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How can one stay motivated to keep on making games?

A topic by ted created Aug 03, 2017 Views: 641 Replies: 4
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I only see people giving advice on how to stay motivated to finish a game, not how to stay motivated to stay in game dev altogether.

The problem with me is that I guess I have too high expectations for myself. But every time I see someone I admire submit a really cool game, I enjoy their creation, but at the same time I doubt my skills. I've been going on and off in game development because of my erratic motivation levels.

I don't get a lot of exposure in general either, so there really isn't anyone telling me that I'm doing a good job. Nor do I have any friends who are interested in game dev. (Note that this isn't a plea for attention; I'm simply explaining my circumstances)

I feel like all I really need is discipline, but even that is hard to achieve especially because game dev is only a hobby for now. I am merely a high school student about to go to college.

But I'm certain that I am not alone. We all burn out, don't we? If so, what do you all do in order to stay motivated or disciplined to just keep making games?

(1 edit) (+4)

Hi Ted,

That's because honestly there really isn't any sort of simple trick to keep you going. If you really wanna make a game you just have to go for it, learn what's necessary, go through all the headaches, figure out something you really want to create and like Nike says just do it and don't get lazy or sidetracked or else you'll never finish. Think of it this way.....if game development was really that easy to do then everyone would be doing it. Yes, there's thousands of people interested in game developers but only a handful follow through, fail some, and eventually succeed unless you went to school for it then that helps by major leaps and bounds too.

This is going to get a little long but, here's what I have learned over the years with my own experiences below and these are solely based on my own thoughts which might differ from one developer to another on how they think of these type of things. If other's feel indifferent well then they can add their own advice for you to compare to my opinions about this type of topic.

RULE #1 - Kiss aka Keep it Simple Stupid

To be upfront about this there really isn't a simple game but it's more the logic and idea behind it since it's too easy to overscope and try to make a gigantic project straight away. The biggest issue with this is that there's a 99% chance unless you have the actual knowledge to finish it right off the bat it will fail and never be finished. Start off with a very quick and easy idea no matter how stupid it is just finish it from A to Z.

RULE #2 - The Devil is in the Details

It's also easy to think of something fun to throw together very quickly and even finish it if you really put your mind to it. If you have no ideas just ask your friends for ideas. There's always some little stupid game that can easily become very successful if done right. However, you might for instance start that project and the next thing you know you want to add this, then this turns into that, then that turns into another that and this and that and that and this then that and that and this and next thing you know your project goes from taking a week to complete to three years and this can kill your motivation very quickly because it becomes impossible to complete because you are adding in too much. Start with whatever you think is the very core of the game to make it fun then build around that with a few things. You can always release your game and if it does good then go ahead and add more in updates but, at least you finished it and didn't get carried away. The same for this can be said with having multiple projects. Don't do that either. Start with just one and finish that one. If you have other ideas just write them down or add them to trello and such and set it aside to work on after you finish the one you are making.

RULE #3 - Not Another Solo Dungeonist Again

Surround yourself with other Game Developers and join game developer communities. There are many of them on websites and social media and even discord. I am apart of several myself. This can help you tons! It helps to keep you motivated because you are with other people in the same exact boat as you. Granted some of them have made some games already but, at least you can talk to them and take part or get feedback and help with ideas and advice and that within itself is a huge help right there to keep you going since they're talking game dev so you see that and it triggers your own thoughts to keep going on your own project.

RULE #4 - Heart Of Glass

It's easy to give and even get feedback from anyone and everyone. However, in reality even though sometimes you have no choice but to ask other game developers for advice this can actually turn very problematic very quickly because they have the same exact mentality as you and can rip you to shreds or advise you on something and you may be fixing things forever and not finishing. I mean don't get me wrong it's helpful but just remember your end goal and that ultimately the game design is yours to create. Don't let anyone else tell you what you can and cannot do with it even though feedback can assist and certainly don't let the criticizing get you down constructive or not.

RULE #5 - Gamer to Game Developer

If you're a gamer try to play games and burn yourself out on it as much as possible. If you're distracted next thing you know you are playing games and it's a few days later. There is absolutely nothing wrong with playing games. Some devs don't and claim its a bad idea but honestly I think that's a load of horse crap.  I say that because I have seen some game developers who work on game dev and 3d modeling stuff claim they don't play games but then later on down the road they slip up and talk about a game they last played. The proof is in the pudding. What I do is i'll play a game every so often because I just have always been a gamer since the atari days but I will play for only a bit then get bored and go back to game development to get it out of my system so I can focus. I have gotten to the point that I can get bored of a game in about 30 minutes and then I wanna start working on game development stuff whereas I used to play for hours and days on end. This was part of the reason I never finished or got into game development even though it was a dream of mine because I was so distracted and not as serious about it. You just have to force yourself to realize it. Granted you won't really get an ideas from playing but at least you are having some fun to cool down for a bit so that you can see what someone else was able to create, think hey I wanna make something like this too even though you don't really want to copy too much especially if there's lots of clones, then get back on the horse to ride again. Plus you're supporting your fellow game developers in the process so there's absolutely nothing wrong in my opinion.

