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Rave: 3 things I’ve learned from losing a year’s worth of work.

The revamped version of my visual novel that I recently had to restore.

Screen went black. Computer wasn’t responding. Reset the computer. Opened the software. Files went missing. The world stopped. 

Here are a few things I’ve learned as an independent game developer:

3. Time to invest on a UPS.

It started as a hobby; now my game development (and even my web-development) is becoming more of a gig. I’ve had to restore my backup from August 2020 and check the damage. My estimate is that I’ve lost 300+ maps from that crash. My consolation is if the files had been corrupted, then at least my OS didn’t suffer. Nevertheless, it has been a while since I’ve been considering of getting a UPS, Uninterruptible Power Supply. I took it as a sign when my dad brought one during his work from home. Summer time can become a problem where I live, because thunderstorms can cause a sudden power outage. If I were caught playtesting and the power goes out, I may loss data again. Not with a UPS where the backup battery can tide the computer until I safely shut it down.

2. Do a proper backup and not a ceremonial backup.

I’m rooting for you, my dear ADATA HD710!

This is probably the simplest thing to do and one that I seriously should have done more often. I’ve lost a couple of HDDs due to hardware failure, I’ve accidentally dropped an external drive, and I’ve lost numerous files online too due to online hosts shutting down. Sadly, it’s not unusual for me to lose important data. If I’m serious on  protecting my data, then I should invest on the hardware to keep them safe and secure. Backup those precious files on an external drive, a secure cloud drive, a repository, even on NAS (Network Attached Storage) / RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) if you can afford it. Backup should be done often daily or weekly and not yearly – points to self. 

Then there’s the flip side of things where data recovery tools exist such as Disk Drill or M3. These can be highly beneficial for every content creator. I was close to purchasing a license for Disk Drill when it found my missing files, but when my dev’t software could not open them anymore I delayed my decision. But at least the data recovery tool had left a positive impression on me.

1. Know that nothing worth having comes easy; fall forward.

We learn from our mistakes, but we don’t always make mistakes to learn. I’ve learned that I should exert equal effort on making sure that my data is protected. I’ve always wanted to design my own videogame. I don’t really care if this videogame bombs. I can add it to my portfolio and if ever the passive income is always welcome.

I had to re-do this scene again on my A-project and I’m getting tired.

But indie game development is not easy when you’re doing it all. Stories have to be written and they should engage your audience. Characters have to be created and they should be understood. The sound and music have to fit as they will imprint onto your players. The levels have to be designed and they should not feel empty. The programming must work or the world would be unplayable. And don’t forget, the game has to be fun. Expect constant mental blocks, sleepless nights of brainstorming, and daily obligations to get in the way. So when I lost a year’s worth of such work, it’s expected to lose enthusiasm. To fall forward I guess is to accept the fact that I’m missing the work, so there was no other way but to keep on. If I trip and fall, it’s better to fall forward closer to the finish line. So while I was feeling down and undecided on my primary project, I decided to work on other things such as my web novel and my other game project. 

A C-project I’ve started where the player runs an apothecary / alchemy shop.

A small ‘city’ map for my C-project.

Learning is moving forward. Falling forward is progress, although I do not deny my humanity of being upset. I can’t be upset all the time and rebuilding will also make me revisit parts that I could’ve done better.

So I resumed my A-Project; what’s lost is lost. I’m on my way again to regaining what I’ve lost. I’m still frustrated, because thinking back this is the work I’ve done during the lengthy work from home arrangement. It’s a bitter thought. But not everything is lost, so the work I’ve done during work from home is still there. It’s not the end of the world and this is clearly the beginning of having something worth having.

Admin / Author
A portmanteau for someone. Aspiring novelist, university graduate in Business Administration, Applied Computer Science, and an avid gamer. He currently works as an Adaptive Technology and Exams Coordinator, and as an indie game-developer on itch.io.

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