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December 19, 2014, 02:41:35 PM
TIGSource ForumsDeveloperCreativeDesignDealing with Development Burnout?
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theRaddRedd
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« on: November 12, 2012, 04:30:39 PM »

I didn't know where this should go, so I just dropped it in my favorite. Feel free to move it if necessary  Smiley

So I've been developing my first pro game full-time (plugity plug-plug) for about 4 months now. I don't take days off, and I work 12hrs a day on average. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't trade this for the world, but I'll be danged if I'm not feeling it.

Anyone been down this road? How'd you cope?
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Wilson Saunders
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« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2012, 04:50:23 PM »

I haven't had the guts to split from the comfortable world of draw a regular paycheck to go fourth and live the dream. But mad props to you for doing it Beer!

Usually when I am lacking in motivation, I think back to all the failed job interviews I have had with game companies, and how awesome it would be when my game becomes a success. It may not be the healthiest way to approach motivation but it fills me with enough  Evil to keep coding when sane people would get board and give up.
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« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2012, 05:03:23 PM »

i'd suggest not working 12 hour days. it leads to worse games in the long-run
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« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2012, 05:44:36 PM »

serious sam guys (croteam) once said they work for more than 12 hours a day or so
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eigenbom
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« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2012, 06:03:09 PM »

Hey RaddRedd, I quit my job around 6-7 months ago, and since then have been working usually 5-6 days a week, ~8-9 hour days on my own game development. I could no way work 12 hour days, what's the point? Trade an hour a day that you would be coding and let the game percolate in the back of your mind -- and make sure to get plenty of exercise otherwise your brain will rot. Wink

One thing that keeps me going is that I have two projects on the burner -- Moonman and an ios game. I split up my week between them, and so if I'm going through a boring phase with one then my whole week isn't ruined because I switch to the other. The trade-off is that both will take longer to complete.

Most of the time my days are fairly tedious, spending weeks on engine work is the worse as you get no visual results or change in the game itself. The isolation is a bit of a killer too, but I usually get out for a swim or video chat with my ios project colleague.

Another thing that has dramatically helped with my own motivation is to take part in the devlog community here, both by posting updates/screens/vids of your own game and commenting/testing the other cool games in development. See e.g., Dom2Ds list of devlogs.
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« Reply #5 on: November 12, 2012, 06:41:26 PM »

serious sam guys (croteam) once said they work for more than 12 hours a day or so

i imagine a lot depends on how it's measured. for instance, when some people say they work 12 hours a day they don't account for bathroom breaks, meal breaks, distractions, etc. -- they just look a the clock and say 'well i began work at 12noon and stopped at midnight so that's 12 hours' -- but that isn't 12 hours if they took breaks to eat or watch a youtube video or check facebook or twitter or whatever

so when i say i work 3-5 hours a day on my game, people are like 'what are you, lazy?' -- and i'm like, maybe, but i think i'm just more honest, because i don't count distraction time or breaks, i only count the time when i'm actually working. i use a time tracking tool (rescuetime) because objective measurement is always better than guessing or estimation
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eigenbom
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« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2012, 07:26:19 PM »

Yeh it's ridiculous relating work hours between different jobs, especially when you're self-employed and you aren't being paid explicitly for N hours/week.
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« Reply #7 on: November 12, 2012, 08:43:37 PM »

Uh, 12 hours/day is stupid. If a company asks me to work 12 hours, I'd quit. Not because I'm lazy but because any such team lacks basic project management skills.

8 hours a day is the researched optimum for long work days, even in trivial tasks. Higher work hours in industry (which is a field where people don't have to think) have caused higher accident rates. In the software industry, tired people make more bugs.

Creativity thrives under pressure. Long work hours don't give you pressure, because you have a lot of time to do something. But even doing nothing is tiring. You spend a lot of time zoning out and not really doing anything. Forced, short work hours give you pressure.

Having a clear mind can also be distracting. I just woke up, and instead of doing something useful, I'm here, because I need a creative output. You need a little fatigue to focus. Most people introduce it by wearing headphones or something. I say just leave all your difficult creative design work in the mornings and do the normal programming stuff in the evening after lunch. In the afternoon, do all the grunt work. Then save the easy, but needing lots of time work for late in the day - planning what to do tomorrow, reports, copying stuff from photoshop to sprites, trivial bugs/typos.

I find that I could only work 4 hours on programming something on average. 6 hours if I'm really productive or rushing, but the next day I'd be so exhausted that I'd end up only working 2 hours. (Not including breaks, this is mostly the times when I'm fully concentrating and not looking at emails or facebook or whatever).

The main problem with working solo is that you don't have clear work boundaries. If you insist on working 12 hours anyway... what you should do is turn off the computer after 8 hours, print out your code, and check it on paper. I remember an interview with an incarcerated hacker who was forced to work under those conditions and he said it's the most productive thing he's ever done.