RULE #6 - Like Nike Says, Just Do It

We all have our excuses. I'm tired. I didn't sleep. I had a doctor appointment. I had to stop a burglar from breaking into my neighbors house. My kid is sick. The house caught fire. My computer sucks. I don't know how to create a 3d model of a box. Bottom Line...regardless these are all excuses, excuses, excuses even when they seem legit we as humans have a nature to try to justify anything we do but, truthfully they're still just flat out excuses no if's, and's, or but's! Stop making excuses, figure out something somewhat simple you can actually do and create it! Nobody is going to do it for you unless you're really lucky and found a good team to work with but I have tried that and never found anyone serious enough because the problem with that is that everyone has their own ideas so if you're working on something else that your heart really isn't that much into then chances are you won't be very serious or motivated to continue it therefore it will eventually fail. Regardless, ignore the riff-raff and just finish your idea. Do whatever it takes to learn how to make it. If needed you can always adjust the course of it to make it work somehow.

Thanks Sky for the great response.

I have a question regarding your Rule #3 though -- Do you know of any specific social media/forum/discord server that is dedicated to game dev community? I'd like to check those out myself.

You are quite welcome ted. 

Sorry about the late response, been very busy working on my next game release soon.

Anyways, yeah there's actually quite a few. Depends on what you are looking for exactly then just simply search for it. That is how I found most of the groups I am apart of by simply looking around. Many I came across by accident when looking or doing something else too.

Think about what engine are you planning on using and look for communities about that. Take part in the forums there on those pages for those particular engines. I use Unreal Engine 4 so I poke around there a lot and help if I know something.

Also, think about are you a Blender 3D Artist or a Pixel Artist or something else then look for for communities and forums and chatrooms involving that.

I'm not able to share the Discord Channels I am in because the admins don't currently allow it but I can give you the pages I found them on if you wish but the groups I am in might not benefit you as well depending on your actual interests as far as what you are trying to accomplish.

Most the channels I am in on discord are from Udemy which are paid courses groups so I cannot share them except for 2. One is Skirmish.IO and another is Blender Nation. If those two interest you let me know and i'll give you the page links with the discord link since I know where those are at.

For other Communities -

- Blender Community (and steam) if you use those

- Tigsource


- Skirmish.IO

- IndieGameLaunchpad.IO

- Indiegogo

- IndieDB

- IDGB (Internet Game Database)

- Social Media is a good idea too so you can post what you're working on to get attention (fb has dev groups to apply to join)

- LinkedIn (has dev groups to apply and join)

Theres many more but I am not sure where I put  the bookmarks for to those and i don't remember them very well since I haven't really used them all that much.


Wouldn't really say I'm hugely successful or anything, but here's what I've learned from 10 years of making games:

Join game jams, and always do something you've uncomfortable with as your entry. It's good to try out new ideas to widen your skillset and views in general, and jam games are either forgotten instantly (if they're bad) by everyone including their maker, or they're a good prototype for making a "real" game later. It's the dev equivalent of throwing stuff onto the wall and seeing what sticks, basically. You also get experience at prioritizing in a stressful situation, which you WILL go through both as a hobby developer and an industry developer... might as well try to grind for some stat points in that right away, right?

Be careful about "publishers". I signed a contract with one once, and ended up having to do all the media-attention work myself in the end anyway. So I basically signed a contract that gave me less money and some exclusivity clauses to be aware of that did absolutely nothing towards getting me that big breakthrough I was dreaming about.

You'll need to work for your attention. I started off searching for the '#indiedev' and '#gamedev' hashtags on Twitter each day, following 10-20 people that seemed legit, and hoping they'd follow back (and then unfollow them later if they didn't). It's not really the best or most ethical way of getting networking done, I realized later (right now I'm posting witty comments and actually talking to people there instead) but when you're completely new it doesn't hurt to get your numbers up in any way you can. But actually networking with people gives you more attention in the long run, it's just a slower process. Probably doesn't hurt to use both a little bit of pure-advertisement spamminess on the side, just don't overdo it to the point where people get fed up on you or it'll actually hurt you in the long run.

Write to-do lists on actual paper. Sounds a bit silly, but I find it has plenty of uses. It's incredibly satisfying to crumble up a fully done to-do list in your hand and crushing it with your raw power and stuff, for a start, and it gives you a reason to look away from the screen regularly (which help reduce eye strain). It also means you can jot down ideas even when you're doing something else, like cooking or sleeping, which helps you from forgetting spark-of-the-moment ideas. It's also faster to doodle up diagrams and sketches on paper than using a CAD program, and doing those things more often on your todo lists can make some things much easier to do (e.g. coming up with level design ideas), increasing your overall productivity.

Ideas are cheap, execution is expensive. Always look for ways to cut corners. A typical example of this is the AI design maxim: "An AI isn't smart, it just appears smart in the situations the players see it in". Trying to make things perfect not only is impossible to truly succeed at, because you can always find ways to make something incrementally better, it takes a lot less time and effort than making the minimal viable product and just polish the rough edges a bit. And most players won't even notice the extra effort, either. So if it ain't broke, don't fix it. The last thing you need is unnecessary work nobody will care about in the long run. Also, on a related note, beware of feature creep. You'll never get games complete if you keep deciding to add new stuff to them when they're almost complete - several of my biggest project failed in the end because I kept adding new stuff instead of finishing them, and I either ended up making the engine so convoluted the game broke down into buggy messes, or I got bored at the projects and wanted to try new stuff. Don't do that.