This blog post is posted as a part of the Hurdles series of work and tell game development. To find out more about Hurdles, please check out our handy FAQ. This blog post was provided by mildmojo for his game Disc Jockey Jockey.
I hoped Hurdles would change me into a tightly-focused, highly productive developer for a few weeks. One who spreads work out instead of crunching right before every deadline. Hurdles was less transformative than that, but it did help me knock out some needed work.
I’m in the middle of development on Disc Jockey Jockey, an audio game about getting radio stations back on-air after massive equipment failure. I struggle to find internal motivation to consistently pick the project up and move it forward. Hurdles seemed like a good opportunity to make external commitments, promises to other RunJumpDev members that I would make demonstrable progress on the game.
The first week, I reworked my press kit to replace old, outdated screenshots and event photos with new images from GDC and IndieCade East. This was overdue. I’d just completed a couple of interviews with podcasters and streamers, so it was important to have my info up to date.
The second week, my day job was incredibly demanding, so I set a smaller target: animate the logo on the title screen. This worked out. I’d had the effect in mind for months and months, and I was happy to bring it to life.
The third week, I set out to prototype an entirely new gameplay mode: composing radio ads from audio clips a la Garage Band. I knew this was an aggressive goal. I was able to sketch out the UI and wireframe it in Unity, but I wasn’t able to add the gameplay logic or new audio. Still, it gave me a good start on the feature and a skeleton to hang my code on.
I planned to get the new mode playable in the final week. That didn’t happen. I did spend some time starting and failing to write gameplay code; not enough to make visible progress. Partly, I was stuck on the logic of how to relate a UI slider’s position (zero to one) to the beginning and end of an audio clip on the audio timeline. Partly, my motivation fell apart. Don’t be a chump like me! Stick it out!
I like deadlines—Hurdles was effective at creating them. Targets to hit, hoops to jump through, reasons to work on my game. I’d suggest spreading the work out if your schedule and work style allow it. If you’re working in your spare time like me, make a little bit of progress early in the week, Tuesday or Wednesday. Be ready to make a push on the weekend and be on the down slope by Sunday night. If you have any time Monday, use it to cap off that week’s work and think about what you’re going to do for the next week.
Ultimately, Hurdles is as useful as you make it. Set some aggressive goals for yourself. Don’t make them impossible, of course, but stretch yourself a bit. If you’re a solo developer, use it as a period to really make some headway on your project. If you’re part of a group, use it to fortify your team under a little bit of pressure, working toward achievable milestones. Get stuff done. Tell us about it. Do it again.