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Serious Procrastination Problems!


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#1 hughdesmond2006   Members   -  Reputation: 133

Posted 09 January 2013 - 09:33 AM

Anyone else find if they put the same amount of time they spend PLAYING video games into MAKING them, you would be flying it! 

 

I have less then a month left to complete my 2D game for college and although i thought by this stage i would have settled down and gotten into a coding routine. I thought id  be at that sweet spot in a project where your really deep in your work, enjoying it and nothing else really matters, but instead i'm just constantly putting the next workload off. 

 

I never really had this problem so bad in previous years with general software development, it could be that i have just gotten more lazy but my theory is that by playing and enjoying the latest games (my favs: hotline Miami, far cry 3, hitman absolution, chivalry: medieval warfare) I am being constantly exposed to cutting edge, top-notch game development and design, so when i return to my primal, sorry excuse for a game (which is to be expected for a 1st attempt) my drive and enthusiasm suffers immensely! Instead of using these games for inspiration, I am just being constantly reminded of how many ideas I wont be able to implement because of my level of skill.

 

anyone else have similar problems?



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#2 noatom   Members   -  Reputation: 782

Posted 09 January 2013 - 09:58 AM

yes I have big problems too.But for me the problem isn't the games,I just lost the desire the code.I mean I love to talk about stuff I could create and ideeas and all that stuff,but when I get to work,in 5 minutes I get so bored that even the walls are interesting.<br /><br />I don't know what I should do...

Edited by noatom, 09 January 2013 - 10:11 AM.


#3 HappyCoder   Members   -  Reputation: 2665

Posted 09 January 2013 - 10:12 AM

This article makes a great suggestion in the section about staying motivated and that is to be working on a project you are excited about.

As for my own advice, uninstall games, put away your console, and do anything else to cut yourself off from video games for a while. Playing games is much easier then making them. Achieving goals in games is easy. They have been designed to minimize frustration and maximize reward. So naturally you will turn to games to fulfill a sense of accomplishment because it is the quick and easy way to do that. I have found that making my own games is much more satisfying but it does take more take and work to get there. I still do enjoy playing games but I would prefer to see my own creation come to life then play somebody else's game. I am not saying you need abandon games for the rest of your life, just put them away until you finish your game.

I also think it is important to break your game up into important milestones and set goals to reach them. The milestones should be something that let you see your progress. It gets tiresome to keep working in source code where the only feedback is passing test cases. For me interactive visual feedback is the most satisfying.

#4 RedBaron5   Members   -  Reputation: 575

Posted 09 January 2013 - 10:20 AM

I find that once I start coding, I almost always enjoy it.  It's just very hard to START doing it.  What I have done to combat this is constantly have my code open.  I never close it.  Even when playing games, its open in the background.  A lot of times what will happen is I'll think of something small to do and since it is already open, I'll make a quick change.  Then that will lead to another change.  Before I know it, I've just coded for 3 hours, enjoyed my time doing it, and made a lot of progress.

 

Once you can get over the initial hump of STARTING, you probably already won the battle.  There have been so many nights when I didn't feel like coding and just forced myself to do it anyway and then 5 hours later (when I should have been sleeping) I was still working (and enjoying it).



#5 BCullis   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1813

Posted 09 January 2013 - 03:25 PM

I don't know what you really expect to get out of this: there's no magic solution to procrastination.  It stops when you get to work.  Which means that all you have to do is start.

 

If you're looking for some commiseration, most active posters are probably slacking in some regard to be posting here, so...there you go smile.png

 

In all honesty, that first step is often psychologically difficult, but it's a fake-out: once you get past the start you realize it was easy.  I've experienced the same in both art projects and code projects: the almost intimidating nature of a blank page or document.  I think starting requires practice just like anything else: the more times you buckle down and just START ALREADY, the easier it becomes and the more familiar you become with the mental reward of feeling accomplished.

 

HappyCoder makes an excellent point that games are designed to make accomplishment easy and fast: that's why our brains like games.  The rules are simple, the challenge is straightforward, and the feedback is instantaneous.  Life sucks, rewarding experiences in life are harder to come by, and take more time to achieve.  Hence why so many people dive into games to feel those quick shots of reward.

 

Real accomplishment lasts longer and feels better though, keep that in mind.  Those games you're comparing your own project to weren't made by you.  The one you'll hopefully finish (by starting now) will have been made by you, even if it doesn't measure up it's a creation from your own hands.  That makes it immensely more meaningful.

 

TL:DR; - get to work.

