Project slump – Analysis Paralysis

I’m working full time now, and I’m still adjusting to it. January I had time to work on a game (Math Kingdom Quest) and February we were in India most of the month. Now I’m finding myself in a project slump, and the longer I sit in this slump the more frustrated I feel.

Project

A lot of ideas I have are small things I want to do really quickly. But, I also code my stuff, I don’t really have a third-party engine I use to get things done quickly. I can sometimes pump out simple things in a day or two, but even simple ideas can take a lot of work to do.

I’m not heavily invested in any one project, now that I have a full time job… Now that I have the freedom to design something “for fun” rather than “for sale”, I have a lot of ideas that I’d like t

Language/Engine

The first thing that happens is I get Analysis Paralysis on what language to use…

“I enjoy writing in C++ most”

“The kids I hang out with only use mobile, and it’d be easier to get them to play the game on that or on web.”

“Ugh god I don’t want to write it in JavaScript that kind of sucks.”

“Android development is a drag, too.”

“I should be using something like Unity or Godot to make these games cross-platform.”

“AGH I don’t want to use proprietary Unity and Godot was unstable for me in Linux!”

“OK well MAYBE I should be WRITING an ENGINE that can be built for WEB and for ANDROID.”

“Agh I WROTE a C++/SDL2 engine but it needs work and it uses Lua so then I’d have to figure out how to get THAT working, too!”

“Just start a new one and take parts of your old engine bit-by-bit! But make sure it builds for…”

And so on and so forth. Hard to even begin.

Publishing

The second thing is that I want to build myself a social media hub, including a place for my repositories and to host my games as well as a replacement for a Facebook wall and Twitter feed that I can link back to from Facebook/Twitter/Diaspora/Mastodon/YouTube.

But that’s a lot of work.

Right now I have a mishmash of various pages with different things, different styles, different levels of polish. I want to put it all together but it would be a major feat,

“There’s no use making a new game until I get my webpage done.”

“AGH no that will be forever I can’t let it block me.”

“OK well you’ll just have more to migrate later!”

“Maybe I should just keep it all on itch.io for now!”

“But what about your project update blogs? VLOGS? You can’t just keep throwing everything to be hosted ONLY on proprietary social media!”

“I DON’T HAVE TIME TO SET UP A VIDEO VIEWING PLATFORM FOR MYSELF. AAGGHH.”

Trying to work my way out

I keep thinking of things I want to work on – little things here and there, or stuff I can work on over time. I want to make sure it’s in a language I want to use (I got really frustrated once Undead Debt was getting more complex, using Python), but I want to make sure I can also publish to all the platforms I want.

I want a platform to post my stuff to, but for my personal web development I still use PHP and old webdev practices. I’m not particularly amazing at design for websites, either, and I don’t like the style of 2010’s webpages.

I’m just stuck, in my mind, and I’m having a hard time working through it. I know I need a plan and a first step to tackle to get going, but I’m so overwhelmed.

Paulo B

Heyy, just passing by to let you know that you (and lazzy foo) pretty much led me into a CS degree, graduating later this year. Keep up the good work!

-Paulo B

Money stress

Me: I want to work on my own business! I’m not going to work full time for now!

School loans: Hey, I’m over here.

Car: Oh I guess I won’t start anymore.

Computer: *gasp* *wheeze*

Husband: Don’t worry about getting a full time job.

All the expenses: HHEEELLLLLOOO?!?!?

Me: *Depression sleeps*

Money and Motivation

It’s clear that I’m going to need to get a full time developer job once we’re back from India. My husband is talking about wanting to buy a house and wants to go on vacations and travel, we will probably be ready for a kid in a few years, and I still have student loans to pay off. January is my only “free month”, then I’ll be busy for all of February, and then I have to go back to being a real adult.

It kind of kills my motivation.

