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Surviving the lows

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Mike Bossy


I consider game design/coding/creation to be a form of art. That doesn't mean games need to be artistic but generally the process of creation is artistic in nature. As such we really shouldn't be surprised that game developers sometimes have the same problems that artists do. The major problem being dissatisfaction with your own work that leads to a circular depression.

I'm not sure why but some days I just look at my work and wonder what makes me think I can be any good at this. I get down on myself for how ugly things look, how horrible things perform and how I don't compare to other games. In a way Gamedev.net can actually make this worse when you see some of the great work that people on here crank out. Whenever I get one of these days there is just no getting out of my funk.

Where this becomes a bigger problem is when you get a couple of these days in a row. Then you get an easy excuse for not moving forward on your project. Add in a bad day at work or personal problems at home and your project ends up in the trash, not to be resurrected for the next 4 months.

Of course the opposite is true as well when you have days where everything is looking and working great and you don't want to start working. The good news for me is that I tend to have more good days then bad.

So why do we do this to ourselves? Is this borderline bi-polar or is this normal? Anyone have any ideas to stop it outside of becoming an android?
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FWIW, I think your game looks great (just make some big, colourful nature backgrounds and maybe add drop-shadows for the cards) and you make very regular and steady progress. I sometimes just don't "feel" like getting into the game and just troll message boards all day, then I feel guilty later. If I force myself to work on the game then I get into it and add a couple new features.

It's the forcing that's the hard part. I make very uneven progress, which annoys me.

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Everyone cycles to some extent.

Personally, I spend more time in the slump/don't want to work/this thing sucks phase than out of it. I don't think it's anything to worry about - just a side-effect of my outlook on life and my own extremely harsh self-criticism.

Like Rav says, the trick is just to do it anyways. It's far from easy, but usually, once you get going, you get into the flow, and it gets a lot better. Every now and then you won't be able to get into the flow at all - but that's OK. Those are the times when you legitimately need to go do something else, or risk making mistakes or even getting mad and actively damaging things.

Not an easy problem - but, for what little comfort it's worth, you're not alone, either [smile]

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