A little bit of advice wanted re: "Accountability Buddies"

Hi, I started this course about 2 weeks ago, and I have to say it’s been amazing so far in what it’s done for me.

I’m not working on a game project right now. I guess you could say getting the skills to make a VR game is my “big hairy audacious dream”. Making a VR game has almost been a life long dream of mine, ever since I saw a TV program about future advances in computer technology when I was about 9-10 years old, and it featured a mock representation of what VR might be like. WOW The future! I’ve just turned 50 btw, so it was quite a while ago. Been a life long gamer since the age of 7 and whilst “Doom” and “Half Life” were pretty mind blowing when they came along, the promise of VR has always seemed like a distant dream. Anyway, life never quite takes you on the path you would like, but I’m here now and so is VR!

With that in mind, right now most of my “projects” are getting down to it and doing some courses and learning the fundamentals. Getting the foundations in place and learning to walk before you can run etc. So I’ve started a beginners C++ course as a first step. A good friend of mine is a C# programmer, so maybe a wiser course of action would have been to opt for that language instead, but I’ve made my choice and for now I’m sticking to it.

If it isn’t already obvious, I’m doing the “Finish It!” course because I’m a grade A procrastinator. The odd bouts and spells of depression don’t help either. Is one the cause of the other? Probably a bit of both. Some of it is unavoidable, but I think there is a lot that can be mitigated by getting out of the habits of procrastination, and the fear of failure. Yet another failure in a seemingly long list of regrets. I’ve had my successes and wins, things I’ve wanted to do and learnt how to do them. But we only ever seem to focus on the things we didn’t do. The dreams started, but left unfinished and unfulfilled. Time to put an end to that and try and rewire my brain to think more positively. And actually, you know, getting stuff done, really helps with that. There is nothing worse than being caught in between the “work, don’t work” choice, and spending an entire weekend neither working nor enjoying yourself, stupefied and numb in a fug of guilt, in a grey limbo state, sucking down endless YouTube videos like a zombified citizen from a dystopian future shock story (I wonder if they can cause you to explode, like an overdose of blipverts?). And then you have done literally nothing all weekend. Nothing!

The course so far has been great and has made a difference already even at this early juncture. So re the topic title (and I do realise I’ve veered a bit off the topic up there, getting back to it now though), I’m at the end of Section 3, just started Section 4, where we ask someone to be our “Accountability Buddy”. That was a tough one to be sure. Certainly for me anyway. But I committed and I did it. It’s way out of my comfort zone and something I would never really dream of doing myself, but I really want this to work, so… Anyway, so I asked my good mate the C# programmer, and he said yes! He even recommended a few books and things that helped him get motivated. So, result!

So the thing I need a bit of advice on (I know, I’m finally getting to the point), is how to make this work?

So I’m doing a C++ course and I’m going to commit to doing 12 hours a week on it. I figure I tell him what I’m going to be doing for the next 2 weeks and then he checks in with me to see how things have gone. But there needs to be “accountability” of course. I dare say we’re both a bit too old and mature for engaging in somewhat, shall we say, juvenile frat house style forfeits. So I’m looking for advice from anyone who’s using this system and would like to know what’s working for them.

The other aspect of this, is that I’m guessing this whole process relies on both parties being completely honest with each other. Or do you have methods of being able to check on whether your buddy has been true to their word?

Basically, how have you got the “Accountability Buddy” system to work for you? (Probably could have just put that up the top of the page couldn’t I?)

Anyway most of the course has been great so far. I’m still kind of shocked at the results it’s produced so far. I was a bit skeptical going in, but it’s been what I need. A detailed step by step guide, and most importantly of all, the “Pause the video and do this now!” prompts. Verily a man who knows procrastinators.

As I’ve said I’m not really working on a project right now and the courses I’m doing, like this one, are quite linear in their progression. So some of the project management parts feel a little surplus to my requirements right now. Although I am trying to implement them in a basic fashion, A: to see what works for me and B: when things do start to become more complex and multifaceted, I’ll be ready to start using that side of it.

I know that after the initial rush of enthusiasm, it can quickly wane, but whilst I still have the wind in my sails I aim to make the most of it, and hopefully by the end of the course I’ll have the tools and strategies to keep momentum going when that does happen.

I don’t know if you still poke head in here from time to time Rick, but if you do, thanks man, big time!


