Reasons for Game Creation Failure (and how to overcome?)

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Blue Lemma
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Reasons for Game Creation Failure (and how to overcome?)

#1 Post by Blue Lemma » Thu May 05, 2011 6:10 pm

I think something similar came up a while ago, but it's always worth a revisit: What causes game projects to be abandoned?

I'll start out with the things I can think of:

* Game longer than expected - The game is so nice and manageable in your head, and you start writing parts of it. However, when you reach a certain point (generally the end of the "fun" scenes and things you could quickly create) and dissect all the parts listing the writing and art involved, it looks really daunting. This kills your enthusiasm and confidence.

* Other obligations - You had enough time to work on the game when you started, but real life strikes! During the course of development, you get busy with school or a job, a personal issue, or something else unexpected. When you have time to come back to the game, the momentum is broken, and the game just isn't as appealing as before.

* Stuck in a spot - Somewhere along the line, you get stuck trying to resolve a plot issue or writing a scene that just doesn't seem to work. Another momentum and enthusiasm-killer.

* Game switching - While you're making a game, you come up with a better cooler idea! Time to work on that instead! Of course you'll come back to the original game later (you probably won't), or you'll work on two at once (which practically guarantees you don't finish either of them.)

What strategies can you use to overcome these issues? What other issues have you run into?
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Re: Reasons for Game Creation Failure (and how to overcome?)

#2 Post by Aleema » Thu May 05, 2011 6:33 pm

* Someone drops out of the project. There's also the game-killing "my friend promised to do my art for me" dependency on others that easily falls through, and then you drop the project. In fact, it's almost guaranteed that if you hinge the success of your game on the good will of someone else who has no emotional attachment to your project whatsoever, they're not going to follow through. (That's an exaggeration. Good will often comes through, but you shouldn't be surprised if the random person you met on the internet -- or even a close relative -- really has no motivation for your personal hobby.) I try to avoid this by paying my artists and working mostly alone. It's great to work in groups, and can definitely be done, but if you conceive of your game in manner that you, personally, cannot achieve it on your own even if it's a crappier game, you're basically asking for failure.

As for game-switching, I announce my games so that there is expectation for them to be released. If no one ever knew I was doing a game, I'd drop it pretty easily for a more fun idea. Though I tend to do that anyway.

Other obligations > Life's been toying with me rather cruelly in the last year, but I've still been working strong on my projects. Part of that is because they are therapeutic in a way: they're a normal I cling to. I just have to remember to take breaks, or I could end up associating the bad things with my hobby. And the other part is because I feel I have to, because I took donations for my game. Other people have money riding on my work; I have to do it. I am not a crook, you know?

I would say a game blowing up would lead me to drop it. If I looked at my game and said "that's too much" I'd trim it down. You often don't realize you made your game too long. But then years roll by and you're still only a fraction done. This is fine, since people often work on one thing for decades, but if you don't want it to be your magnum opus, you might want to move on. Know that any money or time you spent on it was for your entertainment -- and you were most definitely entertained. That's a good thing. No waste there. :)
Last edited by Aleema on Thu May 05, 2011 6:43 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Reasons for Game Creation Failure (and how to overcome?)

#3 Post by EternalDream » Thu May 05, 2011 6:40 pm

This is just my ways of overcoming those issues so don't hunt me if it doesn't work for others xD;; Overcoming...

* Game longer than expected - I don't think I've ran into this because I just get more fired up when I see that long list. :3 But for me, I just relax and start planning and creating temporary "deadlines" for each thing. I think as long as you tackle each task one by one, it gets easier.

* Other obligations - Yeah, this is the reason why I'm not making progress on my game right now. TvT If anyone has any good ways of overcoming this one, I'd be glad to listen... or read it. xD

* Stuck in a spot - I just go back to the part I felt that it started going wrong, and rewrite EVERYTHING from there on. It's kind of like making a typo in a sentence... just redo the typo and move on. :D

* Game switching - The second thing I suffer from D; What I did to overcome(?) this was to incorporate my new, cooler ideas with my original ones into one game. :) Even though this changed my game almost 180, I still am thankful I didn't start another game with the new idea, because then I'd have to work from scratch all over again.

