Monochrome Heights Devlog #6 – Time Estimates Are Hard

I’m developing a 2D pixel art video game, Monochrome Heights.

Thankfully I’m not beholden to any outside forces, like investors or publishers, who are requiring a particular time table to finish the game. But I don’t want the development to drag on forever. I’m trying to be professional and efficient, and follow a production schedule. With the understanding, of course, that it will need to be flexible, because nothing goes exactly to plan.

And lately it has felt like nothing goes to plan in terms of timing. I was hoping to have a new beta demo out at the end of March for feedback on difficulty and checkpoints. However, I haven’t finished it, and it’s already a week into April. There’s no point in beating myself up about it, but I hope to learn from such experiences so that for I can be more realistic and on target in the future.

A screenshot of Happy the Robot dodging cannonballs. IMAGE CREDIT: One Frog Games.

It’s inevitable that some things will take longer than predicted. My goal was to finish a level with every planned mechanic by the end of March so that playtesters can get their hands on the full suite of mechanics. With that checked off my list, future level design and iteration would be much easier. However, as I created some levels I realized there were unforeseen problems with specific mechanics, including the falling platforms I mentioned in my last post. This slowed down the process.

Recently I heard a saying about how bad people are at estimating what they can accomplish in a day. The exact quote comes from Matthew Kelly. He says, “Most people overestimate what they can do in a day, and underestimate what they can do in a month. We overestimate what we can do in a year, and underestimate what we can accomplish in a decade.”

A GIF of Happy the Robot sliding under spikes. IMAGE CREDIT: One Frog Games.

The main point being that some increments of time are just harder to estimate. In addition, some tasks are inherently hard to estimate as you don’t know all the problems you’ll come across, especially with things you haven’t done before. I’m doing my best to finish up the build, and revising my timeline. One thing I’ve learned is that time estimates are just plain hard.

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