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What one indie dev learned from a summer project that took 8 years to finish

What one indie dev learned from a summer project that took 8 years to finish

May 24, 2017 | By Alex Wawro

May 24, 2017 | By Alex Wawro
More: Indie, Production

"Programmers are bad at estimating time."

- Game developer Ben Johnson, speaking to Waypoint about what he'd learned from spending eight years making his game Geneshift.

What's the strangest journey a project has ever taken you on?

For Geneshift creator Ben Johnson, the answer seems to be an eight-year odyssey that spans roughly 9,000 miles and a transition from pizza deliveryperson to full-time engineer to full-time indie, trying to push game updates from a Peruvian hostel with less-than-perfect electricity.

"It's a strange thing to be fixing bugs in a hostel room while a bunch of travelers are singing on the acoustic guitar next to you," Johnson recently told Waypoint. "I was stubborn, thinking that I had to launch in Peru, or the mission wouldn't be complete."

The full Waypoint story is brief but makes for intriguing reading, in part because it may help fellow devs better understand the benefits -- and risks -- of taking your game dev show on the road (if you have the option.)

"The main lesson I learned while living in Peru was how incredibly lucky I am," Johnson said at one point, noting how he came to appreciate what he'd had in Australia only after he'd left. 

"I was so lucky just to be born in a place like Australia. So many people in Peru are struggling to get by. And even though I was struggling to manage my credit cards, I knew I always had a way out."

Johnson's story is also a good reminder about the risks of scope creep, a thorny problem for game devs across all corners of the game industry. The full story of how the scope of his game expanded from "a summer" to "about eight years", as well as how he found himself in Peru (and why he ultimately returned home to Australia to launch Geneshift) is worth reading in full over on Waypoint.

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