Burnout (and how to recover)

fotogeluid

  • Posts: 271
Make you game "playable" as fast as possible. Basic features, basic moves, no intro screen, no scores.....

After that you are playing instead of working. Becuase you are going to add things and test all the time.

If the testing is boring after a while you should ask yourself why and change the game so you like playing again.

scf

  • Posts: 1
Quote
Everytime I start something I have internal fire that keep me going for a while, then something happens and game/other project is scrapped or (rarer) released as unfinished demo.

Do you know what exactly happens? Maybe you could avoid maneuvring into these situations, then.
I often find myself struggling to complete projects (art, studying and programming, too) when I'm stuckor burnt out. For example, about a year ago, I started programming with AS3.0. Had not much experience in programming until then, except from writing textadventures in BASIC when I was a child and a two weeks course on C++ some years ago. I bought a book on developing flash games (finding out along the way that the author programmed in BASIC as a child, too, which motivated me even more) and dived into it. I worked through the whole book in two weeks, doing not much else than coding and popping little games out. I started to get dizzy in front of my PC, I couldn't force myself to eat and drink properly because coding (and seeing the results) was so addictive! Furthermore, I started skipping steps that I didn't fully understand in the hope of getting the grip on them later. I was wrong. I ended up with several projects, most of them unfinished because I had too high ambitions and too little knowledge to match them. My energy was drained, too. I lost orientation in my code, programmed without having a finished concept first and got very frustrated for not finishing my games. I learned the following out of this experience:

-> even if you think you're born to make games (so did I, I wanted to make my own games since I was four years old!) and ideas are pouring out of your brain like mad, you have to plan them like you'd plan the invasion of a zombie-infested strip of well secured land. Write your story down, make a list of characters, develop a flow diagram, construct the 'skeleton' of your levels. You don't have to write down every little detail yet, but it should outline what there will be in your game. This serves as a route you can follow while doing your project. This avoids the "...and now?"-feeling you get when there are still gaps and unplanned sections.

-> Don't overdo it. Like I wrote, I'm prone to doing this, too, but I try to avoid it by working in small packages of time rather than open-end. Stop yourself when you notice you avoid bathroom brakes at the latest. If you don't do it, you will end up enegery-drained and without any power to face the rest of the project. It's like your brain avoids letting you even open the project once out of fear you might make a marathon out of working on it again. I usually lost my motivation after excessively working on a project I burned for. Burning for a project is ok, as long as you keep some of your fuel left.

-> Get out from time to time. Apart from giving you some nice Vitamin D, you relax your eyes, get new impressions and fresh air. Meeting friends is also nice and helps you to avoid thinking in code for a while which gives your brain some rest. Of course, if you aren't at risk to focus only on your project and forgetting everything else, this might sound strange, but for me, it really is necessary to remember these things.

-> Keep your ideas organized. Apart from planning your actual project, it helps to keep a small book you write your ideas for games into. This way, you have more capacities to focus on the current project rather than trying not to forget all the other interesting ideas.

-> Write to-do Lists. Cross things that are done out and keep those lists to remind you of what you already achieved, even if it might not be visible from the game as it is. I find that doing those lists motivate me when I'm a bit down. Write small steps on these lists and not too big ones. For example, "doing the graphics for 5 chars" is better (and more achievable) than "Do ALL the graphics!".

-> If you're struck because you have a problem, try to find out where exactly further learning is needed. Do this step by step and don't rush it. There's always time to do a little test coding to see if you understood the concept correctly. It pays off in the end.

-> Tell as less people as possible about your project. Doing so increases pressure, even if no one actually does anything. It's enough to know that they know and are (hopefully) excited to see results. I really can't work well with people asking how my projects are going, at least not until everything is nearly finished (then it's ok and helpful).

Well, these are the things I learned. They probably won't work for everyone, but I increased my ability to finish projects with them. :)

Zersixs

  • Posts: 14
I keep my motivation by playing other flash games and that help's me, especially the ones that are worse than my own.

