Game Design Game Development Geek / Technical

Toytles: Leaf Raking Progress Report – Taking a Break, Kinda

Here’s this week’s progress report for new updates to Toytles: Leaf Raking, my family-friendly leaf-raking business simulation available for iPhones, iPads, and Android devices.

Get it at the Toytles: Leaf Raking page.

In the previous sprint report, I finished up holiday dialogue and fixed a few defects.

That was two weeks ago. What happened to last week’s report?

Sprint 17: Holiday-specific dialogue

Two weeks ago, the sprint plan was:

  • Write blog post for release
  • Write newsletter to announce release
  • Fix mistakes for Thanksgiving dialogue

I wrote for 1.75 hours to create a couple of blog posts and a newsletter (want to sign up for it? See below for details!).

And as that third bullet point says, there were some mistakes I carelessly introduced into the game related to Thanksgiving dialogue. Namely, one neighbor’s dialogue is too long and extends outside of the modal overlay, and another neighbor’s dialogue has a typo.

I’m super unhappy about these careless mistakes. I can easily fix them, but it’s kind of annoying to create a new release to address just these issues.

I met Nivia Henry when she presented at dsmAgile 2019, and she pointed out something that helped me feel better about these mistakes:

It definitely helped me to stop worrying about them. They’ll get fixed for the next release.

Oh, and I spent 0 hours working on game development.

GBGames moved. I hope you don’t notice.

My time instead was focused on moving my website to a new webhost.

Around 2004, I was a regular on the Indie Gamer forums and spoke with other indies, aspiring or established. I found myself perusing the classifieds section and saw an ad for shared webhosting. There was a discount code, and I signed up, getting my site off of the free web hosting I was using before.

The company eventually changed its name from LizardSoft to Tilted Pixel, and I’ve been with them ever since. The company has long been focused on being a full-service web development shop, but I was grandfathered into the basic shared hosting plan.

I was always impressed that the few times I had a support request almost always went through the owner, Matt Inglot.

Well, in August, he sent me an email saying that they were upgrading servers and were no longer going to be able to offer support for email addresses or WordPress, both of which I depend on. So, after all this time, I decided to find a new host.

And I knew I wanted to focus on this move since, you know, I’m not a web master by trade, so I did no game development. I didn’t track exactly how much time it took me, but I was pleasantly surprised that the move went very smoothly.

Not that smoothly

At least…at first. I was in the middle of writing this post and expected to write it for last week, but the new webhost I chose was an inexpensive option that advertised itself as being so cheap due to not handling silly support issues. The idea is that you should know what you’re doing, and in exchange, they won’t charge a bunch. If there is a legitimate support request, they’ll deal with it, but otherwise, you’re on your own.

I was fine with this arrangement, except I lost access to my website for 12 hours. Apparently it was still up, but my own home IP address was no longer able to access it.

And of course, no one replied to my support requests during that time, and I didn’t know if anyone would.

I was frustrated because I was completely ready to provide my own tech support, but there was very little I could do on my own in this situation. I couldn’t tolerate this level of service going forward.

So I reverted my website back to my old host and told Matt Inglot about my renewed sense of gratitude for the amazing and personal support he provided.

I have no hard feelings towards the new host. I got what I paid for, and I am glad the problem manifested so early.

I have since found a new host, one that provides support. It’s a bit more expensive than what I was paying before, but not by much.

And I had practice, so setting up the new site on the new new webhost didn’t take me long.

I was easily able to update the WordPress theme and setup plugins, import content, and upload images and other media. I had to manually tweak a few things, and I made a note of what they were for next time.

I’d love to be able to make my website a one-click deployment instead of a multi-day effort. That way, if a disaster were to happen, I could restore everything immediately.

But one nice thing about the move to the new webhost? I’m starting with an almost clean slate.

No stale plugins. No privacy-invading analytics or ads. The site is way faster, and aside from perhaps one thing that is purposefully different, I think you would otherwise have no idea that the website is on a new host if I didn’t say so here.

If you notice anything that seems off or broken, please let me know, either below in the comments or using the contact form in the About GBGames page.

Er, and the fixes?

I had time to work on game development, but I decided not to. While creating a release isn’t terribly stressful, and I average only about 5 hours a week for game development, it is still nice to take a break.

And rather than wait for me to feel exhausted, I purposefully decided to give myself time to focus on other things. The website move took longer than I wish it had due to the issues I ran into with the 1st new webhost, so I was glad I didn’t try to do too much at a time.

I did spend a little time thinking about the design of a completely different game. More on that one in the next newsletter, I think…

Thanks for reading!

Toytles: Leaf Raking Player's Guide

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