How not working on my game saved my game.

How refusing to work on my game, on a regular basis, allowed me to get more work done in a month than ever before.

Hello, my name is Mike Troup and I am working on Bomb Taco, my 6th attempt at game devlopment. While I'd love to plug my game, this post is more about the production methods and less about the game. So if you want to know more about the 2D platformer where you fart bombs to demolish buildings to buy tacos and unravel a mystery all at the same time, you can read about it here.

That title up there is not exagerated to catch your attention. The only reason Bomb Taco exists in the state that it does (much, much farther along than any of my previous attempts) is because I literally refused to work on it on a regular basis. Let me explain. 

I'll start by explaining what I used to do, and how it's probably what many of you have done, or are currently doing. Don't blame yourself, it's ok. You're probably doing (have done) this because the industry, and most industries in a whole, have told you it's the only way to succeed. Crunch Time. Not 'crunch time because we're heading into a dealine', but instead 'crunch time all the time because i've always heard the only way to succeed is to work until your eyes fall out in the wee hours of the morning' crunch time. You've heard that right? Some successful person is saying that they made it because they "worked harder than everyone else who didn't make it". Now, that's true. Someone who doesn't work hard, won't make it. Period. The problem lies in that fact that, more often than not, they don't explain exactly what working hard is. Some do, and some plainly say 'working until your eyes fall out in the wee hours of the morning' is the only way to success. The only way to find your dreams.

I'm here to tell you that's not true friend! Well, at least not for me and just maybe, not for you. 

Every single game project I have ever done started out as a good idea. I sat down, taught myself what I needed to learn. Devoting every open hour I could to working on it. I would learn things quickly and implement them quickly. I would make games instead of playing them. I would work on it instead of watching movies or TV shows. After just a bit, I would have a functioning tech demo of my idea (my games always had something unique about the game mechanics that needed to be created instead of copy pasted) and I would be proud, and exhausted. I could feel it. Physically from lack of sleep, and mentally for learning so much so quick. All the while I kept telling myself "If you want to succeed, you have to keep going. You have to keep working on it for as much as you can". Back then, that was the only way to success, or so I was told. 

Every. single. time. I burned out. I saw the tech demo I created, and the artist in me was satisfied to see it working, which was enough of an excuse to give in to the exhaustion and avoid the game long enough to where I no longer wished to work on it. I saw these as failures. They, to put it dramatically, haunted me every time I thought about working on another game idea. "But you always gave up. You always have. Look at all the ones you've started only to quit again and again" I would tell myself. Eventually, I gave up. My 5th self destructed failure was enough to put me off of artistic creation for a while. I concentrated on my day job and moving up there. 

That was a miserable existence. 

Eventually, the artistic itch came back and I developed and produced an audio drama, that was a small but decent hit, called The Earth Collective. That experince seriously strengthened my story telling abilities. 

After finishing one good season of TEC, I read a few different accounts of successful game developers, and the desire to make games reared it's beautiful and complicated head once again. I then realized that I never lost the desire to make games, I simply got exhausted from failing. Luckily, I also realized what I was doing wrong. I was working too hard. I came up with this crazy plan for a new development style. 

If even for a second I felt like I didn't want to work on my game, I wouldn't. Period. No exceptions. 

I know, it sounds like a recipie for disaster. I knew that pushing too hard was a guaranteed disaster, so this couldnt be worse right? I gave it a shot. 

Within 5 days I had a working prototype, and I wasn't even close to being worn out. I was amazed. Every single time I felt that tinge of "I kinda don't want to right now", I didn't. Instead, I did something I enjoyed. Something that brought me relaxation and happiness. Fallout 4 or Witcher 3 or a book, etc. I thought that maybe it would be too lax and I would increase my work schedule eventually. It never happened. Even to this day, I will completely resist the urge to work if I feel that tinge. It's been working beautifully. I've found that this style of development  allows me to work relatively stress free, which in turn allows me to work much, much faster. More importantly, it allows me to really enjoy doing it, two months later.


I even created a motto for myself in a moment when I was exhausted by the day and I was panicking about getting work on my game done because I felt like time was running short. I decided to grab a beer and go sit on the couch to relax for the night instead and came up with this:

Beer before breaking your back.

Silly, I know, but it's ridiculous enough to remember. It's a way to tell yourself to chill and have a beer instead of breaking yourself. You just might get more done that way.

I'm fully aware that I could be the only one to suffer from this self-imposed prison! If so, that's fine. If not, I hope that this post help you realize that there are other ways of getting done, what you need to get done, and being happy and relaxed the whole way through. So give it a shot and feel free to chime in with your thoughts. -Mike Troup

Bomb Taco is a 2D platformer where you lay the bombs inside of the actual building itself, while trying to bring it down safely without blowing yourself up or getting crushed. Unique gameplay and an interesting story make this game one to watch. It is currently in early alpha and will be headed to Kickstarter when there's a large enough community ready to welcome it in. If you'd like to know more, feel free to contact me on Twitter @StartUp_Studios, here on Gamasutra, or by email at [email protected] 

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