JensWinterstein

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  • Posts: 433
My humble advice: read the book "Masters of Doom".

It's the story about ID Software and its influence on popular culture, focusing chiefly on John Carmack and John Romero and the Golden Age of PC Gaming.
The book has a mystical motivation spell on it :))
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Stipipoy

  • Posts: 33
I suggest you read this book, here let me share it to all of you.

The Magic of Thinking Big

Feel free to download it and I hope in time you'll get your motivation back.

Here, let me just quote a wonderful phrase from the book:

"Belief works  this way.  Belief,  the  'Im-positive-I-can"  attitude, generates the power, skill, and energy needed to do. When you believe I-can-do-it, the how-to-do-it develops."

Just believe in yourself mate, you can do it. ;)
Stephen
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suburbsniper

  • Posts: 3
If u need motivation for any project just think about how awesome the end project will be and if that dont work switch to a different hobby or project for a while and then come back to it in a month or so

Silux

  • Posts: 438
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agile_software_development
45aday project works for me!
making little any day, and sometime spend more time to adjust core logics.
Currently working at:
Starwarrior 2097(my main project)
How to make successful games in Kongregate and the world(article)

samuelpearce

  • Posts: 73
I'm going through something similar to that. But my reasons are:
1. I just did two big projects that I put a lot of time into (Goku vs. Superman and DynaDan)
2. I'm not sure whether to patch up the games I already did, or make new games.
3. I'm in the "cut process" of whether or not I should go through with some game ideas.

You're not the only one who is going through "designer's block."

katana

  • Posts: 128
If u need motivation for any project just think about how awesome the end project will be and if that dont work switch to a different hobby or project for a while and then come back to it in a month or so
Three disjointed years later, I can honestly tell you this is a horrible approach.
One of the two expert stencylers to have done precisely nothing to earn their title... Oh damn, he did something and got promoted. I need to get to work. Until then, I'm unique?
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Medevenx

  • Posts: 65
Iji took 4 years to complete. Cave Story took 5.

Both those games took a lot of years before they got finished and they were made by only 1 person. Quality > Quantity and if you want a good game it's ok if you procastinate some days. You can even take a break from it for a month. But ALWAYS remember to go back to it and finish it one day. You can't make multiple shitty game ideas and never actually complete one.

thechaosengine

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  • Posts: 329
This is why short dev cycles are your friend. Longest I've ever took to finish a game was 10 days.

...And I still have like 3 unfinished projects I know I'll never go back to again.

samuelpearce

  • Posts: 73
This is why short dev cycles are your friend. Longest I've ever took to finish a game was 10 days.

...And I still have like 3 unfinished projects I know I'll never go back to again.

I'm the same way as you. But the longest it took me to complete a game was 2 weeks

lawgo

  • Posts: 9
This is why short dev cycles are your friend. Longest I've ever took to finish a game was 10 days.

...And I still have like 3 unfinished projects I know I'll never go back to again.

Wise words. Curious though, during the short dev cycles should those days just be focused on implementation and execution or do those days include character development and brainstorming of mechanics etc.?
Texas Toast is the most curious and adventurous piece of bread around. He loves making friends and adventures. You can become a friend with Tex and follow his adventures by visiting his page @ http://texastoastadventures.com/

Medevenx

  • Posts: 65
This is why short dev cycles are your friend. Longest I've ever took to finish a game was 10 days.

...And I still have like 3 unfinished projects I know I'll never go back to again.

But was it a good game?

That's the question you got to ask yourself.

lazyboygames

  • Posts: 485
Well this might seem unconventional, and I don't know if it is true yet ( have only been making games for around 3 months ), but what seems to work for me is having 2 projects going at once, both with totally different game play.

That way whenever I feel burnt out, or get stuck on a problem I have something fresh to go to.

Right now I have a REALLY big project, and one that is not as large.