How long does it take to create a videogame?

Well, it’s been almost 4 days since I launched Tiny Klepto in Google Play, so finally I have some time to take a deep breath and look back to all the development process.

I am a curious guy, and I like numbers and metrics, so since my former project, I decided to use some online app to keep a record of all the time I have been investing in this game, so I can take a look at the end of any project and have the exact number of hours, not just an estimation like I used to do. In case you want to do the same, I recommend you to use Myhours.com, it’s free and you can use it via browser, or via mobile app.

The numbers

Task Hours
Game design 33
Tech research 75
Graphics 206
Coding 453
Sound/music 19
Testing 33
Release 15
Marketing/social 43
Total 877

Tech research took longer than expected, because initially didnt know if it would be a 3d game, 2d topdown, or isometric, so I had to investigate all the different options. When I decided 2d, I also had to research how could I edit the levels. Finally I found Tiled editor, but more research was needed to find a way to export Tiled files to Unity. Here I also include some Unity books I had to read in the process.

Graphics includes all the assets, splash screens, animations, tilesets. No surprises here, just a laborious and constant work. There are more than 100 items to steal in the game, so that took it’s toll in hours.

Game Design includes all the game spec document writing, and also reading a couple of game design books. I happened to read them while I was designing Tiny Klepto, so many good ideas come from here.

You can see sound and music composition is almost nothing compared with the rest. Actually this is one of the most grateful tasks in the development. Most of the time was spent looking for the proper free sounds. Composing the music and recording it was quite straightforward, as the soudtrack doesnt have a lot of instruments.

And last and not less important is marketing/social media. Without marketing your game will directly fall into oblivion. Most of the time was spent in capturing/editing videos, making screenshots, promo images, banners, etc. You also need to make sure you are present in forums, twitter, facebook, itchio, and a couple more of indie game databases.

At last, I would like to remark some points :

  •  I already had a decent knowledge of Unity3d before starting this project. I wasn’t an expert,  made some 3d game scenes, and read a couple of books of Unity. Previously I had worked extensively with C# and Object Oriented languages.
  •  I already had the idea in my head. I didn’t wrote any hours down, because it is the kind of thing you do while you go to sleep or take a shower. But when I sat down to write the game spec document, everything was already quite clear.
  •  I also knew how to use all the tools needed to create the pixel art, postprocess of images, edition of sound clips and music composing.
  • It is also quite important to remark that I have been working full time in this project. Most of the time in a voluntary crunch, of more than 50 hours per week.

Conclusion

Total time spent: 877 hours. This is almost 5 months and a half of in a regular 40 hours/week full-time job. I have to say that my initial plan was to release a simple game in 3 months. But as always, things never go acording the plan.

Funny story is that during the last 3 months of development, I have been telling everyone that I only needed two weeks to finish the game. And I actually believe it! So whatever you think it’s going to take, it will be probably more.

The principle of Pareto, or 80-20, applied quite well here: The 80% of the development is going to take the 20% of the time, while the last 20% will consume 80% of the remaining time.

Don’t forget to take a look to the game. You can download it for free here.

chemari

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