How can you judge what is a "reasonable amount of time" to be working on a game?

A place to discuss things that aren't specific to any one creator or game.
Forum rules
Ren'Py specific questions should be posted in the Ren'Py Questions and Annoucements forum, not here.
Post Reply
Message
Author
User avatar
XBDC36
Regular
Posts: 49
Joined: Sun May 31, 2020 12:36 pm
Contact:

How can you judge what is a "reasonable amount of time" to be working on a game?

#1 Post by XBDC36 » Wed Apr 28, 2021 1:26 pm

I brought this up on another forum but I thought this question could help others as well, so I made a new post for it. Like the title asks, how do I gauge what is a "realistic time" to complete a game? Games will take a long time, that I understand, but you don't want to be spending too much time on making one, since I figure that could lead into progress becoming slower and worst case scenario, game cancelation. I've never been that good at planning ahead, even for stuff like school projects. It's always happened to me where I think that doing a certain thing (like writing a story) will take a short time to do/make but it ends up taking so much longer than I anticipated which can really mess stuff up, and I think that might be important to fix as soon as possible, especially with making a game, let alone the fact that you would have to coordinate others as well if you don't live in the same timezones and all that. What are some steps I could take to get better with judging something like this? I feel like this is one of the most important things to look at when making simply any project, because plan incorrectly and that could lead to chaos.
Not very active, but never dead

User avatar
felix
Regular
Posts: 45
Joined: Sat Feb 11, 2006 1:50 am
Completed: Before the Faire
Organization: No Time To Play
Tumblr: no-time-to-play
itch: notimetoplay
Location: Bucharest, Romania
Contact:

Re: How can you judge what is a "reasonable amount of time" to be working on a game?

#2 Post by felix » Thu Apr 29, 2021 1:14 am

Project estimation is a dark art. I usually have to multiply my initial figure by three to get near the actual duration. Other colleagues I talked to use a factor of four. Either way, there are always going to be unexpected issues, leading to more unexpected issues, so don't sweat it. Making software just takes a long time. Doubly so for games.

That said, I've had two-month projects that made me cry day after day (for real), and two-month projects I loved every moment of. Sure enough, that was reflected in the end results. So pay attention and decide accordingly.

Otherwise, to manage your own work better, divide it into tasks. For example, my latest game (not a VN) had three major components: logic, graphics engine, and user interface. Each was fun and different in its own way, and I could switch between them regularly to avoid burnout. Also it's easier to estimate smaller parts of a project, and then simply sum up the results (with an added margin). So make sure to do some planning! It doesn't have to be all big and serious, with charts and whatnot. Just some notes to keep you grounded. Hope this helps!

User avatar
XBDC36
Regular
Posts: 49
Joined: Sun May 31, 2020 12:36 pm
Contact:

Re: How can you judge what is a "reasonable amount of time" to be working on a game?

#3 Post by XBDC36 » Thu Apr 29, 2021 3:45 am

felix wrote:
Thu Apr 29, 2021 1:14 am
Project estimation is a dark art. I usually have to multiply my initial figure by three to get near the actual duration. Other colleagues I talked to use a factor of four. Either way, there are always going to be unexpected issues, leading to more unexpected issues, so don't sweat it. Making software just takes a long time. Doubly so for games.

That said, I've had two-month projects that made me cry day after day (for real), and two-month projects I loved every moment of. Sure enough, that was reflected in the end results. So pay attention and decide accordingly.

Otherwise, to manage your own work better, divide it into tasks. For example, my latest game (not a VN) had three major components: logic, graphics engine, and user interface. Each was fun and different in its own way, and I could switch between them regularly to avoid burnout. Also it's easier to estimate smaller parts of a project, and then simply sum up the results (with an added margin). So make sure to do some planning! It doesn't have to be all big and serious, with charts and whatnot. Just some notes to keep you grounded. Hope this helps!
That seems to be a common response to anyone who asks such a question, that there's no one way to go about making a prediction of how long making a game is going to take. Even (as I like to call them) the big boy companies make delays in their games as well. That was what happened with the Final Fantasy VII Remake and Breath of The Wild.
And yeah, I guess it does help a little bit, so thanks
Not very active, but never dead

User avatar
Alianora_La_Canta
Newbie
Posts: 15
Joined: Tue Apr 06, 2021 8:53 am
Projects: Budacanta
Organization: ImpararBuddy
Tumblr: alianoralacanta
itch: alianora-la-canta
Location: Derbyshire, United Kingdom
Discord: Alianora La Canta#8170
Contact:

Re: How can you judge what is a "reasonable amount of time" to be working on a game?

