Developing a Video Game With Life on Pause

2020 wasn’t all bad. Here’s to more to get excited about in 2021!

It’s strange to think back to the start of 2020 and put into perspective how the year went in terms of the goals I’d made for myself as a game developer. It was (from my perspective at the time, at least) a pre-COVID world. We were working on a demo to showcase at DreamHack Anaheim in February (see our recap post here). We didn’t realize at the time that it would end up being one of the last mass gatherings to occur in the United States before the shutdowns began.

A Brave New World

When COVID did shut everything down, everything was uncertain. Would it slow down development on Interference? Would the extra time make me more productive? More than 9 months later, I still don’t really know how my productivity output would’ve been different if everything had proceeded as normal.

But what I do know is that when it seemed like life outside of my apartment was put on pause, having a project like this to occupy my extra time at home turned out to be a great thing.

There are only so many hours in a day, and it had been a bit of a struggle at times to balance a full-time job, a social life, and a project of this scale. But with things like commuting, going to the gym, getting drinks and dinners with friends and coworkers all off the table for the time being, I found more time in my day to work on Interference without it consuming every minute of free time I had. It brought structure to my life when I really needed it, and it didn’t come at the cost of burning me out in the long run.

Keep On Keeping On

But that’s not to say this year has been easy. It can never be understated how much this pandemic has affected all of us, and will continue to affect us for the foreseeable future. People have lost loved ones and have had their lives upended. I’m so grateful to be healthy and in a position where I can look back and find a silver lining in all of this. I recognize this has not been everyone’s experience.

I’m also very grateful to continue to have a full-time job that I enjoy. It enables me to support myself and allows me the freedom to pursue game development in my spare time. But when you spend the entire workday and a good portion of your time on nights and weekends sitting in the same chair in front of the same computer screen, avoiding burnout is really hard. There have been days this year where I struggled to resist the temptation to just turn my brain off at the end of a long workday. But as a whole, I’ve managed to keep up the momentum. We’re making tangible progress on Interference every day, and we have lots of new and exciting things in store for 2021. This year was difficult, but it didn’t defeat me.

As I’m sure many others are, I’m hoping for a better 2021. Eventually life will be un-paused and we’ll all need to adjust to getting back out there. But as long as I’m going to be spending more time at home, I’m grateful to have Interference as an outlet to keep me sane through it all.

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