How Much Work in an Indie App?

As I near the end of this seven month development process, my thoughts turn to reflection. What a journey it’s been. I initially thought I’d create a fun ‘spider’ app for Halloween. I had this thought back in mid October of last year. I was working on a pretty involved game project at the time that seemed like it would take another five years to finish. So I thought why not take a break and throw together something quick?

My initial plan was to give myself ONE WEEK to see what I could pull off. I coded like crazy and even pulled an all-nighter. I was super close to having something actually publishable.

But I ended up missing Halloween by a day or so. At that point I decided there was no longer any rush. Why not tinker with it and make it perfect?

I went from a cheesy 2D sprite spider to a fully rendered 3D spider equipped with a rudimentary artificial intelligence. I spruced up the interface considerably and added a lot of bells and whistles including localization in twelve languages.

Suffice to say it’s no longer October. What I thought could take a week instead took basically an entire a year.

Now to be totally fair, I work full time as a Motion Graphics artist, so it’s not like I could work every second on this app. I’d sneak in coding time where I could on nights and weekends. But it was still quite a slog.

So how much work did I actually do?

I use to-do lists to help me stay sane with my projects. My favorite list app is Wunderlist. It’s great cuz it synchs through the cloud over my phone, desktop, ipad etc.

Anyhoo, here’s a screengrab of my Wunderlist list for my app. Each checkmark represents a stage of the development process. Some items took me an hour, some took me over a week. Moreover, I wasn’t totally committed to list-keeping… so I’d say maybe 50% of the work I didn’t even bother listing. I use lists to help me stay organized– not to punish myself in some sort of OCD ritual.

Here’s the list! Whew. Quite a lot of checkmarks for such a simple little app. And you’ll notice that it’s not finished either. Any day now I hope! Of course, that’s what I was saying seven months ago.


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