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Where do you fill up the void deep within when you're demotivated by external issues in programming?


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#1 tom_mai78101   Members   -  Reputation: 523

Posted 11 June 2011 - 12:20 PM

TL;DR, I know. You may skip on down and read the question underneath the line near the bottom of this post.

 

For once, it's a rather dull experience I've ever had, something that's totally meaningless in my entire life.

I was told by an experienced programmer residing currently half a world apart, who has seen some dark sides within the gaming industry over there, that I "might as well give up when you're programming at such a pace."

At first, I was doing some programming practices with an alternate library, SDL, and I shared a small bit of my unfinished project to some of my classmates. One of them decided to ask the programmer, who for some reasons had been in contact for some time, and wanted to help me seek some helpful advices from that person.

This programmer, as described by that classmate, is part of the hardware engineering team in Nintendo, which they develop the Nintendo 3DS. The classmate told me in a more direct approach, saying the programmer did gave some advices:

  • Programming like this isn't going to take you to far places. (Describing how my project is really small and noticeably useless, which in truth, it is useless.)
  • Don't keep reading programming books, learn to read some other books that are not programming related. (Been reading too many programming books that I'm stuck in wrong places.)
  • You have not devoted a lot when you're writing this. Especially this rather small and crude project, it looks like you're just following tutorials and not actually learning how to use them. (I always follow in other programmer's footsteps when it comes to learning APIs.)
  • If your family is able to afford you higher education, you're best bet is to give up programming for the time being and finish your Master's degree. Then come back. (Don't know if it's encouraging...)


I don't know if I should heed the programmer's advices, as the classmate said his voice on Skype sounds like he doesn't really care about me or my future. I haven't heard how he actually sounds like, but here's where the problem comes in.

After a week or two, the words my classmate told me haunt me. Whenever I turn on my computer, I started thinking about myself for not able to finish what I had started a long time ago (Not about to finish reading a single programming book), and decided to try starting over. The more I read, the more tiring I get. This went on through a holiday season here, with each day not able to force myself to start programming. I was able to finish my programming homework and turn it over on time, I couldn't do anything else outside of the curriculum.

In my current state, whenever I think about Visual Studio, or look at the programming books I used to grab off the shelves and start reading, my guts feel like I couldn't achieve anything and that I have no knowledge about the APIs I was about to learn. And now, with the final exams coming, I couldn't bring myself to do anything productive. Someone described my status as "demotivated", hence the title.

 

I wanted to know how programmers / developers fill up the hollow void inside of you, how do you get your motivation back up and running, like it was used to a few weeks ago? Since I was affected by the programmer's advices (shown with listed dots), are they all telling the truth?

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#2 Servant of the Lord   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 14929

Posted 11 June 2011 - 12:42 PM

It happens occasionally (actually, frequently). You need to have one or two other interests that you can turn to, to fill your time when you aren't motivated to code.
Right now when I can't bring myself to code on my project (which I've been working on for a year, and am four months behind my own schedule on), I start making pixel art for the game, or I go play a video game.
Making pixel art gives me a creative output, and helps further my project content-wise. Once my level editor is working again, level design could be another creative output.
Playing video games (which I rarely do anymore, since I started programming) gets my 'game design' juices flowing, and starts me day-dreaming up all kinds of game, which makes me long to get back into coding... except usually I want to scrap my project and move on to the newest idea. I don't let myself (anymore). I find it hard to focus on things, or to force myself to do things, but after forcing myself to complete my first game, forcing myself to finish my second is becoming slightly easier.
Sometimes, I have to give myself a break from one project, and give myself two or three weeks max to play around with something else. This may be a small tool, or it may be a game development contest like Zer0Wolf's recent 'Community Challenge' here on GameDev.

One thing that helps, is to wrap up the current status of your project, to make sure it compiles fine and runs without crashing, then tell yourself: I am going to pick up that book/game/whatever I've been meaning to get to (or take walks in nature someplace), and I will not allow myself to program again for two weeks. Denying yourself programming makes you want to program more. Hold to the two weeks, and then after it completely finishes, then jump back into it, with a plan and a todo list. Start with small 'todo' objectives; ones that you can finish in a day or two and that you can see visual progress from for extra motivation.

Quitting/giving-up never helps. Putting things on pause sometimes does, though.

