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game development when you have a job

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by gibberingmouther, Jan 30, 2018.

  1. gibberingmouther

    gibberingmouther

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    i've handled school and working on my game before, but i just got a part time job (which i love!). i have less time to work on my game now, and in addition i recently took a break from it to work on another project and i'm having trouble getting back into the groove again. so i've been away from my game for approximately a month or slightly longer.

    anyway, how do you guys balance work and game development, if you do at all?

    edit: i also need to change my avatar as i had to shave my "tentacles" off for my job. i look like 20x better though with just stubble.
     
  2. hippocoder

    hippocoder

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    Definitely the part time job. The game will still be there whenever you want to continue it but the part time job offers more life opportunity to be happy.
     
  3. Chrisasan

    Chrisasan

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    I believe full time jobs is one reason the world is violent.
     
  4. theANMATOR2b

    theANMATOR2b

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    It's hard to be honest. As a genXer I can't sustain more than about 2 weeks at a time with only 4 hours of sleep per night.
    So I try to get to bed around 12-1am to make sure I get enough before I have to be at work by 6:30am.

    The most difficult part for me is after getting home at 6ish, I eat dinner, spend time with family until about 9ish, then the period between family going to bed and getting home tasks complete before jumping into Unity/Max/3D coat/PS etc.
    I have about 1 hour to get as much done as I can around the house, and sometimes there is more to do than I can do in one hour. This also has a nasty side effect of draining me of energy I expect to have recouped from dinner. I've been trying to get stuff done before family time, but sometimes it isn't possible.

    Also - winter months really get me, because I have no motivation to work out after dinner before getting back into game dev.
    In the summer I'll usually do at least 30 minutes of something before heading into game dev, which reinvigorates me for a good 3-4 hours.
    But winter - blegh. Still - getting between 2-3 hours a night is progress, though not as much as I'd like to be making.

    If you can manage to get to the desk and get the software open - consider checking out the pomodoro technique. I've been doing that for about two weeks now - and it is having some positive impact on progress. I'm currently doing 25/5.
    Others say 15/5 but that is too short for me.
    Posting right now on my 5 minute break. ;)
     
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  5. angrypenguin

    angrypenguin

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    A few bits and pieces of somewhat random advice.
    • A workplace that's flexible about your work and supportive of personal ambition is awesome.
    • Part time work helps a lot, as it gets you a bunch of extra hours per week for your own stuff compared to full time.
    • Having clear goals, both short and long term. Better yet, an actual plan. Things probably won't go to plan, but that's not the point. It's more about thinking things through as much as you can to make the most informed decisions possible.
    • Cut your game down to its simplest possible self. Figure out its core essence and forget everything else. One exercise I find useful there is to define the "pillars" of the game (something I got from an interview from someone at Blizzard), and then occasionally comparing my goals, tasks and game design elements to those pillars. Anything that doesn't directly help to support those pillars gets dropped, because it's a distraction.
    • Work with other people. Ideally they'll have skills that you won't, which will probably make your game better. Just as importantly, they're someone you're accountable to, and someone who can hopefully help you form productive habits with. On the flip side, if the project is commercial you do need to make sure you have decent agreements made up front about that - who owns the game, how is income divided, what happens under various different scenarios...
    • If your games are meant to eventually become an income stream, treat them like a job. Have a start time and an end time and be disciplined about when you're "working" and when you're not. When you're "working", behave as if you were working on someone else's dime.
    Note the qualification in that last point there - "if your games are meant to eventually become an income stream". If so, you're talking about business and you need to treat it like one. On the other hand, if you're doing this as a hobby, just for fun, then stop making life hard for yourself by trying to live up to unrealistic expectations. If it's a hobby and you can't work on it for weeks at a time, who cares? You're not beholden to anyone, and should just do whatever it is that makes you happy, and sometimes that'll mean not working on your game for a bit.

    Also keep in mind that it's not just "work" and "game making" you have to balance. It's also family, relationships, meeting your social needs, and all of the other stuff that goes into being a healthy person. Even if you think you're fine to cave dwell for a period to get your game out, remember that doing so for too long makes you less productive. Be healthy and treat yourself well, and you'll get more out of the time you spend working, and might end up making a better game as a result.
     
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  6. XCPU

    XCPU

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    review code over morning coffee, add a comment, document, whatever, just 5 min a day.
    Just don't code anything, comments won't hurt anything.
    Helps to keep your head close to the project.
     
  7. LaneFox

    LaneFox

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    Literally everything else comes first.

    I have a full time job as a programmer and prioritize that and my own personal comfort over all side development. You can push yourself to work on it more and may gain something - such as progress and smarts - but you'll also lose time you could spend socially, spiritually, relaxing, exercising, etc. If you want to be a cave troll and drill your weekends with side dev, okay, but don't ignore the effects it will have down the road, both pros and cons.
     
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  8. imaginaryhuman

    imaginaryhuman

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    I work full time and try to do some Unity stuff here and there, or when I'm in the mood. I generally try to also be 'smarter' about what I create or how it is created, either with some custom tools to speed things up, or procedural generation or whatever... trying to stay away from things which will take me a lot of time to do manually by hand.
     