I’m really pleased that course is helping you! The fact that you’re focusing on learning a skill rather than finishing a project is just fine. One thing to consider is rather than just “learning” perhaps you can make a commitment to complete a project which is dependent upon that learning. Eg. I’ll enter a game jam and publish my game.

As for being accountable, a lot of this has to do with leverage. You have to find something personal to you which is more ugly and painful that the possibility of not doing the work. For some people this is money, for some it is the frat house punitive punishment you mentioned, for others its a solemn promise and giving your word. I find the hostage scenario works well - give your friend something dear to you and only get it back once you’ve kept your word. If you slip then you make another commitment and start the clock again. The other huge one I’ve found is for parents with kids, or some other family member who is very important (eg. special grandparent, younger sibling, etc) you can do the whole “look them in the eye and promise on your word that you will do a thing”. After all, there are some people that you would never, ever want to break your promise to and harm that special connection.

And with all these things, if you slip on your promise, get back up, recommit and go at it again until you’ve done the thing you are committing to.

Hope this helps, and good luck.


Hey, thanks for the reply Rick.

Re: the doing more than just learning, one thing I am considering is breaking that up with getting back to my drawing board and working on my art skills again (something I’ve neglected for a few years now), and working on some concept art for some of these ideas I have for potential games. That way I have something physical I can show in terms of what I’ve been up to. Plus it’s something I would enjoy getting back into.

As for doing a game project whilst learning. That is a possibility too of course, but obviously I’d still have to take time to learn how to use what ever engine it is I’ve chosen. Probably a “simpler” (ho ho!) 2D engine like Gamemaker perhaps, and realise another childhood dream of making my own Saboteur (1985) type game.

So yes, in retrospect, having a few different things on the boil will probably add some well needed variety. Just banging away at C++ for 5-6 days a week might feel like a bit of a grind before too long.

I think for the accountability thing, I feel as if my promise and keeping my word will be enough. The friend who I’ve asked is someone I respect a lot and I’d hate to feel I’ve let him down and lose a bit of his respect. I don’t think I would lose his respect, but I would certainly feel very bad about it. So, guilt and lowering myself in the eyes of my respected friends will be forfeit enough I think. We’ll see how it goes and if I need to up the stakes I’m sure we’ll think of something suitable.

Anyway, thanks once again for the reply Rick, and the advice and suggestions. It’s certainly made me have a bit of a rethink about being a bit too laser focused on one thing.


You can make games with the C++ you learn!

I don’t know which course you’re doing, but if it’s using a graphic library (like Raylib) you can have a simple game where you have a blue rectangle controlled by the keyboard, and red rectangles that move through the screen and you need to avoid. Just an example. Doesn’t your C++ course come with projects/examples?
The Intro to C++ on GameDevTV as well as the Unreal C++ course, do.

Adding drawing to your todo list might be what Rick warns us against in the beginning of the course, when he tells us to choose just one project and put the other ones on hold (I’m paraphrasing a lot).


Good morning,

I read the whole thread…I write long posts, too, so no worries.

My first question is, “How much did you have to pay Rick to get a response?” I mean, it kind of blows my mind that you got a response. That said, I’m not mad at anyone, maybe a little jealous, but it’s harmless. I really just wish we would see the leadership more here in the community, but that’s my opinion. I’m very big on strong leadership and rapport and I tend to detach after a while when I realize these things are missing.

Anyway, the rest of what you wrote is very relatable. I just turned 48, I live with depression and procrastination, etc…

There are a lot of different notions at play here.

  1. The accountability buddy is a great idea. Sadly, some of us will tend to stop doing the task if we feel that no one else is interested in what we are doing. It’s like we’re constantly asking ourselves, “Well, who cares if I do this or not?”

Deep down, I feel that we want some sort of recognition or validation, and I don’t see anything wrong with that. But if there is nobody there to cheer us on, or show any interest, then we may begin to wonder why we’re even doing it in the first place.

If we happen to also be struggling financially, then we might also be questioning whether or not this is a productive use of our time, when maybe we should be trying to find work or make money somehow to pay our bills. Like, this very moment, I should probably be applying for jobs and trying to get an interview, but I’m writing this instead.

Under these conditions, stuff like this quickly starts to feel more like work and less like fun, especially if we’re hoping to see some sort of ROI in the future from all of our efforts.

