Game Development Tip – How To Git Gud At Any Skill
Today I want to tell you about the 1% solution. Now, this is something that has really changed the way I think about myself as well as the way I acquired certain skillsets. The 1% solution has made the acquisition of so many different skillsets possible. It has also helped me improve as a person and enabled me do all kinds of things that I never really thought were possible.
So, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I remember feeling this sense of not being good enough. I would look at artists, game developers and creators, and I would be just like “Damn! I wish I could do what they can do”, and I would place their projects on pedestals, revered as accomplishments I could only aspire to—BUT I wanted to be able to make them myself so bad because they were so AWESOME.
Therefore, I set out on a mission to improve myself and my skillset, and there were a lot of things that inspired specific skillsets I wanted to acquire. But I wanted a way to track my progress analytically so I can focus on improving my skills. For example: When you practice drawing, how do you determine whether or not you’re getting better at it? That’s really hard to determine day to day, Unlike, maybe, a year from now you could look back at your drawings and say, “Okay, I’ve definitely improved”, but how do you measure that progress? It is hard, especially in art, or anything that is creative, therefore subjective like games.
I wanted for a way to measure my progress and I realized that in arts and games specifically, the only way to ever really do that was to measure my consistency—to really measure it by doing something every day or every week towards that goal by just practicing…I can measure the practice.
So I came up with this idea that if I could just improve 1% a day, that would be enough. If I could just focus on the tiniest amount that I can improve just so I can be a little bit better every day, I’ll be fine. Because it turns out, mathematically, in 70 days if you improve 1% a day, you’re twice as good. It doesn’t take that long, 1% a day, 7 days, you’re TWICE as good.
Here is where it gets crazy though: In 365 days, if you improve 1% a day, you’re 38 times as good. Because that number compounds over time and that was crazy for me to realize! Literally, if I improve 1% a day in an entire year, I’m 38 times better than I was when I started. That blew my mind!
Especially with things like art or with game design—and game design, for me, is the ultimate form of art. In games, you have to do the art, the programming, the music, the level design, as well as the storytelling. Every aspect of every kind of creative art is built into a video game and on top of that, you have to wrap it all up into an interactive experience. You have to create a world that players can explore and play through. You need to build something that allows them to do whatever they want to do because you do not have control over what they do in the game.
So in order for me to really focus on my skillset and improvement over time, I realized all I had to do is improve 1% a day. Moreover, that was a good way for me to think about how I could grow as a person. This method helped me map out how I could actually achieve the skills that I thought were impossible and the grandiose, beautiful games that I saw people making that I wanted to make myself but never thought I could. I realized that if this dude is 38 times as good as I am, all I have do is improve 1% a day and in a year I’m on his level!
That was a good way to think about it. And although there’s no actual way to measure that you do 1% a day, for me, it was a cool little metaphor and mantua that I would repeat in my head. Just telling myself, “Hey! You CAN do this, you CAN get there”. And it is exponential. As you develop your skillset, the deeper you get into it, the quicker you can acquire these different skills.
In the beginning, it’s overwhelming. You’re like, “Holy shit! I don’t know where to start, I don’t know what to do, there are so many different things to choose from, I don’t know where to go.” But once you start getting into, you start learning these little things, and pretty soon you can start to accelerate what you learn. Pretty soon one little thing can tweak your productivity a lot, if you learn a shortcut in a 3D modelling application, you can cut down your time in half.
Once you start learning these things, it really does compound. And all these things together really make a massive effect on the skillsets that you acquire. And for me, that was really helpful, because I really wanted to make some of these awesome things that I thought were never possible.
I hope this 1% solution really helps you out and if you’ve ever tackled a skillset that you really wanted to learn, and you successfully got there from 0 to a hundred, let me know in the comments because I love hearing success stories from people that have acquired skills that they thought were impossible. I know it has happened countless times for me. I would not be here right now if I had not worked years and years and years in trying to improve myself to get to the point where I could discuss this method to a bunch of game developers. Until next time!