The average day for the both of us is dramatically different. I <Trevor> don’t have a day job at this time so I work on the game full time. Kyle on the other hand has a full time job he goes to during the day, and a wife and kid to tend to when he gets home.
Trevor’s Average Day
An average day for me goes somewhat like this. I wake up after 8 hours of sleep. I don’t have a set time that I wake up at because some days I end up working far too late into the night/morning. It’s kind of a weird cycle, some days I’ll be on a normal work schedule of waking up at 7am and then be in bed at a normal time. Other days I’ll end up working until 7am and sleeping during the day. Whenever I wake up, I have an energy drink and some instant oatmeal to start the day.
I’ll put on my headphones and listen to some music while I start development for the day. I either pick up where I left off from the day previous, or I can look at our rough schedule and see what’s still there to be done. Sometimes Kyle and I have messaged each other throughout the night and some emergent tasks have come up that I need to work on instead.
After working for a couple hours and completing a task or two, I’ll go and take a 15 minute shower. The shower is basically my thinking tank where 99% of my good ideas come from. I think there’s something to be said about that though. When you take a moment to stand away from your work to analyze and give your full uninterrupted attention towards something, really cool thought process begin to happen. After I get out of the shower I’ll usually make something to eat and then keep working until my girlfriend Tashia gets home from work around 6pm. I cook some dinner, we sit down at our desks and watch some Netflix together while she tells me about her day. Then I end up tweaking or finishing up things I worked on during the day that I want to submit to git before Kyle starts working. I’ll try and write a blog post at the end of the day before I wind down for the night. Usually end up watching Netflix in bed and falling asleep some time after midnight. Sometimes I can’t sleep though… So I’ll just go back to work and work until I’m tired. Some days that’s only 2am, some days it’s 10am.
Kyle’s Average Day
I work a full-time job as a backend web developer, in addition to having a wife and newborn, so I have to be aggressive with my time scheduling 😉 . My average day starts off doing a bit of research/chatting with Trevor about the day’s goals while I’m in transit to work, bouncing a few ideas off each other during the work day as I find time (sometimes there are 20-30 messages queued up for me when I check Slack), winding down on transit on the way home. After I get home I spend some time with my amazing wife and bouncing bundle of joy. The baby goes down around 8pm and then it’s quiet time for my wife and I until 10 or 11. After she’s gone to sleep I hit the PC and get working. With the chatter of the day, I’m usually pretty keyed into my goal for the evening, I give myself about an hour or so of work before I force myself to go to bed, otherwise I’ll be up all night tweaking and hacking at things. My goal every night is to finish something: that could be re-organizing a menu, finishing a specific player action, or whatever, but I find the key to keeping motivated and happy is to consistently push out small atomic pieces of work, instead of having things constantly in a half-done state. One trick is that only one of us has a Vive right now, so some nights are purely just running through use cases and writing up bugs, but it’s never dull when you’re in VR so it’s a happy chore 🙂 So, my progress is definitely slower than Trevor’s, but I try to pace my coding work so that he never is blocked by me.
We ended up being pretty aggressive with the scope of Batter Up! Initially we just thought we were going to make a super simple baking game, with a progression system, nothing too fancy. We just wanted to learn more about developing for VR and try and get something onto Steam people would enjoy playing. But the thing about scoping a game is it’s SO hard not to over scope… and that’s what we did…. but it wasn’t intentional… we just kept coming up with so many cool ideas and it just snowballed into what it is now. Because of the scope and not wanting to end up in an endless cycle of development hell, we can’t waste a lot of time on tasks.
I can’t spend a week making a single game object look like the most realistic thing you’ve ever seen.. The game would take years to complete with just the two of us working on it. So I end up creating most of the art assets within a single day, and then going back to them later to polish them up. Going back to them later has proven to be really useful though because we end up testing things and then changing our design to make the game better. Also as we both work on the game more and more, we get a better feel of how things should look and feel and we find new ways to make the player have a better experience.
Since Kyle is the only one with the Vive right now, he ends up doing a lot of the testing. Every week I end up dumping a ton of testing work on Kyle while he has tasks he’s already trying to get done. To help though, we have found it super useful to get together and address a list bugs together. Sometimes we luck out and can change some designs a little bit to save us from creating a ton of extra bugs.
Since we’re working in VR, everything has to feel perfect. As soon as something doesn’t look or feel right, the player is immediately removed from the immersion or worse they could feel sick. This also means putting a lot of effort into making this the most bug free cake baking experience possible.
In the end it’s giant balancing act of trying to get everything done in a timely fashion while making it look and feel perfect.
The one thing that is awesome, but can be difficult sometimes is we’re always thinking about the game. All day every day, every hour, every minute. We just want to make the best possible game that we can. We’re constantly communicating and bouncing ideas off each other. Always thinking and asking if that’s the best way to do something, if we can improve it, or if we imagined the design differently. When you have two people who work really well together, this makes all the features and designs in the game 100x better. Everything just gets layered with more and more good ideas and in the end we both get super pumped about it. One thing that I learnt while working with Kyle is that there is no way I could make as amazing of a game by myself as we have made together. Without having that good communication stream of building on top of every idea and every design, everything wouldn’t be nearly as well thought out just from a single brain.
The lesson here is two cakes are better than one.