How To Make Games Without Life Getting In The Way – 3 Tips
Today we’re going to talk about life work balance. Many people, especially on my YouTube channel, have asked me how to develop games without life getting in the way. I’ve found personally that there are 3 primary keys—3 tips, 3 different ways, that I think you can develop games without life getting in the way. Life is a sneaky bastard right? Likes sneak up on you. Life comes at you from a random phone call, from a friend you haven’t heard from, or a tweet from some dude who liked your post, or your girlfriend or boyfriend wanting to hang out. Shit happens, life changes, and unexpected things happen.
So how do you make games consistently without all this stuff getting in the way?
These are the 3 tips I found:
- Schedule your project time.
Many people that I know personally, developers (not just game developers), and programmers, like to do their projects in their free time. They like to say, “Okay, Thursday night after work, I’m going to work on this thing.” Next day, they’re like, “I don’t really feel like it. I’m not going to do that.”
And the problem with that is, you don’t always feel like working.
If you don’t always feel like working, that’s not a consistent way to get something done, especially if you’re looking at this longer term; you want to build a business out of it, or want to actually get paid to do it, or want to make money off of it and have a sustainable income. You can’t go on how you feel because you’re never going to feel as motivated as you need to be to constantly get shit done and make enough money to support yourself. You can’t do it this way even with something you’re passionate about.
I wrote a blog post a while back called “Passion does not equal unlimited motivation.” It just doesn’t. Just because you’re passionate about something, doesn’t mean that you can have unlimited motivation to do it forever and ever.
You can’t operate on the way you feel. You have to schedule your time. You have to look at it just like a job. You have to do that shit every Wednesday, or every weekday, or however you schedule it. YOU NEED TO SCHEDULE YOUR TIME.
This is especially important if you have a busy life, busy schedule, or are not a disciplined person. You have to look at this very seriously and treat the scheduled time just as you would going to a job with a boss, or having an important meeting, or whatever is important to you. You have to think of it in those terms when scheduling your project time.
- Set milestones with rewards.
These have to be important milestones. They need to culminate with rewards. That’s the most effective way that I’ve found to do it. For example, if you’re developing a platformer, a milestone could be getting all of the mechanics written out, all the run and jump and all that stuff done. Then the next milestone might be the first 10-20 levels. The next milestone might be getting the first boss level done. Set these incremental steps of big goals until you reach your major goal of finishing the game. The ultimate goal is to finish the game. The big overview steps along the way have to be very specific and actionable, you have to be able to definitively say, “yes it’s done or no it’s not done.”
Personally, I’m a big fan of going to movies. I like to go to movie theaters alone and it’s something that I’ve always liked to do. I like to reward myself with movies. And I can only go and see a movie that I want to see in a theater alone if I reach certain milestones or I get certain things done. Sometimes it takes me two weeks to a month to complete a milestone.
I work toward that, looking forward to the reward that I get myself. This can also work without the reward. I’ve done it without the reward. In fact, sometimes when I reach the milestone, I don’t really feel like going to a movie. I just continue on doing whatever.
I find that choosing to take the reward anyway and really training your brain that you get something that you like out of doing stuff that you don’t necessarily feel like doing is a good way to train yourself and discipline yourself to think of these milestones as rewarding experiences rather than like a slog or like a really long hard-ass journey.
- Track your consistency.
For me, it’s not just about hitting the milestones. I have a bunch of different sticky notes on my wall and they have goals on them. I like taking those sticky notes off and moving them to the other side when I reach that goal. I always get to look at my goals, always get to look at the things that I want to do, and then I move the sticky notes over when I finished the goal. But what I found that’s really effective for me is keeping track of consistency.
For example, I have an app on my phone, it’s called HabitBull. To be honest, I want to create an app similar because I don’t really like how HabitBull works, but it lets you just tap on a day of the week and keep track of how consistent you are over time.
I’ve done this with a full-year calendar (a monthly calendar will also do but I like to use the full year one). I just cross an X for each day that I work on my game. I found that when I get up to 7-10 days in a row, there’s a chain going and I don’t want to miss a day because I don’t want to break the chain. I don’t want to have to look at that empty square by not doing the shit that day.
For me it’s really effective to keep track of how long I’ve been consistent. I’ve been doing this with my YouTube videos which is why I’m on day 49 of my daily videos. It’s helped me stay consistent because I’m like, “Okay, I want to keep the chain going. If I don’t keep the chain going it’s going to be forever broken and I have to start back from zero. I’ll have to start from video number one all over again, and start the whole chain again.”
Keeping track of the consistency has really helped me. To be honest, I think this has helped me more than the milestones. I don’t want to break that chain. It’s like a combo move in Tekken or something. You want to keep going, you want to stack up as many moves as you can. It’s awesome to just watch how far you can go, and how much you can do it. That has helped me tremendously. And so I recommend that if you have a calendar, start marking off the days that you’re consistent on it and don’t break the chain. You can also use the app HabitBull, which allows you do the same thing in an app. Although I think it could use some work, user experience-wise.
I think that if we do all three of those tips, life’s not going to get in the way. I mean things are going to try and happen, things are going to come at you, but if you have scheduled time, you can make sure that you don’t let things interfere. You have to put this as one of the highest priorities that you have.
If you let these other things deter you, and take you away from your scheduled time, you don’t really have scheduled time. You have an imaginary time that you sit down and just get distracted as shit, that’s not schedule time.
You really need to treat it just like you’re going to work. It’s very important, nobody can tell you it’s not. I don’t care what your spouse says, or what your mom says, or what, that’s your scheduled time. And if you have to get your ass out of the house, go to Starbucks, go to Panera Bread, go to one of these other places where you can sit out chill work on your shit. Schedule the time. Set your milestones, get those actionable, goals set and add rewards to yourself. Finally, keep track of your consistency, keep track of every single day that you do it.
That’s really all there is to it. You just need to be determined. You have to make sure that this is important to you because if it’s not, if this isn’t important to you, if this isn’t more important than some other things going on in your life, it’s not going to get done.
It’s about priority. And if you don’t prioritize your games over some of the other things that you want in life, you’re not going to get them done because life is going to keep interrupting you.
Life’s a bitch. Accept it. It doesn’t care, it just keeps interrupting you.
I hope this article helps you out. If it did please leave a comment below, I love to hear from you guys.