Reviewing My Summer of Code 2019
A Postmortem Review of My Game Development Adventures In Unity
Now that Summer is almost over, it's time for a postmortem review of my Summer of Code, including what I learned, my frustrations, what I enjoyed, and what I plan to do differently next time.
It has been a few weeks since I finished my last game and posted my final post for my Summer of Code adventure. As promised, I’m back with a review of my experience.
While I had planned to post this last week, I have to admit that I got a little carried away with some of my art projects and completely lost track of time. Oh well. Better late than never, right?
What Is A Postmortem (or Post-Mortem)?
Don’t worry, it’s not the kind of postmortem you’re probably thinking of.
Most of us have heard the term “postmortem” (or post-mortem) before on TV, in a book, or in real-life. Sometimes referred to as an autopsy, it is the process of examining a deceased body to determine cause of death. Regardless of the name or spelling, it answers one important question – what happened?
Well, this isn’t exactly the kind of postmortem review that I’m talking about in this context.
Postmortem Reviews of Projects
There is also another definition for postmortem that is becoming increasingly popular. It is the process and documentation used by teams at the conclusion of a project. The purpose is to answer all the big questions, including “what happened”, and essentially put the project to rest.
There isn’t a strict set of guidelines that you have to follow to complete a postmortem review of a project. You can include as much or as little information as you see fit. However, since one of the main purposes is to be able to use the project as a learning experience for future projects, it is usually best to include as much information as possible. This includes the project’s successes, failures, overall process, team dynamic, communication, management, quality of deliverables, etc.
Technically speaking, I could have completed a postmortem after every individual game throughout the 8 weeks. However, I decided to wait until the end and review the entire coding adventure as a whole. I wasn’t as concerned about the games themselves as I was about the overall process and learning the basics. I plan to use this information to improve my future code sprints, including the one starting in a few weeks.
How are we already a few weeks away?!
I better get started closing this chapter off so I can begin to prepare for the next.
Rest In Peace, Summer of Code
It’s entirely possible that I could spend an entire week, non-stop, reviewing my Summer of Code. So much happened during those 8 weeks. In the interest of time, I’ll stick to the basics and answer questions that help the most in learning from this experience.
What did I learn?
Over my Summer of Code, I learned a lot about the basics of game design and development, how to use the Unity game engine, and the basics of coding in C# for Unity.
I already made a point of reviewing everything that I learned and accomplished each week. It was usually the bulk of my weekly post, aside from whatever C# code I’d written. Because of this, I’m not going to focus on the individual weeks. You can always go back and review them on your own if you missed anything.
What parts of the project did I find most frustrating?
There was really only one thing that I found to be frustrating, or perhaps a few things but they all stemmed from one major issue – the pace that I set for myself while planning my Summer of Code.
I definitely bit off more than I could chew, and it only took a few weeks to figure that out. Even after revising my goals and schedule, I was still out in the weeds.
I had no idea how much time to schedule for each game because I hadn’t done them before. If I were just going through the tutorials and completing them at the exact same pace, I might have had plenty of time. However, I like to challenge myself and do all the mini challenges throughout. So, it took a lot longer that I had expected.
As each week passed, I felt more and more overwhelmed because I wanted to be able to go off and explore and really dive into individual concepts but couldn’t due to the time constraints. There are a few things that I just glossed over without much thought because I didn’t have time. Now, looking back, these are definitely seen as missed opportunities on my part.
What parts were most enjoyable?
Despite being stressed about the time constraints, I truly did enjoy my Summer of Code. I loved going through the tutorials and learning game development, C#, and Unity. However, there are a few things that really stand out in my mind.
First, I really love the Complete C# Unity Developer 2D: Learn to Code Making Games course. It was so easy to follow, and I loved being able to see the discussion from other students. There were a few times when my code didn’t work as expected, but a quick glance at the discussion board answered all my questions.
Second, I am very happy with the fact that I limited this code project to just 8 weeks. It was just enough time to learn a ton without reaching the same level of burnout as I did after my first 100 Days of Code.
Finally, I enjoyed having a goal-based requirement rather than a minimum daily/weekly time requirement. I’m not opposed to time requirements, but I don’t think I would have completed as many games if I had been following one. There’s a good chance I would have only gotten through the block breaker game because I would have spent too much time on design or doing additional research and independent study. I would have loved to have a bit more time for this, but maybe not all of my time, which likely would have been the case.
If I could start all over again, what would I do differently?
Looking back and knowing what I know now, I think the only thing I would have done differently is give myself a lot more time for each game, as well as sprinkle in a few “independent study” weeks. I really need that extra time to fill in the blanks, play around, and explore on my own. It’s one of the things I enjoyed most about my 100 Days of Code. So, honestly, I’m kind of mad at myself for not thinking about it more before starting my Summer of Code.
Now I know better. And I can use everything that I have learned to make my next coding adventure even more productive and enjoyable.
I Want To Know What YOU Think!
What would you change? Is there anything you loved or hated? Let me know before I start back up on September 30th.
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