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24 Apr 2014

Balancing Your Dayjob and Indie Game Development

For most of you just starting out in indie development, you probably still have a dayjob you begrudgingly go to every day (and if you love your dayjob, that’s great). Whether you are developing your indie game as a hobby or as a means to leave your dayjob and focus on developing your indie games full time, know that in order to be successful, you need to properly balance your dayjob and developing your indie game (and somewhere along the way, you need to have a life).

Doing this is incredibly difficult, and once things get stressful, it may seem easy to completely give up on developing your indie game (i.e. your dream) and settle for focusing your work energy on your dayjob. Don’t do this! Use the following tips below to find a perfect balance between your dayjob and your project, and stay on track to making your dreams realized.


Have a good team

There is a reason why so many people choose to exercise with a partner: it helps them to stay on task. It’s the same logic with having a solid team as you are developing your indie game. Ensure they are as passionate about your indie game as you are, ensure they are dependable, and above all, make certain they can churn out quality work at all times.

Of course, finding a team this good can sometimes seem to be half the battle of getting your indie game developed. We’re not going to disagree, but know this: if you gather an awesome team that are dependable, talented, and have the zeal to make your indie game realized, depend on them not to solely produce good work but to also keep you motivated.

When you finish working for the day, you are going to be tired and weary. You will find yourself wanting to just lay down on the couch, put on some mindless television, and zone out for a while. It’s relaxing to be certain, yet once you get into the habit of it, it’s tough to break. Depend on your team to be your ‘accountabilibuddies,’ and use them as a reminder that, hey, you’re developing an indie game that is going to be awesome. Get off the couch, get a glass of water (or a beer, whatever you prefer), go to your workstation, and help your team to develop a solid game.


Keep up the pace

Believe me, when you are working on a novel, the hardest part isn’t figuring out what to write – it’s being disciplined enough to continue working on it every day. It can be extremely hard to keep a good routine and commit some time to work on your indie game every single day (or at least every work day). That isn’t to say you have to work for hours after work, either. If you can only find time to apply an hour per day to your indie game – hey, that’s fine! Whatever works for you. Just be certain that every day no matter what, you work on your indie game. Let a day slip, and pretty soon that will turn into a week, a month, and before you know it, the whole project is cancelled.

Creating anything creative is the same as being a marathon runner. If you take a break for even a moment, you’re going to be content with quitting. Don’t let it happen – keep up the pace, work consistently, and your indie game will be realized.


Team meetings

Every good team has regular meetings. Not only are they times in which team members can bounce around ideas they may have, but it also form a bond between team members. Team meetings make members feel as if they are part of a team – as if they matter, in other words. This raises morale, and high morale can do wonders for your indie game.

It not only raises the morale of your team members, but it raises your as well. If you are dragging your butt, dreading working on your indie game, and find yourself wondering, “what did I get myself into,” a team meeting can make your attitude do a complete 180. Team meetings are not solely to help your team members to be reminded as to what they need to do – it also helps you to remember why you wanted to develop your own indie game in the first place.


Of course, set goals

I prefer to use the ‘Jerry Seinfeld Method’ for meeting my goals as a writer – and it can work for you as an indie developer! To do this, print out a calendar that has every day of the year on a sheet of paper (this can be a large banner or a small sheet of paper – whatever you prefer). Once you complete a goal for the day, you take out a marker or pen and mark the day off on the calendar. Pretty soon, you are going to notice a long series of marks on your calendar, and the goal of this exercise? To never break the chain.

Do you want to work on your game for two hours a day Monday through Friday? Mark out every Saturday and Sunday on the calendar, and when you meet each daily goal, pridefully take out your marker or pen, and draw a big ‘X’ on the day. You will find that never breaking the chain will become addictive, and you will never want to end a day without working on your game.

Hey, if it works for Jerry Seinfeld, it has to work, right?


Do you have any tips for balancing a dayjob and your indie project? Let us know in the comments below!

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