Thursday, May 30, 2013

Geeking Out, Round 2

In my last post I thought I had found the nirvana of blog-to-social-media management. Using IFTTT, a new Tumblr post would be created automagically whenever I created a new blog post. I expected (or maybe just hoped) that Tumblr would in turn automagically create similar Facebook and Twitter posts, but it seems the Facebook and Twitter updates only happen if you post directly on Tumblr.

As a workaround for now, I've created three separate recipes on IFTTT: one to create a post on each of Tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter when I create a new blog post. I'm curious to see if this group works the way I expect.

BUT, and this is a biggie, I just recently learned (thanks Bill!) about a service called HootSuite that can be used to manage multiple social media profiles. LifeHacker also has a list of the five best social media managers. And something even cooler is that there are IFTTT recipes for HootSuite also; so I could accomplish my multi-profile update with a single IFTTT recipe, but I'll play with that another day.

Let's see if this works, pressing the big red button in 3... 2... 1...

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Geeking Out: Tumblr + IFTTT

This post is a slight diversion from the usual game-related content. I should probably be working on my Plane Runner game instead of this other geeky stuff :) But I've become more and more interested lately in 1) how to update all of my social networks at once, and 2) how to stay up-to-date with others' content on those networks in one place.

I recently stumbled upon Tumblr and IFTTT (IF This Then That). Tumblr is cool because once you post something there, it can syndicate directly to Facebook and Twitter. IFTTT allows you to create triggers that, when detected, trigger some other action. For example, I'm using the example illustrated above to create a link post on Tumblr when I create a new blog entry here.

If I set this all up correctly, the act of creating this very blog post will cause IFTTT to create a Tumblr link post (linking to this blog entry), which I hope will in turn create similar Facebook and Twitter posts. If that doesn't work, I can probably just create multiple "recipes" on IFTTT to syndicate to all of the networks individually (instead of relying on Tumblr to post to Facebook and Twitter). Regardless, the geek in me is a little too excited about all of this automation updating my multiple online profiles!

How are you using Tumblr, IFTTT, or [insert other cool site here] to update multiple social networks? If you blog, how do you keep all of your followers aware of new entries? What cool tools are you using to read content from Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc.?

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Still Ticking

A couple years ago when I started really digging into the gaming scene and trying to get familiar with other game developers by their blogs, I found it odd that so many seemed to disappear or otherwise fall off the face of the earth. A couple years older and wiser, and with some game development experience under my belt, I now know why.

For me, my regularity in posting drops off when I'm busy in a development cycle. The logic goes something like this: Why should I write about my game when I can be developing my game? Why write a blog post when I could be otherwise writing code for the game? Even when my fellow collaborators continued playing a ton of other games, I had trouble playing anything because I couldn't seem to justify spending any spare time NOT writing code for the game I was working on at the time. You see, the problem is balance. Especially as an indie developer where my time was already split between my 40+ hours per week day job and family, precious little development time would often occur after hours (10pm to 2am, sometimes 3am... ish) a couple nights a week. I think I just got burned out a little, and I wouldn't be surprised if that happens to others as well.

But I'm not complaining. I'm thankful for the 2-year experience I had working with some really cool artist friends on a tower defense game. In fact, today I was (finally) able to load it up again and take a look at what we had accomplished. Of course, looking at it now, somewhat removed from when I had written a lot of the code, it was a lot easier to see the imperfections and how un-polished it was. It's very tempting to go back and try to make some of those old game mechanics work better. I've learned a lot about engine design since those days and I wish I could go back and redo the entire design, but I know it would take forever.

In the time since the tower defense game, I took a nice long break to just spend time with my family and unwind a little before diving into some Android development. I was really interested in creating a game people could hold in the palm of their hands. So I created a ball-jumping puzzler tentatively named Plane Runner, and it was an AMAZING feeling to run it on our Kindle Fire. Heck, even the simple Layout Views app that I posted about in my last post over a year ago was a blast to watch running on the Kindle Fire. And when we got a smartphone, it was even more sensational to play Plane Runner on that device. But again I started putting in too much after-hours time on the game, getting burned out again, and had to take another little break.

Whereas the tower defense game taught me a lot about collaboration with artists (and a sound guy!), as well as XNA and a variety of effects processing and creating a 3D game, Plane Runner has taught me a lot about creating a game for mobile devices (mind the garbage collector!) and how to better design a game engine, including but not limited to the use of a Scene Graph, better event management, and a component-based architecture. If you're at all interested in creating games for Android, I highly recommend Chris Pruett's Google I/O talk.

So that's just a little history on what's happened in the time since my last post. But I wanted to let everyone know that I'm still here. I'm still ticking, still developing (though now at a slower pace for the sake of sanity) and hopefully also still writing here from time to time. I am determined to finish Plane Runner, to have at least ONE completed game in my portfolio. But most importantly, I hope to continue growing and learning, and would encourage fellow indies to do the same. I now understand why some seem to have fallen off the face of the earth, but hey... it's never too late to make a comeback, right?