give something new a go, and I created Snake. With just over 4000 sales and a rating of 4 out of 5 on the store later, I think it’s a complete success. I have always enjoyed learning about how games work. Sure, the game is simple, but that’s why I started with it.
With Snake out in the wild (I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve used that “joke”) in March 2013, I spent the time adding new languages, learning about UI, adding new modes and levels, and just enjoying having my name on a game available to the masses. It doesn’t matter how big or small a game is, seeing your name in the credits feels quite simply amazing.
One November day, I had a cold and took the day off work. With my brain quite simply mush, I started to learn about another simple game I played lots in my childhood at school; Helicopter game. I took my Snake code, and butchered it into a prototype that single day. With permission from the original creator, I worked on it over Christmas and had my 2nd game out February 2014. Helicopter didn’t quite live up to it’s predecessor due to being a less popular game, but it’s nudging 2,000 sales and a rating of 3.68 out of 5.
I did start working on a third project, porting an endless jumper original made for Android called Gravity Milk. If you’ve not played it, I recommend you give it a shot. I started making it using the PSM game engine, but then decided to have a crack at Unity 2D. Sadly, due to work and life commitments, that one never really took off, but that’s just how it goes.
Did I enjoy the ride? Heck yes, it’s been an extremely satisfying rollercoaster of emotions; the highs of a simple email saying “your game has been released” and watching the download rates increase, to the lows of leader boards being removed and getting to where we are now; a world where at the flick of a switch, my entire games programming career is quite simply wiped off the face of the earth.
I think that’s what hurts me the most, not that PSM is dead, but that my games die with it. Someday I will wipe my PS Vita, and with it any opportunity of playing my own games again. My games were not classics, but knowing that I will lose the chance to show my creations to friends and family really does make me sad. I put a lot of time into their creation, and they die just like that. But this is the cut throat ruthlessness of the games industry, and quite simply the reason I never “got in” in the first place. The games industry thunders ahead and leaves the debris of people’s lives behind it.
I don’t know what the future holds for me. I hoped to get on board the Xbox One indie scene, and even went to a fancy showcase in London during 2013 (I remember being star struck talking to a dev from Overkill, just after Payday 2 had released) but this quickly turned into something that myself and other small developers did not expect to be. We expected XNA 2.0. We were promised every console would become a dev machine. We got neither. I got my Xbox One for this reason, and to play Forza 5. Luckily the 2nd half of the deal has held up better than the first.
But I don’t want to end of a sour note. Sony gave me an opportunity I thought I would never get, and while there were problems along the way; I have learnt a very high level overview of what it takes to release a computer game. Not just the code itself, but getting ready for release, language support, how important a decent UI is (the original Snake UI still gives me nightmares) and other major factors involved. The community have been so helpful to me; getting feedback on Twitter and Reddit plus help from people inside Sony when things went wrong. I need to give a special shout out to Steven Barber, who was pretty much the main man on the inside for so many months. I remember working with Daniel Scales over Skype as we tackled how the hell the online leader board system worked, and kindly asking XMPT Games if they would let me piggyback onto their SVN when I nearly lost a load of work. These guys are the success stories of PSM, going from the likes of Nunnageddon and Monster Hotel to full blown releases like 10 Second Ninja and DiscStorm. As for me, well I’m just a guy that wanted my name on a game or two. I achieved that thanks to Sony.
And finally. Yep. We’re here. Finally I want to thank every single one of you that have read this blog, followed me on Twitter and have played my games. You made those highs so much higher. Sure, having my name on some stupidly simple remakes is all well and good, but to think that over 6000 people downloaded them is quite simply astonishing. My PSM career ends here and I can only really finish on two simple words.