It's perfectly fine to abbreviate my username to 'Servant' rather than copy+pasting it all the time.

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#3 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 7448

Posted 11 June 2011 - 01:07 PM

Perhaps this should be in the Lounge.
-- Tom Sloper
Sloperama Productions
Making games fun and getting them done.
www.sloperama.com

Please do not PM me. My email address is easy to find, but note that I do not give private advice.

#4 Telastyn   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3692

Posted 11 June 2011 - 01:17 PM

Programming like this isn't going to take you to far places. (Describing how my project is really small and noticeably useless, which in truth, it is useless.


Sandbox apps won't. They're little places for you to get experience, play around with something, learn how you need to learn... When you're beginning, nothing is going to take you far. This isn't exactly damning criticism.

Don't keep reading programming books, learn to read some other books that are not programming related. (Been reading too many programming books that I'm stuck in wrong places.)


If you enjoy reading, then read. Reading programming books cover to cover is rarely helpful (especially as a beginner). Skim most of it, read a little, program a bit, re-read as necessary then repeat.

You have not devoted a lot when you're writing this. Especially this rather small and crude project, it looks like you're just following tutorials and not actually learning how to use them. (I always follow in other
programmer's footsteps when it comes to learning APIs.)


You should follow tutorials just far enough to make sure they work. Then you'll need to play with them. Programming in the end is a creative art; be creative. You'll learn the most via experimentation.

If your family is able to afford you higher education, you're best bet is to give up programming for the time being and finish your Master's degree. Then come back. (Don't know if it's encouraging...)


I don't know the situation or context here, but given the option, good higher education is nearly always preferred.

I wanted to know how programmers / developers fill up the hollow void inside of you, how do you get your motivation back up and running, like it was used to a few weeks ago?


Well what's the problem? Is it actual demotivation (nothing is compelling, not enough progress is seen) or is it burnout (doing studies and coding and work and.... just too much) or is it something more serious like actual depression (lethargy, nothing really makes you happy at all, everything sucks, etc)?

If it's depression, then it's a serious medical condition which you're perhaps best served being safe and seeing a professional. Some of the other advice here can help, but...
If it's burnout, then work on your time management. Play some games, hang out with friends, make sure you're getting enough sleep and a good diet (which as dumb as it sounds is quite effective; your brain just doesn't work at 100% on nothing but mountain dew and red vines). Determine what is important and what is not. Gamedev might need to be put on hold a bit until the other things are in order.
If it's demotivation then some of the burnout things apply. Don't force yourself to program. When you feel like it, do it. Set little goals. "At the end of 2 hours, I want to see X working". This helps you set reasonable expectations for yourself and keep everything on track.

#5 Mayple   Members   -  Reputation: 187

Posted 12 June 2011 - 02:59 AM

Ok so this is going to be coming who makes flash games, and also someone that works on websites backends and languages. I in no means this in anyway to be against C++/VB or any other hi end language.

I actually love the fact that I am burnt out personally. Its almost a rewarding experiance if you make it to be. Heres what I like doing. Get some programming friends, ones that love and share the same values as you. Its very simple to pick them up, just start working on small things and start sharing. Eventually you will start to grab a foot hold of people that like to just talk with you, just gotta find that community. When you do find that group of people share your progress with them. It helps even when you do something really small its very useful to have someone say ' oh thats awesome, you made the text dynamically type!'.

When you don't have that motoivation it can kill, but having friends around that understand the complexities or have been there done that appreciate when they see someone else learning. I know personally I struggled alot in PHP understanding Zend Framework. I was working with a few random people I met on a forum when I was asking questions. I couldn't figure out how to do things, and just talked with them showing what I could and couldnt do. Amazingly enough after just talking with them, they helped me understand how thye learned it. I then started to program the way they reccomended and I was able to become Zend Certified.

This is where the real kicker is, those friends I mentioned are the same people who will come to you when they are burned out and need advice or help. I had the same people I talked with about Zend come to me about IonCube. I was a pro at understanding and working with IONLoaders and they just couldnt grasp it. No tutorial in the world was good enough for them, but I showed them how I kept track and how I used call back methods to track, and now they took it with them. One of them works for Facebook now utilizing principles that I taught him at some point. When he gets burned out at work, he jumps on aim and just chats with me.

