What “Almost Finished” Really Means

When you hear somebody calling their game “almost finished” translate that in your brain as “6-12 months”.

Whenever you hear “Next week” that probably means “1-2 months”.

When somebody says “Within next month” better look at your next year’s calendar…

Please do me a favor and show me that I’m wrong here.

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. That happens.

    I also said in February 2006 that the Edoiki project “should be completed in 2-3 months”. Almost 12 months has passed and we are still not near “almost finished” ;)

  2. i would say that you’re wrong but your not. you are dead on. ive been working on this game for a while and after a month i said that it was 75% done. i am currently on my 5th month working on it. it was supposed to only be a short game, but things change :)

  3. Generally I take any estimate I have and double or quadruple it. Boxen was “almost done” for about 6 months… and even though its been released it is still is “almost done” as we redo the artwork and perhaps the gameplay.

    A previous game was “almost done” except for content, for about 6 months. In reality the game was about 10%-20% done and would have taken another 2 or 3 years to finish (and end up with a decently fun product.) That game was cancelled after about a year of development.

  4. @Pogacha: so true, besides this there are lots of other factors people ignore (vacations, sick days, general tasks, checking email (!), etc. etc.).

    @Jake: I’ve have done similar work: project work for years. I’m going to bring an article (this month) about project duration estimation hopefully it can be of some help.

  5. “Please do me a favor and show me that I’m wrong here.”

    I would, but my one month project is going to go into its ninth month, and I would feel a bit hypocritical. B-)

  6. I think that the most common problem is that people count only task they know, but there is a big list that will apear after that. If this is your first game there is no way to know how much more time it will cost. In my case I’m in the last month since 6 months, and now I can’t imagine what will stop me this month to finish it.
    For example taking Screen Shoots take me 20 hours … can you belive it!? I didn’t count this as a task!, so not only bugs and updates can stop the release.
    A good thing that I’m doing is taking notes about the tasks that apears and how is the progress curve.
    My next game will have the version 0.5 when it’s finished XD.

  7. When I was finishing Derelict, I was perpetually “about a month from being finished” – for 12 months.

  8. Gibbage is going to go Gold next weekend. Definitely definitely definitely it is. I don’t mean “in two weeks’ time”, I mean this time next week I’ll do the final compile and burn it to disk.

    You’re right, though. I’ve been saying it’s 95% done since about october. Which clearly wasn’t true at all.

    But it is now.

  9. When does it come out when they say “when it’s done”?

  10. I agree with MOST people but I have been managing well planned business software projects for years so when I made my games I had a list of what was left to do with time estimates next to them. Because I know Blitz Plus pretty well the estimates were good so I could see 40 hours left to do or whatever and providing I was able to put that time in, the I could say “almost finished – 1 week” to some level of accuracy :-) Also of course when you’ve made a game you kow how long it REALLY takes to finish so you won’t be giving a half finished game a version number like 0.99 and telling everyone it’s almost done haha.

  11. This is too true. I’ve been describing our game as “almost finished” for a while now, but it always seems to be another month away.

    I think for our next project we’ll have to look into some sort of management software to enumerate everything that needs to be done, so instead of “almost finished” we’ll have specifics.

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