We hope that not only you will enjoy reading our blogs but they will also be helpful to you in a way or another 🙂.

The importance of adjusting your release schedule

Disclaimer: This DevLog is intended to help anyone, who is in a similar situation we are in at the moment. Everyone has to make their own decisions. This merely is our own honest view and opinion, based on our experience. We would love to hear from you, what you think about it all. We wish you all the success and fun you deserve with the development and release of your game! eXplore Studio

Many of us know the difficult task of committing to a release date and sticking to it… without overworking and falling into panic and crunch mode. eXplore Studio is an international start-up with 4 permanent people in our development team, and a wide range of freelancers who help us with art, music, and localisations. We develop our games following an Agile approach with regular integration and packaging of intermediate versions of our games. This helps us to reduce risk and identify any problems in the games early. At the centre is what is most important – the health and wellbeing of each team member! By the way, if everyone is in a good place, enjoys work and even has fun, the games will always be much better.

But when we come closer to the planned release date, like we do for our first game to be released during this summer, we keep finding things we still need to correct and add to the game. Beta-testing is great, but it brings about lots of additional things we want to add now. Also, some of the features we had planned turn out to take longer because the solutions are much more complex than we had anticipated.

We suddenly see ourselves confronted with making a terrible choice: 

Do we stick to the release date? Or do we stick to our sustainable way of developing the game? 

We can’t do both. If we maintain the release date that means a lot more work per week for a couple of months, including long nights and weekends. We will suffer from stress, accumulated fatigue, and our physical and mental health is likely to deteriorate. Fun will be hidden behind stress. On the other hand, if we maintain our sustainable way of working, we will be fine, but certainly not able to meet our release date. A terrible choice to make! Or is it really?

Let me be very clear: You are in indie game development because you want to express yourself in liberty, you want to enjoy the ride, you want to give the world something of yourself, a beautiful piece of art, a beautiful story, hours, and days of fun playing your game! You do not want to be pushed around (not even by yourself)! So, do not be a slave to your release date decision that was probably made on over-optimistic estimates, because you wanted to get the game out into the world, and perhaps, because you may finally need some money! You and your health is so much more important! Also, a great game will always be great, while a rushed game will always be flawed. Nobody will remember, whether you released on time, but they will remember your great game!

Is it easy to postpone the release? No, we feel like we failed to plan properly, we may even be disappointed with ourselves. But remember that we did plan that date in light of what we knew and estimated some time ago. Now things have changed, and our estimates are more accurate. Only fools don’t change. However, it takes a lot of courage to change the date, because deep inside we may think, what other people will think of us?

Please always have the courage to adjust your release schedule if this is necessary! For your own sake, the sake of the people working with you, and the sake of all the people who will play your game – they will love it!!!

How to boost our productivity?

Disclaimer: This DevLog is intended to help anyone, who is in a similar situation we are in at the moment. Everyone has to make their own decisions. This merely is our own honest view and opinion, based on our experience. We would love to hear from you, what you think about it all. We wish you all the success and fun you deserve with the development and release of your game! eXplore Studio

Many of us know how difficult it is to develop and release a game. From story board, concept ideas, modelling, game integration, marketing and much more, it is not a full-time job but many full-time jobs at the same time, often undertaken by a single developer or a small team. The days go by, filled with a very wide range of emotions. From excitement, enthusiasm, happiness to stress, anxiety, mental fatigue, or despair, you can be assured that a game developer will experience all of them, sometimes even within a single day! And it is without mentioning the long working hours, the lack of sleep, the physical strain and most of the time a not so healthy diet. This is understandable, game developers have a game to publish if they want to earn some revenue, so they add hours upon hours to boost their productivity and achieve their dream faster. Unfortunately, even superhero-developers are just human and cannot push their bodies this way for a long period of time. And instead of being more productive, the opposite occurs: they have mental and physical breakdowns. They need a break.

But what if there were some kinds of strategies or life choices game developers could adopt to continue their progress and thrive?

You might be familiar with the English-language proverb that appeared in the 19th century ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away.’ At the time, people did not have access to a wide variety of fruits and vegetables so eating an apple a day was one way to integrate healthy food in their diet. Research actually shows that apples have many virtues with few side effects and moreover, workers who eat five portions of fruit and vegetable at least four days a week, show to be 25% more productive than those who don’t have a habit of doing so. It is definitely worth trying…

Besides, there is another way to boost your productivity! Nelson Mandela once said, ‘Exercise is the key not only to physical health but to peace of mind.’ And he was so right! Once again, research demonstrates that incorporating short exercise or physical activity breaks during the workday can lead to increased productivity. The numbers speak for themselves: these breaks can help employees reduce stress, refocus, and re-energize, leading to better overall cognitive function and task performance by 72%! The best part is that you just need 2.5 hours of exercise during your workday so typically 30 minutes per day. Perhaps a 30 minute walk to the corner shop to get some fruits and vegetables?

Now, by no means, the following topic should be omitted or taken lightly if you want to boost your productivity: sleep. Did you know that sleep and effective work performance are positively correlated? Getting enough sleep leads to happiness, performance, and improved health. Sleeping 7–8 hours per night increases productivity by 20%, while sleeping fewer than 5 hours decreases productivity by 29%. If you are interested in learning more about the importance of sleep, you may want to read ‘Why we sleep?’ by Matthew Walker (not sponsored) and you will be amazed to discover the many short and long term benefits of having a good night sleep.

Finally, let’s not neglect the importance of having good, trusted friends, at work and outside work, who will definitely be there for you sharing your high and low moments. “People are more creative and productive when they experience more positive inner work life, including more positive emotions, stronger motivation toward the work itself and more positive perceptions of the organization,” explains Professor Teresa Amabile of Harvard Business School, co-author of ‘The Progress Principle’ (not sponsored). “And one of the things that contributes to positive inner work life is a sense of camaraderie with teammates and close co-workers – a sense of bonding and mutual trust.” Moreover, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and University of Minnesota not only confirmed that close friendships increase workplace productivity, but they also found out why — friends are more committed, communicate better, and encourage each other.

So, game developers, it’s all in your hands. Implement some simple changes in your daily life and measure their impact on your mood and productivity. What if you tried to integrate healthier food in your diet? What if you tried to go out every day, feel the sun and the wind on your skin and experience the benefits of natural light? What if you tried to implement a bed-time routine for a better night sleep? What if you tried to have a person of confidence to talk to during challenging times? What if this advice would definitely boost your productivity?

Game developers, you have nothing to lose! You are all incredible artists, and the world needs to see your games! Take good care of yourselves!