Oointah Rant: Estimation, It’s Making Me Wait

This week my rant is about development estimations. You know, the ones you do at project start to convince yourself a project is doable in the time frame and budget outlined?

Lets internalize this rant and focus on our Oointah project Plunder/p. Plunder/p has decreased in scope from it’s original sandbox vision to a more structured linear arcade setting. Yes it’s a big jump, so for more information check out our Developer Blogs.

Our original estimate to develop the sandbox was 8 months. Yet this included the elusive “prototyping” phase. We all know that “finding the fun” can take time, some prototypes can take a day, a week, for many projects it can take several weeks. It took us deep into the third month before we found what we was looking for.

So many projects are killed during this prototyping that it makes sense why many games are just carbon copies. It’s easier to build on something proven to be fun, rather than trying to find something new and interesting. Sadly for our scheduling, we want to be new and interesting…

With many months gone, every day becomes a crunch day. We are still on track to hit our 8 month deadline but what compromises must occur in the future as development is never simple. There will obviously be new revisions needed, which cut further into our schedule; time that would have been available if prototyping was considered something other than development…

My question is; should prototyping be part of a development plan, or part of conceptualization? It’s ironic as in work-for-hire there is very little prototyping while in studio development its all agile – so every step is prototyping. Or is the biggest problem developing “fun” to a schedule? Having a deadline and budget is a priority in every project so how do you recommend getting around it in an economy where only excellence thrives, and lucky one-offs are the equivalent of a lottery win?

Duane Beckett is the lead designer of iLikeMoney for Oointah

It's making me wait. It's making me late.