The Shit Post Bullcrap!,Game Development Solo Game Development: Master Of Time

Solo Game Development: Master Of Time

The hardest thing about solo game development for me is managing time. It just takes such a long time to make a game! When I first started this project, I had no idea how much work it was going to take to get it done. Thinking about it now, I’m just one person. If this were a team effort, the amount of work to be done would be divided amongst the team. With solo development, unless you can outsource, it’s all up to you.

Years ago, my cousin called me the “Master Of Time”. We were travelling together in Europe and I was the one always looking at my watch and making sure that we got to where we needed to be on time. We never missed a single train, bus or plane ride on that trip. Being such a memorable journey, he still calls me “Master Of Time”.

The Easy Early Days

At the very start of this project, I lived alone and had as much time spare as my work, my girlfriend and social commitments would allow. This meant heaps of time! I could squeeze in up to 20 hours a week. Even then, I was hesitant to start a new project as I felt I knew the commitment I was about to take.

Then my life started to change. My girlfriend moved in. A short time later she was pregnant. We were trying, but never expected it to happen straight away.  When my first child was born, she slept a lot, so it was easy to find time in between crying and nappy changes to work on my game. 

During this time, I managed to take a week off work and devote some solid time to game development. This was a lot of fun, and it was brilliant to see how far I could progress with my full attention on the game. I got so much done, and the game is better for it!

Life Changes

Then came an unexpected Cancer diagnosis. For a good chunk of 2020, I was recovering from first my operation, and then Chemo. At the time I found it hard to work on this project, so very little was done.

Later that year we had a second child. By now parenting duties were starting to take up more and more of my time. These were some big changes in my life. All of them positive. Even the cancer diagnosis. I was thankful it was found early and that treatment was successful.

So now I am healthy and happy with my three girls, working away full time, paying off a mortgage, and desperately trying to find time to develop my game.  What was a decent 20 hours a week is now more like 5. Time management is key to getting things done. 

Managing My Time

These days, I try to get an hour in each week day, and sometimes an hour or so when the kids are napping on the weekend. Heck, even this blog has been written when the kids are asleep.  When I get this hour, I make the most of it. And afterwards when I get a spare moment, I try to plan what my next hour is going to be.

Sometimes life gets in the way, and any spare time I have is taken up with overtime, activities with the kids, household maintenance and other chores. But try to keep my motivation up so that when I do get back onto it I’m jumping and raring to go.

Development has been very much an iterative process. I’ll do a round of changes, get a friend to play it and get some feedback. Or more often than not, I’ll do a self review. I am a pretty harsh critic of my own work. This will mean sometimes re-writing something from scratch, or adding a whole new feature. This process takes a lot of time, but it’s amazing to see how far the game has come from the early days.

When it’s just you, it can be hard to stay motivated. You need the drive to push forward. Admittedly there have been times I’ve taken a break from development for a few weeks. (Or months when I was sick) When I’ve come back, I’ll jump back in with a fresh perspective.

When I was a kid, I created games for fun. Actually, I created games because we didn’t have any, and the bonus is that it was fun. I recently found my notes from all the games I wrote in my teenage years. I really had a lot of fun working on them, but I never developed any to the stage of publishing. I guess that is a fear that I have with Bullcrap. That I’ll never publish it. Sometimes I’ll start thinking like that, but then I’ll think: “What rubbish, I’ve come too far now not to see it through.”


What I haven’t really given myself this whole time so far is a support network. I really have been rolling solo, only showing demos to friends occasionally. I realise that was a mistake, and I’m changing things. I’ve recruited volunteers for Beta testing, but also just assistance and advice with all other aspects of getting this to launch.

The other trick to juggle with solo development is having a $0 budget. When I first started, my income was my own to do with as a please, but now I have a mortgage and little ones to take care of, I can’t spend as much as I used to. I’d love to spend more on marketing, design and even some customized music and assets, but that’s not going to happen. I just have to make it work with what I have. 

I’m in the process now of trying to ramp things up for launch, which means a little less time on actual development and more time on planning, marketing and managing.

Ready To Launch?

So here we are now, on the road to launch the game. I really want this to be something special. It’s kind of my one shot. I’d love to do game development full time. I don’t feel like I have the time to work on another project like this without further support. It’s been hard, and I feel that in the future I’d like to spend more of my spare time with my family. 

However, If enough people like the game, I do have several brilliant follow-up games in mind. Whether or not they are developed, time will tell.

Until then, I’ll just keep plugging away at my game, after all being the “Master Of Time”, I’ve got this!

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