  9. Joe-Censored

    Joe-Censored

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    I work full time, and commute about 3 hours a day. I work on my game at lunch, and before bed. I get some work in on the weekends as well. I'm averaging around 10 hours a week working on the game, which makes it really slow going unfortunately.
     
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  10. AndersMalmgren

    AndersMalmgren

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    It all boil down to your accepted standards.. I like wine and fine cigars, thus I have a day job :p
     
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  11. angrypenguin

    angrypenguin

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    This prodded my mind a little. A point to add to my earlier list:
    • Don't try to make stuff perfect. Maintain a list of stuff you'd like to come back and improve, or known bugs / issues. You don't have to fix stuff when you find it, or make things perfect the first time around, and trying either of those things might distract you from stuff that will provide more immediate progress.
     
  12. AndersMalmgren

    AndersMalmgren

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    Must comments in code are evil, noise, and should be spit upon. One of the worst enemies of clean code is comments.

    edit: comments are sometimes good though. THey should explain why you do something not how, the code is the how
     
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  13. Syganek

    Syganek

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    Yeah, but if you want to generate docs for your code later then try not to use summaries to handle it for you. And they also allow you to see descriptions when your're using this code.
     
  14. AndersMalmgren

    AndersMalmgren

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    THere are tools that let you separate xmldoc and the code
     
  15. McDev02

    McDev02

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    Got lucky and my full time job is working with Unity and I got a flexible shedule. So I can share stuff pretty eaily. I bring my personal projects to work, e.g. by Git and I can do research or write scripts that benefits both my work tasks and my personal tasks. But still finding time is hard, when I go home the least thing I think of is working with Unity.
    While you grow experience you know what is to do and what to avoid so you can be more productive.
     
  16. dogzerx2

    dogzerx2

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    I believe full time jobs is the reason for many cases depression in this world.

    But violent people = not getting laid :p
     
  17. dogzerx2

    dogzerx2

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    If you're lucky enough to have somewhat steady freelance work, and pair it with passive income (e.g. Asset Store) I think would be the best approach to have the freedom that developing a game requires.
     
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  18. FMark92

    FMark92

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    That's what the state WANTS you to believe.
     
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  19. Chrisasan

    Chrisasan

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    The only time I use comments is when I am trying to give myself a message about the code. Comments should be used for documenting a piece of code given to the public. At least say what the function does.
     
  20. XCPU

    XCPU

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    we're talking about staying connected to a project you want to keep going but don't work on very often.
    quick 5 minute code reviews can help, everyday.
    My advice was don't add or subtract code, commenting fine, because your not changing anything,
    but you don't want to just change code, and try and figure it out next month, or in six months.
     
  21. McDev02

    McDev02

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    Especially when we talk about limited time or big spans between work comments, or documentation in general, can help you to save time. I try to use comments (especially Summaries) much more often now. Each time I finish a mroe complex algorithm I make notes. Because I have seen it before that I came back and had no idea what I actually did there. So for my current project I try to give any class a Sumarry and each more complex method a description. Also to prevent that I use method names that are self explanatory.

    I have methods where nearly half of the lines are comments :)
     
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  22. AndersMalmgren

    AndersMalmgren

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    Complex low level code like algorithms are one thing. I meant the domain, the core game logic. It should be self explanatory.
     
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  23. yoonitee

    yoonitee

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    I want to get a part time job. What job are you doing?
     
  24. gibberingmouther

    gibberingmouther

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    i am a "crew member" at dunkin' donuts. mainly i work the register and prepare coffees. this job gets you free coffees so it is perfect for a self-described "caffeine junkie". i love this job and hope i can keep it!
     
  25. Master-Frog

    Master-Frog

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    If you don't have children or excessive home responsibilities, and you're single with affordable rent, you need to realize that you have an exceptionally easy set of circumstances when it comes to finding time to develop your game. Maybe this is not your case, but if it is and you can afford to get by with your part time job, you have a remarkable opportunity to get things done and I would seize it.
     
  26. Kiwasi

    Kiwasi

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    This.

    Those of us that have full time jobs and kids and are used to some standard of luxury... We don't have a hope of getting anything done.
     
  27. AndersMalmgren

    AndersMalmgren

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    haha, yepp. My understanding wife starts to understand nothing about why I work so much on the game now 2 years later :D
     
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  28. snacktime

    snacktime

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    The best way IMO is maximize your potential output. Trying to do stuff like contract work and making a game at the same time is very sub optimal. You aren't as focused, and you make far less money per hour then if working full time generally. Because the best companies don't want just part of you, they understand this equation also.

    What I do is I work for someone full time for a year or two, give them my all, and make good money doing it. Then I take a year off for my own thing. If it doesn't work out, go back to work for someone else. I always work at startups, so I win if they take off also.