#4 Post by Alianora_La_Canta » Thu Apr 29, 2021 6:00 pm

It helps if you're far enough into this project to know what your current speed is doing this specific project. As far as I'm concerned, if you don't have a demo, or a similarly substantial amount of game done, it's too early to be setting a time expectation.

Once you've been at it a while and have got more than a certain amount of work done, you can start doing estimates. I seem to need 3 months to complete a full 20 k-word block of visual novel (solo, taking all elements that I'm doing into account - but I deliberately haven't used character sprites or sound effects in this visual novel). However, I only know this because the previous block took 3 months, and I have the same amount of "support material" ready this time than last (that is to say, I wrote the plotline out for the entire visual novel before I decided it was going to be a visual novel).

I would expect a month of testing at the end of each section, or perhaps 2-3 months if you're going to only do one testing block at the end.

User avatar
tinysamm
Newbie
Posts: 17
Joined: Sun Apr 25, 2021 4:23 pm
Completed: Confession Center
Projects: Black Cherries
Tumblr: tiny-design
itch: tinysamm
Location: Bellevue, WA
Contact:

Re: How can you judge what is a "reasonable amount of time" to be working on a game?

#5 Post by tinysamm » Thu Apr 29, 2021 10:29 pm

It depends on the time you can reasonably devote to a given project. Something to avoid when you're working in your spare time rather than on a project as a full-time job is to assume that you know exactly how much longer it will take to fully complete your game. In my experience, even if you have a good feel for your work pace, everything takes just a little longer than you'd expect it to.

That all said, "reasonable" here is how much you want to spend on a given game. If you want to spend a year in development, then you will probably want to think about scaling back if you reach the six month mark and you're only done with Chapter 1. If you want to spend a couple months on a single project, then you'll need to scale accordingly. Deadlines exist to provide milestones and incentives to complete work, and sometimes the right answer is "This isn't going to be finished in the time I have remaining, no matter what I do."

In addition, sometimes you need to put a project away and try something else. Many games and modules I've made in the past have simply been put aside b/c I realized I didn't have the necessary interest to see them all the way through to completion. I often enjoyed the planning phases or even writing the first draft, but when the time came to sit down and start refining the work, it became clear that I wasn't interested enough in pursuing the final product to put the necessary time into it.

So. That's my advice to you on judging what is reasonable here. Consider if, once you're done with your current set of tasks, you'll have the interest in fleshing out and polishing all the pieces you're currently planning to make. If the answer is "not much," then it may be time to scale everything way back. Or if the answer is "whatever it takes!" then step back and consider what you'll need to do to bring your next step to fruition, and how long it will be until you can call that completely done :)
-tinysamm

User avatar
XBDC36
Regular
Posts: 49
Joined: Sun May 31, 2020 12:36 pm
Contact:

Re: How can you judge what is a "reasonable amount of time" to be working on a game?

#6 Post by XBDC36 » Fri Apr 30, 2021 5:35 am

Alianora_La_Canta wrote:
Thu Apr 29, 2021 6:00 pm
It helps if you're far enough into this project to know what your current speed is doing this specific project. As far as I'm concerned, if you don't have a demo, or a similarly substantial amount of game done, it's too early to be setting a time expectation.

Once you've been at it a while and have got more than a certain amount of work done, you can start doing estimates. I seem to need 3 months to complete a full 20 k-word block of visual novel (solo, taking all elements that I'm doing into account - but I deliberately haven't used character sprites or sound effects in this visual novel). However, I only know this because the previous block took 3 months, and I have the same amount of "support material" ready this time than last (that is to say, I wrote the plotline out for the entire visual novel before I decided it was going to be a visual novel).

I would expect a month of testing at the end of each section, or perhaps 2-3 months if you're going to only do one testing block at the end.
Hm, I mean I'd say we all already agreed where a possible demo will end, despite not having made much progress on the rest of the game. It's just a matter of finding the right time to release it, and as I've said before on here, I'd rather not become the next YandereDev by releasing it too early.
Not very active, but never dead

User avatar
XBDC36
Regular
Posts: 49
Joined: Sun May 31, 2020 12:36 pm
Contact:

Re: How can you judge what is a "reasonable amount of time" to be working on a game?

#7 Post by XBDC36 » Fri Apr 30, 2021 5:38 am

tinysamm wrote:
Thu Apr 29, 2021 10:29 pm
It depends on the time you can reasonably devote to a given project. Something to avoid when you're working in your spare time rather than on a project as a full-time job is to assume that you know exactly how much longer it will take to fully complete your game. In my experience, even if you have a good feel for your work pace, everything takes just a little longer than you'd expect it to.