 

Edit: I will add one thing: if you're working through code that doesn't give you enough rewarding feedback at its own small milestones, look into using something like Trello.  I use it in all my projects, and it really does give you more of a positive feedback system when you complete a piece of the coding task and can either (physically) check off an element on a card's checklist, or move a card to the "done" stack.  I highly recommend it as both an organizational tool and brain candy.


Edited by BCullis, 09 January 2013 - 03:27 PM.

Hazard Pay :: FPS/RTS in SharpDX
DeviantArt :: Because right-brain needs love too

#6 way2lazy2care   Members   -  Reputation: 782

Posted 10 January 2013 - 08:45 AM

Stop comparing your game to released games. For one, they probably have 10-100s of experienced developers. For two, they are already finished, so they'll obviously be better than any unfinished game.

 

When I'm working on my own stuff I'm much more interested in the cool stuff my game does behind the scenes. While playing, a user might think, "This AI is so basic and crappy," but when I'm viewing it as I'm starting development I'm thinking, "I JUST IMPLEMENTED A GRAPH AND THIS LITTLE DUDE IS WALKING FROM X-Y ALL ON HIS OWN!" Framing your accomplishments makes a big difference. "I just ran a 5k! Last month I couldn't even run a mile!" is a huge motivator compared with, "I just ran a 5k in the same amount of time an olympian runs a 10k. :("

 

If the problem is more that you just want to play games than you want to program, then make a schedule and enforce it. From 3-5 on Monday-Wednesday-Friday work on X. If you don't have the willpower to actually develop games/do game development related stuff (playing games is rarely game development related for a lot of people), then you are probably boned. The passion for developing games required to do well is a different passion from playing games that a lot of people have.



#7 Bacterius   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 8890

Posted 10 January 2013 - 09:42 AM

I blame my procrastination on my first year computer science course. On the first assignment they showed us this basic mouse that had to find its way out of an arbitrary maze by only knowing what's in front, left or right of it. I could not solve the problem for every maze. I still cannot to this day, and it haunts me. Yes, that's right - I fail at programming.

 

But otherwise, I feel the most important thing is to actually work on what you enjoy doing. If you don't enjoy doing something, you might as well stop right now, because if you're like me, it's realistically never going to get finished unless it's homework. I am also a fan of prototyping new ideas as much as possible. If you find something cool that looks doable, and if you've got time, try and implement it. Regardless of whether you succeed or not, it'll give you some motivation to do some other work done.

 

Also, I've experimented with multiple design techniques to create applications. The obvious one is the top-down approach: implement the high-level code first, writing stubs for lower-level functions and classes, and recurse until the thing works. This doesn't work, because it takes forever to get something that compiles and see a result, real bad for motivation. Another one is the bottom-up method, where you implement the independent, low-level part of the code first, in nice, reusable modules, and then glue them all together to create something useful. This is better, but doesn't work great either, because you will probably get sidetracked and waste a lot of time, and there may be unforeseen design issues with how different parts of the program interact. It also takes a long time to get some feedback on the code.

 

What I found works for me is a mix of those two approaches, trying to implement the bare minimum (I don't write games, so your mileage may vary, but for instance I'll try and get basic input/output working before thinking out anything else) and design my different classes to require as little interaction as possible, and to make them as simple as possible, so that they may be tested independently. Always try and keep a single variable changing with all others constant if you want to fix issues, otherwise you will get frustrated.

 

Also, stop worrying about how much better other games are. I like to go with the mindset that there is always someone better than me at X, for any X. Get comfortable with this, because you will never be the best. And even if you are, you'll have no way of knowing. So just go with this, improve yourself and your games/programs, perhaps later join a team to code with, and so on... one day you'll be able to implement the effects you see in current games, but by that time you'll see even better effects, and the cycle will continue. You will always want more, all human beings do, and you can't let your motivation be eaten away by that.


The slowsort algorithm is a perfect illustration of the multiply and surrender paradigm, which is perhaps the single most important paradigm in the development of reluctant algorithms. The basic multiply and surrender strategy consists in replacing the problem at hand by two or more subproblems, each slightly simpler than the original, and continue multiplying subproblems and subsubproblems recursively in this fashion as long as possible. At some point the subproblems will all become so simple that their solution can no longer be postponed, and we will have to surrender. Experience shows that, in most cases, by the time this point is reached the total work will be substantially higher than what could have been wasted by a more direct approach.

 

- Pessimal Algorithms and Simplexity Analysis


#8 hughdesmond2006   Members   -  Reputation: 133

Posted 10 January 2013 - 10:02 AM

I find that once I start coding, I almost always enjoy it.  It's just very hard to START doing it.  What I have done to combat this is constantly have my code open.  I never close it.  Even when playing games, its open in the background.  A lot of times what will happen is I'll think of something small to do and since it is already open, I'll make a quick change.  Then that will lead to another change.  Before I know it, I've just coded for 3 hours, enjoyed my time doing it, and made a lot of progress.

