BOBR (Burned Out Beyond Recognition)

Discussion in 'Indie Related Chat' started by programmerart, Jul 26, 2010.

  1. programmerart

    programmerart New Member

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    All,
    First off, I'd like to thank you all for your posts, I've been around for a while and have been using your good advice so far w/o saying so. Secondly, I've been working on a game for 1.5 years now (first 6 months on the failed xbox indie live platform) and over a year on the current platform. So far it's part-time only as full-time isn't an option with my family commitments.

    Basically, I've run out of gas. I have lots of good ideas, but whenever I have time to work on them, I can't bring myself to sit down and do it. This has been dragging on now for 3-4 weeks. I've felt this way before, but always been able to snap out of it with a new idea. No luck so far on this stretch.

    My only guess is that I'm burned out (I certainly feel that way). No matter what I've tried I can't seem to get out of this rut and i've got about 6-12 more months before the game is done. What do you guys do when faced with this situation?

    Thanks,
    ProgrammerArt
     
  2. Desktop Gaming

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    Stop looking at your project as one humongous task. The important thing is for you to see that you're making progress, even if the end doesn't seem any nearer.

    Break it down into sections and set milestones and keep a 'todo' list - check stuff off as you do it - you can look at it when you have a bad day and go "oh yeah, it doesn't feel like it but I AM moving forward with it". My last game took two and a half years and I had plenty of downers - I threw the whole lot up in the air and screamed "FUCK IT! FUCK IT ALL TO HELL!" on at least two occasions. You just have to take a time-out, get your head together and come back to it in a different frame of mind.
     
  3. Applewood

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    I doubt you're burned out, just overwhelmed at the size of the task.

    If you have a day job and family comittments then you absolutely shouldn't be tackling games that take that long to do.

    Make a card or puzzle game or something and leave the big projects to the folks that have more time to commit to them.
     
  4. Merx

    Indie Author

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    What is the bare minimum it would take to release it as a game?

    Is there something about it that just keeps niggling at you, for instance has the game gone the wrong way, step back and check your bearings are you on track?

    Have you tried the 15 minute or grinding on the smallest items you have to complete it's a way to level up over time.

    Or there is the set time aside and tackle the biggest problem you have head on, once you have knocked out this 'Level Boss' you should be clear to make headway.
     
  5. JGOware

    Indie Author

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    Can you show us your previously made games? If you've already spent your dues writing several other smaller games as a learning tool, then stick to the epic but like the others have said, turn it into smaller bite sized chunks.

    Otherwise if this is one of the first games you've coded....r u nuts? ;) lol..
     
  6. Vino

    Vino New Member

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    Do it anyway.
     
  7. PoV

    PoV
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    Sounds like you made the scope mistake. Switch to a different mouthwash.
     
  8. Jack Norton

    Indie Author

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    A game project of a length of more than 5-6 months should be AVOIDED as first try.
    Either you're going to make your own engine (VERY BAD choice) or you're doing a massive game.
    Not sure what you can do at this point, I would probably pause it and do something shorter. Shorter is not necessarily crap of course :)
     
  9. programmerart

    programmerart New Member

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    You all have made good points, which basically state the scope is probably to big. I would tend to agree with you on the surface, but there is something that is artificially inflating the timelines. Here's more about my situation:

    1. I'm a fairly proficient programmer, which has been my day job for the last 12 years. I've chosen to use a off-the-shelf, complete engine that uses my primary language for scripting. The programming part of this is the easiest/quickest for me.
    2. This is my first game, and as such I've chosen to make the scope very small. Once scene, minimal npc, limited to single player, etc.
    3. The primary reason for the longer timelines is that I don't have sufficient finances to invest in outsourcing art, so I've been learning to do it myself, hence my screen name. I followed someone else's advice who said 'buy what art you can' (which I've done, and has been much cheaper than custom art). Unfortunately due to the type of game, there's only so much I can find on turbosquid, etc. The rest I've got to do myself, and the learning is what's taking so long otherwise it would be a 5-6 month thing. I'm making good progress, as I'm more than halfway done, but it is slow.
     
  10. Uhfgood

    Original Member

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    I have this problem all the time.

    My advice is... to do 3 lines of code per day. Yep just three.

    The idea is to make progress and any progress is good progress. Find the smallest thing you can do to make progress on your game, do it, and don't think about it the rest of the day. It may not even be code, it may be a small icon, a sound, or adding a few notes to your sound track. Writing documentation? anything that makes actual progress.

    And don't fall into the trap that adding comments to your code is progress, or rearranging the hud layout. Progress means progress, it means getting toward the end goal of a finished project.

    Just do the smallest thing every day, in fact do it first thing in the morning, and forget about it the rest of the day.

    Now here's what happens. Basically the hardest thing to do is to start usually, and there's something you just don't want to do because it seems so hard or big or just not fun to do. So you're fixing that by doing one small thing a day. Before you know it, you'll have either gotten past that tough spot, or just the active of doing something that makes real progress is enough to get you to work a whole bunch.

    The key is not to stop, that is doing it once every day every morning. So that when you're playing games or whatever for hours on end, and realize you haven't done anything then you just think back "This morning I added that new attack" or "earlier today I setup this button for the main menu" or some such and you'll realize you really are working on it. Because if you really want to do more you will, if you don't, you won't, but this will pull you through that spot.
     
