They say that the last 10% of making a game is as much work as the first 90%. To me, that sounds like bad math, but I get what the devs mean when they say that.
I am still firmly in my first 90%, but it’s easy to glimpse all the work that will need to be done in the home stretch. In fact, I try not to think about it too much, because then it’d get overwhelming. Instead, if it’s a really insightful thought, I add it to a list. Once it’s written down, I put it out of my head and return to what I was doing. If I tried to fix and polish and balance and instantly create every single thing that crossed my mind, I’d never get anything done. It’d be a mess of half-finished code.
So where am I at with this game? Well, that’s a hard thing to say. I started making the game in June but that doesn’t mean I’ve been working on it this whole time. Between moving to a new city, and being in corporate housing for awhile away from my desk and my stuff, and various other life things that forced or encouraged me to go whole weeks without touching my game, I’d say out of the last 4 months, I’ve actively worked on it for about 2. But the development of the game has still moved quickly. Even with the time that I was actively, though not productively, working on the game (doing what I said I shouldn’t do above (I spent way to much time tweaking the look)).
So, out of the time I’ve been working, I’ve got a solid design doc, a look and feel for my game, a whole host of world/level-specific technologies, scripted events, achievements, and endings. I’ve also got most of the systems for the game built. The NPCs are full of AI. The buildings function. There are resources. I recently integrated procedural generation into the game. All that’s left on the “figuring things out” coding front is fixing a couple bugs (like 3) and then implementing the scripted events and technology trees. I think that’s it. Everything after that is iteration. Rinse and repeat. Take the systems I have now and add to them, reuse them, fluff them up, and make them shiny.
If I had to put a stage of development to where I am, I’d say that I’m just about out of pre-production and getting ready to transition into production. What’s that mean? Well, I’m not sure that it officially means anything. But for me, going into production means that there are no longer any systems to figure out. That the mechanical part of the game is built, and that I’m moving onto building the game part of the game. Post-production would be that last 10%, the balancing, the polish. I’m still a ways from that. I’m still a few weeks probably from production. But it’s moving. I’m well past proof-of-concept and close to the minimum-viable-product. The game is coming along and I’m really pleased with its progress.