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Lessons Learnt from Forgetting to Save

Keith Boshoff - co-founder of RetroEpic Software - shares his thoughts on the lessons he's learnt from forgetting to save.

This post was orginally posted on the RetroEpic website. We made A Day in the Woods and some other fun games.

We’ve all been there before. You’re making a kick ass model/script/thing and something catastrophic happens. Your app crashes, the power goes out, your 3-year old pressed the glowing button on your computer, source control bugs out (I’ve lost days of code work to that little gem) and all your unsaved changes are gone! And because you were in the zone, you haven’t saved in over 5 hours and there is NO WAY you’ll ever be able to recover that work!

Some words of advice from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy : Don’t Panic.

Sometimes losing hours of work is a good thing. If you’re on a deadline you may have a spot of trouble, but in most cases you have been given an opportunity to learn.

All is not lost

Whenever you’re working on any aspect of a project, most of your time is spent on learning or experimenting. If it isn’t then whatever it was you were doing was probably boring and not a loss anyway. Those lessons you’ve taught yourself will most likely be with you for the rest of your career, unless it’s been replaced with something better.

Time wounds all heels

It’s always frustrating when it happens so instead of freaking out, get up, have a cup of coffee, run around the block, wallop a punching bag, eat an orange or do whatever you need to do to move your mind to a different space for a few minutes.

Prepare for v2

Remember those lessons you learned while making v1? You will remember those lessons while making v2 and v2 will be faster to make, more awesome, and closer to your actual vision than v1 ever was.

Save early, save often

Kind of counter-point to this whole post but, if you can, working saving into your flow-state may save you some frustration in the future.


I recommend this for everyone. It’s a lesson taught to photographers and fine artists the world over. Make something awesome, something cool, something that could be rated as your best work you’ve ever done, then without saving once, close your app. If you had saved, delete all the save files, and empty it from your recycle bin/trash.

It stings the first few times, but it teaches you that what you make has no intrinsic value to you. The fact that you can make it, and did make it, is where you find the value. This softens the blow when catastrophe strikes again in future and has the added benefit of letting go of something that, while awesome, simply isn’t working.

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