    For a developer there is no real financial benefit to staying with a company for a long time. In fact it's kind of the opposite really. So this approach doesn't hurt your career. Now as a lifestyle you might like staying at one place for a long time, but that's just a choice you have to make.
     
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  29. AndersMalmgren

    AndersMalmgren

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    I run my own company working as a system architect against enterprise corporate customers on a consultant basis. Full time and then 3-4 hours per night on the game. The benefit is that I can still have a high quality of living while working on the game. If I would save up and work full time on the game I woudl have to give up alot of luxury I take for granted, like eating out several times a week etc.
     
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  30. angrypenguin

    angrypenguin

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    There's potentially also tax implications for working full time compared to part time. Depending on how tax works where you are, doubling your hours per week may not double the dollars that make it to your bank account.
     
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  31. AndersMalmgren

    AndersMalmgren

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    As a swede I can relate to that, first at 56k USD a year you get a higher tax (20% increase, from a already high 30%). Then again if you make more than 80k a year you get an extra 5% boost on the taxes
     
  32. EternalAmbiguity

    EternalAmbiguity

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    On the other hand, you have access to benefits and such which might swing things the other way.
     
  33. yoonitee

    yoonitee

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    Do you get free donuts?

    OMG. If I hadn't just found out I was gluten intolerant. That would be my ideal job. Mmmm donuts.
     
  34. Master-Frog

    Master-Frog

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    #adulting
     
  35. sowatnow

    sowatnow

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    I got a family with 2 kids, full time professional job and have recently started a casual job aswell. I have lost motivation to finish off my game, it's almost done for beta release. I hardly get 1-2 hrs a day to work on the game. But planning to get back to it soon.

    It's really difficult to work on a game if you have a family, but in your case if you are single, it should be easy to manage game development.
     
  36. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

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    The main goal of my life since getting out of the army has been avoiding ordinary work at all cost.

    That's actually a pretty easy goal to fulfill, the problem is you still got to get the foods.

    My advice -- marry somebody who has a good job and has a heart so pure that they can easily love a grown man-baby and support him while he chases pipe dreams.

    More seriously though, unless you started after a game related career early on, I doubt you'll really make it more than a hobby unless you're one of these people who can work forty hour days for months on end and not become a rabid monster that everybody avoids. Or you have enough passive income to allow you to study/work on your craft a lot without having to spend too much time in the boring adult world.
     
  37. aer0ace

    aer0ace

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    Coincidentally, I was writing up a blog post about how I personally work on my game in recent months. So I decided to just publish it now so I can jump in the discussion. It's pretty vague in places, but it's what's been helping me through.

    http://undertheweathersoftware.com/finding-time/

    I generally agree with all the opinions in this thread. Some may be arguing one side, and others arguing another, but I think to succeed at this, you really have to keep trying different things until you find out what's right for your schedule. So far, OP sounds like he's got a schedule that will keep him happy for now.
     
  38. Xype

    Xype

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    Think about it this way. The job give you money, so you have power, internet, and a roof to work on your game with. Also it may provide a couple of extra dollars when you need or want some asset, as well as I just went through the ringer with the legal portion of setting everything up, gonna cost ya.

    Asside from that, having a good reason to step away can help keep your game dev mind a bit fresh. Come back with fresh eyes, thinking about something else/seeing other stimulates may spark inspiration.

    In conclusion, in any business started with bootstraps of no or very little money, business men and women very often supplement their business with a job until it becomes self sustaining.
     
  39. Karearea

    Karearea

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    The parenting comments above gave me a wry grin. Started stay-at-home-dad-ing for two days a week recently, nothing focuses the mind like a daily 80 minute game dev window while my son has an afternoon sleep..
     
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  40. metal_days

    metal_days

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    I'm a full-time game dev and before starting in my current studio, I never touched a script, don't know crap about coding and opened unity just to close it in an instant, believe it or not.

    Yup, working for games can be so varied, and most of my work was done in excel, before I moved my spreadsheets to the coders, who did their magic.

    I just picked up unity and a basic C# course to learn some basics and make work for my colleagues easier.
    I also go to the gym 3x-4x a week which is my hobby aaaaand I love to spend hours on end gaming (Monster hunter world, anyone?).

    Something I've learned a long time ago - it's all about priorities. Day has 24 hours. I work 9, sleep 8. That leaves 7 hours for me-time. Out of that, 1 hour is commuting, 2 hours is for gym, 1 is for cooking/cleaning in the house. 3 is for my hobbies - add some gaming, GF time, reading, learning new skills. Some days, Ill spend 3 hours gaming. Others, Ill read about C#.

    To be honest, there are so many things I wanna do, but dont have time for. And Im a little grateful for that - you could also come home grumpy, turn on the tv, go to bed. Id rather be passionate about stuff and try to squeeze them in, than be a zombie.

    I also try to make the most of my time whenever I came - I bought a kindle so I can read a lot on the metro for example.
    Ill take a bath and read or watch a youtube course.

    Setting realistic expectations and keeping a daily order really helps (i.e. I do all my cooking on Sunday, so I have all my food ready for the week etc.).
     
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