miércoles, 4 de diciembre de 2013

The Deadline-Driven Being

No, sorry, this is not the name of a horror game. This post intends to be a reflection about the nature of human beings. Actually, in the heading I'm using "Deadline-Driven" as a synonym of "Human". The goal of this post is to insist on the importance of setting hard deadlines for your projects. Don't underestimate this piece of advice, because psychology and project management theory have proven what I'm claiming here. 

Just remember when you were in school or in college. When were you more productive? When did you study the most? I'm sure that the answers to both questions are the same: the day before the exam. Yes, you had four months to prepare the exam. Of course you could have been studying all along the semester. Sure you could have prepared the exam two or three weeks before the day of the exam. But you didn't, I didn't and almost no one did it (of course there might be rare exceptions over there). 

It's sad but we can't fight our nature. As the name of an interesting film that I recently saw stated, we are what we are. And humans are deadline-driven. 

Figure 1.- The deadline, even when it seems scary, it is a necessary and natural 
part of the productivity life cycle (image taken from
 http://varela1.blogspot.com.es/2013/10/deadline-american-excitement.html)

I'm currently doing my PhD, and I know how the research area works. When would you say that I'm more productive? Yes, you're right, when a deadline for the submission to a conference is coming in a few days. Probably I could have prepared a nice work and then, a posteriori, check to which conference send the work. But things usually work in the other way around: you won't have anything substantial until you know where you want to send it, and until you see the deadline so close that you have no choice other than paying all your attention to that work.

And why making a game would be any different? You usually have many nifty ideas, you prototype new mechanics, cool!! But then procrastination dwells in your heart, and you figure out a new way to improve your original idea, and then a new even better idea replaces the previous one, until you're fed up with the original idea because you think of something completely different that is going to shake the market up with top-notch mechanics never seen before…Yes, yes, we all went through that road until we found an important stumbling block in the form of logical implications: no deadline -> no pressure -> no game.

This is also the reason why we (Manuela and me) decided to set up a deadline for the release of the game announced in the previous post: Chubby Buddy. We still have lots of work ahead, and we won't be able to address some cool ideas that we originally had. But otherwise I know that we would run the risk of never releasing the game, because we have so many other ideas, that it would be very tempting to blow this one off and to pursue a new one.

Game jams and reputable venues like the Independent Game Festival are excellent options to put a bit of pressure on yourself. Even telling your friends or your family that you're showing them something on a given day will probably give your productivity the required boost!

See you! (by next week hopefully… yes, I'm of course as deadline-driven as anyone else)


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