Seeing what sticks

It is pretty crazy that I’m writing in this blog again after about 2.5 years. Firstly because I finally worked up the energy to write again; and secondly because I hardly ever keep anything going this long. When I started Funny Cow Games back in 2018 it was mostly an experiment to just try my hand at producing and publishing finished games, but at the back of my head I also wanted to see whether I can just keep something–anything–going on without getting abandoned for want of attention or time.

In the time since Fishing Lake, I’ve gone on to start maybe 5-6 other projects which are, remarkably, still in legit “work-in-progress” status (meaning, I dust them off and update them every few months). And a couple have since graduated to their respective App Stores: Cirqits, on iPhone/iPad, launched in the first quarter of 2020 during the early parts of the Covid-19 lockdowns, and Herd The Birds, available on Apple TV, which was an inspired 2-week programming sprint fueled by an quick brainstorming session with my girls.

Today, in between periods of frenzied work for my “real job”, I continue to tinker away at my works-in-progress. One project, done in collaboration with a local artist I admire, and an environmental foundation that my late father would have loved to work with, is just about done, and we can’t wait to share it with you once it is published. Until then, please know that somewhere in the suburbs of Metro Manila, we’re still here, putting ideas together with pencil, crayon, scotch tape, and code, and seeing what sticks.

Start();

I have been a coder ever since I was a scrawny second grader looking over my elder brother K’s shoulders as he worked on his school programming exercises on a dilapidated Apple IIc with a busted speaker. I have also loved video games ever since I can remember, and grew up on Choplifter, the Bard’s Tale series, Autoduel, Combat, Joust, among many others. Over time, I taught myself the BASIC language from programming books (very hard to find in late 80s Manila) and from reading and studying, line by line, the programs that my brother and his classmates worked on for school.

10 PRINT "K IS UGLY"

20 GOTO 10

90% of my earliest programs were basically this.

The allure of coding has stuck with me all throughout my life. It has always been a side hobby (my recent grown-up jobs have been in Finance) and was only really my day job when I started and ran a boutique development studio for three years. But in all those other jobs I invariably would come across business or operational problems I was able to resolve thanks to me early exposure and comfort with code. Recent examples include estimating and projecting smartphone device penetration by data-mining network logs, and implementing a production scheduling algorithm that had previously been manually done, in VBA for Excel. (For coders, that last bit probably gave you an anxiety attack.) But making and publishing games, my original passion, always seemed to be beyond the reach of a hobbyist.

Eventually I became a busy dad with a regular 9-5 job, though still with a personal hobby development machine always at hand. And thanks to the wonderful advances (technological, legal, economic) over the past decade, things just kind of fell into place where the means of education, production, and distribution—YouTube video tutorials, the Unity game engine, the Apple TV and App Store—became democratized and came within reach. Long story short, a couple of weeks ago, I was messing with my Apple TV and I soon put together a simple game for my two daughters, ages 3 and 4, when I realized that with a little bit more polish it might be suitable for the App Store. And so after a couple of long nights I put some finishing touches on Fishing Lake, and now I’m just about ready for submission . I just have a few last items on my punch list. Stay tuned.