Keeping yourself sane during game development is a big deal, right? It’s something you’d hope you can accomplish. Between the brutal deadlines and hours, the amount of effort that it takes to kick start a career, etc. it can seem like the odds are stacked high against you. It’s enough to make anyone feel a little crazy sometimes.
But luckily for you, we have lined up quite a few tips that help development go smoother. That’s right – it’s possible!
Set Normal Work Hours
Designate your hours for work. If you need to dictate the typical 9-5 to work, do so, but leave your evenings free to relax and unwind by yourself, or with your partner.
Now, if you work remotely, in an indie setting, you should already be piping up about your team being spread throughout the world. That means some meetings are going to have to take place at night. That’s understandable, but they shouldn’t be a nightly thing anyway. As long as you work during the day – normal hours – you can sacrifice one night a week for a meeting.
Weekends Are For Relaxation
There is an ever-growing demand in this world to always be accessible. Oh, you have a smartphone that chimes and makes you aware of when your boss or co-worker needs something? Must check, right?
Nope! If it’s a Saturday and you’re nowhere to be found, that can’t be held against you. It’s a weekend day, and that is designated relaxation time, not development time. Spend the day with family, or friends. Go on a date, or stay in and read a book. Work five days a week, not seven.
Weekends aren’t for work unless it’s absolutely crucial, like crunch time. During that time, try to space it out into hour or two long snippets, and take half hour breaks to recharge in-between. This can help get coffee with a friend, run an errand, or talk to your mom on the phone (blah).
Game Development Isn’t All About You
Yes, and that’s a good thing! Unless you’re a multi-talented, independent and a downright unstable individual, chances are you’re not taking on game development on your own. For most people, it’s safe to say you’re not alone! It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, because there’s always something to take care of. If you need a hand, just ask. Your team is there for you, and vice versa.
There is no reason to feel ashamed if you need help because you’re taking on more than you can chew. On the contrary, it’s the slackers on the team, the ones who barely do anything, that should feel a little self-conscious. At least you’re working!
Oh, and speaking of slackers…
Avoid The Dark Playground
Sounds like an awesome time, like the best metal band you’ve ever tortured your mother with, but hey – we’ve all been guilty of this at some point. Dark Playground is when you procrastinate, but can’t enjoy it, because of that underlying guilt from not doing what you’re supposed to.
Preaching to the choir here, you can’t afford to do this during development. It’s just going to make you miserable, and impact the rest of the team. Development is a chain process, where everything connects. Ever played Dominos?
Embrace Your OCD
Don’t you just hate that feeling of dread that comes from the unknown? There’s just nothing worse than never knowing exactly how a week is going to work. What if your director springs something up on you in the middle of the week, when you’re busy with your day job, or a trip, or (gasp) a family event? No one likes party crashers, so avoid the dilemma by being a total OCD freak who demands to know their weekly expectations.
Time management is everything. Plan out your week by asking your director what he wants you to do by a set due date. Having a deadline and a weekly objective means you can focus on a select bit at a time, and plan accordingly.
It’s OK to Fail
Sometimes being honest is the best thing. If you feel the need to warn loved ones and let them know you’re swamped, do so! They’ll understand, because they love you.
More so, you’re not perfect. There will be days you ignore the world at large, and that’s OK. That’s called being human. You work hard and you push yourself to meet goals. That’s more than most can say. Allow yourself the time to mess up, become a recluse for a day or two, and warn others straight up.
Game development isn’t for the faint of heart. Sure, you make video games for a living, and you provide entertainment through art. But in the end, it’s some serious work! The hours can be long, and the work can seem never-ending. In fact, there will be some days when you’ll work for hours, and still feel like you haven’t scratched the surface.
But you’re not alone. There is an entire team waiting to help, and family and friends who understand, or at least should. And when it’s all said and done, you’ll have a game to show for all the hard work. Hang in there, ask for help, designate hours, and balance life as much as you possibly can. But when you mess up, and you will, remember you’re only human. It’s OK to ignore the world and take a breather when you need to!