Today, we’ll talk about overcoming “the resistance”. I’m sure we’re all familiar with it. We have good intentions to work on our game at a designated time, and then that time rolls around and all of a sudden we have every excuse we can think of to not do it. “Oh, I’m too tired…” “I’m not feeling very creative” “I really should catch up on Game Grumps”. Sometimes, the hardest part of developing a game is actually sitting down to do it. To help combat the resistance, our first priority should be to create a development schedule.
I used to develop in the evenings. I would stay up late working on the game but not be very productive. I thought this was my best development time, but it turns out I’m actually most productive in the morning. At night, I would be too worn out from the day to really focus. But in the morning, I could more easily set a routine to be my most effective.
Now, I wake up between 4-5am. Why so early? I find that this is probably my least interrupted time. It’s easy to get distracted during the day with work, emails, IM’s, social media, etc.. And the more distracted you are, the less productive you are.
So, if you’ve been a night owl in the past, try waking up early in the morning and see how you feel. It’s not for everyone, but after a few days you might start to like it. I have my own routine setup at this point and I go to bed excited to spring out in the morning and get started.
DO NOT MULTI-TASK
This is hard for a lot of people. We live in a world where we’re often doing 5 things at once. But the human brain isn’t designed for that. When you’re doing multiple tasks, your brain is actually just switching very quickly between tasks. It makes you feel more productive, but you’re actually getting LESS done. Not to mention it’s exhausting!
Be single-minded when you intend to develop. Try to have everything setup beforehand so that you’ll be able to just focus on the work. Don’t break until you meet your goal.
Try to avoid common distractions. If the internet is too much of a problem, turn off your access or download an app that will block it for a set period of time.
Measure your work
It can be overwhelming when you’re working on a larger project. Just thinking about how much you have to do can be a motivation killer. The bigger your project, the larger the resistance to work on it.
To combat the resistance, try breaking your work into smaller goals that you can complete in a short time frame. Goals can be to complete a map, a cutscene or a sprite. Or they can be less specific like working on your project for 30 minutes.
Try just to have two primary goals you’re working towards at one time so you’re not overwhelmed with sub-goals either.
Parkinson’s Law dictates that a task will swell in importance and complexity in relation to the time allowed for its completion. When you have the pressure of time, you focus on the execution, and you have no choice but to only do the bare essentials. The end product of a deadline is almost always of equal or higher quality due to greater focus.
It’s hard to stick to deadlines when there’s nothing on the line. Try to create real world consequences to foster a sense of urgency. For example, give your friend $10 and tell them to keep it if you don’t finish on time. Or use stickK, a service that will donate your money to an anti-charity if you don’t meet your goals. Nothing like money on the line to get you motivated!
Work is the stepping stone towards completing your project. To keep moving forward, you have to work on your game even when you don’t want to. The key to this series might be to work faster, but you also want to be consistent. This consistent work will add up, and eventually you’ll have a finished game on your hands.
If you meet your goal, then reward yourself. Did you finish that cutscene? That sprite? Or maybe you just worked on the game for 30 minutes. Whatever your goal was, when you reach it, make sure to give yourself a mini-reward. For me, it’s usually making another delicious cup of tea!
Forming good game development habits is key to developing quickly. Once you have a routine in place, you’ll be amazed how much more productive you are! In the next article, I’ll cover creating the plan you’ll need to develop your game.
Do you have other ways of fighting the resistance that you’d like to share? Sound off in the comments!