Burnout (and how to recover)


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It's interesting to think that no other dev on the planet will create this game precisely as I will, with my storytelling, art and animation.  That's pretty good inspiration by itself.

The best anti-burnout tips have already been posted above.  Speaking from personal experience, come up with ideas that you can really support and pour your creative energy into.

When I first started drawing as a child (and even in my early Flash animation), I would sometimes try to create this grand piece of art with no real planning or idea of where it would lead.  I was so impatient at the time, and it of course led to some of my worst art, and projects that were never complete.

Don't be afraid to take some time and critique your own ideas multiple times before you even touch a keyboard.  Is it a game that YOU would want to play?  Is there room to try something you haven't exactly seen before?  Are you exploring new concepts, or are you building upon the same stale templates just because it's safe and popular at the moment?


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  • Posts: 329
But was it a good game?

That's the question you got to ask yourself.

That question answers itself. If I finish a game I think it's good, otherwise I wouldn't consider it finished.

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.?

If you're going to concentrate on having short dev cycles, know your workflow. For me it goes like this:

- Have an idea
- Mock up a tileset and a player sprite in Photoshop
- Fire up Stencyl, turn the mocked up image into a level
- If the level feels right, start making more of them and let those levels guide my design choices

ie. "oh this level could use moving sawblades, let's draw those now" or "huh, this level came out shaped like a pyramid, I should make a tileset to match that vibe" or even "man these levels are totally speedrun material, maybe the story should be that this character is running away from something".

So it's a very organic way to build a game, I suppose. To be fair though, I usually make platformers. If you were doing, say, a top down RPG? I don't think my approach would work at all.


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One thing that has always helped me is making games like I was planning a surprise party. I'm always working. I'm always working on a game project, but I rarely talk about it to anyone except for family (since they, y'know, live with me) maybe really close friends. I know that sometimes people can get very annoyed when no progress is being actively shown, leading to irritation with the developer of the game. Thankfully, this hasn't happened with Luyren and I yet (partly cuz we're not well-known enough, I'm sure), so we can work at our own pace on the game.

But back to the surprise party analogy. It helps keep me on track and motivated to get this game out to people because of the suspense. I'm making a game and I really want to get this game finished and done so that people will be surprised and (hopefully!) happy about it. Now, this is probably not going to last for too long. Undoubtedly, news is probably going to get out once the game is a bit more developed and we actively seek more publicity. But for the time being, making a game in secret, knowing that there is going to be a big surprise or payoff in the end is really motivating for me.

Needless to say, this is just how I operate, and I'm sure that there are some people out there that work this way too. I'm sure that there are those that would get encouraged by making small updates and letting the community know that their game is being made little by little. But for me, I've come to the realization that it's not the right way for me. I think that work-flow processes are discovered by you while working. You should try and find what best 'works' for you.


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  • Posts: 763
That's a great idea. I'm making a project that I haven't revealed yet, so it's a good time to test that. :)
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  • Posts: 438
I use also the surprise party system, but only with very small projects that take one or two day to make.
If they have more success than expected i expand them and are adopted as side projects.In the worst case they just make portfolio.
These games are made with the main purpose of impressing people about how fast i am with Stencyl.Meanwhile they also let me gain exp about different kind of games.
I run primarily  a big project, with estimated development time of a year, and all my close friends are aware of it.
I don't force them to listen and i don't plan to amaze them, but ask advices, feedback about working features or general design.
Currently working at:
Starwarrior 2097(my main project)
How to make successful games in Kongregate and the world(article)


  • Posts: 9
I must say for me, this thread is the most valuable in not only the creation of awesome games but projects in general. I'd just like to offer this little jewel I found a week ago.

Problems I often encounter:
  • working with team members from far distances
  • actively keeping up with how's it going
  • collaborating with one another

The solution may be found at www.teamworkpm.net. It's a project management website that offers a free trial. In developing your game this will be most helpful to prevent (in my opinion) the ultimate killer of games in development: SCOPE/FEATURE CREEP.

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/


  • Posts: 438
teamworkpm.net is a nice site that offers cloud storage, chat and pm system, and public scheduling for arrangements.
However it expires fast and it isn't cheap if your team isn't composed by all professionals.If you don't mind 30$ at month for the service it's indeed an amazing workshop to use!