  11. Desktop Gaming

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    My last game had 30,000 lines of code. So if I'd followed your advice it would have taken me a shade over 27 years.

    :D
     
  12. Reactor

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    Maybe that's how they were coding Duke Forever :)

    Programmerart, two questions- what off-the-shelf engine are you using? Also, what kind of art are you creating?
     
  13. BarrySlisk

    Original Member

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    Well, clearly you did not get the point. The point is that sometimes when you force yourself to write 3 lines, you end up doing many more lines.

    EDIT: Yes I did notice your smiley :)
     
    #13 BarrySlisk, Jul 28, 2010
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2010
  14. Artinum

    Original Member

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    Maybe that's WHY they were coding Duke forever... :)

    Don't try to write an entire game. Write something that draws shapes on the screen. Once you've done that, write something that draws a shape on the screen that moves when you press keys. Then the hard part - write a program where you move a shape around the screen and it plays a beep if you touch any other shapes. At this point you've got a protogame forming, and you can use it to distract the children while you write the next bit...
     
  15. Uhfgood

    Original Member

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    3 lines is an arbitrary number. I found it summed up the smallest amount of code I could do and still make progress. The point isn't that you'll be only doing 3 lines of code forever, the point is, when you're feeling burned out, you just need to do something. Most cases you don't do anything because it seems to hard or too big or whatever. When the hardest part is starting, you need to do something that gets you started. It helped me through some tough spots like I said before. I would like not do anything for days, and then I was just like "ok just do this small little part, and you don't have to deal with it for the rest of the day". So I basically did that for a couple of days, and then once I got over the hump, I wanted to do more. Soon I was back doing several hours a day (if not the whole work day).

    The whole point is not to stop making progress, even if the progress is just a little bit. That's why I also tried to emphasize that you can't include re-factoring or comments or whatever, you have to make new progress each time. It can be something as simple as setting up a new variable though, that's only 1 line, but if you know you're going to use that then it's progress.

    Also at times where I was only going to do my 3 lines, I might have to do six because it's setting up something, in that case the smallest part of the progress I could make ended up being six lines instead of three.

    Any actual progress at all is good progress. It's more than you had before. It's sort of like 1 is 100% more than 0, meaning even it's a small amount of money it's more than you had before. So even if a newly declared variable is all the progress you made, it's still progress and it's still better than doing nothing.

    Quick Note:
    ^^This is exactly what I'm talking about^^
     
    #15 Uhfgood, Jul 28, 2010
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2010
  16. AlexWeldon

    AlexWeldon New Member

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    1 is not 100% more than 0. It's

    Code:
    Unhandled exception: Divide by 0 on line 1.
     
  17. Nexic

    Indie Author

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    I found that limiting my todo list to just items which you will do in the next day or two really helps. Having a massive list of everything is a BAAAD idea if you've got a lot to do, just looking at it will make you depressed.
     
  18. electronicStar

    Original Member

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    I found out that if you do different tasks like drawing art and coding it is better to group every similar tasks together.
    I mean that switching from the coder's hemisphere to the artist hemisphere is a bit depressing, it's two different ways of thinking and I noticed that I was losing a lot of time procrastinating when I had to start drwing a sprite in the middle of doing some code. Whereas if I batch draw 20 sprites, I will lose a bit of time on the first one, but I will make the others much faster.

     
  19. kys01212

    Original Member

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    Relax and take a break

    I think the best way is to relax and take a break if u r burnt out.

    I took a trip to Melbourne for about 5 days. When I got back, I could start doing things that I couldn't bring myself to do for a long time. I started looking at smartfox server, hibernate and all the extensions. B4 that, I was so tired and productivity was so low and any thought of development just make me depressed. I couldn't imagine how much I enjoyed the work after I'm back.

    I wished I have known this earlier. Actually I knew but I just wanted to push and push. What a mistake.

    This is why I am thinking of moving to China where a trip like that would cost so much less and I could take it often:D

    Kevin
     
  20. Dogma

    Dogma New Member

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    There are different ways to push through these periods. There are a couple of things that motivate me. First, you need a 'support group', people who motivate you, provide you with fresh input and encouragement. Family or friends are perfect for this. I am not talking about productive feedback here, but emotional support. Don't do everything alone.

    Second, you have a dayjob. At your dayjob, do you get your work done? If so, you are not burned out, and you need to try to replicate this behavior from your day job to your personal project. Something is telling you it is ok to not make progress. I am pretty sure you don't have that same feeling at work. So you need to find a way to trick yourself into behaving the same way you do on your dayjob. One thing you could try is not do the work after your dayjob, but before your dayjob.

    Also, from experience I can tell that working on a project alone is much, much harder than working with someone like-minded. From this forum, you might get the idea that artists will only work for money. This is simply not true. If you have a project that shows potential, you should be able to attract many artists who will work for free, royalties, or experience. That will give you a far more pleasant time than learning things that you don't really enjoy.

    If you are unable to attract artists, your game might not be as interesting as you think. So think hard what you want to achieve. If this project is more about the journey than the end result, then you should make the journey as enjoyable as possible. If you know that the final result is worth all the effort you are putting in(possibly commercially), then surely it must be worth investing time or save money to find a good artist?
     

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