The Thousander Club

Scott Hsu-Storaker of Low Ply Cooperative has created a challenge for indie game artists and developers by creating the Thousander Club. The inspiration for it came from the idea that to become an expert, you need to practice. A lot.

The challenge: work for 1000 hours on your project this year. It comes out to 20 hours a week, which is almost three hours a day if you include weekends or four hours a day if you don’t.

Right now, the Thousander Club is a club of one — just me. But, I would love to have some company. C’mon, join up with me, there’s a certain comfort in doing things together. Pledge to devote yourself to working on your own project for 1000 hours this year. Keep track, I will. Give progress reports, I will . In a year, we can all look back and count ourselves as experienced experts. Think of the Christmas present you will be giving yourself in 2006 — confident assurance that your skills can take you where you want to go.

There are some specific challenges for the Low Poly community, but I think it sounds like a great “club” to join this year. Can you always dedicate 3-4 hours a day? I know that I was thinking, “Yeah, I could probably do it, but at what cost?” Then I thought vague thoughts about how difficult it would be, and almost put it out of my mind. Then I remembered the law of inertia. So I asked a specific question to help dispel any fears I had: if I didn’t join this club and try to dedicate myself to 1000 hours, what would I be doing instead? Would I be working on game development as haphazardly as I did the previous year? That idea didn’t sound too good. I wanted to improve.

I was thinking that I might try something smaller. What about 500 hours? That seemed a bit more doable. That’s about two hours a day. How about 100 hours? 100 hours still helps, according to my post. At this point, I realized I was wavering again. Tony Robbins talked about taking massive action. The idea is that if you want to improve yourself from being mediocre to being great, massive action helps you get there much more quickly than small steps. I know that I have been getting impatient with how slow I’ve been gaining game development experience. Doing it purposely slow, even if I was more focused than I was last year, didn’t seem nearly as attractive.

Now, obviously I will not be creating art for the Low Poly Cooperative since I am not trying to be an artist. I am dedicating 1000 hours to game development this year. It’s aggressive, and even if I fail, I know that the push this year will result in a huge improvement for myself. Can I still join your club, Scott? B-)

15 comments to The Thousander Club

  • Yeah, I know that when you parse it down to how much daily effort is required it seems insanely aggressive. But, I went over in my mind what I did last year and I am pretty confident I spent that much time on scattered projects last year. It was, as you said, hapahazardly done, though. This idea has mostly to do with focussing my effort and I think it is possible. Maybe if neither of us make it, we can add our hours together and see what we come up with. At least I’ll have made a huge leap forward.

    Scott

  • I hope to make a similar leap myself. See you there!

  • It’s kind of hard to commit like that. I don’t mean overall I mean in general to say “Okay i’m going to do this much for this thing.” If I work like i’m hoping i will i’ll be spending my thousand hours this year on my project. However I have various other “duties”. Such as two contract jobs i’m working on. Time with Dad (I live at home so at 5 – 9 we sit and watch tv, and yes we’ll eventually get to something else). I still have a shower to take, lunch to eat, 8 hours of sleep, exercise, as well as apartment cleaning. I want to learn c++ in an accelerated fashion (reguardless of what anyone says, I think my past experience in pascal and c will serve me at least marginally in my learning of c++). I need to learn a small bit of 3d programming. And I need to do the art for my game. Question is how to maximize the little time i’m awake each day and get all of this done. This will require a mega-focusing effort. My dad did get part of a desk size calender (with nothing in each calender day) so I could writing my goals out in a calender with it right in front of my face every day. But the problem is here it’s just till september of 2006 (it was a 2005 that was being thrown out, so I don’t have to pay 15 bucks or whatever for something similar at office depot)… And my January is about up. January is for planning stuff out. I’m i’m busy with other things this month. So i’ve got about 8 months of calender, which means 1 year compressed into 8 months. So let’s see 40 hour work week at 32 weeks (4 weeks times 8 months = 32 weeks) = 1280 hours. Hmm looks like I can get my 1000 hours in after all. However i’ll be doing several things simultaneously (of course we know we humans are merely pre-emptive multitaskers but that’s not the point) 😉

    Keith W. II

  • It sounds to me like you might have just talked yourself into it. The act of commiting to something and making it happen step by step, I think, is far more important than any number that comes out at the end. I’ll be posting my progress every Monday.

    Scott

  • Keith: I was going through the same thoughts, although your comment once again shows that everyone else is always busier than I am. B-)

    For learning C++ quickly, I could not recommend anything more highly than Accelerated C++. You’ll get right into C++ within the first chapter or two, which is so much better than being told “Ok, this is C, and halfway through the book we’ll explain why C++, the language you WANTED to learn, is superior…”.

