A number of months ago I decided to take that not too uncommon jump from working at a big studio to making a game I've always wanted to make. Looking back, it was definitely the right, if somewhat terrifying, decision to make. Life isn't worth living if it's not exciting, right? (I was the lead programmer on a project at Harmonix that has now become known as "Rock Band Blitz.")
My friend Steve Kimura who was also working at Harmonix, also jumped ship, and we decided it would be awesome to work together. I had finally made the dream move. Starting my own game company... I could do whatever I wanted! We had a cool idea for a game. I already had a framework of a game engine that worked on both PC, and Xbox. Sweet!
We quickly got to work, and had a tech demo up and running. But the whole time, I was a bit depressed and generally not very inspired. It didn't make sense. I finally was doing exactly what I wanted to do, but didn't really feel like it. What was happening?
I recently picked up "Imagine: How Creativity Works" by Jonah Lehrer, and realized I was doing everything wrong. I had been spending countless hours in front of my computer, isolated from the outside world, coding myself senseless. The book explained that a lot of the creative process deals with collaborating with others, and how networks of people tend to come up with a lot more ideas than individuals.
So, now the four of us get together every week to just hang out, look at the state of the game, throw ideas around, etc. It has been amazing. I would say that we are not only far more productive now, but have come up with a bunch of ideas that we never would have if we were simply communicating through IM and e-mails.
So, if you're working on a small game, and are lucky enough to live somewhat close to the other people (Steve lives in Providence, I live in Boston), try actually getting together sometimes. It definitely helped us out and made development a lot more fun. Anyone else have similar experiences?