Day as an indy dev

Pupper says Go

Wake up somewhere between 7:30am and 8:30am, usually due to dog jumping on the bed. A, not so subtle, hint that she wants to go out and then eat. So, I do those things. Short walk with the Bubble then make her and I breakfast. My breakfast is usually a breakfast shake, or some other fast/light meal, her’s is crunchies. We both seem to value high speed nutrition delivery.

So now it’s about 30 min after we woke up and it’s time to boot up the PC and get some work in. I’ll usually crank out some work until about 11:30am, as by this time pupper want to go out again and I’m ready for a break.

Types of work

The work itself is typically in some combination of 3 categories:
Planning – High level figuring out What needs to be done. This is the project management task and where the scrum-like “Stories” come from. The result of this type of work is having a short list of Actionable tasks in the form of: “The player should be able to acquire Equipment which has passive effects during combat”

Research – This is when I’m gathering information on How I’m going to implement the tasks defined during Planning. It involves looking up articles or examples of other implementations of similar mechanics. While this is typically a technical task, sometimes research involves looking at game play mechanics rather than programming patterns/architecture.

Development – This is the real meat of the work. It’s when I know What I’m going to do and How I’m going to do it, all that is left is to Do it. Music on, head down, hands slapping keyboard. It also includes play testing.

Rarely are these tasks so clear cut. There is a lot of cross over and when doing time tracking I do not care to switch timers from one to the other unless there is a clearly defined transition from one phase to another. It’s not important that I know exactly how long I Plan vs Dev. Not yet anyway. All I really care about is the aggregate number of work hours per day.

Afternoon Lull

After the 11:30am dog outing it’s lunch time and usually an extended break of youtube or some gaming. 2pm-2:30pm sometimes sees a return to development, but the afternoon can be a real turbulent time. Mental energy is low. I’m still trying to figure out a way to get more dev work in during the early afternoon. Instead I’ll try to be productive in other areas like exercising, grocery shopping or some manual labor projects around the house.

Evening Hodgepodge

Around 5pm friends start appearing in Discord and group gaming ensues. This can take me into dinner and beyond depending. Since I’m on the computer I sometimes continue to fiddle with the project while chatting or waiting for the next game to begin. I don’t track this development time as it’s usually non-focused and more just play testing, taking notes or making minor changes.

While I don’t track it, it’s still useful progress. These unfocused tasks tend to be tedious and require a lot of context switching (change a little code, try it out in game, change a little more, test again, and so on…). So doing them while also chatting with pals distracts from the tedium and I actually make progress where there otherwise wouldn’t be.

Wind down

That usually rounds out the day. By 9pm, if I’m being good, I’ll do some mediation and wind down for a hour or so before bed.

And that’s the high level view. Rarely is it so clear cut but in general that’s what a day is like. Typically, I log about 3-4 hours focused on development per day. While not much if compared to the assumed 8 hour work day, I still make pretty significant strides on a day to day basis. 2 Break days per week, where I’m “not allowed” to work or even think about the project. Break days are ideally non-sequential and one takes place in the middle of the week, lately that means Wed and Sunday are break days.

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