One of the biggest problems many independent game developers face is anxiety. This can come from countless different sources, such as busy work schedules, financial insecurity, fear of failure and pressure from friends and family to give up and do something less risky.
Anxiety can not only derail a game project, it can also end a developer’s career. It’s easy to dwell on the things that can go wrong and many seek the safety of a more conventional career. This sadly leads many to give up on their dreams of developing games. Others tell themselves that they will get started on their game at some point, only to keep putting it off time and time again.
Of course, some anxiety can be a good thing, such as when a deadline is coming up and you need to get your work finished. However, in general, anxiety can be a bad thing, especially if it’s intrusive or uncontrolled. Because of the hazards that anxiety presents, it is a good idea to learn some ways that you can overcome anxiety and release a game you can be proud of.
Stop. Take a Deep Breath.
Before you do anything else, just stop and take a deep breath (this doesn’t apply if you’re operating a vehicle or heavy machinery).
Didn’t that make you feel better?
Stopping and taking a deep breath will help bring you away from whatever you were thinking about and gives you a second to refocus your thoughts. It’s a good way to prevent racing thoughts from burying you and gives you some time to reflect.
Have Clear Goals
One of the biggest causes of anxiety is that game development can seem like an unending endeavor. The key to preventing this is to have a clear set of goals, both short term and long term. A long term goal could be that you want to develop the next Fallout or Grand Theft Auto. Obviously, this is not going to happen in one day. Write down things you can do in the short term as well as long term, so that you can see that you’re making progress towards what might seem like an insurmountable goal. Even being able to cross off something as simple as, “fix a new bug today” off of a to-do list will work wonders on making you feel as if you are making a difference and moving forward with your goals.
Have a Realistic Plan
Many developers have extremely grandiose ideas about the sort of games they want to make and the scale they want to make them at. I am not saying that becoming the next Blizzard or EA is a bad idea or that you should not have such dreams, however, making a lot of money off of games is a very difficult endeavor and many things will have to happen first. The most important thing to do is to know what has to happen before you achieve your dreams and to start working towards them. Too much abstraction when contemplating your plans will just result in you being paralyzed by fear of the unknown.
Be Organized (and Flexible)
The most important technique to use to keep anxiety away is to be organized and flexible. Organization is highly important because it keeps you focused on whatever goal you have. If you are organized, you won’t suffer from the fear and confusion of not knowing what to do next.
Being flexible is highly useful too. Not everything on your list can be done right now; sometimes, it’s easier just to move on to a different task, or change your focus to something else. By being flexible, you can be assured that you can complete other tasks related to your goal and continue working towards your needs and desires. Knowing how your goals all relate to one another will also help reduce confusion and anxiety during the course of your career.
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