Game Maker Blog sold to Matthew Bowden

on October 1, 2012 - 20293 Views

It’s been a long time since I last published a post here, far longer since I was able to dedicate proper time to running the site.

As of this this week ownership of Game Maker Blog will transfer to Matthew Bowden, a long time Game Maker user, reader of this blog, Game Maker Community moderator, full time indie-developer and blogger at Touch to Start.


I’m sad to see it go.

Game Maker Blog (formerly GameMaker Blog!) meant a lot to me for a good 4 years of my life.

From the early days of reporting on the head to head releases of MarkUp and GMTech, the blog has covered releases of extensions, games, apps, websites, cracks, decompilers, and Game Maker itself.

It was opinionated and yes we (well mostly I!) occasionally upset some people over the years. When I started I was astonished enough to discover that people managed to find the site and actually began to read, comment on, share and link to stuff I wrote!

During this period I have been fortunate enough to witness the transformation of Game Maker from a single platform program to a multi-platform socially integrated mobile, desktop, tablet (& more) gaming tool, thanks to the phenomenal work from the growing YoYo Games team up in Dundee. The company itself has also expanded its reach from the production of a game development tool to in addition become creator and publisher of a number of successful mobile games. The future of Game Maker (and indie game development for that matter!) looks bright. Now it’s time for someone else to take the helm here.

It’s hard to let it go but I know it is the right thing to do for the community and those who once enjoyed visiting the site to catch up on the latest posts, be they they reports of newly released media or games, the latest Game Maker version or the hottest gossip about the GMC or YoYo Games.

I’ve overseen many highs and perhaps a few too many lows. From the days of sneakily adding posts when I was supposed to be doing homework, in Computing lessons and even whilst on work experience placements through the rise of apps, the expansion of YoYo Games and the excitement which built ahead of the release of GM8 and brought record traffic levels to the site.

 

Some highs
The contributors. Here are the display names of everyone who has made a post on the site to-date: Grego, tuntis, Jinxtengu, Danny, Kay Johnson, Brad, Josh Coffey, scoz, Caniac, Andrew McCluskey, Coolist, Jack Brockley, level_up, James Rhodes, Jenna Longton, Zack Banack, BlueMoonProductions, Gamemakeraddict, gnysek, seanthyman, sondar, Jonathan Martin, Joshua “Loaf” Liddle, Connor Wilkins, Charlie McShane, True Valhalla and Derme302.

Brings back some memories doesn’t it! Many have just one or two posts to their names, others 20 and one even passed the 50 mark. All started as readers and have or continue to generously give their time to report or review for the site.

The first time I opened a parcel to discover that a real life publisher somewhere had decided to send me a free copy of their latest game development book on the off-chance I might review it and give them a mention on the blog was certainly a warm feeling.

book2 Game Maker Blog sold to Matthew Bowden

5 years ago I got my first free game book!

I did of course get the obligatory YoYo Games yo-yo out of it and a Karoshi t-shirt. And yes, the adverts bought in a small amount of cash – vastly inferior to the time spent, a grand total of $1.78 per live post adding up all the income to last week.

Seeing a Game Maker course added to my school’s virtual learning environment and Game Maker installed on every machine before I left the sixth form was nice too!

The blog even went the 100 odd miles North with me from my home town to Birmingham whilst I spent 3 years studying for my BSc Computer Science degree and surprisingly survived my entire period at University.

 

And then…
It all fizzled out. For the past 14 months I’ve totally neglected the site.  For a while I felt rather guilty, but then what had almost seemed to be become an obligation to research and write new posts ceased.

Quite simply maintaining such a project is not compatible alongside a 9-6 job plus 2 hours of commuting every day.  Perhaps I should have handed it over sooner, but until recently I received no enquiries from people looking to take on responsibility for the project and I would certainly not want to coerce a weight of expectation on anyone else’s shoulders.

