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Cover image for Coming back to my game-dev hobby after a burnout

Coming back to my game-dev hobby after a burnout

tuskat profile image Cedric Marcellin ・4 min read

The game is available on itch.io. it's Free, on Mac, Windows and Linux.

Before we start

The focus of this article is burnout.

I do not speak about a lot of technicalities behind the game, unity or code, but if you have questions about these, I'll be more than happy to answer.
I'll also make a post mortem on the game later.

I don't want to say "You do this, you think that" because everyone will have different ways of going around burnout, and it's a topic with very personal nuances for every individuals.

I want my perspective to help you, but it's still just my perspective, nothing is absolute in what I say.

Everyone got their own way of doing things, and I want to respect that.

Also if you have tips on overcoming burnout, feel free to share them :)

The burnout part

I make games in my free time as a hobby.

After working on Teddy's Crew I took a break.

Of 4 months.

It wasn't so much linked to the game itself, I loved working on it.

It's just I had some work related issues and other things running in parallel, add you know...the entirety of 2020.

My brain made that weird parallel between game development and pain.

I had a lot of resistance to overcome and I'll tell you what I did to overcome it.

Getting back to it

I accepted that I needed rest.

No energy

I tried to force myself back to it many times, and then blamed myself for not succeeding in doing so.

It's very counter-productive, and only put me further away from doing what I wanted.

I had to accept that for the moment, it was a no-no,
and I tried to figure out why.

I Let my mind wander, did some meditation,
started to make daily diary entries,
and slowly tried to figure out what my brain is being reluctant to say.

I used to care about what people say, now I care more

Alt Text

That's the main thing my brain wanted to say.

Ideally, you shouldn't care too much about negative comments,
lack of feedback, or the feeling that no matter what you post on the internet it get thrown into the void, never to be noticed again.

But I did. I still do. Depending on where my ego is sitting it goes from "Lol it's okay :')" to soul-crushing.

I can't help it.

I share what I do for a reason, and the act of sharing often feel pointless when absolutely no reaction come out of it.

Did I ever solve that?

Alt Text

No. And I won't. I think. I tried.

But the thing there's reaction to what I post.
There's pretty always has been, and a lot of them are positive.

I need to actively acknowledge them.
I need to shift focus on them.

Be it a friend of a friend telling me "That article inspired me to make games" or someone sending me screenshot of their high score on my game.

Or just that one guy who put a 5 star review because he saw you've updated the game with their feedback in mind.

I need to stay closer to reality,
and not let my brain create a narrative
where everything I do is worthless.

Ok that's cute and all, but how do you get back from a burnout?

Smaller projects

The second obstacle to making game was that I had 2 projects that took me 6 months to produce.

With that in mind I'd just assume everything I do next would need the same amount of time, blood, sweat and tears.

So after watching How to Become a Really Good Game Developer In Under a Year by Miziziziz I realised I do not have to.

Setting hard limit like "One Hour, One Day, One Week" or 5 levels max simplify a lot of things for me.


I did a very tiny game in a couple of days.
Was enough to learn a lot about unity,
and was enough to get back into some sort of momentum.

Smaller checkpoints

Another really good tip I got from another youtuber, Jonas Tyroller, is that you can finish your game...multiple times.

The TL;DR is to imagine if you had a 2 years project:
instead of working with the intent to only deliver when you are 100% done in 2 years, cut down your project into smaller iteration of 3 months.

1st one could be a one level playable demo,
then 2nd has more levels and mechanics,
and it goes on and on until you are satisfied
or ready to move on.

That way, in the case you do move on before reaching 100%,
you could still have delivered a game that represent a part of your original vision.

It's a shift of mentality that helped me with how to tackle my games from now on.

I did just that with Road to Dakar, except the first version was after a month of work, and the latest one is 2 months worth :)

Here's how it looked a month ago

That's all for today

Hope you find all of that useful, and like I said earlier, if you have any tips of yours, feel free to share them down there :)

Posted on by:

tuskat profile

Cedric Marcellin

@tuskat

My potions are too strong for you traveler...

Discussion

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I find this post to be meaningful. I can understand how you feel when you talk about caring too much what others think about you. What has helped me is reminding myself of what is in my control. I cannot control what others think of me. I can only try and write a very good post. Whether people are going to like it or not, is something entirely different. What matters is that I do a good job. Opinions of others are ambiguous. Why put something of worth outside of your control?
Keep up the good work.

 

That is an excellent point. It's also valid on so many levels in life.

I guess for me I just have cycles where I just unlearn values like that and have to actively reaffirm them...if it make any sense?

Kind of weird cycle I'm trying to get out of.

Thank you for the kind word and wisdom, really appreciate :)