Another year…

Dec 31 2009 Published by under ActionScript, Flash, General, iPhone, Objective C, Technology

For the past few years, I’ve posted a review of the previous year and a look to the coming year. So, I’ll do it again.

2009 was a very interesting year. Like this year, last year I had a whole bunch of unused vacation time at the end of the year, so took a couple of weeks off over Christmas. I decided to dive into Objective-C and iPhone programming. Little did I know how much that would dominate the next year, both in terms of my personal projects and work projects at Infrared5. One of the very first things I did was a little game called “Falling Balls”. A stupid little thing where you tilt the phone right and left to avoid … well … falling balls. It was just a silly thing I did in about 1.5 days, mostly to get a handle on the language and writing games in Objective-C. Unbelievably, the game rose to be the number one free application on the iTunes store. I put some ads in it and the cash started pouring in. I mean, more money than I could believe. Of course, it had its peak and eventually slid down the chart and made less money, but even now, it’s doing amazingly well in terms of ad revenue.

Hitting it big like that was a blessing and a curse. All I had to do, I figured, was do a handful of apps like that a year, and I could retire rich, buy an island somewhere and … ok, back to reality. Seems I wasn’t the only one who got the idea of making it big in the app store. I released a bunch of other apps – some free with ads, some paid, some lite/full version, etc. All told, the total amount I’ve made via all my other apps is equivalent to about what I currently make in a single day on Falling Balls. So, I’ve pretty much given up on striking it big AGAIN with iPhone apps, but will continue to give the occasional tweak to Falling Balls to keep it active.

At Infrared5 as well, we hitched up to the iPhone bandwagon. It wasn’t hard. All we had to do is say that we did iPhone stuff and after that pretty much everyone coming to us wanted us to do iPhone apps for them. I did one Flex job early in the year, but since then it’s been pretty much flat out iPhone projects for clients.

A lot of people have actually been upset with me for “abandoning” Flash here. I’m not even going to defend myself on that one. I pretty much did abandon Flash for quite a while there. I can’t say I’m diving back into it both feet at the moment, but I did get pretty burnt out on the iPhone stuff as well. Still working on iPhone stuff at work, but don’t have any ongoing personal iPhone projects at the moment, or any solid plans for any. I love the platform and hardware and capabilities and even got to love the language. But I hate the business model and publishing stranglehold that Apple has on it. In Flash I can bang out a SWF, put it on my site, blog or tweet about it, and in minutes, the whole world can see it. With the iPhone, I have to submit it, wait some unspecified amount of weeks with no feedback or anyone to communicate with, to see if it is approved or not. If not, no real recourse. Just fix it and put it back into the queue. It’s awful.

So what now? Back to Flash? Possibly. As you may have noticed, I had a whole game programming thing going on there a few months ago. Did a whole bunch of research on game architecture, applying it all to Flash games, spoke about game architecture at Flash on the Beach, and promised a game framework/toolkit “Asobu” that I was working on. Not sure what really happened with that.

In fact, for about the last month or so, I’ve hardly done any coding at all in my own spare time. Of course, I’ve been doing plenty at work, and that’s going fine. But usually when I get home, I have some personal stuff I’m working on – a game, some generative art, some experiments, components, a book, or whatever. But lately, I don’t know. I just get home, eat, relax, read some, hang out with the family, light up the wood stove and relax. I’m not particularly worried about it, and you shouldn’t be either. I think my mind just needs some time to recharge. I’ve been going at this pretty hard core since 2001 anyway. Consider I’m on a mini-personal-sabbatical. You might have noticed the dearth of posts here in the last several weeks. In fact, this is the first post I’ve done this month. I’m not going to make any promises about how I’ll now kick everything back into gear and get going on stuff again, but I have no doubt I’ll get fired up again sometime soon. I’ve learned to trust my instincts. They’ve done well for me thus far, and right now they are telling me to chill out. 🙂

One thing that I’ve given a lot of attention to in the last few months is running. I started up the Couch to 5K program to get in shape at the end of last August, and now I’m running 5 days a week. I’m completely addicted. Reading lots of running magazines and books and sites. Naturally, I’m getting all geeky about it with GPS and heart rate monitoring and tracking applications, etc. In fact, it has taken over my other, “personal” blog at If you are ever in doubt as to whether or not I’m alive, you can always check there and see what’s up.

But I haven’t been totally code free. In fact, I have actually been doing some ActionScript projects, particularly over this little vacation I’ve been taking. Tying in with the running, I started parsing the raw output of my Garmin Forerunner 305 GPS running watch – parsing the XML and graphing it out in interactive 3D. So much better than any of the apps that map the route on a google map and give you a 2D chart underneath it showing speed, elevation and heart rate. I plan to continue working on that over the next few weeks and have something to show. Also, I revived a cool project I’d started a long while back using the Flash 10 sound synth stuff. Been working on that actively the last couple of days. I actually started getting very excited about the possibilities of that, so that may be the next major thing you see coming out of this place.

What about overall 2010 plans? Can’t really say just yet. At work, we are starting in on a very major, and very … unique project that would possibly be done in Unity 3D. So I may be diving into some C# work for that. And beyond the Flash projects I just mentioned, I’m really interested in learning some other experimental technologies. I started playing with Structure Synth a while back, which is very interesting. A whole new take on programming. Hard to wrap your head around the syntax at first, but produces some stunning pics. I also want to dive more into some things like NodeBox, Context Free, ToolBox, Processing, and Open Frameworks.

Beyond that, like I said, just going with my intuition. And I intuit that 2010 will be a good year.

7 responses so far

  • Lee Brimelow says:

    Well said Keith. No matter what you do Adobe will still love you 🙂

  • Matt Rix says:

    As a fellow Flash Developer and also a runner, I’m very curious to see what you’ve cooked up for the 305. I got mine around a year ago(as a Christmas present), and since finding out the data was XML I’ve always wanted to create a cool visualizer of some sort, but I never got around to it.

  • Larry Lague says:

    I am also very interested in hearing your technique for dealing with the XML from the 305! If you’ve got any tips for this, please let us know.

  • Hi Keith,

    I saw your presentation at FOTB and was really looking forward to getting my hands on Asobu! Do you have any plans on releasing where you got to? Or at least a couple of posts on how you used component based architecture for your games?


  • Glad you’re back to flash keith, guys like you are the embodiment and the barometer of flash.

  • daniele says:

    Things has changed, now appstore approve\discard an update in few hours or at max 2-3 days, and approve\discard a new app within 7 days.

  • […] I mentioned in my New Year’s post, I’ve been kind of taking a break lately. Haven’t really been doing much of anything to […]