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Article - 'Motivation to Finish Your Game' by MasterDarkNinja

An item about Miscellanious posted on Mar 25, 2004

Blurb

MasterDarkNinja gives his tips on how to actually finish your game!

Body

Lets face it there’s a lot of games in every maker that have been started but never finished. There are so few full version games out there, especially ones that have a few hours of gameplay. Take RM2K games for example what full version games can you think of for it? What demos that have been out for months can you think of? After looking in my rm2k project folder I could only find these finished games. Legion Saga 2 and some others in the series, The Frozen World, Easy Mac 1, Legendary Adventure, Soul Quest 1, GW’s first chain game, and that’s it. And just how many games do I have in my project folder? At least 50 plus others that I deleted.

There’s a lot more games that are just demos that were released months ago and are any of those finished? No sadly lots of them aren’t. Why do so many people not finish their games today? It’s because they end up losing motivation to work on them and/or don’t have enough time to work on them. I’ve heard of quite a few ways to try to restore your motivation to work on your game in the two years that I’ve been in the rm2k/rm2k3 community. I’ve tried all of them and I have managed to make a full version game with around 3 hours of gameplay myself so that’s got to show that I know something about how to motivate yourself to finish your game. So here’s my opinions after trying quite a few ways to restore my motivation and ways that I recommend you use.

Quitting your old game to go onto your newest idea.

One of the most common reasons to stop working on a game that I see is because you get another idea for another game to make. A lot of people have abandoned their old game ideas just to work on something else that they think is better and because they have the motivation to work on that while the motivation for their old game has diminished in the making of it. While this usually IS a good way of getting motivation to work on your game your just going to trap yourself in an endless cycle doing the exact same thing over and over again if that’s your only way to increase your motivation to finish a game. You’ve got to pick a game that you want to make and stick to it until you’re finally done it if your ever going to actually finish your game and not just do the newest idea for a new game that pops into your head.

Length of your game

Some games out there have over 6 hours of gameplay and are pretty popular games. Other games have only like a half an hour of gameplay. Just how long should you make your game be? Well if you’ve never actually finished a single game before I’d suggest starting small, don’t aim for something like over 10 hours of gameplay when none of your games you’ve made before have had anymore then an hour of gameplay. I’d suggest trying to make your game last from 1 to 3 hours if you’ve never even finished a game before (guess how long it would take to play out your game when you write the story).
Later on once you actually finish that game and know how to keep your motivation and re-motivate yourself you can try to make a game with a story over like 50 pages long that you’d guess would have like maybe 10 hours of gameplay.

Taking a break from working on your game.

I’ve heard of people suggest taking a break from making your game and to do something else so that you won’t get too tired of making your game and will come back more motivated then ever to work on it. I’ve tried this myself quite a few times and I feel that it really depends on just how long of a break that you take for if this one really helps or not. Taking a break for an hour or two? Works just fine. Taking a break to go to sleep and then do stuff like school the next day and other work you have to do before you can work on your game, no real effect.
Taking a break for a whole day or two? Well lots of people have said that this works out great, I’ve found that when it comes time to working on my game again that I either forget about it or don’t feel like it from having Less motivation to work on it then I did before and that I feel like playing a computer game or something instead of working on my game.
Unless your too busy or have to go on a vacation/trip somewhere that you won’t be able to work on your game at then I highly recommend that you don’t take a break from your game for any time longer then 24 or so hours. You’ll probably just either forget about working on your game soon or will be even less motivated to work on it then you were before taking a break from it.

Releasing Information about your game and screenshots (not demos) to the public

I’ve seen thousands of people by now releasing information about their games when they either just started it or are working on it and want to know where to improve ect, some people even do it to try to get some encouragement to work on their game. This can be both a good and a bad thing to do I’ve found.

