In a new feature
, indie developer Matej Jan writes that even for a simple, single-screen iOS game, he vastly underestimated the amount of programming required, and you will too.
Despite working with his own technology and with a good understanding of how the game would come together -- after the designers briefed him, "it was pure execution", he writes -- it still took him too long to create Monkey Labour
This, despite the fact that the game's clear influence is Nintendo's black and white Game & Watch handheld.
"As always, it all depends on a multitude of factors, the major ones being the size of the game and your previous experience with doing exactly the things needed to realize it."
Even with a solid grounding, "for a simple, one-screen arcade game with a basic menu, my programming time clocked in at 109 hours... Game Center integration (leaderboards and achievements) were done by an additional programmer and took two extra man-weeks," he writes.
"It would take less today, but every project has a thing or two where you end up chasing strange errors for a week more than you've anticipated. We later published an update to the game, which took another 71 hours to make. All in all, just the coding part took eight man-weeks of full-time work (assuming you squeeze six hours of quality productive time into each workday)."
The full feature, in which Jan details his misadventures in development, porting, promotion, and release on iOS, Mac, and PC, is live now on Gamasutra