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So where is that motivation?
by David Amador on 03/10/11 06:16:00 am   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

[This is a repost from my blog, david-amador.com]

I follow a couple of dev blogs, some are game developers, others make websites or software. In the latest couple of months I've been reading a lot of them complaining about lack of motivation to develop their idea of the lack of motivation for development in general.

Happens to me too, heck it happens to everyone once in a while...

It's something that happens usually half way though or after you get the initial prototype running. Around one year ago (Feb 2010) when I started developing our first game it was all great, new stuff every day, things starting to work, replacing my crappy programmer art by Rita's drawings. The real endurance was after we had a working demo, and the decision of actually finishing the game.

Should be 2-3 weeks, it's just making more levels

I really said that, worst, I was convinced that would be the case. But it wasn't, and fine tuning stuff is the worst part, when the game mechanics are there and you are lacking the patient to add that one more feature that will probably induce 5 bugs.

Finish your game

Many indie devs never finish their game due to time constraints and/or their real job, but there's a bunch that never finish anything because half-way though they loose interest and move to another project.

Moving to another project can sometimes be forced, you don't have the money to pull it off, you don't have the time to make such a big project or the game simply sucks, these are all valid. I have some projects on the back-burner that are not possible at this moment.

New ideas can be a pain...

But how to deal with the fact that you are tired of making the game, even though it has potential? When first starting I always think, nah, that's not going to happen, it's a great idea.

But how many times are you making one game and thinking on the next idea, and damn, that new idea is even greater, why not drop everything and make that one instead? That's when problems start, because even though you won't switch when bugs/problems for the current project start popping you won't have as much patient as you should, because in your mind you should be doing something else.

Working with someone or showing you game to friends helps.

If you are working with someone else it's a bit easier to work this out. 2 people working for the same goal gives a sense of "this is it" to the whole thing.

Working alone sucks a bit more, but you just have to set some goals. Make a working prototype, give it to some friends, collect feedback, they will probably make tons of suggestions, and you'll get more excited with it.

Easy to say, hard to to so.

I still find it hard to do so, especially the whole "I shouldn't have any more ideas while working on this". But it happens, the other night I woke up at 6AM, had an idea for something so instead I wrote it down on a notepad, and I'll grab it when I'm out of ideas.

[You can follow more stuff I write via my blog david-amador.com or my twitter @DJ_Link]


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Comments


Luis Guimaraes
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I went asleep 5AM this morning, had to get up 8AM to come work. The day before, 4AM. It was a holiday from saturday to tuesday. Since Friday I go bed ranging from 4 to 6AM, and get up 10AM at most, working all the time I'm awake. In february almost 2AM every night. In december I was making at least 2 full overnights per week. And lots of unstoppable work since september. All in my spare time. All making a game. It's getting close to completion now.



In january, er... I was half way through. I can't say I was givving up the game, but I was sure procrastinating very much. I had finished prototyping and difficult-testing the 144 levels the game has (6 characters with different gameplay, each one with unique 24 levels tweaked to their specific style).



January was that month for me. But it's in the past then. I'll have good news soon...



This is the first game I get to this point. Everything I made before were just prototypes left behind half way.



I already have many more ideas. I even have a couple prototypes I did meanwhile. But to keep on this one, I try to make it better and better. If I can still keep myself interested, there's hope somebody seeing it the first time will have some interest too.

Glenn Storm
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Neat post and comment.



Yeah, there's something critical about the difference between getting a good idea _when you have nothing else to do_ and getting a good idea during development. These must be segregated. As a system designer, I often turn to building a system to keep me on track (or in a rut, however you want to look at it):



0. Has great new idea.

1. Put it on the list of great ideas with enough detail that it is safe to let go atm.

2. Is there something on your plate? (if yes, leave it on the list and continue your work)

3. If no, is great idea applicable to what you're doing? (if no, leave it on the list and continue your work)

4. If yes, sanity check: really applicable? (distractions are not your friend)

5. If applicable, incorporate to your current workload to improve your goal. (see next steps)



And then periodically, or when you've hit that wall on your current project:



1. Consciously stop and put down what you're doing at a logical point. (Finish)

2. Break from work entirely. (Clear)

3. Critique your work from the most objective perspective you can muster; enlist others. (Review)

4. Identify and Prioritize the concerns raised. (Evaluate) (yes, there is a subroutine starting here)

5. Make a Plan for low-cost, high-impact revisions to your overall work plan going forward. (Change)

6. After this process, there's a restart procedure that leads from Identifying the next steps, Prioritizing them, Planning for available time, resources, expertise, etc., and then Focus on your next step.

7. Back to it. (Act)



(I'm drawing all this from a personal generic cyclical process for getting things done; something I need to elaborate in a blog post one day. Custom motivational poster image found here: http://www.moddb.com/members/superape :)

Eric Schwarz
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I'm currently working on a mod project to help flesh out my portfolio. Getting started on something is almost always the hardest part, because coming up with ideas can be easy but finding a starting point to work from is hard. It's situations like that where I tend to just sit down and start writing up a design document, even just a very basic one, to help consolidate what ideas I want to focus on. From there, I usually go to a planning stage: even MS Paint can do wonders for helping to visualise what you want to do, and provides something visual and tactile that you can improve upon.



Losing interest is very easy, especially when The Real World barges in and distracts you, but I find that if I force myself to just sit down and get something done, it gets the ball rolling again very easily. New ideas are something that anyone has constantly during creating something, and you'll drive yourself mad if you try to incorporate everything. It's best to have faith in your original design and save those other ideas for another day (or a follow-up if you want to be optimistic).

Scott Henshaw
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There's a fine art to knowing when you are tweaking too much and when you are not tweaking enough. At some point you need to publish and distribute your masterpiece, otherwise what's the point. Use that as your motivation. Nobody sees your idea until you publish it.



And having been there, working on the next blockbuster or pet project, the end is always the end. So treat it as an ending, give yourself a fixed timeline, the motivation of knowing where the end of the road is and you can sleep again, or knowing when you start working on version 2.



Close off in pieces so you get some complete and viable experience at each stage, then play it and enjoy it unfinished, as motivation every good game I've been a part of was the team's favorite game at some point before it was done. Make it functional first, then tweak and tune, then close each game area off one at a time and don't look back. Use this as motivation to keep closing.



As each area works, gets tuned, gets debugged and is locked off for good, do you have the discipline to do that? You do, then use that as motivation, you managed to take stand and FINISH something. Move on.



When you close an area it reduces the overall volatility in the software, which reduces the number of bugs which makes each subsequent area easier to debug, and that much closer to final. By now you are getting pretty motivated, its getting easier to debug, it works and a bunch of stuff is already final. Close it out, run through the game areas and stick to your final schedule. In the end yoou will find yourself highly motivated and proud and ultimately that should keep you motivated.



Now do the hardest thing of all, brush your hands off and abandon it. Its the only way to actually finish.



All of this on a fixed timeline means lots of hours. So expect that there will be a lot of late nights, but then you love it right, you love making games so its down to the "one more fix" time and before you know it its 3am again. If you can't self motivate yourself to do this intense push, don't even start building, leave it on paper.


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