It’s great – I get a whole month to just think about this one game. But I wish it were my job. I wish I could look forward to months of being able to work on a game, hustle to find people or schools to pitch it to, learning more about marketing and experimenting and growing. But I know it won’t be my full-time job, ever. And I’ve carried that weight my entire adult life.

I watch GDC talks where indie guys work full time on their games and “support their families” and I’m envious. We need two incomes. And I know that I’m always going to have to pursue my game development as the “side thing”, mustering whatever energy is left to me at the end of a workday, while also balancing family, friends, and eventually a kid. I don’t have it in me, and possibly don’t even have the privilege

If I keep working at it – 30 minutes to a few hours of development each day – I can make things. I can publish them. I can spend a bit of free time to try to get the word out. But I’m not going to be able to make it my job.

And so, if I’m always going to have to steal bits of time away here and there to work on games that way, what’s the point of stressing myself out in January to get something done? It’s not like I’m going to finish my math board game for Android and magically make, oh, at least $10,000 in sales this year. This isn’t my Final Fantasy, my swan song, last ditch effort to “make it”. I’m not going to “make it” in a month. You can’t get successful from one month of work.

More than anything, I want to be like the developers I had idolized in the 90s, working for themselves on their own work. I want to build a company. But I don’t have the luxury of taking off enough time to build products, find licensing agreements, or find investors.

I’ve been beating myself up about this for over a decade, and I don’t see it becoming any less raw.

Lesson 1: Don’t forget your ramp-up time

I should have just expected my first few days in January to be time to set up my environments and properly explore different tools, instead of chomping at the bit to immediately get started programming. I realize now I need this exploratory time to really feel at peace with the tools I’m using and feel like I have a set plan. Also time to update software. Also time to experiment.

Don’t forget to allocate time to more than just DEV DEV DEV.

… Also, I’m taking my antidepressants again. I stopped when I got stick before Christmas because I didn’t want to “waste” the pills on a time when I was just going to be sleeping mostly anyway.

Depression/Anxiety

Waking up this morning still feeling like crap – I’ve been sick for two weeks now. Even though my cold is more mild now, my throat still hurts and feels terrible every morning. The house is a huge mess because I’ve been trying to get well and rest, and I want to make sure to program a sufficient amount each day. I also want to get into a routine and wake up early in the morning and sleep earlier at night.

I have been looking forward to January for months. And I feel incredibly depressed that I’m not at my 100% to tackle what I want to tackle.

I want to make money independently of a company. I want to do this. I want to make a living creating good things. I want to do fulfilling work.

My anxiety is spiking. I don’t get this chance very often – one other time in my adult life. I can’t just go that long without an income. And it’s hard to find any decent part-time jobs. I don’t want to go back to working full-time. I don’t want other entities to sap my energy and creativity and time. I don’t want to go back.

On Hold Because Money

Just a quick note – the game is currently on hold. Jan 2019 I have “free” because it doesn’t make sense to job hunt before I’m going to be out of the country for a month, so I’ll be focusing on making some educational games this month to try to make some money. That means this is on hold because it’s not small enough, or really “attractive enough”(?) to be something people buy. But I’ll try to work on it more in the future, once I have some income happening.

from itch.io https://moosader.itch.io/undead-debt/devlog/62160/on-hold-because-money
via IFTTT

January 1st, 2019

Now begins my month of Freedom… I’ll be in India in February, so there’s no point in looking for a job right now. I’m going to use this month to create some educational games to sell.

For the first time in probably like half a decade, some time to JUST focus on building something IMPORTANT to ME.

My anxiety is high. My excitement is high. My inspiration is high. This is all I want in the world. But it is also temporary, because bills must be paid and, unless I start making some sort of regular income off this, I don’t have the luxury to do this long term. And unfortunately there aren’t many good-paying part-time jobs out there.

If I could get a software engineering job for half the salary but work half the hours I’d get EXACTLY the same amount of work done as a full time job and be so much more happy about it. Time is worth more to me than money, but I can’t pay off my student loans with Time.