 

Once you can get over the initial hump of STARTING, you probably already won the battle.  There have been so many nights when I didn't feel like coding and just forced myself to do it anyway and then 5 hours later (when I should have been sleeping) I was still working (and enjoying it).

 

Yeah, that is SO me! I always put off starting stuff. Also i try to keep code open to remind me of what i should be doing! sometimes even a little code tweak is enough to get me going and once im off trying to solve a problem, im usually engaged until it is solved or i have to sleep! 

 

@Happycoder thanks for the article. Ive been considering the extreme route, going cold turkey on games, but i just so happened to make the worst decision ever by getting a graphics card for xmas! I gave in, my stupid brain just wants games XD.

 

@BCullis I think by now you should know exactly what i want to get from this, a good discussion. Its not often talked about.



#9 BCullis   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1813

Posted 10 January 2013 - 10:47 AM

@BCullis I think by now you should know exactly what i want to get from this, a good discussion. Its not often talked about.

 

Because there's nothing to really gain from talking about it. 

The point of my "I don't know what you expect to get" starter was that procrastination as a stumbling block is only ever solved by finally getting to work, no matter how much discussing you do about it.  No one has ever stopped procrastinating on a task by talking to other people about how they're putting off getting started.  And it sounds like you have quite the task on your hands and an approaching deadline.

 

 

i just so happened to make the worst decision ever by getting a graphics card for xmas! I gave in, my stupid brain just wants games XD

 

This is why I can't take it seriously as a "lets ponder the origins and solutions to procrastination" discussion.  It's an issue of discipline, and comments like this say "I don't have any".  There's your answer.  It's like eating junk food instead of making yourself a healthy dinner: games are immediate gratification, hard work takes time and isn't fun.  Until it is, which happens pretty much once you start.

 

Since this is a college assignment, it's not optional (unless you're deciding passing your course is optional, in which case, game away!), otherwise I'd second someone's comment earlier that you should instead pick something you're more interested in working on.  As for your theory, it reads more like denial or an excuse: "obviously it's the games' fault that I'm not motivated!"  Please.  You don't want to work on the project because it's work.  I'm just going to say it's due to burnout from being in school for a while, I too had trouble being as motivated in the last semesters of my undergrad.  But I still worked on some pretty awesome projects that got me fired up once I got started.


Edited by BCullis, 10 January 2013 - 10:49 AM.

Hazard Pay :: FPS/RTS in SharpDX
DeviantArt :: Because right-brain needs love too

#10 szecs   Members   -  Reputation: 2143

Posted 10 January 2013 - 11:15 AM

As stated in the article, breaking down the program in hilariously small chucks and always making a small but playable thing is the most important thing. I say always make something playable, like a prototype. You can't make a game, no matter how small pieces you have broken it down, if build it from "left to right". You have to work more or less on all part of the program a bit. You can't fully implement the graphics for zero to full if you can't interact with the game. You can't fully implement the internal workings if you can't interact with it and don't see a thing. You can't fully implement input/interaction from zero when things doesn't do anything and you can't see anything.

I think you get the idea. Today, I have no feelings when I see a blank page, even if I'm learning a new thing. I just get started with it, make many prototypes as I learn and make some prototypes for the actual project I'm working on.

For my current job I have to make a automatic data acquisition and instrument controller program in Labview for an endurance test. I started Labview about 2-3 weeks ago and I already have about 10-12 prototypes of random learning stuff, and 3 prototypes of the actual project for testing different things. Labview is a graphical dataflow language, as I saw, many programmers utterly hate it, because it's so different than most text languages.

That all folks, blah blah

Edited by szecs, 10 January 2013 - 11:17 AM.


#11 hughdesmond2006   Members   -  Reputation: 133

Posted 10 January 2013 - 11:18 AM

@BCullis I think by now you should know exactly what i want to get from this, a good discussion. Its not often talked about.

 

Because there's nothing to really gain from talking about it. 

The point of my "I don't know what you expect to get" starter was that procrastination as a stumbling block is only ever solved by finally getting to work, no matter how much discussing you do about it.  No one has ever stopped procrastinating on a task by talking to other people about how they're putting off getting started.  And it sounds like you have quite the task on your hands and an approaching deadline.

