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 Post subject: devpression, apparently
PostPosted: Wed Aug 20, 2014 5:16 pm 
Bytewise
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I'm in a mild state of what might be called an "devpression" i guess and I thought that maybe a community of people in my field of work would know what I'm talking about and would understand what I feel. So here I am! I don't know whether this is common for Programmers or not but from time to time I feel like I don't actually know anything about programming! People always tell me I'm good with programming when they see me do it but whenever I start thinking about real applications of everything i know, I just feel like it's completely useless!! I often get stuck on trivial things I always known in languages I understand and it feels horribly de-motivating... I used to absolutely love programming and it was fun no matter what but I seem to be loosing my passion for it and now it feels more and more frustrating when a theres a problem I just can't solve immediately. I can't really find enough enthusiasm to start small and challenging projects anymore as it always seems like I'm loosing time with them...

Did any of you experience such feelings and if yes how did you counter them? Or is this just something i need to live with? Shoud I force my self to program more or is that a bad idea?

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 20, 2014 10:09 pm 
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Sorry to hear that Hazarth.

I've found that life is always changing and our priorities and focus change with it. I used to code all the time and rarely thought of anything else. However, these days I hardly go near a compiler. I wrote some Python today and really struggled with even simple tasks. I also know from experience that you pick it up again very quickly if you need to, so don't worry about it too much.

Perhaps you're suffering from burnout. I used to rotate through dev work, gaming (brain-out console stuff), 3D modelling and webby stuff so that I didn't get into too much of a groove.

Hope that helps.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2014 7:17 am 
Harmlessness does no harm
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Hazarth, this is how I've felt pretty much 99% of the time I've spent programming since I started programming seriously in 1998.

My biggest issues have been having to learn ad-hoc (i.e. trial-and-error, random reading, and so on... not much structured/organized academia at all), as well as tackling projects that were far beyond realistic considering my knowledge and capabilities. And, as Codehead mentioned, burnout has been a huge factor in things (especially when I've hit one ridiculous problem, spending hours upon hours cursing at my monitor, only to give up in frustration... then, when I finally got the gumption to come back a day or two afterward, fix the problem within 20 minutes of starting).

It's only in the past week or so that I've had much time and energy to get back into it since I got my own place... the last time I spent a full day programming anything was in September 2012. Life got hectic -- when I had time, I had no energy... when I had energy, I had no time. The solution to that was for me to lose work, and be unable to afford gas to drive myself anywhere. LOL

Sometimes, I think it helps to build a small portfolio of stupidly simple projects... for example, I've started working on an interactive fiction project... something I've done in the past, with full string parsing and interpretation and all... but, this go-round, I'm sticking to simpler things -- multiple-choice options, instead. These are popular nowadays in mobile gaming (and has essentially revived interactive fiction) -- you get a few paragraphs of story, then a few options... picking one progresses the story accordingly. With a simple framework, you could focus more on content -- rather than spend hundreds of hours pounding on code, you can spend time adding on to a project that already works... adding more content, splitting it into subprojects (some mobile interactive fiction games actually are rather short, but the stories continue in additional volumes that come out, for example, once a month)... this way, you actually have the gratification that comes with a complete (albeit simple) product.

Also, working on game-related software is an option -- relatively simple things like role-playing tools (dice rollers, character generators, map generators, and such), or other types of gaming aids. Many people find these types of tools handy, and depending on the nature of the application, are pretty straightforward and don't take up too much time to develop.

One last note -- these days, most developers are gravitating toward, and relying upon, third-party software for development... using kits like Unity, Unreal Engine, or what have you. These days, most games have become so content-heavy that making a modern-class game is almost impossible without getting some outside help (though there are some one-to-two-head developers making pretty snazzy stuff with Unity). I'm not sure what kind of games you're dealing in, or what languages/development kits you're working with, so there's not much else I can offer beyond that.

Edit -- Oh, and one more thing, as far as forcing yourself to program... really, programming is a labor of love. For me, I can quit programming all I want (I have often wanted to do so in the past, as I've been so frustrated by it continually)... but some nefarious compulsion keeps dragging me back to the IDE, kicking and screaming. It may be easier to not worry about the implications of forcing yourself to keep doing something you can't keep yourself away from.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2014 7:26 pm 
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Sometimes you just gotta take a break, get some perspective.

