For as far back as I can remember, I've been extremely self-motivated. I've never needed parents, teachers or a boss to get moving. I'm actually a pretty hardcore PRE-crastinator (learn more about how that may affect your creative process here). So, the last thing that I thought was going to be a problem when I left 343 Industries and went indie was time management.
But I was wrong. Not necessarily because I didn't have the drive, but because I didn't have the tools to evaluate it. When I realized I had no idea how well I was utilizing my time, I googled around the internet to search for a tool that might help and eventually landed on Toggl. It's pretty simple. Basically, it's a glorified stopwatch, which is perfect. You can read more about it on their website, but I just wanted to introduce it here briefly since I'll be using data from my Toggl account as the focus for this blog post. I can't recommend it enough if you want an honest account of the time you're putting into your project. That presupposes you're actually being honest about the time your tracking, but you've really only got yourself to lie to...so hopefully you're not?
Finally, before I jump in...why am I even writing this blog post? I don't know. I feel like it's kind of interesting data. I would love to know how other folks are breaking down their time as a comparison. Consider this your invitation to share!
I'm nowhere near ready to announce my game, but I will say that I'm working in UE4, the game is fully 3D (ie. not a sidescroller, top down or 2.5D), I'm pivoting off my genre experience and my mantra is "AAA quality with an independent spirit, scope & budget." Since leaving 343 Industries, I've spent a majority of my time working on "The Game", but not all of my time.
In addition, I co-own a retail shop w/ my partner, Ashley, in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle called Revival. We sell clothing (among other items) on consignment and the business has been in operation for 2 years and 4 months as of the writing of this blog post. Ashley does a lion's share of the work, but I help out with accounting, graphic design, web development & I'm in the shop at least 2 days a week working the register. So, that's another thing I'm tracking in Toggl. Revival is mostly irrelevant to this post, but for any of y'all pulling double duty I thought my hours working there might be interesting. If I didn't have Revival, I'd probably be trying to bartend a couple nights a week, working Uber/Lyft, etc. So, for comparison, just sub in whatever it is you do to help keep your run going.
That said, here's a breakdown of my total work hours on The Game AND Revival combined for 6 months.
In general, I'm pleased with the work/life balance I'm achieving here. I definitely have more gas in the tank to push things further on The Game side, but this is a 2 year (3 at most?) marathon I'm running. I don't want to burn out too quickly. Also, I had a lot of fun this summer B)
Revival is a big reason why I'm able to make this indie run, so I make sure I pay it the attention it deserves. That said, it's also the biggest conflict of interest when it comes to getting this game made. At the highest level, my time split between The Game and Revival looks like this over my first 6 months as an indie dev:
Or another way to look at it, ~3.4 days a week on The Game and ~2 days a week on Revival.
As of right now, I'm the only person working full time on The Game, so basically I have to wear all the hats. However, at this stage I'm almost exclusively focusing on Design & Engineering. With that in mind, these are the very general categories of development I'm currently utilizing to track my time and how I choose to define them (for now).
Here's the percentage breakdown of time spent working in those categories for the first 6 months.
I'm not surprised at how much of the work to date has been engineering. It's the most time intensive part when developing prototypes, for sure.
I think maybe it just means that all of us indie devs should be tracking our time so we can declare that we're putting in as much as we "need" to be putting in with confidence. It takes a little bit of extra discipline to track this data, but I think it's worth it!