Anonymous student reviews – 2018

From my time teaching at JCCC 🙂

  • One of my favorite teachers ever at JCCC–love the way she engages with her students and teaches!
  • I loved this class! Rachel is the best!
  • Course materials and class content was excellent. Professor Morris did a great job of creating course materials in a logical and easy to understand manner. I feel like I have a good basic knowledge of data structures now.
  • I learned a lot in this class. The teacher did a really good job with her teaching styles, test structures, and homework assignments
  • Appreciated friendliness of instructor. Great class overall. If I see her name for any future classes I need to take, I’ll choose her class if I can. Always recommend her to everyone who asks me about computer science classes at JCCC. She’s super nice and helpful. […] She’s a great teacher, wish I could have her as a professor next semester.
  • The way Rachel presented the material was very engaging and informative. I really appreciated that she made her own lectures and worksheets, rather than solely using the book, as her worksheets made learning the material much easier than the book does.

Who is my childhood art for?

I’ve been dragging around 20 years of diaries and old art for years, unsure of what to do with it. Every time I move (about once per year), it’s such a pain to haul all these old books around, and I wonder whether I should even get rid of them. Is there any point to keeping journals of my old self? Who is supposed to benefit from these things, if I’m sure as hell not reading them? My future biographer? LOL.

The cover of a scrapbook

For Christmas, my mom gave me another scrapbook – stuff from year 0 to about year 13 of my life. The book is falling apart, so I figured I’d maybe get a new scrapbook for it, or digitize it, or something.

But again, who is this for?

For my earliest works, I don’t really get any value out of it. I don’t remember what was going on in my mind or what that time of my life was like. It might provide mom with some nostalgia, remembering me coloring or something, but otherwise, what value does this have to the world?

A drawing of Xena and of myself on sketchbook paper, probably when I was around 10 years old.

Some art is newer and reflects what I was into at that age. I still don’t have any really vivid memories from when I was 10 years old, just tiny bits and pieces.

Maybe it’s interesting to see my influences over time and hypothesize about how it’s affected who I am as an adult.

A scribbled 3-year-old-Rachel’s drawing of Rachel, Mom, and Rose (in Mom’s tummy). Tummy-baby-Rose appears to be wearing sunglasses?

Some drawings show significant events in my life, but not many… Most of my childhood drawings are indecipherable, even to myself.

And that brings me to another question. This year, I’ve started receiving these kinds of artworks from the children now in my life (via mentoring), and it’s very sweet.

A pile of art by the kids

But I’m quickly becoming inundated with art that I feel obligated to save. And perhaps I’ll get a scrapbook and save these pieces as well. But, beyond the happy feeling the kids may get knowing that I’m saving their art for posterity, I’m not sure what the long-term purpose of saving all this is. I don’t know what the point of saving 30 years of Rachel-art and Rachel-thoughts is.

The important thing to me is that the kids are creating, and I love encouraging them to make art and new ways to do crafts. I have a lot more happy memories around the making of my art and widgets and crafts, rather than actually feeling pride in the work I’ve made.

The Barbie cafe that I helped the girls make out of boxes. (interior)
The Barbie cafe that I helped the girls make out of boxes. (exterior)

There’s not really any one little piece of art I made that is worth keeping, in my mind. My takeaway is how much I’ve learned over the years by practicing, incrementally over time. I’m not a great

But maybe I can find a use for my art. I have a lot of old art. Maybe I can make it all public domain in case anyone needs Authentic Child Drawingsfor their own works. Or maybe I can somehow readapt the artwork into a game (or YouTube video?) of my own. Either way, I can’t bring myself to just throw out everything – once it’s gone it’s gone – but maybe digitizing and backing it up is Good Enough.

(I’m still super paranoid about the collapse of society and servers no longer existing and then all I’ve ever done being gone in an instant… but I guess at that point I’d have bigger problems to worry about.)