Hello there in the new year 2010, Dear Reader! I hope it is already treating you well. Welcome after our long December slumber which was caused by many different things (that I was busy with). Among them was my determination to release the reinvented version of Frantic Franko demo right for 2010’s start and HardyDev‘s 1st birthday which happens today.

Franko will get a whole, separate article soon, so I won’t divulge too much on the game right now beyond providing the link to the new demo and mentioning that the game will still undergo all kinds of tweaks and modifications before the full release in March, so any kind of feedback will always be very valuable to me, especially since I made many risky design choices you won’t find in other games.

So, back to todays birthday occasion. First of all, let me assure you I plan a true return to form. This starting week at least two new articles will appear – tying loose ends from the previous year. There’s also a good chance that we’ll really make an impression this and the next month. I have long planned to refresh our approach to covering games with the start of the new year and make HardyDev even edgier then before.  Edgier and also much more varied, as we will have many more guest writer appearances. Keep on the lookout for the finale of Ben Chandler‘s award-winning article series. It will be followed by several new series by other indie devs and adventure game specialists, that should knock your socks off. The future may be never certain, but the prospects of HD look certainly good.

Now, a quick look at where we find ourselves after the first year’s journey. Well, I don’t want to repeat all HardyDev’s creation history here – it is to be found on our Intro page and in our episodic soap opera “Intermissions”. Instead let’s put up a subjective list of HardyDev’s greatest achievements (or maybe just lucky breaks?) and problems of 2009:

Downfall box art has a great quote about Stephen King 🙂

Achievements:

1. Great support from many adventure game creators. This allowed HardyDev to have a much more professional feel then I initially expected. Not to mention it resulted in lots of valuable, rare content for the genre’s fans, and anyone interested in the indie scene.

2. Amazing help from the two people who invested a lot of energy to help me run the site – Joe Davison and Martin Mulrooney. Without their input this would be a much more modest and single-minded operation.

3. HardyDev was a starting point for my first serious adventure game Frantic Franko and its development history is forever bound with HardyDev’s.

4. The blog stays fully independent. Of evil outside influences at least. Also, the site got tested on different servers, with different designs, in different circumstances. And survived.

5. A HardyDev’s review got quoted on the covers of physical copies of Downfall (For now available only in Russia, released by Akella).

6. We published quite a few very unique articles that took a lot of effort to prepare (definitely I’m not talking about only my own here 😉 ).

7. The general direction of the site (focus on indie adventure gaming, development, creativity) seems to be a 100% hit. Also, keeping the posts fresh and varied works out so far.

8. Though the quantity of the posts is small I think the care put in (almost) every single one pays off.

Mistakes, conflicts and hiccups:

1. Occasional slowness in posting + A number of articles and projects I keep postponing indefinitely because of lack of time. Which leads to…

2. At the beginning I had a very naive outlook of what I’ll be able to do creating and running this kind of blog on my own. In part because I already had many half-finished articles and projects to post upon starting. But did I know anyone to partner up with for an enterprise like that? Not really.

3. I didn’t find any time to work on any new animated movies or new webcomics since the blog’s inception. Concurrently, Franko turned into a huge project that demands as much attention as possible.

4. Two very work-intensive months for me (May & Decemeber) were killing HardyDev’s regular update pace. Also, working on Franko often turns my focus away from writing posts (or even thinking about them).

5. Lots of downtime on the new server  compared to such stable blogging service like WordPress.com, but I guess that’s what happens when you (Joe Davison in this case) have to work on it on your own. Linode offers exceptional support though.

So, in general, the biggest problem and limitation is simply lack of time. In the future I think the only help in that matter can come from people willing to collaborate with HardyDev on the site’s content. We shall see how things develop. But it’s not that bad – having a greater vision than means needed to realize it can be very stimulating too.

Finally, let’s get a bit emotional. Here are the birthday wishes from Martin Mulrooney and Joe Davison… and myself:

Joe: “I’ve watched Hardydev grow. It’s amazing to see how far it’s gone in just a short space of time. Happy birthday, Hardydev.com – and apologies for all the downtime ;)”

Marty: “Hardydev.com will always be close to my heart. A small article I did as a favour for Igor later turned into a full blown role on the site, as well as getting me deeper and deeper into the indie gaming scene. Even though I now run my own site, I never see Hardydev.com as competition: it is a strong affiliate and I am proud to be involved. Igor, you are a dear friend and I look forward to working with you further in 2010. Happy
Birthday Hardydev.com!”

As for myself, I’m feeling a bit dreamy today, so:

“I sometimes dream (not literally) of HardyDev as this amazing interwebs experience. Something worth of Google Wave’s, Heavy Rain‘s and Avatar‘s hypes combined. An all-knowing, all-reaching 3D devourer of souls  surfing the net. And while you’re gradually being assimilated by it, it allows you to freely develop your own interactive stories. Then the giant HardyDev Moloch moves elsewhere. May you live till 2020 to see that vision realized, HardyDev!”

Oh, and do please comment, Our Avid Readers! 🙂 Requests, critiques, predictions… Anything goes.