The power of TODO

Lately my latest project has been slowing down. I haven’t been getting as much done on it as I was when I first started out. I had a few theories for why that was: partly because I’d spent the last month moving out form my apartment in Sydney, getting rid of all my stuff, living out of a suitcase, moving to Vancouver, and trying to find an apartment in Vancouver; partly because the core gameplay is done – and it’s fun – but now I need to add timers, high scores, menus, particles systems etc. to move it from feeling like a prototype to feeling like an actual game; partly because I’ve had new ideas since this project started and despite writing them down and thinking “I’ll look at them after this project”, there’s a certain latent excitement I have for trying these new ideas as quickly as possible.

But it wasn’t until last night, and a fantastic speech by Shane Neville at the October Vancouver Indie Game Developers Meetup, that I realised what the greatest influence on my work had been: I’d stopped writing TODO lists.


At the beginning of the project, my excitement drove both my passion and my organisation: I wrote code, design documents, sketched concept art and created Milestones. Over the course of the project though, as I hit (or slightly missed) those milestones and completed tasks, I’d been forgetting to create new ones as the scope of the project evolved. Gradually, and subtly, my task list had moved from pen and paper (and Trac and Wiki versions) to being stored in my head. Which is, without a doubt, the worst place to store anything important.


It simply doesn’t work to be keeping track of the important changes in my design in my own head, without anything written down. Thanks to that prompting speech from Shane, and a renewed excitement after meeting all the fantastic people in the Vancouver Indie games scene, my TODO lists have been placed back into their rightful physical form and the work on my project is progressing at a much greater pace as a result.

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