Breaking Development Fatigue

The following article contains advice taken from a question I prompted on Monday November 19th, 2018 titled “Struggling With Development Fatigue: How Can I Break It?”.

That post goes more in depth into my own personal struggle with development fatigue and is worth the read if you are willing to spend more time reading into my personal fight. However, if you are more interested in hearing the major responses summed up along with personal research on the topic, it would be in your better interest in reading this document.


For the purpose of this article, it is essential to express how development fatigue will be understood as it is used throughout the article. By laying out the vocabulary for all parties involved, I hope to better elaborate on the important parts of the article without misinterpretation clouding the discussion.

Development fatigue (n.): exhaustion from video game creation in which a developer becomes unwilling to continue to work on a project or on a platform in general possibly due to stress, over-exertion, or other psychological factors

By framing development fatigue in this way, I hope to ensure a common understanding of the basis of the topic so that we can support each other much easier and, if neccessary, have a civil disagreement that can be argued in a way that both parties are viewing the topic similarly.


The most frequent response to my question had a common theme in their recommendations:


From their experiences and opinions, they came to a realization that taking a break worked for them and that might work for other users.

According to the American Psychology Association taking time off CAN be a viable tactic, but they have found flaws within this solution. In a paper published by the organization on June 27th, 2018 titled Vacation Time Recharges US Workers, but Positive Effects Vanish Within Days, New Study Finds, they state:

“People need time off from work to recover from stress and prevent burnout,” said David W. Ballard, PsyD, MBA, who heads APA’s Center for Organizational Excellence. “But employers shouldn’t rely on the occasional vacation to offset a stressful work environment. Unless they address the organizational factors causing stress and promote ongoing stress management efforts, the benefits of time off can be fleeting. When stress levels spike again shortly after employees return to work, that’s bad for workers and for business.”

When an organization’s culture encourages time off, employees are more likely to benefit from vacation time and those benefits last longer. Upon returning from vacation, employees who said their organization’s culture encourages time off were more likely to report having more motivation … compared to employees who said their organization doesn’t encourage time off.

Roblox developer TrustMeImRussian made the arguement similar with this, saying:

Like Russian, many developers also believe that the way to cure development fatigue is through:


The messages given by CloneTrooper1019, Crazyman32 and GeorgeTheDev (among others) all focus on fixing development fatigue by finding something you’re passionate in.


For many developers, changing the environment of where you work or your surroundings, such as lighting or with music, can be the difference the brings back the lost sparks of old.

A real world realization of this was discovered by the user Semaphorism when he worked at RDC this past summer:

To him, the work became more fun and desirable in a new environment. Likewise, there is scientific backing in this too. In studies conducted by the Harvard Business Review, they researched why people thrive in environments with other people around. In their articles titled “Why People Thrive in Coworking Spaces” and “Creating Substainable Performance”, they said the following:

Our research — which is ongoing — suggests that the combination of a well-designed work environment and a well-curated work experience are part of the reason people who cowork demonstrate higher levels of thriving than their office-based counteraparts. But what matters the most for high levels of thriving is that people who cowork have substantial autonomy and can be themselves at work.

They further discuss the ability to succeed by explaining what makes up the techniques of people they studied who were best able to thrive and what their techniques were:

Across industries and job types, we found that people who fit our description of thriving demonstrated 16% better overall performance (as reported by their managers) and 125% less burnout (self-­reported) than their peers. They were 32% more committed to the organization and 46% more satisfied with their jobs. They also missed much less work and reported significantly fewer doctor visits, which meant health care savings and less lost time for the company.

We’ve identified two components of thriving. The first is vitality: the sense of being alive, passionate, and excited. Employees who experience vitality spark energy in themselves and others. Companies generate vitality by giving people the sense that what they do on a daily basis makes a difference.

The second component is learning: the growth that comes from gaining new knowledge and skills. Learning can bestow a technical advantage and status as an expert. Learning can also set in motion a virtuous cycle: People who are developing their abilities are likely to believe in their potential for further growth.


The following quotations are recommendations that could possibly be beneficial in certain scenarios and for certain developers:


Hopefully, this article will be beneficial to your search for inspiration. I’d like to once again thank the people who contributed to my quest for answers and, although it ended with my ending of studio development, I hope that what they shared will not go to waste and can help the rest of you.

In your personal opinion, which of the recommendations do you find most beneficial?

  • Taking time off from development
  • Creating something new or different
  • Pushing through the troubles
  • Change your enviornment where you develop

0 voters

I’d like to furthermore discuss these topics and am happy to update the document with more psychological studies or developer tips if asked!

”Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude."

— Thomas Jefferson


This post is definitely new and different, I’d guess you broke it!


Permission to print this and keep it on my desk 24/7 for reference requested.


I appreciate that you started by defining development fatigue. The first step to a solution is a well-defined problem.


Please do!


Can I steal that quote?


I guess you’re right. As the marines say “Improvise, adapt, and overcome

1 Like

One thing i find, is I work better when other people are also developing near me, like say at RDC, that was motivating. Kind of like the Cafe example, I guess it’s kind of showing off you’re capable, since having no one watching just means you have less self control. Having a team in the same room would be a good idea, sharksie’s team i bet work a lot simply because of this.

At least, this is how i see it


I really value these kinds of opinionated-based resources that shed light on very real issues for some developers, especially when they’re threads that come from someone who previously experienced such dilemmas and overcame them, whether that was to fight on or take a step back from the front lines - a place where victory is uncertain and most often unheard of.

I’ll value this feedback, since I myself am undergoing a very major form of this “development fatigue” (can’t remember the last time I worked on something big, let alone opened studio). Thank you for the input.


I take time off, it’s really hard for me to create something new and different when I literally cant think of anything new or different I’d want to make. For me, it just takes time, and eventually I think of something that I want to do.


Yes you can!


Would it be alright for me to add that quotation to the post so we can furthermore discuss it?


Great post, what works for me is revisiting old projects to see how far I’ve come and what cool stuff I’ve created in the past. It helps inspire me to keep going.

Small side projects can definitely help too.


Though this may sound a bit brutal, I’ve found the best way to deal with development fatigue is to just deal with it. If you keep pushing through it, it’ll slowly go away, but if you take a break, you’re proving to yourself that you’re willing to quit.


A really great post! Thanks! I usually get fatigue when I play a game, I can never let go, lol.


I feel like alot of the time you need a break and time away. If you really enjoy making games then side projects really help. Although side projects help having too kany is away errible idea away only have 1 big side project for a span of a year. Focus more on the main project. I know my friends love to have sidec projects as things they’re passionate about.


There’s times when you want to work but you don’t feel like continuing working on this game you’ve been working on for a while.

So just create a new place, and put things you’d really like to make, be it an entirely new game based on an idea you really like, make a feature, a building or an object you really wanna make or even toy around with some new features.

You always keep learning by being productive in the end.





Edit #1:

  1. Split off “Changing Your Work Enviornment” from “Miscellaneous Answers”
  2. Featured quotations from @Semaphorism, @Oryxide, and @Fusbot
  3. Cited multiple studies from the Harvard Business Review to help with their argument

I just play Minecraft for 3 days straight