How do You Stay Motivated to Complete a VN?

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Katy133
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How do You Stay Motivated to Complete a VN?

#1 Post by Katy133 » Thu Jul 27, 2017 7:47 pm

How do you stay motivated to complete a visual novel? It's takes time to make a visual novel, no matter how small or short you design it. So what are some tips you can give to other developers? What are your experiences in overcoming the challenge of staying motivated all the way to the end?
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Re: How do You Stay Motivated to Complete a VN?

#2 Post by Dovahkitteh » Thu Jul 27, 2017 9:58 pm

It can be a struggle. For me personally, writing gets particularly difficult around 50% of the way through with the whole story. It's not necessarily a lack of interest in the game itself, but just a desire to move on and explore new projects and story ideas -- especially since we like to make, well, long games :lol: I'm guessing that's not so much of a problem for most sub-50k word games. I often have to close out every application except Notepad++ and just force myself to sludge through, even if I'm completely uninspired. There's really no easy solution, unless you're completely in love with your idea and never run out of inspiration... which I think is rare for most people!

Luckily, I also have an awesome partner-in-crime who motivates/yells at me to keep going. Since Argent Games is just run by us two, we have to handle all the work ourselves, so we frequently push/pull each other so that we stay on track. Regular work parties over Discord keep us focused for a long period, as do endlessly created to-do lists and spreadsheets! (To-do lists are awesome and give a great feeling of accomplishment to check off. Make them!)

One of the things that keeps me going more than anything, though, is the awesome community we've created on our Discord server. Not just of fans, but of fellow developers, voice actors, artists, and musicians who all share an interest in what we do. They're amazingly supportive and always give us great feedback. Whenever I'm feeling down or unmotivated, I really just have to pop into Discord for a little while to brighten back up again. (Our followers on Kickstarter and Twitter are also fantastic. <3) If you're serious about having a community for your games and you plan to keep developing them into the future, I would definitely recommend having a server, forum, or whatever in order to stay close with the people who love what you do.

I think the most important thing of all is simply remembering that, whatever you end up making, someone out there will really, truly appreciate it. You might change the life of one, five, ten, or a hundred thousand people for the better, just by putting a creative work out there that wouldn't have existed if you weren't there to make it. Art can have an amazing impact, even if it doesn't seem like it. Speaking from personal experience, I've been hugely moved and inspired by a lot of VNs and non-VN games I've played, and I've gotten so many ideas that I would never have thought of otherwise. I'm so glad the creators of those games didn't throw up their hands and say "well, screw this, games are too hard!" even though I've been tempted to say that several times before. XD Even if you're making games for yourself and not for other people, just the knowledge that hard work will always be appreciated is a very motivating thought.
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Re: How do You Stay Motivated to Complete a VN?

#3 Post by Mammon » Fri Jul 28, 2017 4:17 am

Welp, I and all others who'll post here have already been one-up'd by the post up above. It's like a freaking award ceremony speech. But same, every story longer than ±20000 words is guaranteed to have at least one section where your inspiration and motivation bleeds out or where you just hit a writer's block, and every story shorter than that is just very likely to have moments like that. You'll need to soldier through or find an alternative way to make that scene happen that does have your enthusiasm.

Working on my current project, I can mention three things that really motivate/demotivate me:
-Making character sprites while making the first draft is a huge help, when I know how the characters look I can envision their personalities and actions better.
-Splitting routes into three similar yet different scenes (the same walk through the streets accompanied by one of the love interests, different version for each one) is a real minus for me that I should try to avoid whenever possible. The first LI worked fine but the other two felt like I had to make the same yet I couldn't just copy paste and I felt obligated to myself to make their topics similar, the conversations of equal length. Stuff like that. But even without all those issues, I think that splitting routes too much is already a bad idea for a writer, it will give you a real hard time to keep track of everything.
-Let a first draft be a first draft. Never say -insert ... scene here- for later, but feel free to write simple scenes you'll improve upon once things are done and NEVER go back to rewrite the first scenes before the first draft is complete. That will give a sense of progression and ease, while trying to make the first few scenes perfect will make you feel like the project is never going to get finished.

