Monday, December 28

2015 The Year In Review

For the third year in a row I set myself some goals at the beginning of the year in four categories: blogging, playing games, designing games and app development. They were meant to be a stretch, but achievable so here's how I got on.

I set myself three blogging goals this year: 10% growth in page views, blog every Monday and do something for NaGa DeMon. All modest and achievable, or so I thought. Blog page views have been climbing steadily since I started blogging again back in 2012, but for some reason around April they suddenly dived. Whether Blogger have started blocking spam bots or I've suddenly become far more boring than I already was (which would be a real stretch!), the readership tanked and never recovered. I was aiming for 45.5K page views and I only managed 36K, which was 15% down on last year. Epic fail. I did manage to blog every Monday (as far as I recall) and I did something for NaGa DeMon (publishing the handmade run of Zombology) so mixed success on the blogging front.

My most popular posts were:

  1. Why Aren't I KickStarting
  2. After The Drought, The Deluge
  3. New Games Company Checklist

My gaming goals were to play at least 365 games and to have played every game in my collection at least ten times (with exceptions). At this point, with a few days to go I've racked up 413 plays with the following over ten plays this year:

  • 58 plays: Unpublished prototype (mostly Zombology)
  • 27 plays: Ra (I think all on the iPad)
  • 22 plays: King of Tokyo (one of the games I had to play ten times - nailed that one!)
  • 20 plays: Carcassonne (all but one play on the iPad)
  • 20 plays: Pandemic (iPad)
  • 17 plays: Hey! That's My Fish (iPad)
  • 15 plays: Lords of Waterdeep (iPad)
  • 12 plays: Galaxy Trucker (ten plays list again and all on the iPad)
  • 12 plays: Stone Age (mostly, but not all, iPad)
  • 11 plays: No Thanks! (A Games Night filler favourite)
  • 10 plays: Coup (Games Night favourite)
  • 10 plays: Martian Dice (some in the flesh, some on the app I wrote for my phone)

The other goal was to have played every game I own at least ten times by the end of the year. Not necessarily during this year, if I've played it at least ten times in the past I didn't have to play it this year at all. I started the year with seventy-something plays required to hit that goal, and I didn't quite make it (there are four games at nine and two at eight plays left at this point and that's almost certainly how it's going to end). Close. But no cigar.

I've found the ten plays goal useful for honing my collection (I gave away 11 Nimmt!, 20th Century, Divinare, Euphoria, El Grande and Thurn und Taxis) but to be honest I've also found it to be a bind, it drove the games selection at almost every Games Night I had and sucked the fun out of things a bit. I mustn't get myself into a similar mess next year.

Another notable thing this year was the start of what I hope will be a large part of my life from now on. I've been a gamer since I was little. I've been a dad for three and a half years. But this year, I became a Gamer Dad. The Daughter has a few (very simple) games made by Orchard Toys: Where's My Cupcake?, The Lunch Box Game, A Game of Ladybirds and, since Christmas, Monster Dominos. She's learnt to take turns, roll dice, draw tiles and match symbols. She's also learnt to win and is in the process of learning to lose gracefully (that one might take a bit longer!). Where's My Cupcake?, a particular favourite, almost got a listing above with nine plays this year. As yet none of these games require any skill, it's just taking turns and following the rules. I don't want to rush her into proper gaming, I want it to be something that she wants to do for fun, rather than something I push onto her because I want to do it. We'll see how next year develops and what makes it into the list of ten least ten plays at the end of next year.

Designing Games
Only one goal here, self publish a game again this year with my own art. Well it was a roller coaster, but I just about pulled this one off. It started out with the goal of publishing a 50 or 100 copy run of either Zombology or Dragon Dance. Then that turned into making a 150 copy run of Zombology at £9 each. I took 20 pre-orders and started getting ready for that, setting up a bank account and everything and then disaster: I got promoted at work. Ok, that's not really a disaster, but it put paid to any notion I had of becoming a hobby games publisher again. At the last minute I decided to just make the twenty copies for the pre-orderers for NaGa DeMon at cost which I hoped I could get around the £9 I had initially advertised. Do you see what I did there? Folding two goals into one? Cheeky, but I make the rules so, I figure, acceptable. It turned out I needed to make thirty to hit the £9 cost so I wouldn't lose any money on it (but not make any either). During November I only finished fourteen of them (so I failed NaGa DeMon!) but the others just need the cards doing and I've shipped six of them, so that counts as a success as far as my goal for the year goes.

App Development
I'm still slowly learning German using the excellent Duolingo, but there's some stuff I'd like it to do that it doesn't, most notably, show verb conjugations and adjective declensions in a table and present similar words together. I'd started writing an app for that on my phone, and my goal was to finish and publish that this year. I've made some progress on that (it's now useable and I do use it on my phone) but it's not yet ready for public consumption, not even as an early beta/alpha, so another failure I'm afraid. I want to go back to working on that next year.

All in all it's been another good year, hard work and I didn't achieve everything I set out to at the beginning, but still good fun! Here's hoping for another good year next year.

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