On one hand you can learn what areas to fix up on your maps and possibly fix some flaws in your story. On the other hand it can also lead to actually hurting your motivation.
Why could this lead to hurting your motivation? Well lots of people today will probably agree with me that the standards for amateur games that we make have gotten WAY too high lately. Lots of people are so ridiculously strict today and criticize even the tiniest flaw in your map and/or story. Sometimes these types of people can be the ones who help you realize what areas you need to fix up on, they sure helped out me back when I used to have some terrible map design and make huge empty illogical rooms. These same people can however also make you feel that it’s not worth finishing your game if you hear mostly bad comments about your game, especially if you post a demo of it and they actually play some of it. I’d advise against posting just screenshots or the story of your game however. The only time that I’d suggest doing this is if you’re planning on not releasing any demos and just a full version of your game.

Releasing Demos

There are tons of incomplete demos out there, most of the full version games out there were once just another incomplete demo out there. I however highly suggest releasing at least one demo of your game at some point to know where to improve in your game unless that’s not possible for some reason or it’s too short for a demo.
When it comes to people who don’t like your game just don’t listen to comments like “you should just start all over again instead of finishing this junk”. Just listen to comments about how to improve your game from people who say stuff like that, and listen to what people who liked your game say about it.

I also highly suggest that you continue working on finishing your game right after you release a demo of it instead of taking a break then. Otherwise if you released it while you didn’t have much motivation to finish it left you might just decide to never finish it and never work on it again. I didn’t even touch my game for weeks after releasing a demo of it from making that mistake and I almost didn’t finish it from that, don’t let it happen to you like it has to so many others. Also don’t be discouraged if your game doesn’t become super popular right away when you release a demo of it. Very few games get as famous as A Blurred Line or Naufragar or Demon Legacy or the legion saga series or any other famous and really popular games in this community.

Staying motivated enough for long amounts of time to actually finish your game.

Okay up until point I’ve basically been telling you stuff that I highly recommend against doing and some stuff that I suggest to eventually do but I haven’t even touched how to get the motivation to even reach the point where you could release a demo of your game. Well now here’s some of the stuff that I suggest to do to keep your motivation or get it back when working on your game.

Never Quitting

No matter what part of your game that your working on, even if it’s just the story I highly recommend doing some work on your game every single day, even if your busy just how long would it take to program just a few NPCs in a town? When you don’t have the motivation at the moment to work on your game you need to get into the habit of opening up your game in whatever maker your using and doing at least 5 minutes of work on it each day. Even if you don’t feel like working on your game is 5 minutes really that much time to spend on it?
I found that spending 5 minutes a day on my game while being hard to do sometimes helped me re-motivate myself to doing a few hours of work on my game in a day usually like once a week. Just keep in mind how much closer that your getting to actually finishing your game as you work on it.

Fans

Hearing from fans who want you to finish your game I’ve found can certainly be quite helpful at motivating myself to work on my game. When you’re working on your game’s story tell your overall plot to a friend to see what they think of it. If they like it they could become a fan of your game before you even have anything programmed for it (I already have like 10 fans for my current game and 3 different people offered to make graphics for me for that game when I wasn’t even trying to get graphic makers for my game, if you can write a pretty good story you could be surprised at what happens when you tell it to others). Later after you release a demo of your game getting motivation from some fans could get easier, however I highly recommend against rushing out a demo of your game, if you rush it then it’ll probably be only half as good as it would have been if you hadn’t rushed it. Also don’t be someone who over advertises your game when your trying to get fans, actually work on your game instead of spending half of your work time advertising it.

Your original source of motivation

What is it that originally motivated you to work on your game when you got the idea of it? Did you base some of it off of a story that you loved so much? Did you base it off of a video game that you loved so much? Did you think that the story was so great and fun to read after you wrote it down that you just had to make a game out of it from how great that it seems it’s going to be? Keep in mind your original source of motivation while your working on your game. Re-watch/read/play/whatever the thing that originally gave you the motivation to complete your game. I found this to be very helpful at getting back my motivation lots of times by thinking about what it was that motivated me to work on my game while I was doing my minimum of 5 minutes on my game each day. That and the motivation of wanting to actually finish the game also helped me finish it.

Well I hope that these suggestions help some of you actually finish your games, after all that's why I wrote this.