I don’t have a lot of consumer projects – typically, I build things out for my own enjoyment or as infrastructure for an organization I’m part of. But of the publicly-available projects I do have, College Football Coach for iOS is arguably the most successful and most impactful – and guess what? Just shortly after its third birthday, the game has finally crossed 50,000 lifetime downloads. How about that?
I think some backstory may be in order. Let’s roll back the clock to 2016. I’m well into my first year at Georgia Tech, but the only substantive things I’d ever really made were small jailbreak tweaks – including an ill-fated effort at updating and fixing one, during which I guaranteed it was crash-free (in reality: it was not. Not at all.). I had an assortment of projects and self-built utilities on my Github page, but nothing large-scale and certainly nothing that I used regularly.
But in March 2016, /u/jonesguy14 announced on /r/CFB that he’d written a college football simulation game. Thirsting for off-season college football action and left abandoned by EA after its NCAA Football series had been suspended due to lawsuits over student-athlete compensation, I was ecstatic to have a new opportunity to interact with college football outside of watching games and reading news. The only problem: the game /u/jonesguy14 had built was only available on Android.
But I figured, hey - I have some iOS development experience and a bunch of free time on my hands outside of schoolwork; maybe I could port it over to iOS and play? If I asked, the worst he could say was no, right? So I asked, filed my first commit and built the entire dang thing out in nine days, sparking a three-year journey that has led to this week and 50,000+ downloads.
The world of college football is constantly changing, ebbing and flowing as teams hire new coaches, recruit new players, and strengthen their programs to compete at a national level. Building that dynamic real-life experience into a mobile game (even with the much-appreciated help of two others who had built things out before me) has been technically challenging, intellectually stimulating, and just flat out fun. while working on this project, I’ve been pushed to learn more about my favorite sport and sharpen my skills as a software developer. I’ve gotten so much better about reading code, interpreting it at both the technical and domain levels, and translating it into plain English for others to understand. Sure, there have been times where I’ve been frustrated over a bug I can’t track down or a feature that’s just not coming together (and sure, I’ve taken hiatuses at times to focus on other things), but this kind of problem solving is just really fun, especially when it’s in a domain you are really interested in.
With the recent release of career mode in version 3.0, there’s never been a better time to start playing the game. My goal is to make the simplest, yet most fully-featured, college football simulation game on iOS, and I have a list of planned features about a mile long to get there. The last three years and 50k downloads have been an amazing learning experience – and who knows where the next three and 50k+ will take the game?
Let’s find out, shall we?