5 Productivity Hacks for Indie Game Developers
by Damian Wolf
Productivity is an important aspect of any developer’s life. It doesn’t matter if you are a web developer, system programmer or a game developer, a reputation for productivity can really help your career.
Even though productivity for programmers from different sub-fields can be seen through a single lens, a game developer’s productivity is a different ballgame altogether.
Game development is a multi-disciplinary trade that requires a variety of skills, rigor, and persistence to succeed. However, indie game developers are like snowflakes and have completely different work requirements when compared to traditional game developers.
Indie game developers are self-contained developers with the goal to create a sustainable product over a period of time. Clearly, indie game developers are on their own and need to finish their product in a specific timeframe. The massive workload can seem at times overwhelming for even the best developers out there.
The best way to tackle difficulties is to be productive – to make the most of your time. In this article, we help you do just that and share some intriguing productivity hacks for indie game developers. It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner or experienced indie game developer, these hacks will help you get a better grasp on your game development and be in charge of what you are doing.
Experiment with worktimes
Not everyone is the same. We all are different and that makes it hard for everyone to follow one particular pattern for productivity. As an indie game developer, it is important to make the most out of your own personality. That’s why you need to experiment with what schedule works for you and what does not. Start with a standard 40-50 hrs per week workload and keep a tab on the number of tasks you are able to complete.
Even though an 80 hour week workload seems to be pretty common for game developers, it is not advisable to walk that path. Surveys have hinted that it is common for game developers to work 60 hours per week on average. Also, working overtime doesn’t yield them any monetary value. Summing all these up, it would seem to warrant you to work at least 60 hours per week. However, don’t go forward with this plan. Start slowly with 40 hours per week, and then move on to a more rigorous routine if needed. See what works and what doesn’t, and adjust accordingly.
Being flexible is the biggest advantage you have as an independent game developer and not working under anyone. This gives you the ability to be in full control of your work hours and be productive whenever you can. From early morning through late-night, build your schedule around the time of day you feel the most productive.
The Productivity Strategy Guide addresses how being in “The Zone” is important to make the most out of your time. Even though it is not possible to stay in the “zone” all the time, experimenting with your schedule can yield better results. Check out the guide to learn more.
While you are experimenting with your work time, you should also be mindful of burnout and understand the need to avoid it to stay productive. Burnout is not the same thing as boredom, so don’t confuse them. Burnout generally takes place when you decide to work an excessive amount of overtime and go beyond your capacity.
While you should challenge your limits, you should also know when to pull the trigger and stop working. Feelings of burnout generally start with less motivation, emotional, physical and mental exhaustion, and avoiding responsibilities. Burnout is costly and can easily set you back a lot. That’s why you should always try to look out for symptoms of burnout and avoid it altogether. If you feel this condition applies to you, see your doctor and seek professional help.
Read this article if you want to know more about burnout and how to avoid it.
Plan everything you do and plan ahead
Great, you now know your work times and when you are most productive. You also know how to avoid burnout and stay at the peak of your performance. However, you need to to carefully plan the tasks you are working on. Without proper planning, you will be less effective. Indie game development is all about shuffling between different trades. You not only have to design the game, you also need to code, test and market your game when it is ready.
Proper planning can give you a real edge over others. For starters, try to carefully plan the day ahead, perhaps the night before. This will enable you to be mentally ready for the next day.
All you need to do is note the things that you want to accomplish the next day and stick to it until and unless something urgent comes along. And make sure the plan is realistic, don’t try to do more in one day than you can actually achieve.
Use tools to stay productive
Programming tools are required to make the most out of your game development. Without proper usage of these tools, you are just reinventing the wheel most of the time. If you are a beginner indie game developer, you might want to check out the best free game engines and choose the one that best suits your needs. Also, do not try to change the programming language or the game engine frequently, this will lead you nowhere.
Broadcast your work
With everything in position, from work schedule to which tools to use, one thing that always haunts an indie game developer is boredom. It leads to low motivation and procrastination. One excellent solution is to join an online community and broadcast your game development.
For example, IndieDeveloper, from Sweden, regularly broadcasts his game development on Livecoding.tv. He is currently building a zombie game known as CloudWatch and is inspired by the zombie mode in the Call of Duty games. Another developer, Phanxgames from the US, broadcasts his game RPGLegend on Livecoding.tv. There are others who enjoy broadcasting their work and enjoy benefits including better motivation and creating a fan following and attention to their projects before they are released.
The above list is in no way exhaustive. These hacks will help you to become more productive in your pursuit. One of the latest ways of boosting your productivity is to have an audience that follows your project. Broadcasting is one of the best ways to garner an audience and make the most out of the current opportunities available online.（source：gamasutra）