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Getting burnt out? - Dan Potter - Mar 16, 2005 11:13 PM

Hopefully this is the right place for this... Smile

Do you guys ever get burnt out on all this, and if so, what do you do to get past it? I think my main problem is that I have a day job that involves a lot of coding (and it's all on Windows, too, so that's a real brain drain). By the time I get home I don't really feel like coding anymore. Wacko But sometimes I do feel like coding, and each of my projects I could work on just makes me want to shudder and go grab a good book to read instead of working on it. Often as not, something I'm working on will need some sort of creativity, too, and I feel like I've got the game maker's equivalent to writer's block.

Getting burnt out? - kelvin - Mar 17, 2005 12:22 AM

Last time I had coder's block, I ended up moving away from games. I surveyed all the knowledge I had gained and crafted a few non-game apps that could leverage it. I'm moving back towards games now, and I think I'm better for it.

Getting burnt out? - jessimko - Mar 17, 2005 12:41 AM

Sometimes when I get sick of programming, I realize that there's so much else to do; make artwork, write the user's manual, make the web site to promote the game, start a company to sell the game! lol Even the mundane stuff is fun if you're in the mood for something different.
If I'm burnt out I might surf the web but I try not to because I can never get re-energized in front of a screen. It's better to eat a healthy snack and take a walkSmile
I used to have a desk job, and even though I only worked 4 days a week I found it impossible to come home with a clear head and start coding.

Getting burnt out? - BeyondCloister - Mar 17, 2005 02:06 AM

Well I began to burn out last December and never really recovered.

For a couple of weeks in January I did not touch my Mac for anything development related but by then end of the first week back I had burnt out again.

I've been doing lots of software design work at the day job instead of coding recently and for some reason I've been less inclined to do coding in my own time.

The burnt has been so bad that since I got my new G5 20" iMac in February I've probably only done no more than 4 hours development on it.

Various things causing a lack of motivation does not help to break out of the burn out situation either. Getting past the 'Is it all worth the hassle' point is the key I think.

Getting burnt out? - OneSadCookie - Mar 17, 2005 03:08 AM

I have great trouble doing anything but starting projects. Not sure I'd call it "burnout", but it's a substantial motivational barrier. For me, the key is for new and interesting things to be happening. Nothing demotivates me faster than a partiuclarly tricky piece of code to write or a particularly nasty bug to squash.

At the moment, I've got one game project and one application development project, and I'm spending roughly half my "personal programming" time on each. It seems to be going OK, in that I'm not completely unmotivated towards either yet Grin

As usual, I'm bursting with new ideas to try, but I'm learning to sit on them and prioritize them.

Getting burnt out? - ThemsAllTook - Mar 17, 2005 07:06 AM

Sometimes it's necessary to take an extended break. I've just come back after such a break - a few weeks when I really didn't do any development on my own time at all. It's very refreshing, and can give you a whole new perspective on things.

- Alex Diener

Getting burnt out? - AnotherJake - Mar 17, 2005 08:31 AM

I used to suffer from burnout a few times a year. I'd just walk away from the whole thing for a couple weeks at a time. I always had to force myself to sit down and get something done at the end of the break though. It was usually a real struggle to get back into it, and questions about it's worth definitely rattled around in my head. Those episodes seriously cut into forward momentum, so I learned some tricks to keep me going. So far I've been rolling straight for over a year and a half without any problems.

For me, the trick has been to cut all of my projects into much smaller chunks which can be worked on for two or three weeks at a time. It keeps things mixed up enough that I keep finding interest in new stuff on a regular basis. Sometimes I'll just study rendering theory or AI for two weeks as a sub-project. The key to all of this is that it's much easier to have satisfaction in a handful of working pieces over the course of a year than it is to struggle with one giant program that can't be used with anything else but itself.

