My iOS development logjam is breaking up!


I made excellent progress last week in breaking my iOS development block. I started with nothing but a simple game mechanic to explore, and turned it into a very simple, semi-playable game that I think has great potential. Most days with my client were very full, but it was productive and low-stress work, so fortunately I still had some energy left to get some iOS work done.

My Week

After checking into my hotel early Sunday afternoon, I was able to spend several hours setting up an empty game template project by starting with Ray Wenderlich’s Cocos2D example game, Tom the Turret and stripping out everything but the overall structure. I ended the evening with a bare-bones loading screen, start menu, and game scene to build on the rest of the week. Once I had the mostly empty game “running”, I setup a local git repository to protect me from myself.

I had a couple of hours available Monday evening, and did some more code cleanup and made some simple additions, but I had nothing that resembled gameplay. Tuesday through Thursday were very full days, but I did manage to add some basic game actors and the beginning of some gameplay those evenings.

Trips to this client normally end by noon on Friday so I can manage to get home by late that night. Often, the week has been long and exhausting and the only I thing I have energy for is a nap. But, since I had made it my goal to have something playable by the time I returned home, I was motivated to open my laptop on the first flight and implement some cleaner game play. During my two hour layover in Minneapolis, I made very visible progress and “almost” had a simple game working before boarding my second flight. But, it was getting pretty late, and the plane was really too small for my 17″ MBP, so I called it a night.

Saturday and a self-granted extension

I had not reached my goal of having a playable by the time I returned home, but I was motivated enough to spend Saturday afternoon and evening to get it to the point where I could show it to my family to get their opinions. I spent a few of those hours trying different combinations of game parameters and made notes about what to explore next.

Overall, I am very satisfied with what I accomplished last week. I believe I finally have a game idea that I can get polished enough soon enough in my current time constraints. I still think several other of my ideas have great potential, but they seem to be involved enough that progress stalls before I reach critical mass.

Underlying causes for my “success”

The fundamental reason I feel successful was because of my limited scope. I managed to beat back the scope creep each time I sat down and stuck with my original thought.

Also, these factors were great multipliers:

  • Cocos2D and it’s various example projects
  • I had dedicated time to jump start the project
  • I have had enough experience with tools and frameworks to make steady progress
  • I have played with enough game mechanics, ideas, and examples that I have some good code samples to pull from

What’s next

I have enough work commitments and family time scheduled the next two weeks that I do not anticipate any real progress–but I’m far enough along that I do not think I will be hit with iOS development block anytime soon. Once my kids head back to college in two weeks, I will be highly motivated to dive back in.

Watch for progress reports here!