But, the most important thing that makes or breaks a project is that you chose well. I myself have a harsh selection on my stories; they need to be complete (no outline of only the main events or an idea for a cool plot, the story in my head must be pretty complete and in chronological order.), and I must still be enthusiastic about the project after leaving it be for at least two months. That might be a bit difficult for you, how I achieve it is that I write only the summary/outline for the story but don't actually start it because I'm still working on another project. That summary goes into a file with a bunch of other summaries waiting until I finish the other project. I've noticed with a lot of my 'awesome ideas' that I look back on them and wonder how I ever thought such a pile of junk could've been a good idea. The ones I still think are cool after letting their hype run out, those will keep you motivated throughout the project.
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Re: How do You Stay Motivated to Complete a VN?

#4 Post by Winston_Nguyen » Fri Jul 28, 2017 11:25 am

Working with another person (especially in your field) can help you stay motivated - although demotivation is something that'll always pop-up at some point and you just gotta learn to accept that it's going to happen no matter what.
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Re: How do You Stay Motivated to Complete a VN?

#5 Post by mikolajspy » Fri Jul 28, 2017 3:46 pm

For me motivating was looking at what I already have and think "I got so far, I can't go back now!".
Thinking like that for a year and here I am, about to announce and release my first project.
Maybe it also came from experience, I was previously working on 3D games projects, but the progress was barely visible and none of these projects reached completion. With Visual Novels you can quickly sketch sprite, take a photo for test background, write few lines of code and you have working prototype. When you see that something you're working on just works, it makes me want to see more of it.

When I was working on heavily branching story, I used flowchart graph to have idea how the story plot points are going and where branching is happening. It helped a lot, because at first I was very discouraged when I tried to write something in one or few files, but have no general view over it.
Start with general idea of entire story, and later write dialogues for each scene.

My other motivator was creating first, basic, sketchy art, it helped to get the idea how project will look like in terms of story(who and where) and general "flow" of the game.

Another thing that motivated me to make my VN was... watching anime. About artists, VN creators etc. in most of them, characters didn't gave up, and often said "If this project won't be good enough, let's make another one, better!"

To sum up, my advice is: Get something working as soon as possible.

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Re: How do You Stay Motivated to Complete a VN?

#6 Post by Sonomi » Fri Jul 28, 2017 4:24 pm

mikolajspy wrote:
Fri Jul 28, 2017 3:46 pm
... my advice is: Get something working as soon as possible.
This is probably the mantra of most game developers in general. My number one rule is always "put graphics on the screen" and it's my first and foremost endeavor when I'm programming my software - whether it's a word processor or a rpg. It feels more...complete?

The reason why that's a great motivator is because it gives you a visual sense of progress. Much like Mammon said about not editing your first draft so you can see how far you've come, this is the exactly the same concept. By graphics, I don't necessarily mean artwork only. If you're losing motivation and you think "hey, maybe I should just see what this paragraph looks like in Ren'Py" or "it'd be cool to go ahead put choices in my game"...like, go for it!

When your mind gives you even the vaguest idea that you want to try something, you have to ride that wave of inspiration instead of shooting yourself down preemptively by thinking "but I have to do ABC before I can get to XYZ though!" Honestly no, you don't. Just work at your own pace, on the parts you feel like working on, and most importantly make sure that you're having fun.

Edit: I just want to add an anecdote from a lecture I watched recently. The speaker was talking about how so many people come up to him talking about how long they had been working on their games - sometimes from several months to years - and when he asked them if he could see them, they couldn't show him because they hadn't done any work outside of the planning stages. So in short, you have to kick off the ground and start running if you want to reach the finish line! This was an eye-opener for me personally because I'm also guilty of it. The "I'm working on it but not really" type of thing, haha.
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Re: How do You Stay Motivated to Complete a VN?

#7 Post by thebackup » Sun Jul 30, 2017 7:24 pm

Among the biggest ones for me is to never, ever, compare yourself and your projects to others. It'll kill your motivation and create doubt as a developer - as in like you see an amazing project with a successful kickstarter and think your project will never measure up. VNs (or games in general) take time to make, and it's a process that may take months, or even a few years to complete. Take it step-by-step, and when you have finished your project you'll have that satisfaction of completing one, an amazing project you yourself (and your team) have created.