Also keep in mind that for many of us, during our younger years, we were told things like, “You’ll never amount to anything”, or “You’ll never make any money doing that”, and we end up struggling our whole lives trying to find some other place to fit in because we give up on the things we love most for the sake of trying to earn a living or meeting someone else’s expectations.

  1. People spout platitudes like “integrity is doing the thing even when no one is watching”, and “an artist does something without expecting to be paid”, etc…and while there may be some truth there, we still find ourselves asking, “Well, what’s the value of doing it if I’m broke and nobody cares?”

This is the difficult part because people doing the thing are just going to say, “Well, if he is interested, then he will do it. If not, then oh well.” People don’t really acknowledge when we need help or some sort of validation or external motivation.

  1. I definitely recommend creating a YouTube channel for a DevLog. It doesn’t even have to be anything fancy. This is just an example:

What I do is just take a short screencast of whatever changes I made in the lesson I just finished and post that. I might write a couple of notes in the description about what I did. The videos are usually less than a minute long and I don’t even talk in them.

I put the videos in a different playlist for each game, and it shows a history of the development process. Nothing fancy at all, but at least it is there. I’ve finished many of these game tutorials in the past, had a hard drive crash or an OS reload, and had nothing to show for what I had done…so I started the course again with the intention of having SOMETHING to show for it.

  1. Change the title of every tutorial you’re working on, and carry the notion of returning to older projects with new knowledge as you progress through the course.

Like, my obstacle course game is going to end up being more like the old ‘Marble Madness’ game, and I go back and add things that I learn in the remaining games as I progress through the course. I think that is the true intention.

  1. Make a long-term plan to do something with every game you’re making. Example: After learning how to create multiple levels in Project Boost, I’ll go back and make sure my marble game has at least ten levels in it, full sound, a starting splash screen from the Argon Assault tutorials, a few pick-ups and UI elements from the Zombie Runner game, etc…then after it has ten levels, I’ll put it up on my itch…io account for a dollar.

If I choose to do so later, I might add another ten levels or so as I continue to learn stuff. The games don’t have to be great, but they don’t have to be bad or incomplete, either. They might not bring in any money at all, but the idea is just to have a portfolio for display. They might help you get a job somewhere.

  1. Consider all of your small tutorial projects as a developer portfolio, this helps with the notion of going back and completing the starter games as you progress. Start drawing and painting more as you begin to transition from blocks and spheres and start using real characters.

  2. As you get more comfortable, it’s also okay to begin developing some sort of loose story around the game. This is probably the one thing that makes any game stand out from any other. Any kind of story adds purpose to the game and instantly has the potential to make the game more fun.

It doesn’t have to be a full story. It could be a mystery where the player fills in the details.

  1. I can’t tell you how many DevLog videos I’ve posted to Twitter and LinkedIn, and nobody clicks on them, but I’m sure it will make a difference some day. Right now it feels that none of it matters, but maybe by next year, and after I have a few things finished, maybe people may start to be interested.

Anyway, I’ve rambled for a bit. I could keep going, but I need to go refill my coffee.

Hopefully some of this is helpful.


Hi, yes, I have had a bit more time to think on things and will probably still devote the bulk of my time too C++ learning at present, with a little bit of Gamemaker and art practice on the side, and like you say, and my accountability buddy has also suggested as well, to use what I’m learning in C++ to code some simple games like your example or Tic Tac Toe etc.

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Yes I was pleasantly surprised to get a reply from Rick too. I think the course is about 5 years old now and I’m sure Rick and co are very busy people. I suspect the general idea here is to have grown and fostered this community to the point where they can feel they no longer need to be so hands on all the time.

Having said that, I’ve only just joined these boards so I have no idea how often they poke their heads in here, but I would have thought once or twice a month should suffice.

I think once I get things started and start achieving milestones and feel like I’m finally getting somewhere, that’ll give me the impetus to keep on going. I’m sticking more to the programming side of things at the moment, as I feel that’s a skill that can improve my job prospects a bit more readily than say going through the Unity tutorials. I’ve attempted those once a few months back. I got so far into it and for whatever reason, when I came back to one tutorial I was doing, it was like the course had changed over the weekend and the tutorial was suddenly different from what I was still in the middle of doing. Very odd and it put me off a bit. To be honest though, starting the Unity tutorials was a bit of a procrastinating diversion from doing the C++ course I had already started. That’s when I thought I need a bit more help being focused and more channelled into getting things done, which is why I did the Finish It course.

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