I’m currently in a pretty good groove working on Sol Trader’s development. Due to other work commitments I can only manage 2-3 days a week on it at the moment, but my productivity is pretty much at an all time high.
One of the things that’s helped me is reading a great article on how to motivate ourselves as indie game developers. One of the most helpful tips was to keep a list of all our accomplishments week by week, and to plan the week ahead. It sounds simple, but it’s already made a big difference to my work. Here’s how I do it.
List accomplishments from last week
On Monday morning I record a list of what I’ve done using Notes on my Mac. I trawl through todo list items, Github commits and my marketing plan. Here’s Sol Trader’s from last week:
## Time last week 1 full day plus 4 evenings ## Last week - code: * Switched the renderer coordinate system around * Added planet rendering * Refactored rendering out of platform into game code * Added normal maps and sun angle * Show the correct planet on the background * Fill essential vacancies * Started work on entity sheet pane - loads of refactoring on it * Refactored all relationships to separate component * Custom rendering of ship images on GUI * Auto-reload shaders on Cmd-R * Tweaked the bloom code loads * Introduced higher resolution planets * Moved premultiply of alpha out to script on game start * Fixed last seen location for friends * Started ship hiring components ## Last week - marketing: * Live stream * Montage: focus * Weekly promotional thread on /r/indiegaming * Blog post on bloom * Facebook ad on new main menu screenshot
This was enormously motivating for me: despite only giving half a week to the game I got a huge amount of development done! It’s worth really celebrating this achievement.
Plan the upcoming week
I then work out how much time I have to work on the game next week. Then I make a realistic list on the goals I want to achieve in the week, with loose estimates, based on the amount of time I have. Here my list for this week - as I have about 3.5 days, I’ve given myself 2.5 days of goals for the week, plus a stretch goal.
## Time this week 3 days plus 1 evening ## Next week goals [X] finish relational currency work: 0.5d [ ] Banks and borrowing money: first pass - 1d [ ] Ability to hire ships: first pass - 0.5d [X] Marketing: livestream - 0.25d [X] Marketing: Montage: quote on motivation [X] Marketing: Weekly promotional thread on /r/indiegaming [ ] Marketing: Blog post: how I plan my week - 0.25d [ ] Marketing: Friday Newsletter with a roundup of latest work - 0.25d ## Stretch goal: Launching a ship - basics of space back in - 1d
It’s very important to pace ourselves here. We should not plan more work that we can realistically do. If we easily achieved last week’s goals, then we should plan a little more: if we didn’t achieve them, then we should ask ourselves why and do a thorough review. Also, we need to make sure we get enough sleep. I definitely need 7-8 hours a day - otherwise when I work on my game I end up subtracting value rather than adding it, and short-changing my family and other commitments.
This week, I’m already ahead of myself. I’ve almost finished adding in banks and borrowing money (the final thing I need to add is handling a loan default, which I’ll do this morning) and I should get ship hiring in today as well. The quote on motivation was popular on Facebook, which is encouraging, and the live stream went well. That leaves most of a day to get the newsletter and the ship launching code back in, which is my stretch goal.
Sometimes indie development can feel rather like moving the game from 46.001% to 46.002% completed each day. Without a clear measurement of progress, it can be a real struggle. I’ve found this process of review and planning enormously helpful. What methods do you use in order to stay motivated?