Haha, I think you listed almost all of it. xD There's also:

* Accidentally Deleted Work - You're working, working, and finally making huge progress on a huge project when your computer suddenly crashes for no reason, and you didn't have back up. All the work you have done from before is gone, and you feel depressed AND discouraged. You look back on it and decide that it's too troublesome to restart.

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Re: Reasons for Game Creation Failure (and how to overcome?)

#4 Post by Friendbot2000 » Thu May 05, 2011 6:56 pm

Why do I get the feeling that I was an influence to this thread :P

My suggestion is to always know when your story will end. The ending to the story is the most important part of the project. If you don't know where you are heading with a story, how will you know when you get there? If you don't have a set goal in sight for the story you will fizzle out because you get lost in a bog of new ideas and then scrap the whole thing because you have no idea where you are going with it OR you give it a haphazard ending and drop the "El Fin Bomb" on the player.
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Re: Reasons for Game Creation Failure (and how to overcome?)

#5 Post by Samu-kun » Thu May 05, 2011 6:58 pm

Game now obsolete, must redo everything - Sure, you thought your game looked awesome when you started it a year ago... But then, as you worked on it, your skills improved and now everything looks horrible compared to what you can do now. So now, let's go back and fix everything... (again and again and again...)

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Re: Reasons for Game Creation Failure (and how to overcome?)

#6 Post by Sapphi » Thu May 05, 2011 7:35 pm

Jumping into creation without suitable planning: This is one that I have personally experienced, and that I suspect a lot of other people on this forum experience. The common response to "Here is a free visual novel engine you can use, and its name is Ren'Py" seems to be "ZOMG I WILL START ON A GAME TONIGHT!" A natural response for many people (including me) when they find a new toy that seems too good to be true. :P

But the issue with that is a lot of people come up with a quick, sketchy idea to run with, announce it here on the forums because they see that everybody and their brother is making a game, and eventually, they get discouraged. The trouble with running with whatever is on your mind at the time is that good storywriting is full of careful planning. Foreshadowing, world-building, character development, etc. Doing things on a whim is the opposite of planning. So eventually, if you haven't taken the time to properly plan, you will end up with a mess that you are too embarrassed to show to anyone. I'm speaking from experience here. And I'm not even going to get into all that wasted effort on the art and other assets up to this point.

The solution to this issue is to weed out "just okay" premises for VNs from the "good" premises before any writing or art is done. Then, to really think about the story you're about to write, because it is going to be a big commitment. Most people don't just get into a serious relationship on a whim - they take their time and really get to know the other person before they make that commitment. The alternative is a lot of time and tears and effort with nothing to show for it in the end.
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Re: Reasons for Game Creation Failure (and how to overcome?)

#7 Post by Blue Lemma » Thu May 05, 2011 7:42 pm

Samu-kun wrote:Game now obsolete, must redo everything - Sure, you thought your game looked awesome when you started it a year ago... But then, as you worked on it, your skills improved and now everything looks horrible compared to what you can do now. So now, let's go back and fix everything... (again and again and again...)
This one is tragic since it's like running a marathon and then teleporting back to the beginning right before you reach the finish line! A main reason for this might be perfectionism and/or a fear of judgment. If your skills improved, I say apply those to the next game and just release the original one.

@friendbot: You are an inspiration :wink:

@Sapphi: I lump that in with the game being longer than expected, but yeah, there can definitely be a strong element of "woooo let's do this, who needs planning!"
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Re: Reasons for Game Creation Failure (and how to overcome?)

#8 Post by KomiTsuku » Thu May 05, 2011 8:30 pm

Procrastination: It will get done when I... eh.

Lack of caring: Truth be told, if it looks like it is going to be another project where absolutely nobody will bother to play it, I end up stopping part of the way, after it becomes apparent. I got enough enjoyment out of the story thinking it up in my head. Thinking about the smiles on the faces keeps me going. When it looks like it will be complete indifference or disgust, I simply cut my losses and run.
Someone drops out of the project. There's also the game-killing "my friend promised to do my art for me" dependency on others that easily falls through, and then you drop the project. In fact, it's almost guaranteed that if you hinge the success of your game on the good will of someone else who has no emotional attachment to your project whatsoever, they're not going to follow through. (That's an exaggeration. Good will often comes through, but you shouldn't be surprised if the random person you met on the internet -- or even a close relative -- really has no motivation for your personal hobby.) I try to avoid this by paying my artists and working mostly alone. It's great to work in groups, and can definitely be done, but if you conceive of your game in manner that you, personally, cannot achieve it on your own even if it's a crappier game, you're basically asking for failure.
See above. I suck as an artist. They are my lifeline to making a good visual novel. If that line gets cut, I'm left adrift.

