So back in early 2009 I had decided there were several (mostly little) things I didn’t like about Mutant Freaks of Nature. I started the process of making some smallish changes, which eventually touched every file in the game. Then I decided that since I’d gone that far, I should really just rewrite from the ground up to give it a better code base. Then I changed my mind about the interface, then this thing, then that thing.
Fast forward to spring of 2011 and I was fiddling with yet another rewrite based on WebGL, with the reasoning that it would be reasonably supported by the time I was done with it.
I forgot to mention in there that I had a daughter during this window. Naturally my available development time dropped to nothing for several months, then slowly increased to a little bit on Saturdays. Most of that Saturday time was taken up by her anyway (this is not a complaint: nobody lies on their deathbed saying “I wish I’d spent less time with my family and more time working”).
As a result of all this, the game was abandoned for over three years. No new content was added, no bugs were fixed. People largely stopped playing or caring, and about all I was doing was wrangling spammers in the forums (and the forum accounts was also the game’s security).
I decided to decouple the forum security from the game and to give the game its own. While doing this over the weekend, I discovered that at one point (about three years ago) I had introduced a bug that disabled the Donations button…which explains why I hadn’t gotten any donations in three years.
Ah, the Broken Windows Theory in action. I was still getting the occasional player, but a broken Donations button probably told them everything they needed to know about the game, and they’d have been right.
So after an emergency fix to the button (and fixing the security), I actually fixed a couple of bugs and hooked up the game editor (and fixed a couple of bugs in it). I’m going to do the only sane thing here: fix outstanding bugs and add new content to the game.
Being able to pick up from three years ago and continue is largely thanks to source control (always a good idea, even for…especially for…the lone developer).
It’ll take me a little bit to get back into the swing of things, but I will. I’ll scratch my real development itch with other projects/demos (like a stroll through a sewer or a playable slot machine in WebGL) as I get time.