HeyBingo in 2021 (and beyond)!December 28, 2020
It will be 2021 in a few days. It's the end of an era for web games, since Flash support is being ended by major browsers. Several gaming sites that feature Flash games, including HeyBingo, are forced to adapt, or worse, be taken offline. I know a few Flash game sites that have taken the latter route even earlier than anticipated. Major gaming sites have also closed down many of their popular Flash games, with no guarantee of ever being replaced with new non-Flash counterparts.
For awhile, I was also undecided whether to still continue working on HeyBingo or to just let go of the site entirely. The site has not been very active the past few years, as I have not really been able to devote more time to it either. I would do the monthly maintenance needed to keep the games and servers running, fix some issues that come up every now and then (mostly server related), but otherwise the website and the games have remained stagnant for many years now. Partly, this is also because I didn't want to change anything because players (in general) don't like change.
With Flash support ending in 2020, if I wanted to keep the HeyBingo site running, I have no other choice but to develop new games from scratch. And that takes a lot of time. There are several things that need to fit together:
Working on each item takes up significant time individually. Working on ALL the items together makes the work involved overwhelming.
Game Servers - which run the games behind the scenes 24/7.
Game Clients - the actual games the players see and interact with.
Website - the old HeyBingo site was also Flash-based, so it needs to be updated too.
Dedicated Servers - order and configure the actual physical servers to run the game servers and host the website.
The first step was to select which software to use to make the games. There's too many new technologies to choose from after Flash, but finding the best fit was not an easy task. The major consideration was for the software to have cross-platform support (being able to run on Apple and Android ecosystem, while keeping the same codes). Then for the website, the games should still load as fast as possible. Fast loading time is one of Flash's best features, something that even today's newest technologies still can't beat.
I played around with a few options, until I decided to stick with one that I thought was best for my goals. The first game I made was actually Word Hunt, as I wanted to take a break from bingo games, and I just like to play around with the new tools currently available. It wasn't until I got Word Hunt partially working that I actually decided to keep the HeyBingo site. It was more workable to adapt the rest of the bingo games after the multiplayer core I made for Word Hunt was functional.
There was always a looming "deadline" since Flash support is ending at the end of 2020. I couldn't release each game one at a time, because some changes (e.g. in the game server) affect all the games. I was trying to avoid releasing too early, and then make major changes that will just upset the players.
Beta versions of the games were finally made public in November. Thankfully, there weren't many major issues reported. And today the new HeyBingo website is being launched as well, with the new games also replacing the Flash games (which are now officially pulled out from the site).
The year 2020 is the year HeyBingo is ending its old chapter. With the global pandemic happening this year too, it has not been an easy year for me on a personal basis either. It's a new year in the next few days, and we can just hope for better things to come. HeyBingo is welcoming the new year with an all new website and new games. The work is not even complete, so expect more updates in the coming weeks.
Happy holidays to everyone, especially to the loyal HeyBingo players who have been playing on the site all these years!