Game Development

Programming Goals: 5 Hours/Week

At the Chicago Indie Game Developer meeting on Sunday, we had the biggest turnout since I started attending. Among the new faces were some developers of the MMO game Endless Ages (the website of which seems to be down). It was interesting listening to them talk about working in the mainstream game industry and being between jobs. It seems more than a few of us are talking about getting new jobs. B-)

Anyway, my goals for the past month were to learn about game APIs and setting aside time to practice programming. As I described before, I did look into Kyra a bit, but only enough to run the demo and go through the tutorial a little bit. So that goal is somewhat met. On the other hand, I didn’t do much in the way of programming. Currently I’ve been working on homework because I have to do so. I think to myself that I will work on my own projects when the homework is completed, but the problem I have is that the homework either never gets finished or I have to immediately start on the homework for the other class I am taking. The result is that a month went by without me dedicating much time if at all to programming.

This month, besides getting more intimate with Kyra, I picked what should be an achievable goal: 5 hours per week. Each week I will dedicate 5 hours to programming in C++. It will be my homework that will get pushed off this time. It should be fine since most of my productivity comes when I get in the zone about the homework anyway, and that won’t happen until I’ve read through and understood the Java code involved. I’ve found that my homework can get completed within hours that way.

Last month I failed to program partly because I never got around to picking a hard number of hours or lines of code or anything. It was just stated as, “Need to program more” which is too vague and doesn’t inspire me to do much. If I have to program for 5 hours a week, however, I can track it. Is it Friday? I’ve only worked for an hour all week? Well today and tomorrow have to make up the other four! Also, if I program for longer than 5 hours in a week, I am not counting it towards the next week. The goal is to get practice and learn while doing it.

Before the meeting broke up, I asked the programmers there for advice. I explained that I know that I need to practice more, but I also wanted to know if they had any other suggestions on what I should be doing. Everyone basically said that I should “just do it”. There. What could be simpler?