Getting burnt out? - Dan Potter - Mar 17, 2005 09:30 AM

Wow, everything you guys are writing sounds reaaaally familiar. Grin I did have something to take breaks with -- my lovely bicycle -- and then I sprained a foot muscle pretty badly. I'll be back to that before too terribly long but it's been really boring in between Smile

My burning out really got momentum several years ago actually, when I was doing something like 6-8 hours a day of "day job" work, and another 6-8 hours a day of game work. This was during the finishing weeks of Feet of Fury, our DC game. I do business management, coding, manuals, and a lot of graphics, so trying to move among all those things gets old after a while too Smile

I discovered, too, that I enjoy doing the game work a lot more when it involves something new and challenging. Once it gets down to well known, well trod paths, it gets pretty boring. I think that's what kept me on the DC stuff for so long, I got to spend 4 years writing an OS for it as well as the games. The Mac is just so easy to code for that once I get a game prototype done it's a lot of busy-work.

Ah well... perhaps the taking a few months away from it is really what I need, though that probably won't make the rest of my team too happy Wink

Getting burnt out? - funkboy - Mar 17, 2005 10:16 AM

I got burnt out after last semester - it was too much class, coupled with my environment. Having people around you who are supportive and interested in your work is a real plus... not only of your work, but hopefully you're surrounded by people with a positive attitude in life. I have been surrounded by many negative thinking people who are constantly negative and complaining about anything and everything... I do not believe that has helped me feel like being more productive.

Also, not seeing results from work (both in school, on the job, and in your programming) can result in lack of desire to create. Right now my homework in classes is simply staggeringly difficult - not that it takes a lot of work, but it seems to require sleight of hand in math manipulation and reading the mind of the person who wrote the problem to even have an idea where to begin. When I put hard work into these and end up essentially where I started even after an hour of work, it is very frustrating and helps me just want to sit in front of the TV.

Wasting time certainly does not help, either - I have a bad habit of surfing the web when there's nothing else to do. I should stop that; I need to get out more, do stuff away from programming. The best programming I've done (in my opinion, anyway) was done either during difficulty in my life (trying to escape the difficulty by doing coding, something I can control and know well) or after some break time.

I also very much have the "you should be doing something" guilt trip running through my mind. Does anyone else have the bad feeling whenever taking some time off (or even while doing homework, working at a job, etc.) that you should be working on something else? I have that quite often, and it's a horrendous feeling. One must be able to separate tasks well though - be like Bill Clinton, one of the world's best compartmentalizers. I've read that he was very good at setting aside all other projects and devoting his full attention to one thing, then moving onto something else. Wish I was better like that...

jessimko Wrote:I used to have a desk job, and even though I only worked 4 days a week I found it impossible to come home with a clear head and start coding.

Welcome to the forum, jessimko (haven't seen you before). Have you quit your day job to go full time? If so, how is it going?

Getting burnt out? - JustinFic - Mar 17, 2005 10:57 AM

If I'm not on a deadline, best thing to do is take a week off. Rip Xcode out of the dock. Walks on campus are good (maybe even start going to lectures again...) Another thing that works real good is to buy a new game or two and spend time on those. When I burned out working on KDC for uDevGames I was able to find a used copy of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Bliss.

If I AM on a deadline (like for uDG) I instead focused on non-coding responsibilities. (For me, web pages still count as coding.) Making the music was fun, and helped break up the code all-nighters.

Motivationally, it helps a lot if you can really get behind your game. If you really love your project it makes it easier to get back in the computer chair. Releasing a prototype or alpha that people can play and give you feedback will motivate you too.

Getting burnt out? - aaronsullivan - Mar 17, 2005 12:40 PM

I was seriously burned out after Snowball and uDevGames 2004. I worked hard with a friend to put a site up and put some finishing touches on a new version just before the radio show that I was also prepping for, and then RIGHT after my part on the show was over I got slammed with a seriously bad cold. Knocked me right out of coding.

