It’s a great irony that I spend much of my life wishing I had more time to work on my Bible-teaching computer game, and yet whenever I get a whole day to work on it with no interruptions my productivity levels seem to plummet and I end up feeling like I’ve squandered my precious time. I always seem to get far more done per unit of time when I’m scratching together the odd hour here and there before work or whenever it happens to be. I’ve been puzzling over this and trying to make sense of it all, and what I can do about it to make sure I hit my milestones, and I have arrived at a theory.

Overwhelmed By Potential

An empty day looms ahead of me, daunting like only a blank piece of paper can be. My mind is filled with ambitious thoughts of what I could accomplish in such a time: “I could whip up a quick model of every location in Act One and still be done in time for tea!” I’m quickly overwhelmed by the heady potential of such prolific achievement, and my expertly trained procrastination kicks in: “That sounds like rather a lot of work. I think I’d better just lay here on my bed for a few minutes to get my strength up”, I tell myself.

NO!!! No no no! I’ve come to realise that this is never going to work. Not only does it seem far too much like hard work, but it requires coming at the problem from a complete standing start – like committing the first paragraph of your epic novel to paper. The amount of inertia you need to overcome just to get going is immense. I think the approach I need to take is to break my goals up into little “micro-milestones”: never mind what I’ll be doing after lunch, let’s just focus on what you want to achieve during the next hour. And never mind about getting it finished and perfect – what’s the simplest, most fundamental nugget of work that will convey the essence of what you’re trying to work towards? Trying to script out a puzzle about crossing a stream? Well then, knock up a quick stream texture and apply it to a simple quad for a landscape. You’ll find it much easier to improve upon that by incrementally adding in more details than if you tried to make something perfect straight off the bat from an empty editor window.

It’s also given me more confidence that there IS value in even a 40 minute slot to work on the game, if I can find slots like that regularly enough. The nature of the work I’m doing at the moment means that over a month or two, small but regular bursts each morning with the odd full evening or weekend could be enough to get a complete prototype of the whole game done by the end of the summer. As long as I don’t focus on the fact that I’ve got a whole summer stretching out in front of me like a blank piece of paper, just waiting for me to finish off a prototype, that is!!


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