How to survive Game Dev - Finding your path

As I have chosen another path than game dev, this shall be my last post here.
This post relates to any career path in life btw.

Knowing yourself, especially if you are new to this field, is important and easier than most people think.

One of the biggest reasons people give up and/or lose motivation, are projects with a too large scope. Game Dev is a tiring task, where days upon days feel like nothing has gotten done.

If you want to do this all by yourself, you will be learning and doing the job of many people. If your game is too ambitious or complicated, you are more likely to burn out and hate the game, than to even finish a prototype.

So, what type of a developer are you?

I’m the entrepreneur. I have no passion for any of the work included. What I do best is to organise things, find the money, close deals and oversee a vision. I will wake up at 3am to send an e-mail so it reaches someone across the world at 6:55 am, so it’s the newest in their inbox if they start work at 7.00 - After two years with Unreal, I realised this few days ago, so now I’m leaving Game Dev. Talking about wasting time!

Some people are great managers and like to know just enough about everything, to be able to communicate with their team. Perhaps you are just curious about the engine and try everything out, without having interest in anything specific? Are you interested in dealing with people and don’t take things personally? Perhaps you are a team manager?

Other people are hyper intelligent jacks of all trades and can learn 10 different disciplines simultaneously and actually solo dev ground breaking games in like 2-3 years.

Some of us have natural talents or interests in specific things. That personality type can forget about time and disappear into their own little world. If you are like that, it can make sense to make a solo game where your passion is the main part of the development. Do not spend too much time on things you can’t stand, instead, show the world something cool with what you do best. If your animations are incredible, don’t worry about the UI being very basic, or the sounds standard. If you make amazing sound, don’t worry about your characters being assets.

If you thrive being messy or organised makes no difference. There is a path in Game Dev for you.

Perhaps you have felt stuck in a very long time. Is it possible you should be doing things differently on your game dev path?
Is there anything you can just throw out and change the direction of the project to make more space for what you have most passion for?

Then there is the question of doing it all by yourself, or master one skill and join a team or even get a job in a team. If you are a solo dev, you are an entrepreneur, a small business owner. If suffering isn’t your happiness, doing it all by yourself is probably the wrong approach. Once the game is out and you want to make money, you better love the process of setting up spreadsheets to calculate the taxes. If that isn’t for you, then perhaps being a team member instead of a solo dev is for you.

This brings me to the next step. Do you know how to control your mind and feelings to overcome harsh days and/or prevent breakdowns?
The Game Dev lifestyle is not healthy. Screen time, diet, sleep cycles, stress, lack of exercise and so forth are things we often dismiss because we are so excited or stubborn, that we will instead grind until 3 in the night and then go to work at 7 in the morning.
This is a major problem at large game dev studios. No wonder the games they release are so buggy, their employees are burned out and don’t have enough support to prevent errors.

The only advice I can give is this: Any doubts you have about yourself and your own worth, are nothing but illusions. If you believe your own negativity, you are believing a fantasy. If you can believe that fantasy, you can also believe the reality that you are valuable and worthy. You are important and that my friend, is a hard fact.

Discipline Equals Freedom and if you aren’t healthy, especially in the mind, it might be a good idea to cut down on dev time and spend some months creating new habits. Perhaps you even need professional help. I did that with ADHD last year. Many years too late, but man! What a difference in life. It was like my brain went from a 30 years old computer to the most expensive PC in the world today.

And lastly, the most important thing for any career, is to learn communications, sales and negotiations. Not manipulative sales, but honest sales. The only recommendation I will give is Chris Voss, who wrote “Never Split The Difference.”

I mean, is it such a terrible thought if you can get your boss and bank to be co-operative and understanding?
Would you reject the chance for good discounts?
Tired of your kids or parents controlling your life?

I wish you all the best. May the force be with you and may you be with the force.