This past weekend I flew to Seattle and meet up with an old college buddy and run a ToughMudder(TM) with him. It was my sixth course, his second.
TMs are 10 mile + obstacle courses. Obstacles such as climbing over 10ft tall walls, mud, jumping off of 12ft drops into water, more mud, barbed wire, fire, still more mud, and grand the finale of running through a short gauntlet of live electrical wires.
When you describe a TM to anyone who hasn’t heard of it, the response is usually: “Why the hell would you do that?” Honestly I didn’t know.
With each finish, you earn a coveted headband and a refreshing, cold beer. When the adrenaline wears off, reality kicks in, and you notice the array of bruises, scrapes, and cuts all over your body, that beer becomes heavenly.
I’ve been obsessed with TM since I ran my first in 2011. Tickets and travelling to each event ain’t cheap. So after 6 of these, today of all days I finally answered the question. Why the hell do I do it?
To finish something.
I keep coming back to the mud to start something and finish it. I don’t care about the headbands anymore. I just want to commit and complete something.
So, why is it so hard to finish developing my games? There is no barbed wire, no voltage, no danger.
It’s all mental.
I’ve said that exact phrase so many times about surviving a TM.
“OMG, 10 miles of running and all those obstacles. Isn’t that intimidating?”
“Nah, it’s all mental, I’ll be fine.”
“Aren’t you scared of getting hurt?”
“No. I’m not going to miss out on something awesome just because there’s a chance of something bad happening to me. That’s just stupid.”
By that same logic, when I look at how I approach game development -- I am stupid.
On the last mile of the course, I told my running mates, “I don’t know if I’ve gotten better at doing these or if these courses have just gotten easier.”
My buddy, who detests all the running in TM, said the same thing to me about developing games: “I just decided to start making and completing a game a week. That was it. I started on Monday and committed to finishing it by Sunday. I didn’t have to make a perfect game, I just need to finish something."
The envy I had upon hearing that...
But then, slowly it dawned on me, why I don’t train so hard for TM any more: I’m no longer afraid of failing.
I will be never be the fastest or strongest TMer, but I will be a finisher -- because I love it. My friend has the same mentality when he starts developing a game. He doesn’t care whether or not it’ll be as popular as Minecraft. He does it because he loves it. He has overcome the fear of failure.
Now it’s up to me to look at game development like I look at TM. It’s all mental.
From the moment I cross the starting line, I must stick to my commitment to finishing. If something is too tough or if I’m starting to burn out, I must remember that have a surplus of friends, resources, and tools to help me get through to the finish line. I can finish making a game because I love making them. I can overcome the fear of failure because it’s all just mental.