As for having goals in sight, I pretty much play everything by ear. There is absolutely no planning what-so-ever. Then again, I'm very strange when it comes to developing.

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Re: Reasons for Game Creation Failure (and how to overcome?)

#9 Post by musical74 » Thu May 05, 2011 8:39 pm

*game starts off nice and small, but then you want to add this, and that, and that...*

Back in high school a friend of mine and I wanted to make a game, I still have bios for the monsters and people you will meet...

IF it had stuck with the inital design, we probably could have done it. But what started out as a pretty simple design turned epic (26 towns, 5 castles, about 60 spells, 2 hidden characters...you get the idea) and we couldn't figure out a way to implement all of this. :(
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Re: Reasons for Game Creation Failure (and how to overcome?)

#10 Post by LVUER » Thu May 05, 2011 8:59 pm

New game released or more appropriate to be said as Distraction
You're on the hot making a game... when suddenly you just remembered that that awesome game you've been waiting for will released tomorrow! You can guess what happened afterward T_T
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Re: Reasons for Game Creation Failure (and how to overcome?)

#11 Post by MaiMai » Thu May 05, 2011 9:06 pm

Everything listed applies to me.

I think I just like observing and giving my two cents on the development and progress of others :V
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Re: Reasons for Game Creation Failure (and how to overcome?)

#12 Post by fleet » Thu May 05, 2011 9:16 pm

See KomiTsuku comment on Lack of Caring. Seeing no comments posted on finished VN is easily interpreted as "nobody is playing"
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Re: Reasons for Game Creation Failure (and how to overcome?)

#13 Post by Wintermoon » Thu May 05, 2011 9:19 pm

For me it's almost always a combination of these two:
Blue Lemma wrote: * Game longer than expected
* Stuck in a spot
So, to answer this question:
Blue Lemma wrote: What strategies can you use to overcome these issues?
I rewrite. I redesign. I go back to the core concept at the heart of the game and ask myself how I would design the game differently if I kept that concept but discarded everything else about the game. But mostly I just keep holding on, no matter what obstacles I encounter.

My current game was supposed to be finished in one year. I am now well into the third year of development. Along the way the game has transformed into a trilogy, and I'm only about halfway done with the first installment. But, I keep working, I keep overcoming or working around the various obstacles, and I get closer to completion every day. And one day, the game will be finished.

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Re: Reasons for Game Creation Failure (and how to overcome?)

#14 Post by Auro-Cyanide » Thu May 05, 2011 9:44 pm

Most of these things would be quite hard to overcome, especially since most of them are psychological problems to do with motivation and idea generation. No-one can really solve that problem except for the individual themselves. I suppose the best way to deal with it is to figure out how you work. Be really honest with yourself. Understand what drives you and what you dislike doing. Some people are great at doing things on the fly and others need careful planning. The key is understanding when you are hamstringing yourself. Are you really great at doing things on the fly, or have you just not tried planning? Are you one of those people that have to plan a lot or are you procrastinating from the final job? People who understand themselves and know how to make themselves do something are the people who get things done.

So yeah, I suggest you sit down and consider what your work habits are, what is beneficial and what is not. Don't make excuses for yourself, it is pointless. figure out what your optimal work process is and then find ways to utilise real world assets to fill in the blanks. You can do something about finding artists and music, you can learn to use a program, but you can't get over a psychological roadblock unless you know it is there.

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Re: Reasons for Game Creation Failure (and how to overcome?)

#15 Post by LVUER » Thu May 05, 2011 9:54 pm

Perhaps it's all because you're not in the corner/edge of a chasm. Human could only show their real power when they are desperate. If your only real job (way to earn money) is making VN, then I'm pretty sure you're going to finish that VN or else you're not going to eat.

Having a deadline is one of a good way, that's why during NaNoRenO have lots of VN submitted...
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