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Working 24/7 Won’t Help Your Game.

By: Alicia Palmer

You all know that the IGMC is upon us. Much like winter, it is coming, and there is no stopping it. Rushing up like a herd of elephants, threatening to trample every living obligation and secondary interest under foot in that last minute dash to put on the finishing bit of polish, to make sure that everything is absolutely perfect before you have to send that game in.

The midnight oil is long gone, both ends of the candle have been burned, and you’re currently gathering up the metaphorical wax drippings to see if you can get some fuel out of that for just one more edit, one more rewrite, one more tweak. You can’t stop now, IGMC is coming!

IGMC is Coming

Well, let me stop you. But you can’t stop, I hear you say! I have to finish this! Sleep is secondary, eating is trivial, rest is the enemy! If I don’t get this bit of coding done… Let me stop you again. What’s going to happen? If that important thing doesn’t get done right this very second, minute, hour, what’s going to happen? Be honest now.

If your answer was The entire world will literally explode in a ball of fiery death and destruction and it will be all my fault… then alright, that’s pretty valid, you might want to do that. But for those of you who are not hinging the fate of the world on you putting in one more tweak to your indie masterpiece, let me remind you of something.

The average human body needs approximately eight hours of sleep every twenty four hours to be optimally functional. You need to consume approximately two thousand calories worth of food a day (and no, two thousand calories of Mt. Dew, coffee, or tea doesn’t count) in order for your body to be happy.

Please, remember that your body houses your brain, and that your brain is where all those wonderful, amazing, awesome ideas you’re putting into your game come from. Can your body function on less sleep, on less food? Well yes, the human body is capable of some amazing feats of endurance.

But you wouldn’t ask your computer to model 8 million wheels of cheese rolling down a hill in Skyrim when you weren’t giving your computer the resources it needs to do that properly, would you? So why do it to yourself?

All the Cheese!

All the Cheese!

Are you hungry? Go eat something, preferably fresh and healthy, but if what you have access to is cereal or a frozen dinner that works. Even if you’re not hungry, if you can’t remember the last time you ate, or if you can and it was more than eight to ten hours ago, get up off your butt and put something in your mouth.You’ll be amazed how much more work you can get done when your stomach isn’t growling for attention, or when you don’t have to focus around a hunger headache or low blood sugar.

Are the words on the screen starting to run together and blur? Do you go back over what you’re doing and realize that it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever? Did the sun just rise and you remember seeing it set? Are you not even sure what time it is anymore because the little time gremlin that’s started living behind your monitor said it was yivinslab past gorglesmack and you’re not even sure what that means?

Then in the immortal words of Samuel L. Jackson, “GO THE F*** TO SLEEP.” Seriously, you’ll be amazed how much more you can focus when you get a decent night’s rest in an actual bed, instead of passing out in front of a screen for thirty minutes at a time. The time gremlin will probably go away, but that’s okay, because let’s be honest, he’s not very helpful anyway.

When was the last time you left your house? Have your neighbors forgotten that you live there? Have your parents or roommates or partner forgotten what you look like? While I know we all fear and hate the Evil Daystar, Vitamin D from sunlight can actually be very beneficial.

burns us

Go outside, take a ten minute walk, remember what the sun and wind on your face feels like. You might even come up with some new ideas. Just don’t forget the sunscreen.

Yes, the deadline is coming. Yes, there is nothing you can do to stop the inevitable forward march of time. But letting your body rest and refuel will do absolutely nothing but help. When your body isn’t working off the dregs of energy, ideas will flow more freely, your coding will make more sense, and you’ll be able to see things through fresh eyes instead of ones trying to close because, gdit, it’s been thirty hours since you let us sleep and we’re about to just veto what you want and pass out.

You can wake up with a keyboard print on your face and drool on your mouse. Your brain has been working insanely hard coming up with tons of great game ideas. Tell your brain and your body thank you for putting up with all this crap. Take care of yourself. And for god’s sake, take a shower.

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