As so many people have posited so far this year, “2017 has been a difficult year”. I too will chime this mantra, it has been hard, but the human race marches on and hopefully we have learnt some things that may be helpful to us in our journey into 2018. I’m going to do a quick round up of my year in Work, Play and my tips for Dealing with Burnout.
PART ONE - WORK
November 2017 marked three years of working on our STILL unannounced game at A Brave Plan. This was a year where we had Rudi Kolenc and Stevie Brown join us and made my life in the art department so much easier. I’m so grateful for all the hard work they put in, we would not be as close to the end without their help and certainly not up to the quality bar we are now reaching. The first half of the game is at about 90% and the second half is about 75%. Stevie has now moved onto a new project with Variable State and I’m sure it’s going to be amazing!
2017 also had us show our game to select press at Gamescom for the first time.We got a very positive response from those who got to come and take a look. Needless to say I was there with my phone noting down all the moments people got stuck or that bugs came up. Overall a good and heartening experience after working in isolation for so long.
Another big milestone we hit is finding our lead voice actor for the game. This has been a long struggle, emailing agents, having one casting session, then a second, plus call backs. The actor we went with was the last (of many) people we saw, on the second set of auditions and as soon as we heard them it was like “Yes! Finally!”.
We have had two session of recording now for the first half dialogue and it was amazing to hear someone that wasn't me delivering the lines I had written! In fact, our dialogue team is amazing, so I’m really excited for when we can announce all the people who have had a hand in it.
In terms of the future, announcements are very much tied to production. When you are making an ambitious game with a TINY team (we are 3 people full time), someone being ill drops your people-power by a third! This can make planning very difficult!. What I can say, is that this game will be out at some point next year and announcements hopefully are happening early Q1. We have the website all ready to go, but dates are down to marketing at our publisher. It will however be sooner than later and we just want to make sure we are getting our messaging right!
PART TWO - PLAY
A quick fire list of games I loved this year with a hot take from your's truly:
Prey - Female Morgan Yu is canon
Night in the Woods - Most authentic dialogue in a videogame
Observer - Techno Body Horror Glitch Rave: The videogame
Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild - Pure Joy - the perfect antidote to 2017
PART THREE - DEALING WITH BURNOUT
If you have spoken to me in person this year, you will know I’ve been dealing with burnout for the vast majority of it. It’s made me more quiet, anxious and depressed than I have been since my early 20s, not to mention making my agoraphobia worse than it’s been in years! These things happen and I think I need to talk about it, especially to talk about the things that have helped. Burnout is a huge part of dev culture but also just the neo-liberal capitalist nightmare we all live in. We work too much, worry too much, are financially unstable and don’t socialise enough. This is something I’m going to be working to recover from in 2018, but will be a battle for me my whole life. I have already started work on this and here are a couple of things that have been working for me so far.
1) Keep a regular yoga practice (or some other exercise)
Some weeks are better than others with this, but overall having a regular exercise routine is good. I used to do more cardio and weights, but the amount of sitting at a desk I do has really messed up my back. So Yoga and Pilates really help with that. Yoga is also a meditative practice. It helps you slow down and just be in the moment; just you, your body and your breath.
2) Get a hobby.
Get a hobby that isn’t related to your job in any way. For me, that meant stepping away from my computer and getting physical. I starting printmaking, specifically linocut. I had done block printing in the past but the style of linocut really spoke to me. It’s very rustic. You just need some cutting tools, lino, a roller and some ink. Cutting lino and then printing was a really relaxing way to spend my evenings after work and gave me something I could share with others. Heck, I even made Christmas cards this year and gave them out to people who had really helped me out through the year.
3) Get out of the house
This one is a tricky one, especially if you are struggling with agoraphobia. I’m struggling with this now (I had a panic attack at the shops today cus it was so busy!), but it’s something we all have to try. If getting out on your own is tough, try to organise to go out with a friend or partner. Join a group that have organised meetups to get you out. I’m personally part of BAFTA Crew this year so that has been great for me to get out and make new friends. Even just going out for a walk in some greenery near by will do you wonders!
4) Get yourself some plants
When you are struggling to thrive, it’s really helpful to make something external thrive instead. A good one for this are plants. They are green and vibrant which is proven to be good for you. But they also give you something to care for; kind of like kids but less responsibility and mess!
5) Finally, get yourself a teapot!
A silly one to finish but I like it! We all should probably be drinking more water and staying hydrated. Something that has helped me with that is having a tea pot that I now keep on my desk. It’s relaxing to make the tea (peppermint is my go to), and I love the sound as you pour it (might make you need to pee). It sits there as a warm reminder to look after yourself and have a warm drink throughout the day.
2017 has been a tough one, but overall I'm really hopefully for 2018. I can safely say, while these past years have been hard going, I can also say I haven't learnt more in them than at any other time in my professional career. Next year should hopefully be the year I can start finally sharing these things I've learnt, in the hope they may be helpful to you. Be in no doubt that this blog will light up as soon as I am able to share what Georg and I have been pottering away on for all these years. I really hope you're going to like it, I'm mostly terrifed that no one will care. But in the end, we will be able to say we gave it our best shot!
Happy 2018, may it keep you well and set your heart alight with passion and joy.