We talk about coding, computers, girls, etc. However we always end by programming a little something with other people. When you start to work with others, it opens many doors, you learn alot more, and there is alot of information to be had. I would reccomend you pick up a community project or open source project and see what you can contribute. That is a good way to start making project friends, as well as learn and not get burnt out because you can watch as others progress and put in as you need.

Thats what I do at least.

-Mayple
I usually just give my 2 cents, but since most of the people I meet are stubborn I give a 1$ so my advice isn't lost via exchange rate.


#6 adder_noir   Members   -  Reputation: 271

Posted 12 June 2011 - 07:45 AM

Hi,

I have not read the thread. I have got a gist of it though. The next thing I can say is concrete known fact:

Many, many people have experienced this, are experiencing this, and will experience it.

Everything that now follows are my own takes on life and my own experiences. It may be wrong and some of what I say may only apply to me. Take it with a pinch of salt:

For as long as I can remember I have led two lives. Childhood was easy, very easy, and despite some fear and guilt caused by well meaning yet heavy handed parents (both emotionally and physically) generally speaking my childhood was ace. I didn't have to do any work, I sailed through my responsibilities. Even then though something inside me was waking up, I still don't know what it is, and it's still here today. Childhood ended at around age 10, I'm 32 now. A few things happened, alot of disasters in 1989 particularly the Hillsborough disaster with Liverpool football club and the Townsend Thoresen ferry disaster at Zeebrugge. Then we had the first death in the family in my extended family.

From then on things were difficult. VERY difficult. It was not just caused by scary experiences something I was getting a free ride on academically just upped and left.

At the same time the need to fit in socially became important too. I've talked about this a million times and never said exactly the same thing twice. Whatever it is I have will probably never be traced in a scientific way. I've been sectioned twice, cut myself, been an alcoholic, manic depressive etc... one time when I was working in France (which was yet another disaster) I went walking around a ski resort called Val d'Isere in the middle of the night. It was summer so not too cold. I just had pants on, trainers, and a T-shirt no jumper, not even a phone. Had no idea where I was or where I was going, no map, no torch - nothing. I just started walking up the ski lift cable pillars. Following them up the mountain. 4 hours later after missing a few nasty drops and wading chest deep through fearns and striding across huge ditches in the dark I reached the top. I'd gone all the way up a mountain 2,250ft high alone, in the middle of the night not knowing where I was going and in ordinary clothes. Got to the top and everything was deserted, there was a load of tourist stuff up there like a bar and sutff. Was so dark I saw something that looked strange I couldn't make out. Almost died of fright when I saw I was right next to a huge tracked vehicle and it was such an odd shape that's why I couldn't make it out as it didn't make any logical sense at first.

Always there's been something there. I've been to every psychiatrist, pyschologist under the sun, including natural medicine doctors (they're the only ones who ever really got through to me by the way).

For some reason I'll probably never understand I've always felt incredibly driven to succeed at technical pursuits, and indeed some other things too, even if the cost is very high. There's always some very pressing underlying need to achieve, yet the dread feeling of not being able to. For some reason in my mind the cost of failure at such things is interpreted as being either outwright fatal, or leaving me in an appallingly vulnerable position where others can abuse me dreadfully. This I believe is the source of the unearthly drive within.

Having said that though I've only had very limited success in such things, and those successes have been very bitter won indeed. Sure done some great things, but at a great price.

I've also never, ever understood how it comes so easily to some people. I look at a bridge, or a canal railway etc.. and think..... How? I've wandered into every rational and irrational/supernatural reason as to why.

The only honest answer I can give is I've never found a satisfactory answer. I may well be fate, and the pursuit of techincal accomplishment by an individual may well be in titanic contrast to what their reason for being on Earth really is. This concept drove me out of my mind. Why give me the ability to see it, if you just keep screwing it up every time I go near it?

But.....

Of late things are changing. I would like at least to make you aware of a few very important concepts which have helped me, and may or may not help you:

1) Our modern method of living causes us to greatly underestimate what it takes to build anything real on planet Earth. We drive and walk past bridges, railways, computers, cars, metal fabricated buildings, stone fabricated buildings with gay abandon. Never really appreciating for even the slightest moment what it took to make them. Bit like a spoilt child's mentality, although not voluntarily chosen.

