Keeping a healthy mind as an indie developer.

Keeping a healthy mind as an indie developer.

If you’re like me and have worked as an indie for a few months or years then you know how crazy can life get when you’ve joined the indie game industry. Why do I say the term “crazy” why is it so bad? honestly is not bad at all, but what is bad or considered bad is how mentally prepared you must be in order to stay sane as an indie.


Let me give you some insight first and be more specific with few examples of what I just described to be crazy.


Day 1 - Week 1 - Month 1 - The excitement phase.


I described this as the excitement phase because at this point all you know is that you want to make games. You want to become an indie developer and possibly be the next Super Meat Boy creator, or maybe Destiny creator, or whatever it is you have a lot of dreams and there is nobody there to stop you.


At this point you also go buy a new computer with the latest and greatest tech, you get a nice sketch book, or buy a new iPAD with a digital pen, or even better you dedicate a new office space in your house or facility mainly to work on your next indie game hit. You may also ask people around the industry to join forces in your adventure, some may not even respond to you and others probably accepted because you were able to demonstrate that passion about making games. But wait, you have make any games yet…so let’s move on…


Well Day 1 comes by and things are going amazingly well, then week 1, then month 1 and you’re realizing that what it seemed to be a fairly simple game has become a very very large project. Then if you are married like I am, your wife starts to ask for attention, your kids ask for attention, or your relatives, but you probably started prioritizing work to get things going in the right order but honestly at this point feel way overwhelmed.


So what went wrong? You were super passionate about this? You wanted to make games but this doesn’t seemed like a game anymore right?


The true is, this is not a game anymore, this has turned into a job, you now have to set priorities or have to have a structure process, otherwise your emotions will take over your motivation and possibly kill your main goal which was originally “To make your own indie game!”.


I am sorry if I came to you with such a straight up article but that was honestly my own experience and you need to learn from a real world experience. I saw a paradise in the beginning and did not realize how much work had to be invested into making my dream a reality. Honestly what I like to point out are few things I learned the hard way, things I had to experience and want to help you avoid them to make your indie experience way more enjoyable and get you prepared to what it is to come your way.


Let’s break it down into tips, I like tips because they’re concise and I can get right to the point with a tip.


  1. Whatever it takes manage your emotions, emotions are a powerful thing, if you let your emotions get in the way then you probably won’t finish a project. Instead find ways to make you emotionally excited. For instance, read a book about something that gives you passion, or learn something new that can contribute to your overall improvement. I tend to listen to “The Piano Guys” when I code, or I even have to go out to the park with my family to breath pure air and get me myself out of the routine. So whatever it takes make sure that you’re emotionally feeling good and the best you.
  2. Learn, learn and keep learning. I say this because remember learning is a beautiful thing and applying the learning in your own projects is the most amazing feeling you could ever experience. I love to go to conferences since as I listen to the speakers my mind is just beautifully adding all the pieces up together and amazingly determining where I can apply all my learning. A good example of this is my own knowledge of Python, C#, Xamarin, Web Services, etc, etc, etc - I use all these technologies in game development, I know that some won’t be useful but it expands my horizon on what it is possible.
  3. Do it, get it done and don’t wait for anyone else to help you. This is a key element to keep your mind healthy, why? Well if you rely on other people you may get stress, you will be looking for motives to not work on x feature. What if you could do it all? Maybe not 100% but the more you know the more knowledgable you can become and the quicker your project will be done. Even if you don’t know it all but know the high level you can easily leverage the right people's skills to help you finish x feature.
  4. Take a break but not for too long. This is critical, you must to take a 1 day off once in a while. I don’t take more than 1 day off because I tend to lose focus if I go on a break for too long but it is important to disconnect yourself from your project and go out and do some of your most enjoyable activities.
  5. Take in smaller tasks. I always say this in every one of my articles, it is crucial and I can’t put it in letters on how critical this is. You need that sanity, you need to be sane, and if you take in smaller tasks your brain will go into motivational mode, why? well you are completing work, you are getting things done, even if is super small such as moving from point A to point B well that’s progress and trust me time goes fast.


As a summary guys, do whatever you can to keep you motivated, wake up early if you can, try to get you in a happy mood, whatever it takes you have to be in the right emotional state. Anyhow good luck and I am here to help you, I am here to share my own experiences and would love to hear your own as well.


Thank you for your time and don't forget to subscribe to my newsletter, also be sure to find me at @dilmerv and stop by and say hi as I love to chat with everyone.

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