That all said, "reasonable" here is how much you want to spend on a given game. If you want to spend a year in development, then you will probably want to think about scaling back if you reach the six month mark and you're only done with Chapter 1. If you want to spend a couple months on a single project, then you'll need to scale accordingly. Deadlines exist to provide milestones and incentives to complete work, and sometimes the right answer is "This isn't going to be finished in the time I have remaining, no matter what I do."

In addition, sometimes you need to put a project away and try something else. Many games and modules I've made in the past have simply been put aside b/c I realized I didn't have the necessary interest to see them all the way through to completion. I often enjoyed the planning phases or even writing the first draft, but when the time came to sit down and start refining the work, it became clear that I wasn't interested enough in pursuing the final product to put the necessary time into it.

So. That's my advice to you on judging what is reasonable here. Consider if, once you're done with your current set of tasks, you'll have the interest in fleshing out and polishing all the pieces you're currently planning to make. If the answer is "not much," then it may be time to scale everything way back. Or if the answer is "whatever it takes!" then step back and consider what you'll need to do to bring your next step to fruition, and how long it will be until you can call that completely done :)
What do you mean when you say "scaling back"? You mean taking a step back and trying to find a new way of how to approach this?
Not very active, but never dead

User avatar
tinysamm
Newbie
Posts: 17
Joined: Sun Apr 25, 2021 4:23 pm
Completed: Confession Center
Projects: Black Cherries
Tumblr: tiny-design
itch: tinysamm
Location: Bellevue, WA
Contact:

Re: How can you judge what is a "reasonable amount of time" to be working on a game?

#8 Post by tinysamm » Fri Apr 30, 2021 9:48 pm

XBDC36 wrote:
Fri Apr 30, 2021 5:38 am
What do you mean when you say "scaling back"? You mean taking a step back and trying to find a new way of how to approach this?
Scaling back the full game's size and scope is what I meant, though taking a step back can certainly be helpful :)

If the time it takes to finish is getting further and further out of reach, it can always be helpful to determine if there's anything about the game that could be reduced in length or removed entirely that would make completion more realistic. On the other hand, if you find that you're determined to see it through as it is currently planned out, taking the time to go through the full game and examine each portion may give you a better visualization of your final product overall, and make it easier to see how you can bright that to fruition ^^
-tinysamm

User avatar
Alianora_La_Canta
Newbie
Posts: 15
Joined: Tue Apr 06, 2021 8:53 am
Projects: Budacanta
Organization: ImpararBuddy
Tumblr: alianoralacanta
itch: alianora-la-canta
Location: Derbyshire, United Kingdom
Discord: Alianora La Canta#8170
Contact:

Re: How can you judge what is a "reasonable amount of time" to be working on a game?

#9 Post by Alianora_La_Canta » Mon May 03, 2021 8:48 pm

One way to "scale back" is to reduce the amount of content to be made:

Complete the plot outline if you can. Figure out the minimum amount of plot, dialogue sprites, backgrounds, music etc. to have an acceptable visual novel. Make it. Look at the content, the amount of time spent, the state of your team and then decide whether to add more (be that material you initially cut, or something else entirely).

User avatar
XBDC36
Regular
Posts: 49
Joined: Sun May 31, 2020 12:36 pm
Contact:

Re: How can you judge what is a "reasonable amount of time" to be working on a game?

#10 Post by XBDC36 » Tue May 04, 2021 1:58 pm

Alianora_La_Canta wrote:
Mon May 03, 2021 8:48 pm
One way to "scale back" is to reduce the amount of content to be made:

Complete the plot outline if you can. Figure out the minimum amount of plot, dialogue sprites, backgrounds, music etc. to have an acceptable visual novel. Make it. Look at the content, the amount of time spent, the state of your team and then decide whether to add more (be that material you initially cut, or something else entirely).
Oh that's a good idea! I hadn't thought of that! Thanks for the tip!
Not very active, but never dead

User avatar
Alianora_La_Canta
Newbie
Posts: 15
Joined: Tue Apr 06, 2021 8:53 am
Projects: Budacanta
Organization: ImpararBuddy
Tumblr: alianoralacanta
itch: alianora-la-canta
Location: Derbyshire, United Kingdom
Discord: Alianora La Canta#8170
Contact:

Re: How can you judge what is a "reasonable amount of time" to be working on a game?

#11 Post by Alianora_La_Canta » Tue May 04, 2021 2:12 pm

You're very welcome! Good luck with getting progress on your visual novel!

