Making a video game is not fun. There. I said it.
Okay, that’s not totally true, but when it’s 3:00 AM and you’ve been pulling your hair out for hours over what should have been an easy-to-fix bug, it’s easy to question why you’ve chosen this life for yourself in the first place.
Making a video game is an exercise in patience. Finding simple ways to combat the trying nature of game development is one thing—you can simplify your game concepts to limit scope, you can learn to let the little things go, you can come up with ways to stay on the ball—but having fun while doing it is another. And while it seems obvious that any work extracurricular to your day job should be fun, it still needs to be acknowledged, and that’s why it is our fourth and final guideline: This Should Be Fun.
There’s not much elaboration that needs to be made on this topic, but I must warn anyone who is reading this the dangers of this guideline: it won’t be fun all the time. There will always be those late nights, those inane, frustrating tasks. I just spent the last few weeks reformatting a flowchart for the intro dialogue sequence for Interference. Was it fun? Hell no. Does it allow us to turn our focus back to the parts of development that are fun? You betcha.
It’s all about balance; the “fun” parts should counteract the “not-so-fun” parts. And the “fun” can come from any number of places. It can be found in the feeling of accomplishment in implementing a new game feature, the hilarity of designing fake brands to populate the game environment, the relief of finally squashing that bug at 3:37 AM. If at any point Brad and I take a holistic view of our work and realize we aren’t enjoying it, we’re in big trouble, because having fun is the driving force behind our motivation.
The other guidelines are the fortifications, the safeguards we’ve put into place to protect our sanity. And by periodically checking our progress against the guidelines we set for ourselves over a year ago, we’ve stayed strong, we’ve persevered… we’ve had fun.