Dealing with Designer’s Block

I dreaded this stage of development but I anticipated it. Every time a project of mine fails, it’s because I have hit this stage. When it comes to creative works, it’s hard not to get stuck and feel in a rut. I have hit this stage already but thanks to the fact that I’ve had it in consideration for a while, it doesn’t seem that hard to get past as it used to seem to me. Here are a few things that I’ve employed to get rid of my designer’s block and to keep this game project going.

1. Take A Break

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This is different from what I usually do, which is quitting. Taking a break just means to pull yourself away from a project for a bit of time so that you can have a clearer mind when approaching tasks. Recently, I had issues with trying to tie in some mechanics that I really liked. Some just seemed impossible from my ability to be able to program and it had me extremely stressed. After a short break, things seemed clearer to me. I discarded mechanics that I didn’t feel essential to the game and tied in the mechanics that were left over. I ended up with an easier workload and something that actually worked without stressing myself out.

2. Relax

Home Sweet Home
Home Sweet Home

During the early stages of this project I was away from my home town for school. I managed to be very productive and I enjoyed the work but there’s nowhere better than home. I recently finished my studies and managed to fly back to my home town of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. The gorgeous beaches and the relaxing coastal environment has allowed me to relax and enjoy myself better. Taking time to yourself to relax and unwind is essential for creative work. It helps untangle your mind and lets your creativity flow. Much of my increased productivity and break from my creative block was due to moving back to my relaxing and peaceful hometown.

3. Socialize

Don't isolate yourself
Don’t isolate yourself

When you’re working on a project, it’s very easy to isolate yourself from everyone. It’s extremely easy to stare at a screen for hours and be enveloped in your project. It’s also easy to believe that this is the best way to complete a project. Although it is the fastest way, it isn’t the best way. I find that I’m more creative the more I allow myself to socialize and talk to other people. It helps to allow yourself to be distracted from your project from time to time. Don’t over work yourself.

4. Work on other projects

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Another thing that worked for me was to allow myself time for other projects. Allowing myself to program small games and work on my HTML5 games was very beneficial. Some concepts that I programmed in those small games were usable in my major project and it helped me look for different angles in my game. Sometimes when I work on a project too long, I forget what my main goal is. This is why stepping back and working on other projects can help clear your mind when working on a project.

5. Play other games

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Finally, the most beneficial thing I did to get rid of my block was to just play other games. I especially played games I drew inspiration from. I’ve become more of an indie game consumer than a mainstream game consumer so I spent a lot of time playing titles such as Hotline Miami, Gunpoint and Shovel Knight. These are games that madly inspire me. They are great examples of good game design and had me thinking about my own project in many different ways. There are certain aspects of my game’s development that I changed according to the games I played. Apart from the games being inspiring, it was also good to have a bit of leisure.

Do you have any methods that help you get rid of a creative block? Any opinions on what I choose to do? Leave a comment below!

Don’t forget, if you want to test my prototype, read here.

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