User avatar
elixxxirium
Newbie
Posts: 16
Joined: Fri May 07, 2021 12:04 am
Contact:

Re: How can you judge what is a "reasonable amount of time" to be working on a game?

#12 Post by elixxxirium » Fri May 07, 2021 12:38 am

I think it helps a lot if you genuinely enjoy the process of making the game. Even if you are excited by your game's concepts and ideas, if you get distracted every time you try to code, draw, write, etc. for your game or you keep putting off the development b/c you'd rather do something else, then you don't enjoy the process. That could make development time stretch for years and years to being completely abandoned.

User avatar
mavyxdawn
Regular
Posts: 64
Joined: Sun Dec 20, 2015 6:18 pm
Github: mavyxdawn
itch: zeillearnings
Discord: Zeil#4950
Contact:

Re: How can you judge what is a "reasonable amount of time" to be working on a game?

#13 Post by mavyxdawn » Fri May 07, 2021 1:00 am

Hi! I'm a mobile game developer at a mid-size company. I'm also a project lead.
From my exp, besides all things mentioned, it's really important to plan everything out (and allot extra time in case something goes wrong). By everything, I mean everything.

The artist will be estimating how long they can finish the characters/BGs/CGs/UI. The developer will estimate their own time for coding dialogue, inventory system feature, data structure, code design and other technical stuff. Then, you'll create a timeline (to figure out what tasks are dependent on what).

By doing this:
- The members are more responsible and aware of their deadlines.
- It makes sure that the estimates are within their own capacity.
- It's also good for tracking if the dependent tasks are ready to be worked on.
- The members will be more aware that if they delayed their tasks, specific tasks will also be affected.

At work, we estimate our task duration by hours. But since we're working on side projects, weekly estimates is better.

Another tip is to create a discord channel where the members can add their progress whenever they want. I've done this for my team outside work. It motivates us to do our parts after seeing the others' progress.

There are really many advantages. I hope this helps someone!

(You can call me manipulative but really it's human psychology XD )
YouTube: Zeil Learnings
itch.io: Zeil Learnings

Image

User avatar
XBDC36
Regular
Posts: 49
Joined: Sun May 31, 2020 12:36 pm
Contact:

Re: How can you judge what is a "reasonable amount of time" to be working on a game?

#14 Post by XBDC36 » Sat May 08, 2021 11:32 am

mavyxdawn wrote:
Fri May 07, 2021 1:00 am
Hi! I'm a mobile game developer at a mid-size company. I'm also a project lead.
From my exp, besides all things mentioned, it's really important to plan everything out (and allot extra time in case something goes wrong). By everything, I mean everything.

The artist will be estimating how long they can finish the characters/BGs/CGs/UI. The developer will estimate their own time for coding dialogue, inventory system feature, data structure, code design and other technical stuff. Then, you'll create a timeline (to figure out what tasks are dependent on what).

By doing this:
- The members are more responsible and aware of their deadlines.
- It makes sure that the estimates are within their own capacity.
- It's also good for tracking if the dependent tasks are ready to be worked on.
- The members will be more aware that if they delayed their tasks, specific tasks will also be affected.

At work, we estimate our task duration by hours. But since we're working on side projects, weekly estimates is better.

Another tip is to create a discord channel where the members can add their progress whenever they want. I've done this for my team outside work. It motivates us to do our parts after seeing the others' progress.

There are really many advantages. I hope this helps someone!

(You can call me manipulative but really it's human psychology XD )
Thanks for this, It's really nice to hear how this sort of planning goes from someone who's in a legitimate company, I've always been interested in knowing how that works, and this could help me as well!
Not very active, but never dead

User avatar
XBDC36
Regular
Posts: 49
Joined: Sun May 31, 2020 12:36 pm
Contact:

Re: How can you judge what is a "reasonable amount of time" to be working on a game?

#15 Post by XBDC36 » Sat May 08, 2021 11:34 am

elixxxirium wrote:
Fri May 07, 2021 12:38 am
I think it helps a lot if you genuinely enjoy the process of making the game. Even if you are excited by your game's concepts and ideas, if you get distracted every time you try to code, draw, write, etc. for your game or you keep putting off the development b/c you'd rather do something else, then you don't enjoy the process. That could make development time stretch for years and years to being completely abandoned.
Yeah, and that would really suck. I don't want to give up on this, but I'd say it's not really that I don't enjoy the process so much as it is that I don't know how to go through the process, which is why I sometimes feel like I post really dumb and obvious questions ^^;
Not very active, but never dead

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: puppetbomb