2) Things are best allowed to take as much time as possible to complete. I've finally understood the concept that something which looks impossible can actually be something that feels like a piece of cake to me at an undetermined point in the future. Always allow the passage of time to have the first and last say when faced with something overwhelming. Better to have a small amount of exposure to the difficult bit, then lots of time to sleep on it and think, and ask questions. The more time the better. That's why modern civilisations build pre-fabricated skyscrapers lucky to last a couple of centuries and at tremendous stress and personal cost to everyone, yet the Egyptians built the pyramids which are far more impressive than the finest modern skyscraper could ever be and 5,000 years later it's still here. Why? Their concept of time and deadlines was totally different to ours. It's the achievement that matters not the time period it's achieved in. That's just arrogant - which is what modern man is. Always trying to play God, and playing badly.

3) There is no catastrophic consequence to immediate term failure. Modern education amongst young people is a joke. Their attitude which they freely force without invite onto you, is that if you don't make the grade the first time, or you haven't got a full honours degree before 25 you're scrap destined to die on the streets wondering what might have been. Modern education is designed only by the tiny few percent it served well - and most definitely not with any overall goal of benefitting humanity. It is elite-ist to the absolute core, and I don't believe it's something that has any right being around young, vulnerable and impressionable people. The Idiot's Guide To Calculus taught me in 4 weeks what 6 years at high school, 3 years at college and 4 years at a top University could not. I think that says it all. Anyways I'm lucky enough to have found a much better means of studying at the moment anyway through a far more relaxed open to all format, which I hope thrives in the future.

To sum it all up i think it's a strange mixture of negative childhood experiences, a negative educational experience, a grossly over-sized talent somewhere in the brain taking FOREVER to mature, and straying into philosophical areas I should have avoided. The 3 things I mentioned above have helped me alot anyway.

Take it or leave it maybe that is some use?

#7 Oberon_Command   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1709

Posted 12 June 2011 - 09:36 AM

The Idiot's Guide To Calculus taught me in 4 weeks what 6 years at high school, 3 years at college and 4 years at a top University could not. I think that says it all.


So why didn't you get the book when you were in school? ;)

#8 KanonBaum   Members   -  Reputation: 277

Posted 12 June 2011 - 10:37 AM

I have been using C++ since I was 11. I am now almost 19 and finally getting somewhere with a cheesy game coming out for the iPhone. I have so many scrapped engine designs and scrapped game ideas (the ideas I have written down in a manilla folder, but the game itself was "scrapped") and I remember "quitting" at least a handful of times. Living in Tennessee and going to middleschool and highschool, I had NO ONE who could relate to me. Classmates would be reading twilight. harry potter, or Eragon, and I would be reading these huge "C for Linux", "Sam's Book 24 hr C++ Programming", "Beginning OpenGL", "2D Programming All In One", "Michael Morrison's Beginning Game Programming", and etc.

Needless to say I wrote many programs and games that I eventually quit because I honestly didn't know much. But that doesn't mean you should give up! Take a break if you want to. How well you can program should not define who you are or where you are in your life. Cool so your class mate works for Nintendo and knows a lot. Good for him. Perhaps he could have been a bit more constructive with his feedback, but at least there was honesty.

Don't look at it like you have so many programming flaws you should give up now.
Look at it as you have things to work on and you should keep pressing forward (at your own pace of course!).

So in short, feel demotivated? Good. You're human and sane. Take a break. Come back and tackle a challenge when you feel prepared. Maybe even write simple programs or games -YOU- want to make. If Mr. Nintendo has a problem with it, he can shove his salary in his mouth.

Take care and happy programming!
I'm that imaginary number in the parabola of life.

#9 tom_mai78101   Members   -  Reputation: 523

Posted 12 June 2011 - 10:49 AM

I always thought of myself as a tiny speck of dust in the middle of a clean room, no matter where you look, you can't seem to find a place suitable for you to grow in.

I had never thought of how other people were to look at this, if they were to experience the same thing again and again in different ways.

Man, I feel deeply sorrowful that I actually complained about my situation, and yet, everyone had or will be experiencing this sooner or later, and they aren't even complaining about it; they accepted it and moved on.

