Gw Temp


Article - 'Motivation For Your Game' by Angroth

An item about Game Design posted on Sep 23, 2004


Angroth helps with motivational problems.


Introduction to the Motivation Problem

You all know that less than half of the demos you’ll come across will be completed. It doesn’t matter what maker the game is in, but any amateur game has a high probability to be discontinued. We all know how it is too, you’ll get a nice little chunk of the game done and either think “My god this is arse! I want to start making that new game I was thinking about earlier…” or ”Man, this game takes too much effort to make… I’ll come back to it later…”. And as we’ve all surely experienced the first choice makes you forget about the first game and your skills grow, leading to it become even crapper. The second choice will often result in the game either taking 4+ years to complete (and it’s nothing special, so the delay is atrocious) or you merely won’t go back to it at all.

So phases of motivation are far from uncommon. But where can we find inspiration and ways to keep making our game? Sometimes I think some of my games would be truly awesome were they only finished, much as many of you probably have. So no doubt you’ll want to know how to keep a steady pace throughout your game creation and see it in its full (deserved) glory.

Causes of Lack of Motivation – And Their Cures

If we know exactly what things are likely to knocks us off our tracks, surely we can avoid them more easily, no?


The first thing that lowers your creating power is a poor structure. If you haven’t planned barely anything about your game, you’ll find yourself constantly stopping and thinking about something, which could have easily been planned earlier. Structuring your work time, and ideas is a very useful thing to do. Remember, if you feel you’re getting a little bored of your game you can always spend the next week planning and sketching all sorts of different ideas for your game, and what things you’ll do in what order. For example,

Monday – Swordsmaster & Assassin’s skills. PHP System coding.
Tuesday – Beastmaster & Necromancer’s skills. Custom character sets for Varak, Morla and Theodin.
Wednesday – Axemaster & Berserker skills. Custom character set for Dirrix. Complete Introduction scene.

Get the idea? Obviously I’m not saying you need to plan everything you’re doing so strictly, I for one have never planned my work like that. But I can easily see myself regretting not doing it for the 1 millionth time (in a few months time). Either ways, by structure I don’t just mean this. I mean you could be jotting down background stories, history of the world, maps, skills and their effects etc.

Remember: All in all, with a good set of pre-planned ideas, your game will get finished much quicker. You can also use making ideas as a quick break from the coding or resource aspects of your game.


Remember that cave / forest, that’s like a labyrinth? Or that castle that had 15 floors? In some places you’ll need a lot of mass producing of maps, events (NPCs) or even enemy / hero graphics (if you’re looking for something custom especially). This is where the ‘team’ idea kicks into play. If you have a team or at least 2 other people helping you out in some way, you can spread the dosage of this mundane task. If you personally have to do something so repetitive for such a long time (whether you like it or not), it’s only natural that it will become much more like a chore than something you genuinely like doing. So I’m going to analyse the ‘team’ approach, which is one solution to this problem.


- Work rate is much less, you can all focus on certain areas of the game, therefore making you less likely to get burnt out.
- You can get people who are better than you at graphics / midis / story writing etc, than you thus making your game supernaturally good.
- With more people working on the game at once, it will be completed much quicker, so you can even have time to plan more ambitious projects.


- Maintaining and even forming a team can be pretty hard work. Making sure everyone’s doing their share and is in contact with you is often much easier than it sounds.
- Passing your work and the game itself back and forward can be awkward and sometimes confusing, as to what is the latest versions of things.
- Certain people might make pieces of work (graphics, music, dialogue etc) that you’re not personally too keen with and wouldn’t have included.

Well, you know. Teams are tough business; I’d say most teams have equal chance as one person in finishing a game, maybe even less. So what else can we do to stop this tedious work from stopping us making the game altogether? I’m afraid I only have two small suggestions for this problem. The first is to work on different parts of the game. If you’re finding making lots of NPCs to fill the maps boring, take some time off and make some more animations, skills, enemies or tweak the hero and monster statistics to make the battles more fun. A change of scenery is always enticing. My other suggestion (isn’t as effective) is to get someone to sit down with you and talk to you when you’re doing it, or listen to some music at the same time. You could even watch TV at the same time. Even if these things make your progress slow, it will make it more fun and work will still be getting done, and those hard parts will be closer to being complete and out of the way.

Remember: Don’t slack and get sloppy! If things are too hard take your time and watch TV or listen to music (or eat / drink) at the same time. Maybe you just need a small break or if you still want to do some to your game, make some animations, music, story, enemies or something else. Just never let your game suffer because you’re suffering, the boredom will be reflected in the game itself (poor maps, dialogue and battles).


“My game will be the greatest ever! It will have CMS, CBS, CSS, CTS, CAS, COS, CPS, CYS. In fact… Why don’t I make it be a first person shooter like Quake? Yeah! It’ll take some coding but I’m man enough for it!”

Ok maybe I did over exaggerate but you’re being over ambitious. This one is only going to be a small section, because to be honest there’s not that much to write for it. It’s pretty simple you see, the more cool things you want in your game, the harder it will be to make and thus meaning the less likely you are to finish the game. It’s a bit like the Mass Production thing. You’ll be wading through so much code you won’t see the light of day again! I simply urge you to be careful here, if you want all these things fare enough, I won’t say you shouldn’t plan and think high for your game but I will say this… Implement these things slowly bit by bit. Don’t plan lots of systems that are crucial to have in order to make the game. This way the game won’t be completed, instead maybe make a CBS (custom battle system) first, because this will be crucial to have in order to make the game, provided you want a CBS. Then make the game for a bit, at a later date you can add or CMS (custom menu system) or other systems of choice. This way you won’t have to do all this ridiculous coding all at once before you can make the game itself.

