Lately, I've been working on things in game development that are more difficult and frustrating than anything else I've ever worked on.....probably ever. It has literally brought me to tears at times. These unfamiliar feelings that come along with venturing into difficult and confusing new territory have had me thinking a lot outside of game development.
I don't know that these things will help you out when you're in troubling times, but the perspective has helped me to not stress out quite as much.
Making a Game is Like Filling a Fish Bowl with Marbles
It's difficult to not think about the desired end result when working on game development and measuring progress. This can be a detrimental outlook. Games are made up of lots of little pieces and take a long time to make. Judging a work in progress by a final product is not fair to the creator. Instead, think of the game for what it is, a bunch of small pieces that eventually come together to create a cohesive whole. Filling the bowl will show progress and that's what matters.
Think Like a Flashlight, not Like a Light Bulb
It's easy to get overwhelmed when working on a complex problem. Sometimes, trying to take a step back to assess the big picture can be daunting.
It is wise to narrow focus when working on complex tasks. Think of just how small you can shrink the problem. Write the smallest versions of the problems down one by one and work on them one at a time. Thinking, "This menu is broken" is probably too broad and will be difficult to troubleshoot. This is thinking like the light of a light bulb. The light shines in all directions, is unfocused, and doesn't allow you to see the details. Writing down the most precise version of a small problem related to the aforementioned broken menu can lead to less mental stress and more overall progress. This is thinking like a flashlight; A small and focused light that is used specifically to illuminate a certain area. The light is brighter and will allow you to see more details.
Feeling dumb or incapable of doing certain things sucks. Feeling overwhelmed sucks. It's all part of the process of making something great.
It's alright to feel lost.
Sometimes, you need to give your brain a break.
Don't overdo it.
Try to stay calm.
Slow progress is still progress.
Narrow your focus.
Don't judge your progress by a finished product.
Until next time.