Once upon a time, you started a game. It was a good game. Heroes, villains and side characters just practically appeared, waiting for you to cast them in their roles in your epic saga. Next thing you know, you’re making maps and maybe even telling your friends. Maybe they even got excited about your project and were awaiting your first demo. You were sure you were going to finish your game.
And then something happened. The interest faded and the passion cooled. Suddenly mapping is a slog and eventing is a burden. The story suddenly sounds a little bit lamer than it did, the characters more hollow and less worthwhile.
The honeymoon? Officially over.
Sadly, this is a normal phenomenon for most people. I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t reach a place where the creative process doesn’t just become…work after a while. There comes a time where you have to make a choice.
Do you choose to keep going? Or do you relegate the project you once loved to the scrap heap?
I say, finish it. Here’s why.
You CAN finish your game.
You, yes you! Unless you have a circumstance in your life that’s actually physically or mentally preventing you from sitting down and putting in the time, you can do it!
You know how to eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
Break your project down into small, manageable pieces and work through them one at a time. Don’t ever look at the big picture or you’ll get overwhelmed. Celebrate small goals. If things start to really drag, consider shortening your game or removing non-essential sidequests rather than abandoning it. It could be that your game was too long to begin with…shorter content, obviously, increases the likelihood that you’ll finish your game!
You have something worth saying
“But,” you might say, “my game is just a Final Fantasy clone.”
Everything you do, you put a part of yourself into it. Your thoughts, your feelings, your personal tastes. You have as much right to put those things down in tangible (er, if digital is tangible) form as anyone else…even if it’s your homage to the games of your youth. Not every game has to have a deep moral lesson…in fact, I’d recommend against that for most plots…but somewhere in there is something important, even if it’s only of value to you personally.
Who cares if it’s only important to you? Isn’t that enough?
You can make a game just for yourself.
If you spend too much time listening to other people, you’ll end up with a lackluster game that’s pulled in a thousand directions, and none of them will be the one that you originally intended. Pick and choose what you listen to carefully, making sure your decisions support the end goal of your project, but at the end of the day, it’s totally okay to just say “You know what? I made this for myself and that’s good enough.”
Creative expression is good in and of itself!
Don’t give up on this one. Creativity keeps the mind active and healthy, and depending on your situation, it’s thought to be therapeutic.
Practice makes perfect!
You can’t get better if you don’t keep practicing. But, the more you work at it, the easier it gets! Artists will make multiple thumbnails of a single drawing before executing it, and writers will make second drafts from their first, so it’s completely normal to think that your first go at a particular game won’t be quite right and will need refining. Just keep reworking it! Level up those skills and finish your game!
The game can be improved, regardless of where it is right now. It’s not hopeless.
Not satisfied with the work you’ve done so far? Keep trying! The glory of most game makers is that you can move a lot of things around and unless you have a really complicated game system, not a lot is set in stone. Don’t let the magnitude of changes overwhelm you. Just pick one thing at a time, improve it, and then move on to the next. Just don’t get trapped in the loop of reworking things so many times that you never finish. 🙂
This will probably happen in the next game you make, too.
There will be a point where it comes down to elbow grease and long hours in game assembly. It will happen no matter what project you’re working on. Leaving your current idea for a new one just because you’re more passionate about another idea doesn’t mean you won’t end up back where you were…and you still won’t have a completed game to show for it. The grass probably isn’t greener over there.
You might need a break…
…but don’t let it bring you to a total halt. If you need to rest, do it, but don’t let burnout convince you that what you once loved is now worthless. It almost certainly isn’t true.
Incidentally, if your “burnout” symptoms persist, consider seeing a doctor as health conditions like poorly functioning thyroid can shut down your desire to create.
Consider the end goal…what it will be like to finish your game!
Think about what it’ll be like to have a finished game you can show off!
“So did you ever finish that game you were working on?”
“Why yes, yes I did, right over here.” 🙂
(Victory dance optional but recommended.)
And Bonus #10: Fame and Fortune!
We’re kidding. Well, maybe.
Need some inspiration?
You can find inspiration in the weirdest places…don’t forget to take the time to study the works of others to make yours the best it can be. Try taking a look at some commercial games. You won’t be able to totally duplicate the big-budget effects that some have, but most of those effects can be easily scaled to work with whatever engine you’re using.
Don’t give up! Finish your game! What are you doing to keep yourself motivated? Please comment below. 🙂