I find the mental stuff to be the biggest challenge at TRS. We want to be one of the best studios in the world. To do that, we need help from everyone. Not only are employees coding or animating, but they are also asked to care about the design of the game and give feedback to help make it a better product. They’re expected to help us figure out the best pipeline, the best way to manage, the best way to build, launch and run a successful product while maintaining a healthy studio. We face all these challenges together! We know it’s a tough ask, but amazing things happen when the challenge is high. It’s not for everyone, but for some, it’s a super cool and effective approach to game development. It can tax the brain pretty heavily, however. We are asking a lot more of you than most studios.
Personally, I find that’s where a good hobby can make a big difference. On the weekends I build/modify vehicles. When I get home Friday night, I’m already thinking about what I am going to build over the weekend and it has nothing to do with work. My hobby helps me “turn off” work, giving my brain a chance to rest and recover. It helps me come back Monday refreshed and ready to go. (I also don’t check my work email in the evenings or on the weekend. If there is an emergency, someone will call. When I am home, I am not at work!)
Another thing I really love about my hobby is that it’s physical - it’s the opposite of what I do at work. Game development is virtual - you work 8 hours per day on really cool stuff but you view it all through a flat screen, keyboard and mouse or controller. You can’t touch it. It’s not real. When I work on cars I lug heavy parts around, ratchet chromed wrenches, get grease under my nails, get my clothes dirty, bang my head on stuff and earn some scrapes and bruises. And I love it all. It makes me feel alive, like the stuff I am doing is somehow more meaningful. Or maybe that’s just caveman DNA in me talking.
I also find it reliably rewarding because the problem space is simple. Yeah, I’m still solving problems, but when I build my own cars I do whatever I want. I don’t have to consider if the process works for other people. I’m not concerned about anyone else’s opinion or how well the end product will sell. It’s just this thing I build the way I want. Such a simple problem. Very easy to achieve and that makes me happy. Easy victories seem valuable.
I also think it’s important to see regular progress with a hobby. It’s amazing how much you can accomplish in a weekend. Install fuel injection, sand and paint some body panels, change the oil or detail the car. When the weekend is finished, I can usually take a step back and enjoy all the things I have accomplished in just a few short days.
I think you’d get the same sort of satisfaction out of bike riding, training your dog or rock climbing. Just find an excuse to get out, exercise your brain and accomplish something measurable. Forget about work when you are home. It’ll be waiting for you when you get back.