What keeps you from finishing your game projects?
It’s that time again, you are starting to lose it. New “wonderful” and “much better” ideas are filling your mind and the project, which you’ve been working for a couple of weeks (or months) start to seem like a boring piece of junk. Or maybe it does not feel junk, the new idea(s) are just much better. And the current idea is also way too massive to be made by yourself (or your small team). So let’s start a new one!
The new project is started with passion, great planning, and design documents. But after a couple of weeks, or months have passed, you start to find yourself in the same situation yet again…
Know the feeling?
Because I do, and I’ve done it way too often with my projects. So what is keeping me (and you) from finishing the projects and releasing them? For sure, one of the main reason is the risk of “not making the game as great, as it was meant to” is one key issue, what makes project dropping so usual. You start to realize, that if I’m going to finish this, it will take months or years and it feels much better to just put it “on hold” and move to something “more simple, faster to create”.
This, of course, is great practice. Because in game development, the biggest enemy out there, is your project scope. It’s so easy to design a game, which is so massive, that it’s nearly impossible for you to finish it. When you find yourself thinking that “this project is way too massive” remember to praise yourself since you’ve learned to understand your scope better.
Having piles of an unfinished project is proof of your scope practicing, but at the same time, those can be a burden for yourself which keep you from designing future game projects from an empty, clean table. Sometimes it’s just better to let go, dump the project for good and move to the next one.
But you should always aim to finish your projects, by finishing I certainly don’t mean to make the polished, great game to be sold on Steam (or similar). What I mean, is that you should make the game into a condition, that everyone can play it. (use platforms like Itch.io, Game Jolt) Call it an early demo, alpha or beta or whatever you like, but release that and share it with the world! (In our community Discord channel for example https://discord.gg/hdZXeMJ )
Why should you release work-in-progress version, that won’t make the crowd rise up and praise you like the best game designer out there? No, it won’t. But what it will do, is start generating discussion around your project. Feedback, ideas, thoughts or maybe even a couple of claps on your back. This happens to cause (in most of us) HUGE motivation spike, to see people playing the game and commenting. It’s more likely that YOU will continue working with your game, finish it and release the final, polished version.
Don’t expect hundreds of enthusiastic playtesters (it’s possible though), but when you get your first people to comment, share feedback or thoughts, you should welcome this person with a warm handshake. Since he/she is the one, who’ve interested enough in spending multiple minutes of his/her time, to help you.
So in the end, what is the lesson in this? What keeps us from finishing our projects? My opinion is, that you’re lacking people, who support you. If you don’t have supporting family, friends or other relationships, you need to find your “support group” from online. Join communities like Game Dev Underground (https://gdu.io/) or join Jestercraft Discord (https://discord.gg/hdZXeMJ) to get started!
Find your support group, which keep you working with your project and help others to do it as well. Always remember that we’re all fighting with the same challenges!
Klaus ‘Kossad’ Kääriäinen