A friend once commented that there is no worse situation than a developer working alone in a room. While that is certainly a rough summary of my day-to-day experience, I agree with the sentiment that a singularly focused individual will miss out on many factors that could be critical to a better project, or a larger success.
Every day, there are several blogs and websites that I read over my morning coffee: Gamasutra, the Indie Games weblog, Polygon, GeekWire, and TechCrunch. Usually there, are only a handful of articles or posts that are interesting to me, but the 30 minutes I spend seeing what’s going on in the world helps me to refocus my efforts on the correct things. I can avoid walking down a poorly received path, or I can redouble my efforts on a track that is taking off in similar work. A recent post lead me to this page and sample code, which I will probably use to help define the look of a major character in my game. Getting out of the room helps.
I also spent some time at an Indie Dev meetup here in Seattle. It’s good to see what other people are working on, understand their schedules and challenges, gauge how large their teams are, and meet people who could be helpful to us or that we could help out someday. It’s through these types of events that I tend to meet some excellent advisors, judges, testers, and sounding boards.
Again, just today I was turning a particular coding problem over in my mind. I knew I could brute force a solution with a series of conditionals, but it felt like there was a more efficient solution using a bitmask of some kind. I typed off a message to a friend proposing a solution, and just the act of explaining it lead me down to path of validating that yes, the solution would work, here’s how it would work exactly, and it would be more efficient.
Whatever you’re doing, get out of The Room. Right now, as we push into the final weeks of the Holiday Season, we have the opportunity to be surrounded by intelligent, driven people looking to contribute and help. There are great and powerful stories being told every day, but they won’t be found just behind a screen. Experience the world. Interact. Learn something new. It will almost certainly change you for the better.