Timetables and Twitters

During the vertical slice milestone, I mentioned some concerns about my schedule for NEON STRUCT. It’s a bigger game than Eldritch, with around 25 handcrafted levels that each require bespoke scripting and writing. The schedule is tightly constrained by my budget, unless I choose to do some sort of crowdfunding or early access—but I’m not inclined to, for various reasons I may write about later. Dividing the number of levels by the number of weeks remaining told me that I needed to be finishing one new level almost every week. That sounded technically possible, but I worried it would not afford enough time to make the levels good.

Two things have happened recently which have restored my confidence in my schedule. First, I got ahead on a whole lot of tech tasks which I had expected would fill up the last months of development—things like the Mac and Linux projects I mentioned a couple of weeks ago. Second, I found I could significantly improve my productivity by banning myself from Twitter during work hours.

My Twitter problem started around the time I announced Eldritch last September. I had good intentions to stay on top of press requests through the site, and I set up a number of columns in TweetDeck to monitor mentions of the game and my various related accounts. After a few days, checking Twitter for new mentions of the game became an addiction. Eventually, noise about Eldritch died down and I got back to work on new projects, but the habit remained. During long compiles, after each SVN checkin, or any time I needed to switch to Firefox for any other reason, I would check Twitter. I would get stuck there and lose my focus. Over and over. Dozens of times each day.

It took me a while to identify the problem. I knew my productivity was less than it had been during development of Eldritch, but I attributed it to other immutable factors in my life. I finally noticed that I only felt physically tense and stressed about my schedule when I was procrastinating by reading Twitter. When I could actually stay focused and productive, the stress was gone. After that realization, I installed LeechBlock and banned TweetDeck during work hours. The following days were among the most productive I’ve had on NEON STRUCT yet.

So my confidence in my schedule is restored; and more importantly, my confidence in my own productivity is too.

Ironically, I’m now taking a very brief hiatus from NEON STRUCT. I will be traveling to Dallas next week to help Kyle show Super Win the Game at the Minor Key Games booth at SGC. And I’m working on a sssecret project that will be finished very soon and revealed next month.