Time distribution on game development

New Sokoban, my own first iOS game, has been submitted to Apple and is waiting for review :) So, this week I have been very busy preparing all the marketing machine to be ready for the international launch, which I hope will be next thursday :) But I have also been making some project evaluation. Since I started the development of New Sokoban I have been registering every day the tasks accomplished and the working hours. So, in today’s post I would like to show you how the chart looks like and share some conclusions.

Time distribution of tasks on New Sokoban development process

Time distribution of tasks on New Sokoban development process

You have the resulting chart above. I have categorized all the tasks into 8 general categories:

  • Game Design / Content creation. As we will see later, this category is very tricky. It includes time spent on creating all the puzzles but it also (should) include all the hours spent making game design decisions.
  • Code. This includes all the tasks related to software engineering, application design and code generation. Basically, this is Xcode time.
  • Artwork / UI. This category includes the time spent on assets generation, UI design and also artistic creation related decisions (the last one is again a little tricky).
  • Audio. This means audio from the artistic point of view. The audio engine implementation is included in the Code category.
  • Doc & Plan. Documentation and plannings sessions are included here.
  • Marketing. Product page, facebook, twitter, official trailer, event preparation…
  • Blog. Initially, I included this category inside the Marketing one. But there is a considerable amount of work on this blog, so I finally decided to separate it into a new category.
  • Networking. This includes attending to the e-mail, twitter followers, event assistance, meals with colleagues, meetings with potential clients or collaborators…

Some initial observations:

  • First important thing derived from this chart is: coding is not 100% of the time :) Actually, it is “only” 34%. To be honest, before this evaluation, my guess was that coding would be even less that this 34%. My guess was around 25%.
  • More than 65% of the time is spent on code and art. Initially it sounds ok, but I think that Game Design should be more important.
  • Marketing spent time is also surprisingly low. However, actually, the time for intense marketing efforts starts now.
  • Time spent on documentation and planning is ridiculous… I’m a bit ashamed… Probably, spending more time on documentation and planning would decrease the coding percentage and the overall development time.
  • I spent a lot of time on this blog. But I think that it worths it. A lot of people have contacted me because they have read the blog. I hope this contacts will generate some indirect benefits in the future.

Mental note: coding is important, but it is not the most important thing on game development! Try to make your brain to get used to it. Good prioritization is very important to get things done.

I think that this results should be taken with care. When I started registering working hours I did it simply to try to stabilize my everyday schedule and work over 7 hours per day. So, the tasks registers are not accurate.

Moreover, there are tons of hours that are not reflected on this chart. Game design discussions with friends and family that where relevant or even crucial, brainstorming sessions… Sometimes, you are working, for instance, on the Board class coding and suddenly your mind goes to another world where you and yourself discuss about, for instance, the score system. Then, after 10 or 15 minutes, you come back to the real world, write down your new ideas and continue with the Board class coding. This hidden game design sessions are very difficult to capture.

In general, for me, all the tasks related to creativity are very difficult to capture. I can’t control creativity. If I try to sit down on my desk or on the sofa or lie down on bed and push my brain to have great ideas I only get a terrible headache as a reward… I need to work on it and get used to capture working time on creativity related tasks.

Mental note: guessing is not reliable. Numbers and charts are reliable.

Conclusion

I think that I have some productivity issues. The results are no that bad, but could be much better. 1% for Documentation and planning is not acceptable. Good planning skills depends mainly on experience, so I hope that I will do it better on the next project. Actually, right now I can see some errors I made that I will try to not repeat.

I need to find out some system or habit or whatever that allows me to better capture creation sessions. Brainstorming, game design, artistic inspiration… this kind of things have a great impact on the final product. I really need to capture them.

So, to be short, I’m quite happy with the results of this evaluation but I can do it much better.

One thought on “Time distribution on game development

  1. Thanks for sharing actual time spent information developing Sokoban game, and I agree design and artwork are major (and tricky) components to focus a lot and much is dependent on these.

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