my face 3D printed

Things I learned in 2016

Things I have learned this year, in no particular order:

People will vote for weird stuff if you give them the option. Brexit, Trump, Boaty McBoatface etc.

Making games is hard. This is only a hobby of mine, but it’s a tough one! I managed it though, & launched BotSumo & Escape the sector this year. But bloody hell, is it time consuming!

People in the Unity community are actually really great, I’ve had loads of help from fellow developers & enthusiasts in the Unity Developers group on Facebook. A total stranger approached me and created some awesome spaceships for my game, which I appreciate so so much!

low-poly Spaceship carrier with ships inside

Also, another kind stranger Giuseppe Gelardi has offered to write the code for a single player version of BotSumo, which is awesome. I haven’t blogged about this yet but will soon. 

How to create promo codes for a paid Android games.

get shield and hit cogbot

Amount of effort is no substitute for a good idea. I spent a lot of time on the graphics for Escape the sector, but more time than BotSumo, but it’s the latter that has been more popular – WAAAAY more popular, like 55 million downloads more popular, which is just awesome. I never expected people would enjoy BotSumo so much, but there’s even kids recording themselves playing it, and having lots of fun.


I don’t regret any of the effort I put into Escape the sector though, I think it looks mega cool. Plus, spaceships are cool.

spinning spaceship

I discovered that the ampersand selector in SCSS can be used to reference the parent (I wrote about it here), and it’s so useful.

I’ve been using Foundation framework a lot, and now think I’m finally getting pretty good at it. Earlier this year I wrote how I still preferred Bootstrap, but now I’m a total Foundation convert. I especially like the way it uses variables for media queries, so you can group your styles for each selector rather than having it miles away in another part of the page, grouped by screen size which I just don’t find useful. I wrote about how I write CSS this year, mostly to see how it compares to upcoming years!

A location of one of the clues

Guidebooks are rubbish, and should be replaced by games, like the one we played in Venice.

I’ve eaten my words about whether exported CSS (from SASS) should be kept in the repo. I wrote an article saying it should, so it doesn’t need to be compiled whenever you check it out. My theory would work if I was the only frontend developer on a project, but so many merge conflicts have made me realise it’s just easier to keep it out of git.

Spaceship approaches rear landing pad

I learned that objects made in Magicavoxel look waaaaay nicer in Magicavoxel than when you export them. I’ve tried to learn ambient occlusion in Unity, to make it look just as good, but I still can’t figure it out.

I switched to Mac, and quite like it! Which is unfortunate now that Apple have ruined it all by making it a terrible platform for developers. There’s a lot of nice things about Macbook Pros, it feels sturdy, has a great trackpad with gestures that are way more useful than any Windows laptops I’ve seen. The magnetic power cable is something I probably couldn’t live without – although again, Apple have ruined this by removing it from their latest range. However, there are some UI decisions I still don’t like, like insisting all applications have the menu bar at the top of the screen, or that you can’t easily cut & paste.

Escape the sector level select screen on Nexus phone

I’ve learned how to do UI in Unity. It’s weird, but at least I now know how it works. Often, I really want HTML controls, like buttons, inputs, radio buttons, etc, and to style them with CSS – because to me, that is such a great way of styling these basic components. In Unity it’s more limited, and quite frustrating. I wrote an article about creating a level-select screen. I also wrote this article about Unity from the perspective of a web developer.

I learned that devices in Browserstack are as factory defaults, without latest updates. I use Browserstack a lot, and this makes it kinda useless. People keep their phones a long time, and there can be major differences between the browser when you first get your phone, to how it is after years of updates. Which means testing a page on Browserstack’s iPhone 5s might look nothing like how it looks on a real one with latest updates.

green arrow low poly

I have some 3D assets I’ve created on Turbosquid, and this year I learned the simple arrow was actually quite useful to someone!

In 2016 I started using SVGs a lot more, and even embedding them directly into a webpage, so that you can style the elements using CSS. It was useful for some social media buttons I created.

HTML markup

I learned you can do VR on the cheap, and it’s actually really good! I bought a headset for only about £14 and they work really well at playing Android games and watching 360 Youtube videos.

I started using a new CMS called CraftCMS, and at the beginning I was really pleased with it, but after using it on more projects I’m now realising how limited it is, and how it forces you to do things in a way which isn’t always ideal or sensible. Especially if we ever let a client use it to add their own content, as it has a degree of abstraction that might confuse someone who’s not technical.

I’ve learned to use some wireframing software called Protoshare, which is pretty good and has some great interaction features. I wrote an article about it here. After using it for almost a year, my opinion has changed a bit, I think it’s okay, but it’s slow and can take a long time to configure dynamic menus, which in some ways defeats the point of what I think a wireframe should be. A quick sketch to agree on layout & functionality before sending it to a designer.

You can get your face 3D printed onto a Lego body. It’s awesome. So I had it done. Here’s a picture:

my face 3D printed