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dreamer1986

How do you organize your time for game dev?

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As a beginner full time lone wolf game developer, I find it quite difficult sometimes to decide on which aspects to focus on every day, and how to manage time, to be able to work on the project, have a personal life, and play games.

 

And again, I don't know if I should focus a couple of days on programming, then a couple on level design, then story writing, asset creation, and so on, or if I should mix different activities every day.

 

Can you please share your experience on what you found as an efficient schedule to achieve your goals? Even small details, like hour to wake up, breaks you take and why, are helpful. Also, do you take a day off once a week to recharge? Thank you.

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I usually work on either what i'm excited about doing that I feel will add value to the game or on what is blocking the game from progressing. I don't have a road map beforehand of what I will work on and when, I just kinda wing it. When doing this, be sure to play test your game early and often so you can gauge what needs work. Identify where players get stuck, when objectives aren't clear, what is frustrating, and fix those problems.

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Work from a plan, define milestones and small deliverables.
Finishing deliverables lets you both keep track and give you motiviation for the next one. Finishing stuff is like a drug :)

What are you planning to make?

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Do what you want to do when you feel like it.

Being able to work this way is one of the major benefits of being a lone wolf hobbyist and goes a long way to avoiding the dreaded burn out.

Good luck!

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"full time lone wolf game developer". My advice is "don't do that"! Of course, this is assuming that what I'm assuming is true. I'm assuming you don't have another day job, you are 30 (based on your username), you will be working alone, you don't have prior relevant work experience, and you are planning to live off your relatives or off your savings from previous jobs until game development starts paying off. If that's true, then I think it's too risky.

 

But if you do decide to take the plunge anyway, I would recommend you separate your work place from your residence. The distractions at home are ENDLESS! This also allows you to set a starting and ending time for your work sessions. So every morning you can wake up on time, get dressed, go to the office, and work your ass off. This results in your body releasing a certain dose of "daily adrenaline" that will be effective in keeping you energized for work, as opposed to having your computer next to your sleeping bed and living like a hikikomori... not that I would know anything about that...  *oh god the memories are so vivid*

 

Also, stay clear from anime and games. For your breaks, choose computer-unrelated activities if you can. And play sports.

 

As for scheduling, basically you have to work like mad until you have a working and running prototype of whatever it is you are trying to build. After that you can set a plan - what needs to be added/improved/fixed/removed... etc. Personally I find planning from scratch to be ineffective. This plan will be alive and changing as the project progresses.

 

Also, get some people engaged as soon as possible. Hear from them and report to them your progress.

 

Good luck!

Edited by Amr0

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stay clear from anime

 

Might as well change my degree then.

 

I'm terrible at planning time so my advice isn't worth much. 

First of all, you might want to read this article: http://www.gamedev.net/page/resources/_/business/production-and-management/getting-games-done-r3564

I also remember someone saying you have to force yourself to work on your game. For example, you set timer to 1 hour, sit down, and work on your game. You have to do 1 hour every day at minimum, no excuses, no procrastination, etc. Just 1 hour spent on your game, and it doesn't even matter what you do.

Edited by Zaoshi Kaba

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Work from a plan, define milestones and small deliverables.
Finishing deliverables lets you both keep track and give you motiviation for the next one. Finishing stuff is like a drug smile.png

What are you planning to make?

 

Well, my degrees are in Psychology, International Relations and Science of Education, and so I am working on a serious game in UE4, related somewhat to the Roman Empire, but I don't want to go into detail right now :) .

 

"full time lone wolf game developer". My advice is "don't do that"! Of course, this is assuming that what I'm assuming is true. I'm assuming you don't have another day job, you are 30 (based on your username), you will be working alone, you don't have prior relevant work experience, and you are planning to live off your relatives or off your savings from previous jobs until game development starts paying off. If that's true, then I think it's too risky.

