This is an article in the ‘Behind the scenes’ category where I shed some light on what it takes to make games. I warn you: they are real, these articles might discourage you to develop games yourself.
“I have changed, and I really like my new self.”
This line could be from a self-help blog or another source of talk-to-the-mouth style information source.
But no, it is really here on this blog on games of GameFeelings.
I will give you an insight in my latest discoveries on how to better manage yourself when doing big projects, and what impact it has on me while delivering Find the Gnome.
For those who did not know it: I’m a guy, 30, married, dad to 2 kids, has a full-time job as a software developer, I like playing computer games in my spare time, I like to renovate my house… and I want to develop computer games.
This game I’m developing, Find the gnome, is my first game. I am using the development of this game to learn how to better develop games.
Being a married man and dad to 2 is a daytime job on its own. And then there is my ‘real’ job of being a software developer, with all the con’s attached to it: needing to stay relevant, additional meetings outside office hours…
So this ‘game development’ is more of a love work. I need to really like it to be able to get the needed hours into it, but to also get the needed amount of relaxation and the needed sense of achievement out of it.
Reality is that nothing comes for free. And that some things in life are more important to you than other things. And that everything always ends in a trade-off.
But I didn’t want the trade-off. I want it all, and I wanted to earn it. So I just pushed for it.
I needed more experience? I tried something a lot. I needed new skills? I tried to make it my own. I wanted the game to be good? I tried to get every aspect of the game right. I wanted to get even better? I tried to get a good team of people around me to show me the good and the bad.
It did work out for me. For a while. You can see this in version v0.2 and v0.3. There you see a confident me trying to push for it, making every version increase even better than the previous increase.
So there I was, working my ass off, and it suddenly stroke me: I wasn’t paying attention. I wasn’t listening to my body, I wasn’t on the look-out for easy shortcuts to just reduce the amount of work to do.
For not listening to my body, I got myself nearly burned-out. And that shortcut thing was very vague to me: I knew I needed something like that but it sounded like an empty promise to me.
At that moment in time I was also at some other crossroads in life. I was in therapy because of earlier near-burnout issues, I was desperately searching for new goals in my ‘real life’ job, at home my wife was going trough some near-burnout issues herself.
I wasn’t paying attention… the shortcuts were all the time right in front of me:
It’s all about priorities. About letting go. About ‘going with the flow’. ‘Trusting your gut feelings’. ‘Doing things you love to do’. ‘Listening to your heart’. ‘Clearly communicating your needs to others’. ‘Experience takes time’. ‘You need to fail to learn and/or progress’…
The world is full with books, movies, coaches, religions… people. The best they can do is teaching you something of yourself.
That enabled me to start managing myself. And then to take action. And cut in the workload of life and then to find those things that will keep me going.
Back to the subject
So, what has this to do with the game? I promised you all a game!? I should just deliver on that promise, shouldn’t I? With the exact content as described in all blog posts and al comments please… And I need to stop talking about ‘managing yourself’. In the time I took by writing this blog post I could have completed a new gnome model!
Yes that is true. But no that is not the right thing to do. Not at this moment.
Watch this, in version v0.4 you see mee finding out that the game is not the game I wanted it to be. I found out that for me, to love building the game, it needed to be something else. And while iterating on my new idea’s, I also found out that I had enormous scope creep in the project starting from the earliest versions. And right after the v0.4 release I took a break to do some home improvements (yay, new kitchen!) and I realized how much I was demanding from my body.
So I picked a new pace. That’s what’s visible in my last post.
Back to the future
This new pace is one I can sustain for a long time. I will finish Find the Gnome, that’s a feat I really want to accomplish. And then I really like to get on a new idea.
There is one thing left I like to add: I know what I like about building games. Support old ones (20% of my time), build new ones (50% of my time) and spend the remainder on company related things.
“I have changed, and I really like my new self.”