My biggest regrets?  First, I didn’t use Game Maker enough. If you were an avid reader you’ll have noticed a distinct lack in technical or actual “game making” posts from me.  I would like to think I can program, heck I got a degree out of it, and although I enjoy it from time to time it is not my true passion.  This certainly left an aspect lacking from the site which, despite the valued contributions from others, I felt the site never managed to fully make up.

gmb global reach Game Maker Blog sold to Matthew Bowden

Visitors from over 200 countries/territories

Second, I didn’t ever physically meet and thank any of the many people who gave up their time to contribute to the site and help make it is.  It’s rather odd to look back on the names of some of the many people I came into contact with through the site and how this all started from absolutely nothing.  Contacts from Australia, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Finland, Jordan, The USA, Canada, Poland, South Africa, the UK and I’m sure many more countries as well.  Sadly over the years I’ve lost touch with many of the earlier contributors but their input helped shape the blog.

My third regret is my failing to prevent the last year of decline.  A reduction in input from me personally was always going to happen as I took on new responsibilities, but I put only minimal effort into trying to keep the site going.  Far too many community projects enter a status of “hiatus” never to be seen again.  For 4 and a half years Game Maker Blog  was pretty much a constant but at the end I messed it up, and for that I am sorry.

posts per month Game Maker Blog sold to Matthew Bowden

Posts published per month

To my surprise after an initial lull, new contributors emerged to keep the site going for which I am grateful, albeit at a rate far below that needed to become a “proper” magazine.

 

As if I hadn’t made this enough about me already…
Although the days of keeping myself up to date with the Game Maker community are long gone I do hope I will be able to occasionally contribute to the blog in the future – though how much this is me wanting to cling on versus what is realistic I don’t know!

Curiously 84 of you @GameMakerBlog followers already follow my personal twitter account where you are greeted with an eclectic mix of tweets about my home town, Formula 1, ecommerce and online marketing with some random observations, retweets of stuff I found interesting and occasional Foursquare Badge notifications thrown in for good measure.

You can also read my sporadically updated blog which has posts along the same lines, connect with me on Linkedin, see a photo of me sticking my tongue out on my employer’s website or add me to a circle if you like.  The email address I have used in association with this site will cease to exist but I am contactable on gmail (freeg131).

 

Nostalgia
There have been more than 1,100 posts and over 670,000 visits to the main blog since it started, and we are rapidly approaching 50 million impressions of banners for community sites on the affiliation service.

 

Some of my favourite posts over the years – remember these?
A great scoop as we stumble upon the finalists in the Game Maker 8 logo competition, put them to a public vote and then YoYo Games select the least favoured option as the winner, before working with the community to create an adapted version.  In total I think we got a good 7 posts out of the new logo!

Matthew Scorah’s pair of 100 Game Maker Games in 10 minutes posts published in January two years in succession [2009, 2010].  He put an incredible effort and an awful lot of time into identifying, playing, filming and editing these videos showcasing the best Game Maker creations produced in each year.  You’ll see both deservedly make the list of top 10 most viewed posts over the years and, when added to the views the videos received from embeds elsewhere, the total play count is over 150,000.

Developed in Dundee the first public release of GameMaker:HTML5 was a milestone in the on-going development of the game creation software.  It enabled the community to finally see their creations away from the desktop, opened up rapid updates through a built in updater and yes, you couldn’t miss it, introduced a new interface colour-scheme.  The platform would go on to be the basis for GameMaker Studio which exports to a growing number of mobile and console devices.

My interview with Sandy has got to be a favourite too.  In a four-part post we covered the history of YoYo Games, how the company’s app publishing process would work, the then upcoming HTML5 “product” and the future of Game Maker.  They certainly weren’t the most popular articles on the site but it was something interesting and provided an insight at a time when many were purely speculating.  Hat tip to NakedPaulToast for encouraging me to do this.

We even did a podcast!  I’d completely overlooked this until reviewing the draft of this post – 5 episodes of GMTalk were recorded in 2010.  Jack Brockley, Andrew McCluskey and myself were the regulars with 1 or 2 guests contributors invited on to each show.  There’s at least another shows worth of material in the out-takes!  By the end of the run Andrew had gone on to work for YoYo Games.