 

 

i just so happened to make the worst decision ever by getting a graphics card for xmas! I gave in, my stupid brain just wants games XD

 

This is why I can't take it seriously as a "lets ponder the origins and solutions to procrastination" discussion.  It's an issue of discipline, and comments like this say "I don't have any".  There's your answer.  It's like eating junk food instead of making yourself a healthy dinner: games are immediate gratification, hard work takes time and isn't fun.  Until it is, which happens pretty much once you start.

 

Since this is a college assignment, it's not optional (unless you're deciding passing your course is optional, in which case, game away!), otherwise I'd second someone's comment earlier that you should instead pick something you're more interested in working on.  As for your theory, it reads more like denial or an excuse: "obviously it's the games' fault that I'm not motivated!"  Please.  You don't want to work on the project because it's work.  I'm just going to say it's due to burnout from being in school for a while, I too had trouble being as motivated in the last semesters of my undergrad.  But I still worked on some pretty awesome projects that got me fired up once I got started.

 

 

OK. so at this point i could easily pick flaws in what you are saying and start a big long internet argument which would drag out for ages and be of no use to anyone but for both of us defending our massive egos. Instead i will just say this, i made the thread to get people to share their experiences on this topic because i thought it would be interesting to read, if that in itself is procrastination then so be it. I am not looking for a solution, i know what i need to do. I'm sorry if i didn't communicate this well.



#12 BCullis   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1813

Posted 10 January 2013 - 11:51 AM

I am not looking for a solution, i know what i need to do. I'm sorry if i didn't communicate this well.

Y'know, you're right.  I read back through the OP and at no point was there ever a request for advice.  I just jumped into that mode because I saw the same mindset and roadblocks that I used to struggle with and got all preachy.  Sorry for pushing my assumptions.  Good luck with the project.


Hazard Pay :: FPS/RTS in SharpDX
DeviantArt :: Because right-brain needs love too

#13 hughdesmond2006   Members   -  Reputation: 133

Posted 10 January 2013 - 12:24 PM

I am not looking for a solution, i know what i need to do. I'm sorry if i didn't communicate this well.

 

Y'know, you're right.  I read back through the OP and at no point was there ever a request for advice.  I just jumped into that mode because I saw the same mindset and roadblocks that I used to struggle with and got all preachy.  Sorry for pushing my assumptions.  Good luck with the project.

 

Thanks man!



#14 Madhed   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2984

Posted 10 January 2013 - 01:00 PM

If you can afford to, I'd suggest getting a dedicated work machine. Any cheap, probably used, 1-2 year old laptop will be enough for programming, even games, if you are not planning on developing the next CryEngine.
When you can't simply start "the game I just thought about right now OMG I want to play it" and instead have to get up -> start the PC -> wait for it to boot -> log in -> start the game, you will probably get back to coding more often.

anyone else have similar problems?

Oh, yes. Very much. ;)

Edited by Madhed, 10 January 2013 - 01:01 PM.


#15 way2lazy2care   Members   -  Reputation: 782

Posted 10 January 2013 - 01:53 PM

If you can afford to, I'd suggest getting a dedicated work machine. Any cheap, probably used, 1-2 year old laptop will be enough for programming, even games, if you are not planning on developing the next CryEngine

Be wary of the requirements of your dev tools. I wanted to develop for WP8 over my vacation, but you need 64 bit W8, and I only had 32 bit W8 on my laptop.



#16 Shaquil   Members   -  Reputation: 819

Posted 10 January 2013 - 02:12 PM

You know, it's funny. Every single time I work on any project in which I do something I've never done before, no matter how small that something is, I end up reinforcing and relearning things that didn't stick the first time, or stumbling upon a new idea that challenges my idea of programming. It shocks me every time. It makes me want to always be doing something challenging.

 

My problem is that I struggle to find ideas that excite me enough to want to build them. It wasn't always like this, but recently I've started to feel this way. I thought it might be distractions, so yesterday I went and sold my Xbox and all my games to GameStop to get that out of the way. So far it hasn't been too much help. Funnily, when I do find an exciting project, I can go for weeks. It's harder to stop than start at that point.

 

I guess the best thing people like myself can do is just be completely honest. If the project seems like a cool idea, but it doesn't make you want to jump up and start working on it immediately, then it's either not cool enough, or not something you're excited by. In either case, move on. It's not worth your time. It'll be another incomplete project to make you hate yourself. I think in my case it might be good to break from game programming for a bit and experiment in other things for a while.


Edited by Shaquil, 10 January 2013 - 02:22 PM.


