The 2 Week Open Source Live Stream App Experiment

I’ve just recently completed an interesting experiment: coding an iOS game in only 2 weeks, open sourcing 100% of the code, and doing 100% of the development on live stream. The result: Spare Parts – a silly 2D physics game where you can build crazy contraptions. The videos below might give you an idea for the app:

Why on earth would I do this?

Loose Leaf took me over 2 years to build, and the vast majority of that development was closed off from feedback – I didn’t start showing my work until well into the 2nd year of development. If I had it to do over again, this is the biggest thing I’d change – early feedback is incredibly important.

So I wanted to try something different and build an app extremely quickly: I gave myself just 2 weeks to build an app from scratch and submit it to the App Store. I also wanted to build the app completely in the open – a contrast to Loose Leaf’s closed process. I thought it’d be fun to have 100% of the code be open source from day 1, and to also have 100% of the code built on stream.

It could be fun for viewers to participate in feature decisions, and might serve as an interesting “This is what mobile development is really like” for developers thinking about working in mobile.

So how’d it go?

Surprisingly well! I honestly wasn’t sure if I’d be able to ship something respectable in just 2 weeks, but I think the v1.0 turned out well. Across the 17 streams, there was just 24 hours of development throughout the 2 weeks, and our version 1.0 was feature complete! The best part – all of the testers who’ve given feedback have really enjoyed the app – it’s the first game I’ve ever made, and I’m glad it turned out to be a fun one 🙂

The stream has also brought a fair amount of attention to the project. CNN Money recently wrote about – the site where I’ve streamed the development – and included some quotes and a photo from yours truly! ITWorld also wrote up an article about the project which was very fun to see. For such a short app experiment, it’s already brought in some considerable attention!

What did I learn?

When I started Loose Leaf development three years ago, I believed that the value was in the code I was writing. I’ve learned that’s very rarely the case – the real value is in the community you build around your project. During those 2 years of development, I missed the biggest opportunity, which was to build and bring a community with me during that dev process.

As I continue to work on Loose Leaf, Spare Parts, Remotely, and other apps – yes, I’ll be coding – but more importantly I’ll be focused on encouraging the community around each of these apps. I’ve been so used to coding in my own silo until everything is perfect – it’s been eye opening to learn how to include others in the development process, even when nothing is built, polished, or even decided.

What’s next?

I’m going to continue work on Spare Parts, including keeping 100% of the code open source and on stream. Feel free to follow along at the site or the YouTube channel or on Twitter.

I’m also going to find ways to continue to open up Loose Leaf’s development process and keep adding to its growing open source contributions.

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