212: How To Start Building a Video Game. Part 2.

How do you make your idea more specific?

It’s hard to make progress on a vague idea. This reminds me of a popular book called Getting Things Done that says we don’t work on projects, we work on tasks. If you have a lot of unfinished tasks on your do-to list, maybe it’s because they’re not actionable. One example from the book was cleaning the garage. Is there a specific action you can take that will result in a clean garage? If so, then that should be your task. For example, sweeping the floor is something you can do. Most likely, you’ll need to do several things.

By being very clear about what those things are, they become actionable. And some actions might depend on others. Maybe you need to buy a broom before you can sweep the floor.

It causes us more stress and internal struggle when we keep reminding ourselves about these projects but don’t take the time to list out the actual work needed.

The same thing applies to programming. Building a game is hard enough. You don’t need to add more problems by continuing to think of it as a single task.

When I started the text-based game, I knew that there would be a map of some kind. It’s a top-down game so the view always needs a map. Now, thinking terms of a map is like thinking about cleaning a garage. Even this is too vague. You can’t program a map. So I started listing out what could appear on the map. At first, this was a jumbled mess of ideas. That’s actually a good way to start. Just get everything written down that you can think of and then start looking for patterns and similarities.

Listen to the full episode for more examples and some advice for knowing when you’ve reached a level that can be coded.

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