It doesn’t matter if you are a seasoned indie developer or you are just starting out: developing video games can drive you insane if you are not careful! A fascinating, rewarding, and fun career can also drive you crazy due to the sheer amount of work and stress it takes to develop an indie game. Luckily, there are a few guidelines you can implement to ensure that you keep your sanity and continue loving what you do best: developing awesome indie games!
Don’t work over 40 hours a week
Believe it or not, but you will be able to get as much work completed in a 40-hour work week as you would in a 60 or even 90-hour work week. The reason is simple: when you limit how much time you have to spend on tasks, you force yourself to spend more energy over less time so you can accomplish said task. When you know you have a lot of time to spend on a task? You will tend to procrastinate until the last minute, and by that time? It may be too late to finish your tasks in a timely manner (plus, your work may be sloppy from rushing).
Unless some mad scientist is forcing you to develop a AAA-caliber game in the span of a month, there is no reason why you should work beyond 40-hours per week. Your quality of life will begin to plummet as will your work quality. When the quality of those two dimensions begin to decline? Yeah, you’re going to lose your sanity.
Take breaks often
Another way you are going to lose your sanity quickly is by failing to take breaks regularly. Every hour, get up, stretch your legs, walk around your home, walk your dog, do some jumping jacks – whatever you can do, just do! Get your mind off work, spend a few minutes looking away from your monitor, and refresh your mind before you spend another hour working hard (instead of hardly working).
Starting a big project? Ensure it’s financially feasible
That big project you are about to start? You need to be certain that it’s financially feasible before you begin. That’s common sense for sure, but you will be surprised how many indie devs start a project thinking they have enough money in the bank, only to find that they have fallen short, thus causing the project to be delayed indefinitely.
We see this happen not just in developing indie games, but everywhere: films, music, services, etc. Case in point: you would be amazed how many writing gigs have fell through for me just because the client suddenly ran out of money. It happens, but it shouldn’t. Don’t be that guy: plan ahead and know that your project is financially sound.
Have any comments/tips for keeping your sanity while developing indie games? Let us know in the comments below!