Squeezing More Productivity From Your Brain Meats

Discussion in 'Non-Maker Specific Tutorials' started by PentagonBuddy, Aug 15, 2014.

  1. PentagonBuddy

    PentagonBuddy Out To Lunch Veteran

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    This is a topic plenty of other people have written about, and I’m elaborating on my personal thoughts and things I do in hopes it might be helpful to someone else. Productivity is something people have analyzed into a science, and there’s certainly other articles about this if you want to check one of those out.

    Who am I to tell you how to make your games? No one, that’s who! Have I released anything? Not really! This isn’t a guide for finishing a game, though there is a slight amount of overlap between “being productive and working on stuff” and “finishing a game”. Only a little bit. For finishing things, I recommend taking a look at Derek Yu’s writing on the matter. Solid advice you’ve probably been recommended before.

    Don’t shoot for creative or inspired, go for discipline. It’s not very glamorous but it gets things done. Creativity and inspiration may come and go, but if you make something a regular habit and learn how to do it even when you don’t feel like it, then you’ll get more done. There’s nothing wrong with feeling inspired, and if you can, try to take inspiration from the smallest things! That drop running down a window? That can absolutely be a game mechanic or an art reference or something. Practice getting excited about things like a 5 year old.


    Really, most of what I can say boils down to one thing: be optimistic about your work. Even if you aren’t an optimistic person, approaching your work (be it gam mak, writing, code, art, or whatever) from a positive standpoint will only improve it.

    This doesn’t mean you should be uncritical of what you do - just remember that “perfect” is impossible and “good enough” is good enough. It can be hard to let go of insecurities or worrying about the quality of something, but personally I shoot for doing my best. If I’m working on something I’ll eventually show to others, I keep in mind what they might like (yes, I do in fact think of a Target Audience) but I never let it get in the way of what I like. It’s up to everyone else to decide if they like it or not. Thinking this way really does help you worry less about how good your work is.

    Since pretty much all game-dev related work I do is in fact a hobby, this isn’t a privilege everyone has. If you aren’t being paid or working on a deadline, you have the freedom to take whatever approach or attitude you want.

    A word of caution - I might say things like “do things your own way” or “you’re the one calling the shots”, but remember that this does not mean to act stubborn and bull-headed and ignore everything you’re told because “the creator knows best”. For getting things done, it may be effective, but if you’re rude and dismissive to folks you’ll have a hard time getting help with whatever it is you’re doing. And trust me, you will want the help or outside input eventually.

    I may also say things like “stay positive”, but that’s hard! Again, it’s still important to be critical of what you do, but along with throwing out the need for perfection or finding ways to worry less about what other people think, at the end of the day if you’re not happy with something you’ve done, pause and ask yourself why that is. Once you know why, you can do something about it and hopefully make some progress. If you aren’t satisfied with your skill level, remember that you can only improve if you study and practice.

    One thing that helps keep me focused is music. When I want to get pumped, I have a playlist for it - great for drawing, databasing, or working out! Sometimes I need something quieter, so there’s music for that, too. Combine with some relaxing noise generation and bam, I can get in The Zone.


    But don’t think you can just keep going forever! Take breaks If you’re tired, work on something else if you’re sick of doing something. Especially when making a game, if you don’t feel like databasing… work on writing. Or resources. Or planning. No work is wasted work; even if you throw it out later you’ll have learned from the experience.

    Most importantly: take care of yourself. I am assuming most of those reading this are human, and people have basic needs. Move, eat, shower, and sleep. If you work with a keyboard or tablet for long periods of time, make sure to stretch your wrists.


    Your work is never going to be more important than your health, and when you push your health chances are your work will suffer for it.

    “Taking care of yourself” extends beyond physical needs. Oftentimes when productivity comes up, people will tell you to make lists or hold yourself accountable or find ways to guilt yourself into working, and while I love my TODO list to death, I’ve never worked well on guilt. Again, it goes back to finding ways to be positive about what you’re doing. Be kind to yourself! If you feel you’re at your limit, take a break and come back. More than once I’ve had the painful experience of getting something done, hating every second of it, and then feeling incredibly bitter about the final product. To return to what I said earlier about hobbies: if this is a hobby, make sure it’s enjoyable. Not every second has to be sunshine and rainbows, but why make yourself miserable?


    Despite all this talk of productivity, don’t get too wrapped up in keeping yourself busy. Go for having a sense of purpose, and be focused when you’re working. It’s totally fine to take breaks and stop to smell the roses. It’s more than fine, in fact - it’s important! After all, you can always work on your project tomorrow…

    GrandmaDeb, Solo, CrazyCrab and 4 others like this.
  2. Adellie

    Adellie NPC Veteran

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    Right! :-D

    Adellie counters sparkly emoticons with a bit of pessimism.

    ....... aaaand my productivity is still 0

    I have no trouble getting pumped about a personal project until I open any text/image/script editor. The second article you linked (Yu) pretty much points out everything I do wrong, most of which i'm aware of but am too stubborn to change. I have a bad habit of starting from scratch too often. and stripping down on features i'd like seems neverending. I even tried restricting myself to using ace lite.

    I know that having project partners will whip me into shape immediately; however i'd really like to follow through on discipline alone instead of needing people to hold me to it.

    Anyhow, fun reads.

    I've never considered using noise while i'm plugged in since music is so accessible. It sounds like a great idea though so I'm gonna try that.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 1, 2014
  3. CrazyCrab

    CrazyCrab Veteran Veteran

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    Thanks for taking your time to write this, my biggest problem is working on the same project for more than a week and even though I've been working on one for a long, long time I feel like I'm running out of steam.

    I'll try some of the things you've mentioned as well as the other articles you've linked to. Hopefully I will finish this one. Or at least get a demo out or something  ;)
  4. Shion Kreth

    Shion Kreth White Knight Veteran

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    I absolutely need a good playlist of inspiring music for when I work! Good call. 
    Indinera likes this.
  5. Indinera

    Indinera Indie Dev Veteran

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    Lately, I did miracles with this music in my ears:

    Usually finding the right music at the right moment can make me work 10x faster, but those moments are not as frequent as I'd wish.
    Solo and Kes like this.
  6. nio kasgami

    nio kasgami VampCat Veteran

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    for me a guy who suffer of TAD (trouble of attention deficit ) 

    be productive is a pain in the ass.

    due the fact EVERYTHING'S can distract me so generally I always listen music for enter in my bubble and let nothing distract me 

    or generally I try to be alone in a quiet piece

    also strangely the fact of walking in circle help me to concentrate this is a weird ''tic'' but this is work like a charm! 

    but my worst enemy is when I get to much in my bubble and I begin to think something else of what I need to focus I fall in the ''moon'' like french say and POUFF adios productivity i can lost almost 1 hour of precious productivity! 

    but generally when I move this is stop me from falling in the ''moon''.

    well this is all how I need for be somewhat productive :3!
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 21, 2014
    Solo likes this.
  7. Solo

    Solo Veteran Veteran

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    I like the smilies. :)
    Also, music is probably one of my biggest inspirations, as well.

    Strangely, I've done some of my most inspired work in the dead of night, or the wee hours of the morning. I once read an article where they said you can think more creatively at night for some reason, so I was like, "Whoa, it's not just me!"
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 23, 2014

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