December 9, 2007

The Road to Recovery

Well, if there's anything I think I've learned here thus far (or maybe just this term), it's approximately how much punishment my mind and body can take before one or both just begin to shut down. I think it's actually a valuable bit of information and I don't think that's been more true than these last few weeks. It turns out it's actually a bit more than I probably would have estimated a year ago, but even I have my limits. A few days of about 4 hours of sleep a night followed by an all-nighter, is easily enough to put me down for the count, but the effects are even a bit more subversive than that.

When the whole sleep-deprivation thing actually becomes a factor, it can manifest in a lot of different ways:
  • Emotionally - like feeling exceptionally anxious or depressed without any significant cause
  • Mentally - like an inability to approach your work or solve problems you might easily address
  • Physically - the most obvious symptoms like feeling tired or sore, and some intense headaches
The list probably goes on from there, but I think I experienced each of this dimensions at some point during this last week, and the counter to them as well. On Wednesday, I was pretty fried and the professor took some note. He actually told me to go home and get some rest, that sometimes the best thing you can do is take a break and get away from work for a while then return refreshed and ready to tackle the problems head on. While I wasn't able to take his advice in its entirety (which was to take the night off), I did come home and take a nap and play some games before finally making a quick dinner and getting to work. I'll be darned if it wasn't one of my more productive nights lately.

I guess I was operating under some principle of needing to be constantly working to get my work done, when in fact the truth is you need to find whatever it is that can keep you working at optimally. So if that means you need to sleep more than some people, or you need to set aside time to actually play games and remember why it is you came here in the first place, then you need to do that. I think I spent a lot of time trying to be the "superstar," and I thought the only way I could do that was to work as hard as possible, but that's just not the case, at least not for me.

Now that doesn't mean that sometimes you aren't called to work exceptional hours anyway, my all-nighter on Friday is proof of that, but like anything, it's all about balance. Passion is critical to quality in this industry, there's no doubt about that, and if you aren't absolutely dedicated to doing this, then don't, you'll be putting yourself through hell, and it won't be worth it. I don't mean you need to have spent your entire young adult life creating mods (or playing games for that matter), but that when you look inside yourself, there's a part of you that knows this is what you want to be doing.

In the end, passion is great thing, and I think it is what has pushed me and so many others to excel, but you can't let it consume you. Without trying to sound melodramatic, I think I almost did, and this was an important lesson for me to learn....and I'm sure I'll have to continually learn it as I progress. Anyway, I've got a document to review before I head to bed. I hope you all derive some meaning from this post and it doesn't sound like the crazed rantings of a sleep-deprived game developer.

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