How to overcome procrastination when making a game
We can start things with the best of intentions. But then, our lives have this habit of testing our resolve. Family, friends, work, the need for a holiday, all of it can come crashing down around your dev project. Eventually you’ll realise that you have a spare weekend and you’ll fire up Unity to discover something shocking: the last modified date on your project file was nearly two years ago and Unity will want to update from version 4.5 to 5.5.
So you’ll permit the update and then you will discover that all those prototypes you played with and were going to come back and finish suddenly don’t work. Unity has change it’s API – to make it easier to use, and to make it more performant – but just enough that none of your scripts work anymore.
This happened to me recently. But all is not lost. You can take the Space Shooter tutorial that was developed for Unity 4 and you can do it again in Unity 5 – there is a PDF which outlines the changes to the API and what those changes to mean for the code. It should point you in the right direction.
As for me, I decided to restart from the beginning. I know the game I want to create, all I need to get is get it out of my head and into code.
Here is the thing about creative industries – when being creative is a hobby, you can wait for inspiration. You might feel inspired twice a year – maybe three times a year, or if you’re extremely lucky, maybe four or five. But, when you’re trying to make a living from your creativity, you can’t afford to wait for inspiration. You need to go to work.
Here is something I learnt in uni – if you suffer from writers block the trick to write something until the ideas start flowing. The act of writing itself gets the juices flowing. It doesn’t matter what it is – what matters is that you’re physically writing. So, if I have something I need to get written but I just can’t be bothered, I’ll start copy-typing my favourite political speech of all time – eventually the ideas will start flowing and I’ll be able to put that down and write my own stuff.
The same trick works for code: if I have something I really need to code, but I just can’t get into the space to do coding, I’ll start by writing a little piece of exercise code: it could be as simple as hello world, or in Unity it could be a simple object pooler.
Yes: I know, it seems silly, but the important thing is that you’re doing something. Eventually the barrier will break down and you’ll be able to return to work.
Anyway, the point is that in the end, life gets in the way. Don’t let that stand between you and shipping your game: the important thing is not to focus on the time you’ve lost. You need to focus on doing whatever it takes to get moving again. Write some code – do tutorials (if necessary) – work it out. Yes, it feels like you’ve gone backwards – but I promise you, you’re closer than you were before you launched your editor.