 

Most viewed posts
Rather skewed towards later entries when the blog had a larger regular audience who helped share the content.

  1. Game Maker 8.0 Released
  2. 5 Reasons why Construct is better than Game Maker – I still get grief for this today in the comments, despite the fact that it was written over 3 years ago!
  3. YoYo host GameMaker 7 Pro Crack
  4. Game Maker 8 Decompiler Released
  5. GameMaker Studio to allow iOS, Android and HTML5 Exporting
  6. 2009: 100 Game Maker Games in 10 Minutes
  7. Game Maker 8 Decompiler in a Month
  8. 2010: 100 Game Maker Games in 10 Minutes
  9. Game Maker 8 Image and Sprite Editor version 0.9
  10. How to Make a MMORPG in Game Maker

We got through a few designs over the years too. Here, courtesy of the Internet Archive and the few screenshots of the blog I could easily find from a few years ago are a few snapshots of the site since it’s launch.

gmb 2007 300x258 Game Maker Blog sold to Matthew Bowden

2007 – Original Design

gmb 2008 300x272 Game Maker Blog sold to Matthew Bowden

2008 – Similar Colours

gmb 2008 2 300x252 Game Maker Blog sold to Matthew Bowden

2008 – How about another sidebar?

…and then we moved to this horrid grey one.

 

Achievement
Even today I can look back on the site as one of my biggest tangible (it isn’t though really is it?) achievements. A culmination of many hundreds of hours planning, researching and writing. It’s just a WordPress blog for pete’s sake but the amount of time that went into taking it from a spur of the moment domain registration to thousand plus post blog with at times upwards of a thousand visits a day ensures it still means a lot to me.

It’s taught me many of the skills I use in my job today, was discussed in the interview for my current job and recruiters pretend to want to talk to me about it even today.

I’m sure if I read the blog from start to finish there will be posts that make me cringe, mistakes and inaccuracies that jump out at me and I’m sure I’ve posted the odd photo of myself on here over the years too. These will all remain.

Thank you to all of you who have been involved in this project over the years. Whether as an occasional or regular reader, a commenter who added to debate, a post contributor, author or editor or as one of the hidden army of people those who sent news tips our way.

I’m also grateful to the game makers, those who ran a Game Maker website or were an active member of the Game Maker media scene (you gave me things to write about) and of course the sponsors and developers at YoYo Games who sent us previews of some of their releases and answered the questions I put to them.

Thanks for all your help and support over the years guys, it’s meant a lot to me.

 

goodbye hello 213x300 Game Maker Blog sold to Matthew BowdenMatthew
Matthew contacted me just over a week ago with an offer for to take over the site which I think will provide the best prospects for its future.

The site still brings in money for me each month and I could have continued to sit on it for years to come without investing any time in the project, but I feel this would be almost cheating and depriving the community that gave me so much support through the years. Certainly the blog can be a much more utilised and valuable resource than it is currently!

I believe that Matthew can and will put in the time and energies and has the enthusiasm required to maintain such a project today, and hopefully for long into the future.

I hope that the community re-establishes itself once again around the blog and continues to support Matthew in the way they have done so in recent years.

Here’s to the next 5 years of Game Maker Blog! Goodbye, good luck and thank you all.

Find out about the future of the site here.

15 Responses to Game Maker Blog sold to Matthew Bowden

  1. ugriffin says:

    Best of luck in your endeavours, Philip, and I wish the best of luck to Matthew. Here’s to the next 5 years indeed! :)

  2. Its exciting and sad to see it handed over. Five years a go my attempts at getting a GM news source up were critically written about here. Five years later, I was finally “good enough” to write for the blog itself. I feel it has helped me in many ways for that reason.

  3. theweirdn8 says:

    Woah

    We will miss you old amigo.
    May Game Maker Blog live on and provide awesomeness to game developers everywhere.