My strongest motivations right now are totgb.com and my girlfriend.Totgb now is big enough to provide steady feedback on your work and i get all the cheering up i need from her:D

As a rule of thumb if you don't get enough feedback from other developers, spend some time "liking" of commenting their games, so that may return the favor later!
Currently working at:
Starwarrior 2097(my main project)
How to make successful games in Kongregate and the world(article)


  • Posts: 7
Mh thats a hard one.
Especially since I wouldn't really mix burnout with the missing of motivation.

Burnout is rather something that you experience, take a day completely off for recovering and do mindless stuff and all will be fine.
I experience only once a real burnout. I was sent to a branch office, where I had to clean up the mess of an colleague. I misscalculated the work and planned 4 days for it. The first day it was clear that I was slower than I thought and had to really go 200% on that. I barely finished within the time period with the result that my brain just stopped functioning. :D
I couldn't do the simpliest math, or even use the computer as good as before. That took me 2 days of watching brainlessly tv and movies to recover.

That is the burnout I experienced. Something you can recover out of but you shouldn't let it happen. It is important to just stop thinking about work, beeing an creative mind the thing we do is usually ONLY think about work.. but that will kill you after sometime especially if you are slower than expected. If you like thinking about work, fine but try to add areas where you think about work and where you think about other stuff. Like "In front of pc = work" "in front of tv = relax" or something :D

The lost of motivation is something different I guess, I started so many projects and stopped working on them.. just because my priorities changed in this time or I got depressed because I had other things to do and thought I couldn't get anywhere with it anyway.. or just got bored of that idea that once seemed so awesome to pursue.
There is no treatment for that... you just have to make limits. Like if you haven't done anything for that project within a week.. drop it. 

Okay I hope this is actually helpful. :D and to that teamwork thing. I find it very comfortable having all the people in a instant chat group like skype/whatsapp(especially whatsapp since most people have a smartphone and look at it every minute :D) and spam them ideas every single time you get one and manage all the files within dropbox.


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Watch this,and i have to say also:
If you want to work on some thing and you dont feel motivated?! Try a way of having fun doing it :) what ever it will be,even you dont have master skills  because fun is motivation.
i.e. i found that working with my friend in silly ways and stupid conversations on an normal boring project..... but is fun.
This just my opinion.

- http://youtu.be/u6XAPnuFjJc


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  • Posts: 48
I have the same problem, been working on a game now for about 9 month now...
There have been a lot a breaks in between some days, some weeks, and there been a month a swell.

anyway I keep coming back because I WANT to finish something now! before this project I've made about 9 small non finished games, with tons of bugs and pretty much just play tests.
BUT I'm glad I did that before making a full game, because now I have a bit more experience and can test it out in a full game.

and I always say to myself, my first game is going to be shit! and only a test for me to see what I do wrong and I can fix in the next one, I'm just going to post it and see whats wrong with it and never make 'dem mistakes again (:

One thing that really motivates me to work on my game again is watching Indie Game the movie <3

sorry about my english


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that movie inspired me too
i just want to finish my game!


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Some motivation for anyone ;)
Turbo Justice


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I am the same...I start a project and after a while I am starting to lose motivation, but i figured out that the cause of my motivation lost is the fear that my work wont be recognized and that others will say that it is bad but then I realised that when you put enough effort in a game and realy work hard on it, it will sure be recognized and people will like it...just think this way and you will never lose motivation...my first game was a stupid ball that just rolls :P but people liked it, I dont know why but they did...so no matter what game or other project you work on just work hard and you will get attention from others :D


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I've lost a lot of motivation for a lot of projects I've had in the past, which mainly is due to the fact that I move around for work.  From the east coast to the west, then to Japan and back again, and to Germany and back, and finally from Poland and back.  I still have my blog filled with unfinished stories and poems, all of which I will get around too but I constantly have this creative block :/

As for the games, sure, there are a few and one that's just too big (waiting on Unity).  Right now, it's me and an artist working on a shmup but this game has gone through so many changes that I'm starting to lose focus.  I only to get it out the door soon :)


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  • Posts: 73
I've felt extremely lost sometimes. That and when some projects don't go the way I want them to, I just get mad and give up on them, because I'm awful at coding. I've gone through a lot of failed projects because of that.