That sort of negative result to coding the game I think has a subconscious effect, like starting again would bring you to the same result again.

I work best when I'm concentrating on a program daily for hours at a time. I keep it brewing in my mind all day while doing my regular job. When I break from that, and I know it will take some getting into again, it's hard to come back.

I also recommend playing a good console game that has an ending... NOT a MMORPG or GTA or something that goes on for ever. These are NOT motivators. They can be fun, but they are self perpetuating and tend to be a serious distraction as they provide a false sense of accomplishment. Playing really good games, though, can remind you why you want to make them. Grin

So, what finally got me back into coding? Not taking on the 200 lb gorilla directly. I've been working on smaller projects that focus on things I will need to add to Snowball. Most of their code will end up being reused and they will be their own tiny games. I might even enter a 21 days later contest if it comes along.

Oh yeah! That's the best way to break a motivational barrier! A good old fashioned competition. Grin

Wait... there is another better way. You need at least two people, especially for long term projects. The notion of "bouncing ideas off of someone" is not an idle one. It's VERY important and 5x as efficient as working alone, in my experience. Unfortunately, I'm not working on Snowball with a second person at this point... hmm...

Getting burnt out? - BinarySpike - Mar 17, 2005 01:18 PM

My parents let me on the computer 24/7 for my udg game (because I was so late).
after that I was so tired and brain dead I took a break...
Now I got this GREAT team project (game) and get to do the graphics (3D renders)
But, when I do, I just play my GameCube for a couple days.

AaronSullivan Wrote:I got slammed with a seriously bad cold.

That's what you get for playing in the snow... LOL

Getting burnt out? - Dan Potter - Mar 17, 2005 01:20 PM

I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one having these problems. Wink Glad to see too that people are eventually working around them, because I've been coding for something like 20 years now Blink and I've been worried that I'm just hitting that "got married and don't feel like working on anything anymore" final burn-out I've heard about from so many people...

funkboy Wrote:I also very much have the "you should be doing something" guilt trip running through my mind. Does anyone else have the bad feeling whenever taking some time off (or even while doing homework, working at a job, etc.) that you should be working on something else? I have that quite often, and it's a horrendous feeling.

Yes, I get that all the time. It's probably one of the worst motivators of the burn-out, for me. The more I try to take time off and be completely away from it all, the worse I get this itchy feeling that I need to get back in there and finish stuff. That can be good, but in this case it's not in the good way -- it just pushes me back to the computer and I am back to square one, staring at all my stuff I could work on and not wanting to work on any of it (and resentful at myself for trying to force myself into it.. weird as that sounds Wacko) So I start web browsing. Ick, what a waste of time.

Getting burnt out? - kberg - Mar 17, 2005 01:49 PM

Yes, I definitely suffer from many of the same problems. I currently have two games, one (large!) application, three small sub-projects (mainly proof of concept work), and one project for a research paper I'm working on ( this one's on a deadline! Sneaky )

I find that I tend to burn out midway through projects, once I'm over the base implementation of everything. I'll coast right through the portion of the project that I'm very familiar with (stuff I've done before) and then end up getting stuck at parts that were inadequately specified.

I find the best way to address burn-out is to compile a to-do list and add everything to the list that I can think of. I then start picking things off the list one at a time in order of effort required, and I find that this sort of rapid progress really helps to get me motivated again.

Fatal conditions tend to arise when I find that there is a better way to do something, run into a bad bug, come up with some super-cool new feature not consistent with my previous work, or something else that forces me to roll-back and refactor. I usually end up putting projects like this away for several months, and when I'm ready I tend to start over fresh utilizing what I've learned.

[edited out blindingly idiotic insight... Ninja ]

Getting burnt out? - flipflop - Mar 17, 2005 02:09 PM

Have you seen the Dexterity Software Articles? Also, have a look at Steve's blog, he has several articles which may be of interest. One that comes to mind is the following: rebuilding momentum

Good luck!