How to game dev when your whole team works remotely

Who would not want to work when they feel more productive? And what about having the opportunity to work with your pet on your lap or play with your baby whenever you can?

Remote work is the dream of many people, but the reality may be entirely different from what you imagine.

Sometimes your mom will show up without notice, and you’ll spend the 8h you should be working drinking tea, or the dishes you left until Monday will smell so bad that you feel the need to put fire in your house to fix it.

Having a 9h to 6h job makes it easier to plan your week. The most notable perks are a boss to pull your ears every time you’re late, and to fire you for the same reason, eat out with your coworkers, and have an almost fixed time to turn off your computer and activate the free man/woman mode.

If you’re not used to working remotely, you’ll need more than discipline to make it happen.

Nowadays, all BitCake devs work remotely, including me, and some things are vital to getting it right.

1. Communication

Do not disappear without reason!

It is vital that the team is aligned and has a good relationship. You do not have to be best friends, especially because it’s your job and not high school.

In our case, we do a weekly planning on Monday, a quick Tuesday-Thursday meeting and a summary of the week, on Friday, commenting what was great and what could be improved.

We use Discord to talk about work, everyday affairs and play Dota 2.

During our planning and weekly review, we use Appear.in to see each other’s faces. It’s great to keep it even more human than just a voice chat.

In addition to speaking by voice, we use Slack to request feedback, send references and memes.

2. Routine

Until you have more control of your time, I recommend that you do a more rigid routine. Try to wake up more or less at the same time each day, set a time to start work, exercise, eat, and do whatever you want.

As I am in Asia and the rest of the company is in Brazil, I end up having to plan my schedule considering part of the dawn as working time, which means working until 3 am and playing Dota with my coworkers afterward.

3. Exercise

Everyone has time to exercise. The question is: Do you put this as a priority? Probably not.

Sitting in front of the computer all day is not the best way to spend most of your day, but it is likely to be what you will do for the rest of your life. If you go out cycling, practice a fight or do yoga on the porch, I’m sure you’ll feel less stressed and sleep better.

BTW, vitamin D is excellent for softening symptoms of depression and make you feel happy.

4. Study

Despite the need to pay bills and show your parents that you are capable of making a game, acquiring knowledge is critical. Not only because you need to keep your job but to keep yourself excited about the area you have chosen to work with.

The fast pace of change leaves us somewhat overwhelmed, but if you look for posts in Medium, specialized blogs, and online courses, you can keep up to date without significant financial or time costs.

5. Make time for your hobbies

Whether it’s skateboarding or playing video games, your existence cannot be just work. I know you love your job so much that you do not consider it “only work”, but even to work better, you need to get distracted a bit and look out of your bubble.

If you have the chance to organize a game jam/hackathon from time to time, it’s an excellent opportunity to refresh your brain and create something entirely different from what your team has been working with. You can also come up with a great game to sell.

If you need help planning your Game Jam, you can read my article called Game Jam 101.