  4. Thanks for the entertainment this blog provided, Phil. And I enjoyed recording those GMTalk podcasts.

    It’s kinda sad to see it officially come to an end (at least in your reign).

  5. Israel RN says:

    Thank you for creating this blog, for long time it was the best resource on GM news, even better than YoYo’s official site.

    Best regards.

  6. Greg Froning says:

    Well it is good to see that the site will hopefully get active again. Good luck with your new ventures!

    Maybe I should update my android Game Maker Blog application since the site seems to be going active again…

  7. James Rhodes says:

    Well this is a reminder of the good ol’ days if ever there was one (just saw it pop up on Twitter). I haven’t been involved in the Game Maker community in general for several years now. I’d totally forgotten that I’d even ever written an article until I logged in with my account to find out what articles I’d written :P

    It is kind of weird to consider that in that time there has been so many changes in the community, and that most of the people I knew from back in the days have moved onto other things, like I myself have done. And in that respect, it’s also a little sad, because you know that things can never be like they used to be.

  8. I want to thank you on behalf of the Community, Phil. When this blog started, it was often hard to keep track of all the important GM news. You provided a means for us all to keep up-to-date, and I think the earlier community owes you a lot for that!

    It’s funny thinking back to those days. So much has changed in my life since, and I imagine that’s true for a lot of the readers and contributors alike. The development of GM and the integration of YoYo has completely changed the platform and, looking at it now, it’s amazing to think that we’re looking at the same product.

    Best of luck with whatever you do, Phil. You have a lot to be proud of here.

  9. xot says:

    Thanks for all your dedication and hard work on GMB over the years, Phil. I’m looking forward to seeing where Matthew takes it into the future. I can scarcely think of a better choice of successor. Best of luck to you both!

  10. elmernite says:

    Sad to see you go!
    Best of luck to you Matthew!
    -Elmernite

  11. Eyas says:

    Thanks, Philip, for the blog and all that you have done! As I lost touch with GameMaker, GMB remained the one place I go to, to stay informed about what’s going on with the community. It has been great seeing you blog vigorously at times, and on-again-off-again at others! And it has also been a pleasure working with you on MarkUp way back when! I’m glad I got an implicit mention when you were mentioning countries.. hah!

    Good luck with your future online endeavors! Keep us posted.

  12. Thanks for the warm welcome everyone. I’ve made a post outlining my plans for the site now.

  13. Connor Wilkins says:

    Thank you for your years of hard work on the site, Phil. Although I haven’t been active in the Game Maker community for quite a while, Game Maker Blog has always been a critical source of GM news for myself and countless others. Your dedication to the site in the lead up to today has been stellar, and the community thanks you.

    To Matthew, congratulations on acquisition of the web site. With the future of Game Maker looking extremely bright, I’m excited to know that someone with a deep understanding and commitment to both the product and the community will be managing the blog. I, along with the rest of the community, wish both you and the site well in your future work providing the community with the news and reviews it desires.

  14. ThatSnail says:

    Oh gosh, Phil. This site goes way back. There was a period of time where I’d check it nigh daily.

    Thanks a million for being so diligent with maintaining this site for so long. Sorry to see you leave :( Good choice with Matthew though, I trust he has the ambition and know-how to keep things as nice as they were.

    Best wishes!

  15. Austin says:

    Hey buddy, it’s Shadeplay23 from the GMS…good times I’ve looked upon that, and it just seems kinda silly haha. Also in my defense I was 12.

    Anyway, that’s irrelevant. Regardless, this blog was a prominent point in my late childhood, fun times were had, even if we weren’t the best of friends by any means I don’t I would’ve changed the experience here, it helped me mature most definitely.

    Now I’m onto new endeavors, but I was looking at old Game Maker stuff for a nostalgia trip. It’s crazy thinking it’s been nearly 6 years.

    Best of luck with your future! Cheers,
    Austin Lindgren

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