    As for balancing everything, perhaps you would want to dedicate 1000 hours to game development, but what if you also wanted to dedicate 500 hours to the other duties? I found that it is a lot easier to schedule time for specific tasks when I also promise myself dedicated blocks of time to NOT work on those tasks. It isn’t like I say “Ok, from 5PM to 6:15PM, I am going to spend quality time with my family.” You can’t schedule people. However, I can say that from 5PM to 6:15PM. I can do whatever I want, but I need to make sure I am ready to do whatever it is I scheduled at 6:15PM. Usually, it becomes “Ok, let’s do whatever, but I need to leave by 6PM to get home in time to work on something.”

    Scheduling time for “wasting time” is counter-intuitive, but it sure beats feeling like your self-imposed schedule is ruining your social/family life. B-)

  • This may be slightly off topic but I am trying an experiment. To see if working an 8 hour day (7 hours of actual work and 30 minute lunch with 2 15 minute breaks) is more productive for me. I read it in an article about doing the 9-5 thing (actually it was an interview with the guys at a company they formed called Relentless). Essentially they said the employees could not play games or surf the internet at work. they get to get off at 5, they get weekends off, and they never work overtime. Supposedly they hit every milestone they needed. And so i’ve been reading about this sort of thing in other places as well. I posted this reply in here because I believe it is complimentary to the Thousander club. Essentially if you’re productivity is up from working that 9-5 of actual work then you can put in those thousand hours eventually. Anyways here’s the link to my blog post – http://uhfgood.artoo.net/?p=41 – Let’s see, let me try the hours things again with 7 hours a day instead of 8 (8 hours includes the breaks and lunch) — 7 * 5 = 35 – so 35 hours a week. 8 months * 4 weeks is aproximately 32 weeks, 32 * 35 hours = 1120 hours that still beats 1000 hours. And it still falls within the timeline 🙂

    Keith

  • That sounds great. Of course, it works better for those who have the ability to dedicate a full-time job to the things they are doing. For those of us doing things part-time, it isn’t as easy.

    Of course, regularly scheduled evenings probably would work as well. I also figured that I would be able to schedule entire weekends to help compensate for those weeks when I am less than productive.

  • I think this is an excellent idea and am jumping aboard. I made a post about it last night on my site so feel free to read up on my thoughts. I think having a plan is paramount to really learning something from this experience so I am currently working on a few ideas to help me learn different aspects of game development. I am focusing mostly on 2d until I am comfortable doing a lot in it, than I will move onto 3d.

    I can’t wait to see where I will be after a year.

  • Welcome to the club, Casey!

  • Scott

    GB,

    You need a team. You need to be accountable to someone. It’s hard to be accountable to yourself, cause it’s hard to get upset with yourself when you are underchieving as well.

    I have A.D.D., and it makes it really hard for me to focus on one thing for too long. So I have a number of unfinished games at varying percentages of completion. Every so often I get re-interested in them and tack on a few more percentage points. If I was just able to focus on one until completion, I’d probably have a few finished games by now.

    But if I had someone to hold me accountable, I’d probably be able to focus better. Do you have A.D.D? If you don’t, maybe I can be accountable to you. Cause I figure someone else with A.D.D. would probably be all for changing direction often as well.

  • Mynta

    I know this is several years later, but I came across this post and thought I’d say I found it a good booster (along with the First Law of Motion post). 🙂

    I’m teaching myself art from home while I take a game dev course part-time, and I calculated that if I worked 8 hours a day 5 days a week on something related to making art and becoming a better artist, I’ll log over 2000 hours in a single year – and that is an amazing amount. More than that, in a year I’ll also be taking a one year post-grad Illustration course, which would mean another 2000 hours.

    My goal has been to be a concept artist, but I’ve wavered on believing I could do that, because I know you have to be VERY good for that kind of position, and I thought that maybe I should just focus on doing game art so I can get a job and then over a few years become good enough to be a concept artist.

    This is making me believe that I truly can become amazing. I’m not starting from ground zero – I do already have some solid skills, but I know that there’s a lot more I’ve never done and need to learn how to do before I can be there.

    All that can be intimidating, but I’m realizing more and more that I really do have the time, I really do have the resources, and this really is something I can accomplish, if I allow myself to believe it can really seriously happen.

    So, thanks for this post. I’ll be doing over a thousand hours, but I will mark my time and see how long it takes me to get there. 🙂

    ~Mynta

  • Mynta, I’m glad this article has helped you! Good luck! Feel free to start a website or blog to keep track of your progress so we can all follow along!

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