Six Months In

So, today’s July 1st, precisely 6 months into the development process for Win Lose Play. I feel like I’ve come a long way, but at the same time have so much further to go. I suppose the journey should never end, but at this point I’m starting to question and doubt my abilities to really achieve everything I want to achieve on my own.

Tomorrow’s a big day for me. I have an 11AM meeting with jV of my former employer, Vectorform. I honestly don’t know what I hope to accomplish with it, but I think that talking it through with someone who’s had experience both forming an organization and, more specifically, overseeing the development of multiple large-scale software releases will be extremely beneficial.

Maybe it wasn’t the most ideal thing to do: quitting my job to do something I’ve never really done before. Sure, I’ve helped develop hundreds of web applications for various types of companies, but…I dunno. I just feel like I need an impartial and experienced group of people to review my work and provide some feedback and maybe a little direction.

I’m not looking for praise. My father’s behind me 10,000%. My friends believe in me, as well. My brother believes in me, but is skeptical in the product. We had a little tiff the other day when I, again, brought up a particularly difficult aspect of my project to him for assistance. I shouldn’t have been bothering him with it, as he had made it clear previously that he really doesn’t care about it, but I’ve wanted to try to include him on it.

Originally, I had thought this was going to be a “Daventry” project, meaning one that was co-developed by my brother, father, and I. But, much of the development lies on my shoulders and my brother lost interest way back in the brainstorming process, some 9 months ago. My father has his hobbies and actually does what I’m supposed to be doing, which is generating income through contract development work. But, everyday, this is what I *want* to do,  so I’ve been putting in some longer sessions of late, while trying not to completely burn myself out.

Prior to January 1st, 2014, I created some Google Documents for brainstorming the concept and researching as much as I could about the topics of competitions, sports, and statistics. I also researched web development strategies and learned what I could about my competitors. I continued updating the brainstorming document and created some rudimentary flowcharts and wireframes trying to work out the concept.

The past six months I have focused mostly on development of the project, but if I could do it again, I wish I would have created more appropriate and detailed wireframes and created a design at the front of the development process. However, I also feel that seeing how I crafted the HTML for forms and data helped in coming up with a design that worked well. I also had some more clarity in my vision for the end product after spending so much time thinking about and working on it.

I first created a proof-of-concept (a.k.a, version 0.1) in order to quickly see whether or not I had made a bad decision and could get out before I had gone too far. This was me testing out programming concepts based on the knowledge I had gained from reading about competitions, tournaments, and leagues (mostly on Wikipedia). I also spent a good deal of time trying to generate logic for creating tournament schedules. This was a quick (and very dirty) HTML+PHP+SQL project, with no stylesheets or JavaScript.

When I was comfortable with my progress and started believing in my idea, I moved on to creating a prototype (v0.2). I took an old PHP MVC framework that I had been working on and started creating pages based on my poor wireframes. I thought I would be able to just create everything aside from the JavaScript (bells) and CSS (whistles), but I don’t think it worked out how I anticipated. The framework evolved, the database grew out of control, and I just kept plowing without a whole lot of aiming. I ended convincing myself to start from scratch, again.

This became my “alpha” (v0.3) build. I polished up the framework code, and rewrote all of the models, views, and controllers for the application, while simultaneously creating some basic CSS and JavaScript that could, in theory, be molded into the appropriate design when I finally came up with a name. I got pretty far on that, and even started showing some of my inner circle. Then, I came up with a suitable name with, perhaps more importantly, an available domain name. All of my work leading up to this point resulted in my having a sort of ah-ha moment in regards to coming up with an easy way to navigate this whole thing.

So, I went to the drawing board and started mocking up and Illustrating my design, after feeling like I couldn’t do it. The drastic change in navigation felt significant enough to warrant another full rewrite, since I hadn’t gotten very far on the alpha. Today, I continued working on this beta (v0.4) and I feel like it is capable of being demoed. It is still very far from public, or even a private access, but I have successfully created a functional version of my vision in six months.

From here, I continue working on core functionality, fixing bugs, polishing designs, and adding enhancements. And, yet, there is so much more to do. Should I get some help? Do I proceed down this path? Or, do I abort mission, about face, and go back to “work”? *shudders* This is way too much fun to quit now.