Whenever I hit a bottleneck, I feel like I do not have the power to fight over it, I do not have the knowledge to fix it, nor do I have the ability to predict myself when I will be finishing it. There's this urge inside of my body, wanting to do something about it, wanting to know why it does it, how it does it, what's the reason behind all of this, and many many uncertainties I could not answer by myself. I am wrong.

Is this what people call it "depression"?

And I thank the authors of their posts above this for giving me some different perspectives on my current "down" situation. I will be able to find my way out of this.

#10 Servant of the Lord   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 14929

Posted 12 June 2011 - 11:29 AM

Man, I feel deeply sorrowful that I actually complained about my situation, and yet, everyone had or will be experiencing this sooner or later, and they aren't even complaining about it; they accepted it and moved on.

Nope, we complain all the time. Posted Image
Don't feel sorry about talking about it, since talking helps.


Whenever I hit a bottleneck, I feel like I do not have the power to fight over it, I do not have the knowledge to fix it, nor do I have the ability to predict myself when I will be finishing it. There's this urge inside of my body, wanting to do something about it, wanting to know why it does it, how it does it, what's the reason behind all of this, and many many uncertainties I could not answer by myself. I am wrong.

Is this what people call it "depression"?

Only if you are 'depressed'; otherwise it's just being demotivated or having a lack of will. Depending on the circumstances (if you don't want to work on anything and not just programming - happens every other week or so to me) it might be lethargic.

It's perfectly fine to abbreviate my username to 'Servant' rather than copy+pasting it all the time.

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All glory be to the Man at the right hand... On David's throne the King will reign, and the Government will rest upon His shoulders. All the earth will see the salvation of God.                                                                                                                                                       [Need free cloud storage? I personally like DropBox]

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#11 adder_noir   Members   -  Reputation: 271

Posted 12 June 2011 - 12:40 PM

Don't take life too seriously either Tom, it moves along much better when you keep a healthy and somewhat careless perspective about things. Getting too deep into anything where you take it too seriously generally tends to leave you feeling exhausted and often humiliated.

Just get on with it and keep a realistic perspective. There's 6+ billion other people on this planet, plenty to help share the load when things get too heavy for any one individual.

#12 Telastyn   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3692

Posted 12 June 2011 - 04:06 PM

Whenever I hit a bottleneck, I feel like I do not have the power to fight over it, I do not have the knowledge to fix it, nor do I have the ability to predict myself when I will be finishing it. There's this urge inside of my body, wanting to do something about it, wanting to know why it does it, how it does it, what's the reason behind all of this, and many many uncertainties I could not answer by myself. I am wrong.

Is this what people call it "depression"?


No. If you have motivation to do something about it it's not depression.

Hitting a bottleneck and having no idea how to attack it is a sign you've set your goals too far ahead.

#13 Mayple   Members   -  Reputation: 187

Posted 13 June 2011 - 02:43 AM


Whenever I hit a bottleneck, I feel like I do not have the power to fight over it, I do not have the knowledge to fix it, nor do I have the ability to predict myself when I will be finishing it. There's this urge inside of my body, wanting to do something about it, wanting to know why it does it, how it does it, what's the reason behind all of this, and many many uncertainties I could not answer by myself. I am wrong.

Is this what people call it "depression"?


No. If you have motivation to do something about it it's not depression.

Hitting a bottleneck and having no idea how to attack it is a sign you've set your goals too far ahead.



I wouldn't say you put your goals to high, I think its more expectation of yourself. Isn't the point of a goal to reach it through trial and error and issues.

-Mayple

* I do not mean this post as a slander towards what you said, merely seeking clarification on goals vs expectation*
I usually just give my 2 cents, but since most of the people I meet are stubborn I give a 1$ so my advice isn't lost via exchange rate.


#14 Telastyn   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3692

Posted 13 June 2011 - 06:00 AM

I wouldn't say you put your goals to high, I think its more expectation of yourself. Isn't the point of a goal to reach it through trial and error and issues.

-Mayple

* I do not mean this post as a slander towards what you said, merely seeking clarification on goals vs expectation*


Sure, but you're supposed to set goals slightly beyond what you're capable of. You research, experiment, work at getting yourself so your capabilities slightly extend to achieve it. If your goal is too far out there, you run into this issue; you don't even know where to start.




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