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This is probably going to get pretty long, so here are the basics:
Back in 2011 or so, I need a place to put my own dumb little applets. I had them up on their own static web pages, but that was becoming a bit unwieldy. At that point, itch.io wasn't even born yet, and Game Jolt seemed to have been abandoned by its creators. Back then flash games were still popular, and you couldn't really find an uploader for anything else.
So I decided to make my own uploader. But I didn't know anything about server-side programming, so I learned about JSP and databases and file uploading, and soon Static Void Games was born. It wasn't pretty, but it got the job done.
Not long after the inception of Static Void games, I participated in my first Ludum Dare, and I saw a lot of people with the same problem: they didn't have a good place to upload their Java games. So I opened up Static Void Games to other people.
And from there it grew: starting out as something that was meant for only me, to including over a hundred games uploaded by people from all over the world. I learned more, overhauled the site a few times, added a bunch of new features. Static Void Games became a bit of a sandbox for me to play with "how would I do this?" type questions. Things like comments, reputation, events, notifications.
Over the last couple years, I've cared less about making my own games, and have become more interested in writing tutorials and examples. That might sound nerdy, but I'm involved in a lot of forums and sites for people teaching themselves how to program, and writing these tutorials and examples feels strangely rewarding. I love helping people, and I love talking to people about learning programming.
So I added tutorials to Static Void Games, and there was a semblance of a vision to the whole thing: get people coming to the site for the tutorials, show them the games as examples of stuff they could program, and then give them a place to upload their own games.
While I focused on adding tutorials, the internet changed pretty fast. Java applets went the way of the dinosaur, and I eventually had to drop support for them altogether. Back when I started, it was pretty normal for somebody to download and run a
.jar file. Now almost nobody would do that!
I'd love to focus on tutorials and examples, maybe start a YouTube channel. But a lot of my time is spent just trying to keep up with stuff that honestly isn't very interesting: making the uploader prettier, going back and fixing old applet games, trying to "acquire" new users, blah.
At this point, I'm faced with a decision: do I maybe get rid of the uploader and just tell people to use itch.io and Game Jolt instead? What does it mean for Static Void games to not have games anymore?
And the weird thing is, this was the most excited about Static Void Games I've been for a long time. I spend so much time doing stuff that just isn't very interesting, and the idea of outsourcing all of that seemed strangely correct.
I could probably keep using Static Void Games and shift its focus, but the technology behind Static Void Games is a little bit overkill for what I need. It just ends up being unwieldy and not fun to use.
The other thing is, and this might seem small but feels important: I don't really care about games. Games are a great way to get people interested in programming, but there's so much more to programming than just games: programming also opens up digital art, data visualizations, interactive sandboxes, simulations, useful applications, and an entire world of creativity. So part of me hates the fact that "Games" is in the title.
So I decided to start over from scratch with a new website.
I'm still working on building it, but come say hello at HappyCoding.io!
Your existing games aren't going anywhere, at least for the foreseeable future. Old links will still work for the time being. But I will eventually shut everything down, so it's probably a good idea to start uploading your stuff somewhere else. Both Game Jolt and itch.io are awesome options for uploading games. Let me know if you need help accessing your old game files.
I'm going to start disabling new user registration and game uploads and start pointing old tutorials to new ones at the new site. I also have to figure out what I'm doing with the twitter and facebook pages.
The forum will probably be the first thing to go. Come say hello on forum.HappyCoding.io! (Right now that's just a barebones Discourse, but expect new content soon... or come help create some new content!)
I remember at the very beginning somebody asking me what I would consider a success. My answer was that if a dozen people uploaded a game, I'd consider that a huge victory. Since then, over a hundred games have been uploaded by people from all over the world. I've learned so much, and met a lot of awesome people. I'm very satisfied with what I got out of Static Void Games.
And I'm very excited about Happy Coding. The "static void" part of Static Void Games is a reference to the first two words a (Java) programmer writes, symbolizing the beginning of a project, the start to the process of learning how to program. Happy Coding seems like the perfect evolution of that. It feels correct, and I can't wait to see where it goes.
Hopefully I'll see all of you on the new forum. Until then...... happy coding.