Managing your schedule to develop a game engine

A while back I received an email from a reader asking me how did I manage my schedule to develop a game engine. I feel that his question is a common question among most of us.

So how did I do it?

The development of my game engine can be divided into two periods: "Prior the development of the Basic Framework' and "After the development of the Basic Framework" of the engine. By "Basic Framework," I'm referring to a game engine that has the four primary components implemented. Such as Math Engine, Rendering Engine, Physics Engine, and Collision Detection System.

Time Management Prior the Basic Framework

When I started the development of the engine, not a single free hour was wasted. I had only one goal in mind, and nobody or nothing was going to stop me. My schedule was very extreme:

  • Wake up early in the morning, usually at 5 am and work until 7:00 am or so.
  • Head to work
  • I tried to eat lunch at my cubicle as I worked, and used my lunch hour to go to Starbucks (or Coffee Bean) and worked on the engine
  • Go back to work
  • At around 6 pm, I would head to the Gym or play soccer for about an hour and come back home
  • Work on the engine from 7 pm to 1 am or so
  • Repeat

During the weekends, I would work on the engine for about eight hours each day.

Looking back, I think that I was taking my desires to develop a game engine a bit to the extreme. I should have relaxed a bit more. However, back then I felt that it was the cost of doing what I wanted to do.

Time Management After the Basic Framework

There is something about Game Engine Development that you should know. Once you implement the Basic Framework of the engine, everything gets easier. Developing the Basic Framework is the hardest part of a game engine. Trust me.

My schedule during this period is more relaxed. I no longer put an inordinate number of hours on the engine. I work on the game engine for about 2-3 hours each weekday. During the weekends, I may work 5-6 hours total.

Looking back, I realize that I was able to do all this because I have no other obligations aside from my full-time job (I work as an engineer). I am not married, I have no kids, and I'm out of college. So, I have a lot of free time. I understand that many of you may not be in my same situation.

So, back to the original question: "How can you manage your time to develop a game engine?"

I can't tell you how to manage your schedule. My situation is different than yours. However, the one tip I can share with you to make the best use of your time is this:

Do not code right away. I have realized that after I learned a new concept, and try to implement it in code right away, I would end up wasting a lot of time fixing bugs. Instead, try to internalize the newly learned concept. Visualize the implementation as you are heading to work or school, while watching Netflix, while eating, etc. Think about it as long as is necessary. Think about how it will affect the architecture as a whole. Try to foresee what bugs will arise and how other components in the engine will be affected. Once you have a clear idea of how to implement the new feature, then open up your laptop and start coding.

You will realize that the time spent visualizing the implementation leads to less time being wasted fixing bugs.

So, do not code right away, instead try to visualize it first.

Hope this tip helps.

Harold Serrano

Computer Graphics Enthusiast. Currently developing a 3D Game Engine.