And make sure to get lunch. Brain needs carbs to function.
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C.A. Silbereisen
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« Reply #8 on: November 13, 2012, 12:47:56 AM »

Quote
The main problem with working solo is that you don't have clear work boundaries.
and the main advantage is that you can work when you feel like it. i've been getting a lot more shit done and enjoying gamedev even more since i started doing that. it's not a question of how many hours you spend in front of the computer it's about how many of these hours you're actually being productive.
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« Reply #9 on: November 13, 2012, 01:13:41 AM »

It's important to keep time to do nothing. You're much more focused and productive after that.

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« Reply #10 on: November 13, 2012, 01:40:53 AM »

Immediatelly take a one week break. Do not do nothing related to games, do not visit any game dev forums, do not read any game dev books, etc. That probably should fix your problem short term and you should be able to continue.

As for long term, you need to improve your productivity. 12h/day means you are totally wasting time. Make it 4 hours a day and put a clock in front of you and try to squeeze the most of that time. It will decrease your fatigue, time spent on the project and increase the quality of the game (you won't have time to implement the boring & useless parts :D)
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« Reply #11 on: November 13, 2012, 02:35:08 AM »

I'm involved in many projects and sometimes my day adds up to 12 hours or more, too. But I really try to avoid it with better planning. I work at home on my projects full-time, too. And I learned that it's very important to get into a daily routine which doesn't involve sitting in front of the computer all day. As eigenbom said, your brain will rot.

I now specifically plan in stuff like going out to buy food. And I don't buy things in large amounts but only what I need for the day so I need to leave the house the next day, too. I contact friends and meet them so I keep social interaction. I do a lot of housework, vacuuming, washing dishes. This all sounds really silly but it's a welcome change!

I once went down that road. Barricading myself in the room with the computer, only communicating with the world through the internet, working all day long, it seemed. But it really got to me. Better have a healthy balance, be happier, go out more, and MAKE BETTER GAMES Smiley

Because the game is going to be worth nothing if you can't finish it because you burn out before. Take care of yourself!
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« Reply #12 on: November 13, 2012, 04:01:20 AM »

serious sam guys (croteam) once said they work for more than 12 hours a day or so

i imagine a lot depends on how it's measured. for instance, when some people say they work 12 hours a day they don't account for bathroom breaks, meal breaks, distractions, etc. -- they just look a the clock and say 'well i began work at 12noon and stopped at midnight so that's 12 hours' -- but that isn't 12 hours if they took breaks to eat or watch a youtube video or check facebook or twitter or whatever

so when i say i work 3-5 hours a day on my game, people are like 'what are you, lazy?' -- and i'm like, maybe, but i think i'm just more honest, because i don't count distraction time or breaks, i only count the time when i'm actually working. i use a time tracking tool (rescuetime) because objective measurement is always better than guessing or estimation

Yeah, this is really common.

---

Here are my techniques:
  . exercise daily
  . eat well
  . work in bursts. don't waste time web trolling
  . maintain a social life, with whoever you can get
  . go outside daily
  . don't work 12 hours. you need balance.
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theRaddRedd
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« Reply #13 on: November 13, 2012, 04:18:30 AM »

Wow, didn't expect so many great replies!

Limiting the workday: That actually sounds pretty genius. I never considered anything like that. What software do you guys recommend for tracking TOT?

Keeping a devlog: That seems like it would just add to the work, wouldn't it? Or am I just looking at it the wrong way?

About the exercise: for one reason or another (don't ask) I've had to walk about 7 mi (US) a day, so I'm definitely getting exercise, lol.

Really appreciate all the advice  Coffee
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« Reply #14 on: November 13, 2012, 04:29:37 AM »

7 miles? All you do is walk and work?
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theRaddRedd
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« Reply #15 on: November 13, 2012, 04:37:58 AM »

7 miles? All you do is walk and work?

Yup; I do some tech consulting. I play guitar every other day or so too, but yeah... Tired

EDIT: Before anyone thinks I'm some kind of legend, I only make the walk every few days now. It WAS everyday about a month ago, though.
« Last Edit: November 13, 2012, 04:56:28 AM by theRaddRedd » Logged

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« Reply #16 on: November 13, 2012, 04:39:09 AM »

Holy shit.
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J-Snake
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« Reply #17 on: November 13, 2012, 01:33:30 PM »

Quote
The main problem with working solo is that you don't have clear work boundaries.
and the main advantage is that you can work when you feel like it. i've been getting a lot more shit done and enjoying gamedev even more since i started doing that. it's not a question of how many hours you spend in front of the computer it's about how many of these hours you're actually being productive.
Amen.
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« Reply #18 on: November 13, 2012, 02:03:25 PM »

Limiting the workday: That actually sounds pretty genius. I never considered anything like that. What software do you guys recommend for tracking TOT?

i mentioned rescuetime to track time, but as an addition to that as a time-management method i'd suggest the pomodoro technique, with a physical/mechanical (not a digital) timer of some sort
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« Reply #19 on: November 13, 2012, 02:03:51 PM »

Quote
Keeping a devlog: That seems like it would just add to the work, wouldn't it? Or am I just looking at it the wrong way?

It is more work, but its a different kind, and (I've found) good for keeping motivated. Its also about diversifying your tasks a little bit.
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