Remember: Be realistic.


Sitting in front of that bright computer screen, day in day out, night after night, week after week won’t do you much good. Although you may be getting a lot to your game done, your physical and mental health might be tested to their limits…

Seriously you’ll need to have some breaks and time away from your newly wed, game in the making. If you want to keep your game to a good standard you’re going to need your full brain power and if you’ve been drooling over the game for a few hours you won’t be making as much progress as you could. I heard that if you stand up for a few seconds, you get extra oxygen to your brain (than if you’re slumped down in a chair for a while) which could help boost that mind of yours into keep making your game and making it better.

If you work out rough times in the day when you will be working on your game, that’s great. A planned, productive hour here and there will really count more so than if you just spent a day in front of your computer. If you’re staring at the TV and typing the odd bit of dialogue, you’re productivity is going nowhere, so either watch the TV in the sofa, or ignore it and make the game. Ignore what I just said if you’re doing it for reasons I’ve already mentioned above, but intense blasts at making your game are completely worth it.

All in all you should try and do some work to your game everyday. Plus, if you feel you’re slipping from your game and finding less motivation for it, slow build back up the amount of time you work on it. For example do 5 minutes one day, 10 minutes the next, slowly before you know it you should be getting back into the swing of it (this once saved me from completely stopping my game’s production).

Remember: Short productive blasts are more useful than long tiring hours in front of the computer screen.


As I mentioned in the introduction, it’s very common for people to stop making their game because of a new game idea they’ve recently had. You’ll be motivated by how good or cool the game is going to be compared to the last one you were making. But don’t be so hasty in abandoning the original project! Your motivation for it may have run dry, but by moving to a new project you’re likely to trap yourself in a vicious cycle. Notably it’s good for motivational purposes but you really shouldn’t just make the next decent thing that pops into your head.

Making a game is quite a journey, it will take a very long time and there will be lots of ups and downs in its creation. You need to insure that the idea you’re making into a game is almost definitely one you really want to see through to the end. This way if you’re only going to make the best of the best of your ideas as games, you’ll surely ignore these meagre ones that are popping into your head. You need to learn to ignore these, take them in your stride and if at all possible, use them as motivation to finish your game, so you can make them (when the first one is complete).

Remember: Try to ignore the latest idea that pops in your head and finish your proper worthy games!


If there’s nobody to tell you that your game is great and going well, you’re less likely to keep that over boarding motivation to finish it. You may even ask yourself if the game is worth finishing at all. This is where screenshots, demos and information come into the fray.

I’ve seen hordes of people releasing information about their games in the forums. Often to get some confirmation of their ideas and for more encouragement in completion of the project. This in many ways is good to know where to improve and for more motivation but can be equally damaging to the continuation of a game. When viewing what people think about your game, remember they often only say what they don’t like, so if they don’t say anything about certain areas of the game, they probably think it’s fine. This is critical to follow when hearing criticisms and opinions on your game, otherwise you might think that nobody likes the game at all. Also, remember that standards these days for amateur games is foolishly high. I’m not sure what people are expecting, but you can’t seem to impress people unless you have the best story in the world, a CMS & CBS (that kick butt) or something else amazing and unique (in some way or form).

I personally suggest you only release screenshots and information with a demo of your game and not separately unless perchance you’re not going to release any demos at all. In which case, inform the people of this. However I strongly urge you to consider releasing a demo, this way people will get a feel for your game and quite possibly (if they like it) anticipate its arrival as the full thing someday. Not to mention the point of this article, motivation… Most games aren’t finished and if you release a demo at least people will play your game and have a taster of what you did. You will have left your mark in the world. If you were to hold off any demos, one day you might stop making the game and when you look back at it, it won’t be very good anymore. In this situation you’ll decide it’s best not to release a demo, and then the game will become a dried husk in barren wasteland, nothing more.

As a final note, don’t be worried if your game doesn’t amass great fame. Not many games do. As long as the overall comments of the game are 50%+ you’re in the clear zone (because that usually means it’s a pretty darn good one).

You can also tell your friends, or family (brothers and sisters) about your game and see what they think. Maybe they’ll even help you out! My brother and some of my MSN contacts often bump me up about my games, and keep me working at them. Even just a few nice words from someone you know can make all the difference when battling with motivation.

Remember: Release a demo, and get some inspiration (and maybe advice) for continuing your game.

The Source of Your Motivation

What actually inspired you to make your game in the first place? Play the games, watch the movies and read the books that made this project come to life. The original source(s) for your motivation are definitely worth going back over half way through your game, just to get back that old spark.

Sometimes your mood and motives change. It’s equally as good to look at new movies, games and books for different inspiration (especially if the original source isn’t working for you that well). You should definitely be careful about being dragged into playing another game (day after day) though, just dabble into things and see if there’s any ideas you can relate to and use, or if there’s any ideas that spring new ones in your mind.

Remember: If you’re the father (or mother if you’re female), the source of your motivation is the mother (or father if you’re female). Don’t forget it!