If you know some experienced programmers in real life, talk to them. I've learned a lot from books and online, but I've filled in a lot of important gaps from talking to people and picked up a lot of interesting and valuable nuggets that led to further reading and learning.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2014 8:37 pm 
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Yeah i think most people go through this, not only programmers but hobbyists in any field.
I don't know if it's a sort of burnout, lack of motivation, outer influences or induced by ones own mentally. I guess this would be different for anyone.

If it hits me i take breaks, sometimes for up to 6 month, thinking about giving it up entirely. But eventually i always come back to it. To me it's just too interesting and fun to just give up. Also i'd have wasted a good chunk of my life to just abandon it :P

If you want to try to force yourself out of this mindset you could try to find some peers to jam with, do some small projects or attend jams. These can be a lot of fun and spark your interest once again.

Otherwise take your time off, however long you desire. Go play games instead of making them. Or go on vacation, clear your head and don't feel bad about it(!). Just enjoy the time you're not coding, and make the best of it :D

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2014 2:07 am 
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You can always look for a project which already exists and importatnly, already works.

When you're doing a personal project, you can spend huge amounts of time dealing with silly backbone bits like OpenGL initialization and config loading and menus. If you can find a project which has all of these, you can write the fun easy code, like adding tanks, instead of the boring annoying code, like the random IFDEF in a random file to make it compile on Windows.

I used to do some work on OpenTTD. It's not too huge of a codebase so you don't get too lost. They've got a decent community. It's fun to play. Most importantly, the code is somewhat mature, so you can just add features and toys instead of mucking with the boring stuff.

Aside from all that, go on an electricity-free camping weekend. You'll feel excellent afterwards.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2014 3:31 pm 
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As mentioned in prior posts to mine it can be a combination of frustration and burnout or simply one or the other.

But here is my two pence, quite often I find my self programming on and off between creating and playing games, when playing games I can find both fun in what they provide (A good story, a good amount of creative game play allowance etc), this tends to brew ideas in my mind, often driving me to code again but sometimes my will is not with building an engine although my dreams are so what I do is grab a simple game and make a mod for it, that way i can see my results immediately and say to my self that is what I did, this in turn helps me find inspiration for bigger projects, so maybe its not so much will as what you are asking yourself to write, life is full of simple little things that make the world go around, good luck with your woes.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 23, 2014 3:09 pm 
Bytewise
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Joined: Sun Aug 05, 2012 9:32 pm
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Thank you all for your replies, I feel better to know that I'm not just loosing passion for programming and that this does happen from time to time.

I also used to suffer from thinking that the engine is more important then the game and I always used to start making games by writing simple, but complete engine and it starts being boring very fast... then I googled for a bit and hit this article:
http://scientificninja.com/blog/write-games-not-engines. This made making games much more fun... such an basic realization and it took me too long to even understand that!

Nowdays every big game shows a lot of logos for engines and stuff they used and it makes it seem that the engine is more important than the game and this fooled me for a long time :\

In any case I think I'll take a longer break from coding until I get really interested in making something again. I'll just stick with forum activity for now. :) Thanks to all of your for your support.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 23, 2014 4:26 pm 
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They probably bought the engine instead of writing it, and their advertising is part of the license, just like the "Intel inside" stuff, which is really quite non-relevant for using a computer :p

May I give you another one? "Code for today instead of tomorrow." It means you write code for getting the current feature in, nothing more. No generalizing stuff for the future, or adding hooks for future extensions. You do that when you are in the future, and actually want to use existing code for another purpose.

The idea is that the problem you're solving is too complicated to fully understand, let alone you will get predictions right. So code you write for future use has a high risk of being useless at the time you actually want to use it, due to changed requirements/solutions in other code/people/project goals/or failing to think deep enough to understand what you would actually need. The list is a longer but I hope you get the idea, don't invest time and effort in code you eventually never use, have to change or even throw away.

As a side-effect, all code is partially finished, as in "good enough for todays requirements."


Your coding moves more towards code refactoring, so you need a different set of skills, somewhat.

In practice, I don't do it as extreme as described above. If I know the only logical next step is X, I do keep in mind that X will be the next step, and work a little towards adding that.

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