Are We Screwed? Episode #0 – Time Estimations

At Rarebyte, we are always working on multiple projects at the same time. Some of those projects are contract work, while some others are our own IPs. Developing games can be a risky business, and that’s why we – and probably a lot of other studios – chose this strategy for surviving as an indie studio.

After more than 12 years in the industry, we have to announce that…

…is the title of our latest game!

Yes, I might have used that kind of introduction (with a distinct pause) at the Subotron Live Pitch event which we won last year – and thanks to the organizers, we will be showcasing our game at the Indie Arena Booth at this year’s Gamescom.

We Are Screwed! is a space action local coop game, and we have been working on it for about 10 months now. If you have been following its development, you might have already seen it in one of our playtesting live streams (or a recording on YouTube).

We Are Screwed! Playtesting with Nef

You are the rag-tag crew of the worst space vessel in the galaxy, but that is exactly why you are destined to boldly go where no one has screwed up before!

The game was originally a prototype by Felix, one of our programmers, who created a first playable in his spare time, which we then turned into a Rarebyte project, and added more people to the development team. There has been a long period of prototyping, experimenting, and pre-production.

We Are Screwed! Prototype Trailer with “Programmer Art Style”

While it is a good thing to be able to experiment a lot before moving to (full) production, it can be a bit chaotic when trying to coordinate everything for an upcoming deadline, playtest builds, or for showcasing the game at an event.

As we are now getting closer to an alpha version of the game, we decided that this is the right time to add an internal producer. I was taking care of the business side of the project before, and also streaming our playtesting sessions (sometimes with great guests in our studio, sometimes with the nice people from our community), but from now on I will also be responsible for internal producing.

As We Are Screwed! is our own IP, we will be able to share a lot about the game, its development, and the overall process of creating it. We’ve now started working in two week sprints – and just by changing the process, the typical problems come up.

Time Estimations

“Give me 2 days!”

Scotty

Although we might be repairing and pimping space ships in our game – just like Scotty! – getting time estimations right is a very difficult task. Motivation and optimism are good ingredients for development in general, but really bad ones when it comes to planning and schedules. Estimating tasks is nothing you will get right from the very beginning. It relies on both the time estimation skills of the developer looking at a task, and the producer gauging the developer’s estimation.

Good questions are:

  • How much overhead will there be for discussions?
  • What is a good target work load percentage for a developer?
  • Is there any time scheduled to be used up by unforeseen events (e.g. sick leave, or an annoying crash bug)?
  • What are the dependencies of multiple tasks to be done by multiple developers?

All those questions cannot be answered in the first sprint. It needs time, data, and (re)evaluation to be able to get better at estimating tasks and making schedules. It really is a continuous process.

In the coming weeks, I will create more posts for our freshly revived dev blog, and hopefully write down some insights we gain during the development of We Are Screwed!

To be continued…

In the meantime, please feel free to reach out via:

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