 

But if you do decide to take the plunge anyway, I would recommend you separate your work place from your residence. The distractions at home are ENDLESS! This also allows you to set a starting and ending time for your work sessions. So every morning you can wake up on time, get dressed, go to the office, and work your ass off. This results in your body releasing a certain dose of "daily adrenaline" that will be effective in keeping you energized for work, as opposed to having your computer next to your sleeping bed and living like a hikikomori... not that I would know anything about that...  *oh god the memories are so vivid*

 

Also, stay clear from anime and games. For your breaks, choose computer-unrelated activities if you can. And play sports.

 

As for scheduling, basically you have to work like mad until you have a working and running prototype of whatever it is you are trying to build. After that you can set a plan - what needs to be added/improved/fixed/removed... etc. Personally I find planning from scratch to be ineffective. This plan will be alive and changing as the project progresses.

 

Also, get some people engaged as soon as possible. Hear from them and report to them your progress.

 

Good luck!

 

Well, this is something I wanted to do for a long time, but didn't have time to do it until a few months ago, when I could focus on it full time.I feel its the right choice, but why do you say to "not do that", and consider it risky?

 

And to be honest, I really am happy I finally can be somewhat a "hikikomori", after years of socializing way too much, so there's that :D . And working like mad all day every day isn't my style, I always preferred strict schedules, and so leaving time for other activities I love doing.

 

 

stay clear from anime

 

Might as well change my degree then.

 

I'm terrible at planning time so my advice isn't worth much. 

First of all, you might want to read this article: http://www.gamedev.net/page/resources/_/business/production-and-management/getting-games-done-r3564

I also remember someone saying you have to force yourself to work on your game. For example, you set timer to 1 hour, sit down, and work on your game. You have to do 1 hour every day at minimum, no excuses, no procrastination, etc. Just 1 hour spent on your game, and it doesn't even matter what you do.

Good article, thank you. I will try this 5 1 1 method, it sounds efficient.

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Well, this is something I wanted to do for a long time, but didn't have time to do it until a few months ago, when I could focus on it full time.I feel its the right choice, but why do you say to "not do that", and consider it risky?

 

He is saying that because

a) it usually takes a rather long time to develop a good game, which means that it will take a lot of time until you might have earnings again, and

b) it is unlikely that your first game will generate enough revenue to make up for the time you spent on it.

 

But it's probably still a valuable experience and you will learn a ton even if your game doesn't sell well. Just be aware that that's a very real possibility.

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Hey dreamer1986, we share a similar circumstance (Born in 1986, solo developer). I've been working on a small hand-rolled engine for about 2 years now, and while my workflow process is far from perfect, I have adapted  some helpful methods to help me along.

 

#1 Write everything down - On your best days, you will be flowing with many ideas, many of which you will forget, unless you document them. On your worst days, you will struggle to find concentration, so referencing previous notes helps. If I am coding something and I decide to pack it in for the night, I write down what my next two or three steps should be, so the next day I can pickup where I left off, rather than wasting time figuring out what section I was working on. I do the same for art creation and make notes on process improvements.

 

#2 Changing gears - On a scheduled (week)day of development, and after I get home from work, I work on 3-4 aspects (Audio, Art asset creation, design, coding). I work on each for about 2 hours, take about a 20-30 minute break between each. In this approach there IS a price to pay switching from one aspect to another. It takes me about 20 minutes to get warmed up playing music, and 20 minutes to get into drawing or graphics design. I can't however, code one day for 8 hours, then do art the next day for 8 hours, and do audio the next day for 8 hours, it just doesn't work for me. Find what kind of schedule you get the most throughput out of, and cater to that. 

 

Also, be mindful of the tasks you shy away from (for me it's art) and tackle them as early in the day as possible, when you are still fresh. I can't tell you how many times I've scheduled to do animation frames after coding and it just doesn't happen. And I also realize I can still code when I am tired, so I push it to the end of the work day.

 

Just my 2 1/2 cents, just be honest with yourself about what you're good at, and what you're not so good at. Try to identify your weak points, and go after them first.

 

Goodluck!

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