100 Experience Points
An Adventure in Indie Game Development

It's Not a Sprint or a Marathon...

A lot of times you’ll hear people say, “It’s not a sprint; it’s a marathon.” Meaning you’re not trying to go as fast as you can for a short amount of time, you’re trying to maintain a decent speed for a very long time. I suspect that analogy is mostly representative of what I’m doing here.

But I suspect that most of the time, when people say that, they’ve never ran a marathon before. To be sure, I haven’t either. But I have ran a half marathon before, and I think I can imagine what a full marathon would be like, and I don’t think a marathon is the best analogy.

When you’re running a marathon, you’re constantly pushing yourself. A lot of people have this mentality when they do long distance running that it’s a bunch of hard work, to get to a destination that they were looking for.

But I’m going to go out on a (fairly short and fairly sturdy) limb here and say that this is less like a sprint and a marathon, and more like a Ragnar Relay. (Or perhaps, any other overnight relay, but I can speak about Ragnar from first hand experience.)

In Ragnar, you get twelve of your friends together, and in relay fashion, run about 200 miles between a Friday, and overnight into, and through Saturday. For instance, your team may start at 9:00 AM Friday morning, and you’ll have a runner constantly on the road until 5:42 PM on Saturday evening when you cross the finish line. Everybody gets three legs, ranging from about three miles (~5 km) to about ten (~16 km). Between the legs that you run, you sit in the van waiting for your turn, and jump out occasionally to cheer your current runner on, and give them water, or to shout “SKELETOR!” at the guy who’s running down the road in some sort of creepy skeleton costume for some reason.

Ragnar has this slogan that I have always liked: “Run. Drive. Sleep? Repeat.” You run, you ride in the car supporting your team mates, you maybe get some sleep if you’re lucky, and keep going to the finish line. One thing that isn’t explicitly stated there is the fun element. Ragnar is about running, but it’s about having fun while you run.

It’s for that reason that I think making a game in 100 days is more like a Ragnar Relay than a marathon. You work hard to get things done. But you don’t spend every last minute working. You can’t. You’ll get burned out. It’s too long to do that. If you’re working on something for just a weekend, you can skip the sleep if you want. You’ll probably be OK. But with 98 days left, you’re going to need to get the rest you need, and save some time for other things you enjoy as well. If not, you’re going to be sick of your game very quickly. Also, making a game like this is more about having fun in the process, than actually making a game. If you’re like me, this is a big chunk of your spare time, not your full time job. You can’t afford to not be enjoying it.

Obviously, debugging bugs that should have been impossible is frustrating, but if you ever get to that point where none of it is fun any more, and you’re dreading working on your game, stop. It’s not worth it. Give yourself a break for a day or two. And then try again, at a slower pace, or on a different game that you’ll enjoy more.

I’m on Day 3 now. If on day 23, I’m not enjoying this any more, it will be over.

The good news is, I’m loving it so far….