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lougv22

Is it possible to finish a game on nights and weekends, while working a full-time job?

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Hi indie game developers,

 

Here is my question, is it possible (or rather feasible, I know somebody will say everything is possible) to get a decent indie game done and have it released on a PC, while also working a demanding full-time job? I am curious if there are other indie developers in my position (there must be) and how they manage it. I work as a software developer for a private company by day and do my game development on nights and weekends. It's been really hard to manage both though, plus make time for my girlfriend, devote a little bit of time to another hobby of mine, martial arts, and find time to recuperate so I don't burn myself out.

 

My day job is quite demanding and often stressful. There are days when I come back home drained and it's only through my passion for game development and strength of will that I manage to get some development done. During the work week, I develop two nights, usually Tuesday and Thursday, Wednesday is my martial arts lesson night, Friday is date night with my girlfriend, and Monday is my lazy evening when I do nothing. On the weekends I game dev on Saturday evening (during the day I recuperate), Sunday morning and evening. In total, that's about 15-17 hours a week.

 

I've been working on my game for about two years now and I've made decent progress, but I am not really close to finishing it just yet. Another thing is that I am what you'd call a lone wolf developer. Other than the music, for which I have a contractor, I do everything else myself. I am planning on bringing in an artist to the team pretty soon though, also as a contractor.

 

I do have great passion for my game and I believe in it, but sometimes I wonder if I am on the right track. Meaning, do I spend enough time on it? Is what I am doing realistic, i.e. can I finish the game going like this? I feel like I should find a way to devote more time to it and bring more people to the team. Sometimes I wonder if I should quit my job and find another, easier (but less paying) one, or even just get a part-time job. I do have 3-6 months savings for living expenses, but I don't think I can make it financially without a bill-paying job.

 

So, for anybody else in the same position, how do you make it? What advice can you give me?

Edited by lougv22

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I am in the same boat as you and I manage to make games and release them. I also have a wife and kids which means I have very little spare time. My gamedev time comes whenever I can get it. Lunch breaks when I am working from home, late nights, a few hours here and there when the family have gone out someplace where I'm not needed, etc. Carefully managed you find free time for your hobbies, the trick is to find that time and not let it take over from the important things in your life.

You shouldn't need to get A less demanding job to pull it off, I work as both IT manager and software developer for a company full time and gamedev is still possible. Get to it! :)

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I do that basically... without the finished part, yet, of course. Working part time, devoting my 1 day off, plus 1-2 hours free time every work day, plus some time on the weekend to my game project.

 

Worked well so far as I was able to learn a lot about game programming, 3D modelling and using game engine editors in the 5 years since I started. And if I would be more reasonable in picking my debut game project, I most probably had a finished game by now tongue.png

 

 

One thing to be careful about when working part time on a project like this, especially as a lone wolf, is that of feature creep, to high expectations, biting off more than you can chew, whatever you want to call it.

It is amazing sometime how much time some simple tasks take you to complete. It is even more amazing how much time the less simple tasks take. And it is very easy to fall prey to the "Oh, the expierienced 3D Modeller has completed a 3D character in a month, I can do that too" misconception... when you have 10 hours to work on it per week, and the 3D Modeller works full time and might do some overtime to boot.... lets say 50 hours per week. You already reached 5 months to complete. Now add to that the fact you are at least only half as effective as the 3D modeller, as even an expierienced hoobyist just lacks the expierience of the pro, and most probably never had to work to a deadline... now it will take you almost a year to finish your one single character sculpt!

 

So plan your project with care, and make sure to put your hours to good use...

 

 

Also, make sure you do not plan in every waking hour of free time for game dev... you will burn out quickly that way. Find a regular time schedule that works for you, but leaves plenty of time for other hobbies, friends, family, or just relaxing... and then stick to it for some time.

Edited by Gian-Reto

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@frob,

 

I am definitely not shooting for a AAA game, that'd be crazy, not to mention impossible. I do, however, want to make something bigger and a bit more involved than 2048 or Cubism. When I first started out learning about game development, I made a clone of Tetris, then a clone of Snake, then a simple space shoot them up, ala Galaga. Later I got a job as a game programmer at a local studio and in my free time I started messing with XNA. I spent about a year on that and the end result was a very simple third person shooter, but the more important lesson I learned was that I didn't want to be an engine or tools programmer, I wanted to be a gamplay programmer and, ultimately, a game designer. It was around that time that I discovered Unity, which gave me the freedom to delve into gameplay programming without having to worry about the low-level stuff.

 

Anyway, the point is, I've gone through my small-game and implementing-somebody-else's-vision-for-a-game phases. Now I want to implement my own vision for a game. I've reduced the scope of the game significantly from what I really want to make, but I am sure there are more features I can cut. I like your advice about thinking smaller and then reducing some more.

 

@braindigitalis,

 

Yup, it does come down to proper time management and giving yourself time to relax. That has been my game plan and it's been working well so far.

 

@Gain-Reto,

 

Sounds like we are pretty much in the same boat. The animated 3D models thing was also a big hurdle for me, until I discovered Mixamo Fuse, that is. I love that product, I can now create my own models, rig them, animate then, and export them into FBX for Unity in very small amounts of time. I would highly recommend it. Plus, they have an All Access license for Indie developers for only $400 a year. It has made a big difference for me.

 

@Ashaman,

 

5 hours sleep time?! Yickes! That cannot be good for you. Take care not to burn yourself out. You wouldn't be very productive if that happened. And that's an awesome quote. Thanks! Also, see my earlier statement about Mixamo. It might be possible to greatly cut down the amount of time and work spent on art resources if you make use of it.

 

Thanks all for the encouragement and sharing your game development stories. It's helped inspire me to keep doing what I am doing and do it more efficiently.

Edited by lougv22

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to get a decent indie game done and have it released on a PC, while also working a demanding full-time job?

 

Define: Decent?

 

It seems possible. For example, I work two day-jobs (one as a video game producer, the other as a consultant) and still managed to hold the 5,1,1 dev schedule for several months despite also having a wife, 2 kids and health issues. Of course, that came at the price of me falling significantly behind on TV shows, and general knowledge. It takes a toll on one's morale as well but it is not impossible to ship (I made 2 small releases during that time).

 

If your question is whether you can turn up a profitable title shipped within that time (and by profitable, I include paying yourself a salary for dev) then I'd say it might be a tad more tricky. As your dev time is diluted over several weeks, it is harder to remain 100% focused at all times, which in turn means you'll spend more time doing things that could've been done more quickly when dedicated to this project specifically. The end-result is that your 'hourly value' will greatly diminish.

But if your intent is to have some fun and learn from the experience before delving fully into that lifestyle, it seems like a palatable avenue.

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