Functioning Solo Indie

michael Michael

Last night I came across this talk from the 2011 Game Designers Conference on functioning with depression as a solo indie game designer. It’s about 20 minutes long and I think it’s a good watch for anyone (especially creatives) working solo and facing the struggles that come with working alone.  Hit the photo to jump to the GDC Vault to see the video.  

While the speaker, Michael Todd, shares my first and middle names, it’s just a coincidence.  He is not me.

Depression is not a serious problem for me.  I can’t say that I “suffer from depression”.  But mild depression is an inevitable part of this business.  And working alone can be de-motivating at times.  It’s important (and challenging) to stay productive.

One of the things I do to track my productivity is that I keep a journal.  Actually, I’ve been journaling since the beginning of Bad Weasel Games.  My journaling process is very simple.  First, I keep a separate journal for each project.  Usually I’m only working on one thing at a time anyway.  My journal is sort of like a blog written to myself.  I start each entry with the date and time.  I write down what I’m working on that day, any thoughts or ideas I have about the problem I’m facing and how I plan to approach it.  Sometimes I insert code or a screen shot.  It is of course very informal.

I don’t use any special software either.  I just use TextEdit on the Mac.  I blow up the font size fairly large also.  When it comes to To Do items I use a color code.  When I finish something I change the color of the text to green to signify that it’s done.  If I decide not to do something I make it red.

Journaling allows me to look back over a project, see what ideas I had started with and see my progress each day.  It also makes me self aware.  What sometimes does depress me is when I return to a journal and see that the previous entry was a week ago (or gasp a month ago).