#17 Anri   Members   -  Reputation: 597

Posted 10 January 2013 - 03:01 PM

Dune 2000 has been taking me away from my projects since 1998! sad.png

 

Now, if you will excuse me I do have to get back to some android progra...sigh...oh fuck it....LONG LIVE THE FIGHTERS!!! KILL UNTIL NO HARKONNEN BREATH ARRAKEEN AIR!!! FOR SHAI-HULUD!!!ohmy.png



#18 hughdesmond2006   Members   -  Reputation: 133

Posted 10 January 2013 - 03:09 PM

You know, it's funny. Every single time I work on any project in which I do something I've never done before, no matter how small that something is, I end up reinforcing and relearning things that didn't stick the first time, or stumbling upon a new idea that challenges my idea of programming. It shocks me every time. It makes me want to always be doing something challenging.

 

My problem is that I struggle to find ideas that excite me enough to want to build them. It wasn't always like this, but recently I've started to feel this way. I thought it might be distractions, so yesterday I went and sold my Xbox and all my games to GameStop to get that out of the way. So far it hasn't been too much help. Funnily, when I do find an exciting project, I can go for weeks. It's harder to stop than start at that point.

 

I guess the best thing people like myself can do is just be completely honest. If the project seems like a cool idea, but it doesn't make you want to jump up and start working on it immediately, then it's either not cool enough, or not something you're excited by. In either case, move on. It's not worth your time. It'll be another incomplete project to make you hate yourself. I think in my case it might be good to break from game programming for a bit and experiment in other things for a while.

yeah i did the same thing with my ps3 couple of years ago, ebayed it and sold all my games. but then after a few months i went crazy and bought an xbox haha!!

 

Then i went through another similar phase but less extreme about 4/5 months ago, didnt sell my Xbox  but just didn't renew my live gold and most of the games i have for it i only play multiplayer so its like the same thing. It went very well up until just before xmas, i started dabbing in free or old PC games which i haven't done in years and gradually got back into gaming with the excitement surrounding all the great new releases around that time, November i think, was a crazy month for great game releases.

 

Thing is, its still great to have games for downtime, say if i was tired from some exercise, often im not tired enough to go straight to bed, but my brain isn't in the right mode for programming/creativity, then i wouldn't feel guilty relaxing and playing some games, just like anyone else might watch some evening TV or read a book. Sadly the addictive nature of games + an addictive personality leads to game time spilling into other less suitable time periods for example the one we all struggle with - BED TIME!! :D



#19 Krohm   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3119

Posted 11 January 2013 - 02:17 AM

Anyone else find if they put the same amount of time they spend PLAYING video games into MAKING them, you would be flying it!
I actually spend much less time on playing video games than I do on working on my system. And it isn't making it anyway.
Last bug I fixed involved an assumption made like two years ago which suddenly turned out to not hold anymore. Personally I blame the library writer, but since I have to deal with it, I had to fix it anyway. In retrospect, his arguments made sense.

I figured out I could take advantage of the end of the year to play some games. Such as those in the THQ bundle. Saints Row 3rd is totally awesome, I wish I could learn to use a gamepad.

I am being constantly exposed to cutting edge, top-notch game development and design, so when i return to my primal, sorry excuse for a game (which is to be expected for a 1st attempt) my drive and enthusiasm suffers immensely! Instead of using these games for inspiration, I am just being constantly reminded of how many ideas I wont be able to implement because of my level of skill.
Don't do that to yourself. You are not unable to implement those because of your skill. Maybe. Even if you were the most skilled out of there, you couldn't make it anyway as you lack
  • Those few (tens of) millions of budget
  • Those tens of interns / team members to help you out and do the artwork
  • The extensive know how accumulated over time (of course we'll help you there as we're all awesome here :D )
By the way, ask those AAA project teams if they can do that without a budget! Not gonna work either!

Edited by Krohm, 11 January 2013 - 02:18 AM.


#20 TheChubu   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4363

Posted 11 January 2013 - 02:34 AM

Most topics commonly dealt with in programming are hard as fck for the newcomer and even for the veteran who never dealt with X, Y or Z kind of programming.

 

It is what it is, just have in mind that the people who code the things that you enjoy are just that, people, so even if it's hard, you gotta start learning. So grab a book and read, even if you don't understand it all (and you wont), in a few months you'll probably be thinking "Why I was overwhelmed by that!? Its very easy, now in the other hand this thing right here..." thus you'll also be knee-deep into some other seemingly impossible to understand subject. Rinse and repeat forever.


"I AM ZE EMPRAH OPENGL 3.3 THE CORE, I DEMAND FROM THEE ZE SHADERZ AND MATRIXEZ"

 

My journals: dustArtemis ECS framework and Making a Terrain Generator





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