Time sucks. We yell at it to stop for briefest moments. We yell and we beg and we plead and do a number of unspeakable things in an attempt to appease its motion. But it is for naught! It continues its stride. “Haters gonna hate” that stride says. And there is not a thing anyone can do about it, as Time continues on its magical journey. Only a few who can keep up with it.
For most of the people in the indie game scene, time isn’t much of a friend. You have the lucky ones who have managed to make it their living and we applaud them for it! It is awesome to see a peer finally take control and do what they truly what to do. But even in this renaissance age where more and more are finally taking the stab, it’s still very much a hobbyists’ venture. We have full time jobs, we have social lives and we often spend a little too much time browsing Reddit (Guilty).
With me, I have a full time job with a programmer, which makes it really hard to convince myself to open up Visual Studio once I get home to do anything. I live with three roommates who are awesome people but unfortunate influences on the remainder of my time (Combined with new episodes of “A Game of Thrones” this is a hazardous combination.) The three roommates are a part of an expanded circle of friends that I have made from college and other areas and we tend to try and get together and do something outside of the norm, which usually kills any extra weekend time I may have. And if people are over and loud noises are occurring or the people who are making the loud noises are entering the room while I’m trying to figure out a particularly nasty piece of code, it’s like BONUS ROUND for coding to me. It’s all good problems to have, but it is often hard to find the right sort of balance, because I would very much like to be sane for a while long yes please thanks.
So, I’m writing this out in an effort to show what I have done to increase my productivity while working on my stuff. It may work for others as well, but I find the following have helped me at least make some progress with all the chaos and going ons:
- A Whiteboard is your best friend. Having just any space that you can write random stuff in is good as you can get those silly little ideas out of your head so they have a fighting chance to become strong serious neat ones . It gets you away from the computer and gives you a good, quick visual indicator that you don’t have to Alt-Tab through all those pesky little windows for. Also, stupid doodle space! The bigger it is, the better.
- If you live in a crowded household, sometimes it takes going to a public place to get a little bit of privacy. If you have a laptop, this is especially nice. If not, I’ve been known to take a sketch book with me for random ideas. (Also, it’s an excellent excuse to find some good delis in the area, which Knoxville has down to a science.)
- Dev Logs are your friends. Whether you prefer a full entry or a simple todo text file, having something that maps out what you have done in previous days or what you’re going to do really helps set your mind to the task. It’s particularly effective if you’ve noticed you haven’t worked on it for the last few days (Bleeping guilty here.) It’s all right there and it taunts you to get what is needed done for crying out loud. They also play into the next bullet point below, which is…
- Make time! There is a resounding “duh” that always comes after making this sort of sentence, but there is much truth in its simplicity. 30 minutes or an hour a day makes it slow going, but getting there is better than not. Tackle a small problem. Write up some dialogue. ANYTHING that inches towards you making any progress at all. The more you think about it, the more. There’s time management software out there that one can use if they feel like it’ll help and I’d be glad to hear some suggestions for myself.
- Finally, keep up your life the way you feel like it. It’s not worth it to restrict and put yourself on hold for the sake of one singular thing. If you enjoy going out with your friends for drinks on Fridays, don’t feel guilty because you didn’t work on the game that day. I particularly bad at this (Feeling guilty, I mean. Not the going out for drinks thing.) but like I said earlier, Time goes on. You have a freedom that people in the game industry don’t have in that you don’t have any deadline but the one you make for yourself initially. That’s not to say you should break you programming oath every chance you get, but nothing will end until you say it ends. It will be waiting for you as long as you will it. Go out and make the experiences life was meant to have!
Hopefully, some of that will help out people who are in a situation similar to mine. If you have any suggestions of your own, feel free to comment! We’re all in this together, after all.
As for Octovault’s first project, it’s going well, but faces the hurdles I mentioned above. I’m not quite ready to show things off yet, but I have a feeling it will be soon! Stay tuned!