Game Development Personal Development


Sometimes I find myself in an under-motivated mood, and I have to use motivational modifiers to get my motivation over the difficulty class for game development. Usually I just have to remind myself that there is a reason why I started my own business. The reminder that my business exists is sometimes enough of a bonus to my motivation checks to get me started, and then one of Newton’s Laws of Motion takes over. “Just 15 minutes of game development” can sometimes turn into three hours.

If the fact that I have a business isn’t enough, I post plenty of other reminders around me. My cell phone has a note that I see whenever I pick it up. My desktop wallpaper is an image of my current project with text reminding me to finish the game. If I had music for the game, I would probably try to find a way to get it to be my ringtone and laptop’s startup sound. I have inspirational quotes from motivational speakers, game developers, and historical figures printed out and taped to the wall next to my desk.

If your mind is constantly bombarded by certain ideas and images, you can’t help but think about them. Similarly, if you just let anything get into your thoughts by chance or accident, you won’t be focused. If you go to Wikipedia or YouTube and find that what seemed like five minutes of browsing has become five hours, you know what happened. You saw one thing, then saw another, and then another. Three hours of fascinating clicking later, and you realize that you have just wasted a lot of time, time that you could have spent doing something more important.

Like game development. I try to make my home into an environment in which I can’t help but think about game development. If game development is always in my mind, it is a lot easier to keep myself productive. If I ever catch myself about to make a choice between game development and something else, I ask myself, “Self, WWAGDD?”

What Would A Game Developer Do?

Would a game developer come home from a day job and watch television? Would a game developer feel much anxiety about sitting at the computer to work on a game? Would a game developer procrastinate on game development in favor of chatting online with friends or reading random articles online?

No. A game developer would BE a game developer.

Now, I’m not talking about developing games to the exclusion of family, friends, and hygiene. I just know that I don’t act like a game developer nearly as often as I should, and acting more like one would go a long way to getting games finished and ultimately selling. Why did I watch television after dinner instead of working in my office? Why did I hit my snooze button multiple times in a row instead of waking up and getting an early start on my day? Why did I check my AdSense earnings and blog comments 50 times in an hour?

Because I wasn’t making game development a big enough priority. Because I was allowing insignificant tasks to consume a lion’s share of my time. Because I wasn’t being a game developer. A game developer would spend most of his/her time developing games, and if I want to be serious about being a developer, I would do well to follow a game developer’s lead.

And since I don’t know too many developers personally, I just have to ask myself periodically, “What would a game developer do?” The question usually reminds me that I am a game developer, and as a game developer I should DO game development when I can. I can work on lower priority things another time. So far, I think it is working. I have worked about 10 hours a week for the past few weeks, which is relatively good compared to a few hours per week that I have historically been able to do. With those extra hours, I have been able to make great progress on my projects. The best part is that I still have much more improvement possible.

Oh, and having played Dungeons and Dragons in the past few months, I’ve found that rolling 20s for motivation is a lot easier. B-)

11 replies on “WWAGDD?”

Heh – I know too many game developers who would waste time watching YouTube or playing games if it weren’t for the threat of… well, losing their job and stuff. But then you get the real psycho ones who, like, work on their own games in their so-called “spare” time (when legally permitted, and when they aren’t constantly being distracted by new games… Hey, why are you looking at me that way?)

Thanks alot GB, I just wasted 3 hours of fascinating clicking on alone!

And as far as TV I don’t really have a choice. Yeah my Dad let’s me stay home all day and not take a day job, and then I’m going to refuse when he wants to spend time with me watching movies.

Unfortunately it’s 4 hours and it’s just hard enough trying to work all day.

Which is why i’m always trying to change my schedule to eventually something that works.

This would involve me going to bed early (at least 11 pm). And I just can’t seem to hack it.

What Would Brian Boitano Do,
If he were here right now?
He’d surely kick an ass or two,
that’s what Brian Boitano would do.

I only have a few precious hours each night to devote to game development while the rest of the family sleeps.

As such, I make it a point to spend every free minute during the day visualizing and repeating what I will focus on that night to the exclusion of everything. Since I’ve started doing this, it’s helped me to retain my focus when it comes time to Get Things Done.

Thanks for the thoughts of incorporating your current project into something as simple as your background in Windows!

Honestly, I have to say that many of the people in the industry are like Coyote says above. For many, it’s “just a job”; albeit a generally more interesting one than other fields but “just a job” nonetheless. I don’t really believe there’s some mystical all defining quality that separates the industry folk from the not except perhaps where their livelihood comes from. I’ve been through a few industry gigs at this point and that part has been constant.

On the rare occasions that I need additional motivation to do something, I can usually count one one of these to get me going:
– Read through my task logs: I keep a list of one line tasks for all of my projects. If I’m really in bad shape I usually pick the easiest one on the list, otherwise I pick the first one. Depending on how much time I might have, I might also pick the hardest one (keeping the hard stuff off the list seems to help get out of a funk).
– Read through my work logs: I also keep a list of one line completed tasks with hour counts on all my projects. Going through these usually reminds me of outstanding tasks not on the list.
– If I think I’m getting into a rut, I’ll note the top three to five things that need to be done next session and stick them at the top of my log. This way I’m always moving forward and don’t have a lot of startup cost.
– Just open the editor (seriously). It’s amazing how far that will take you.

KTorrek: Heh, sometimes I tell myself that I’ll do something for 15 minutes, and then three hours can go by. Just doing anything for a little bit sometimes gets the momentum going enough to make stopping harder to do.

I’m a bit late to the party, but this is a fantastic post. 🙂 “WWAGDD?” is a pretty powerful splash of cold water in the face when you need to stay focused. I’ve always personally responded pretty well to simple little focusing mantras like that, and I’d totally forgotten that fact until I found your post. I’m going to do it!

Good stuff, dude. 🙂

Comments are closed.