Not saying you shouldn't support other projects out there - in fact supporting other projects helps motivate the developers of said projects!
Sonomi wrote:
Fri Jul 28, 2017 4:24 pm
Edit: I just want to add an anecdote from a lecture I watched recently. The speaker was talking about how so many people come up to him talking about how long they had been working on their games - sometimes from several months to years - and when he asked them if he could see them, they couldn't show him because they hadn't done any work outside of the planning stages. So in short, you have to kick off the ground and start running if you want to reach the finish line! This was an eye-opener for me personally because I'm also guilty of it. The "I'm working on it but not really" type of thing, haha.
I'm a little guilty of this as well, ahaha. There's nothing wrong with planning, but you can only plan so much. Over-planning potentially will get you nowhere, move forward and take a risk! You can always adjust along the way, that's part of the creation process.

Edit:
Thought I might share a quote I read in my workplace's newsletter:
If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you'll never get it done.
- Bruce Lee
Pretty much what I said above. Overthinking is pretty much asking to be stuck in development hell.
Last edited by thebackup on Thu Aug 03, 2017 11:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How do You Stay Motivated to Complete a VN?

#8 Post by Celianna » Mon Jul 31, 2017 9:33 am

I write my script, I program my game, and I draw my own art - I'm a one man team, and it can be very exhausting.

That said, I still manage to do it.

I work a little bit on my game every day - but I never spend long stretches of time on a single element. I'm multitasking mostly, I'll write a few sentences for the next half hour, then switch back to drawing some more art or edit previous art. Or I'll be programming and hunting for bugs. Or I'll work on promoting my game.

Switching it up helps tremendously so you do not get 'stuck' or feel you need to sludge yourself through unpleasant parts of game development.

I do the same thing with writing - I don't write chronologically and I think this is a crucial step that lots of people should adopt. So many people get stuck in "how do I start?" or they get stuck after writing a good scene and don't know how to progress further. I get the same feelings, of course, but that's why I don't force myself to write a beginning when I have no clue how to start - I write the parts that are clear in my mind and set the tone for the rest of the story. Sometimes this is a scene 3/4ths of the way into the story, or even the end, but damnit, I'll write it! My scripts are full of disconnected scenes, with only a sentence or two describing what happened before it. If there's a scene I really want to write, then I write it! I won't think "Oh first I need to write how they got to that point before I can write this awesome scene I have in mind." No, I write the awesome scene first, and worry about how it'll connect with the rest of the story later.

Writing when your ideas are still fresh and you're inspired - don't let "how do I start?" prevent you from writing that scene.

Then, when I've got all these scenes written out, I brainstorm on what should happen to make these scenes connect with each other. I call this filler. This is probably the most boring part of writing, because you've got these really awesome scenes finished, but you still need to do the boring job of actually connecting them to make a cohesive story. I split the script up into around 30 'chapters' and try to make a chronological timeline, and write in missing blanks or scenes to make them all connect to each other. In this stage, I edit and polish the scenes I've written before, or sometimes even re-write them because something else came up.

When your script is finished, the other things are pretty much a breeze. Sprites, CG, backgrounds, programming - everything can be done quite easily once you've got an actual script to work from.
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Re: How do You Stay Motivated to Complete a VN?

#9 Post by Lesleigh63 » Wed Aug 02, 2017 1:17 am

Staying motivated can be hard. I was working on my current VN, was finished the writing except for two endings (around 40,000 words), had commissioned and received the sprites, was painting up my backgrounds when I lost my motivation. Lost it because I wasn't happy with the plot as it moved through the climax and into the endings and I didn't want to contemplate having to return to the outline, replot and rewrite. Think I was in avoidance mode. So I shelved it and worked as a bg artist on another teams project for a year. I've gotten over the avoidance now and am reworking the plot of my VN (it helped that I found someone who could give me feedback on my plot - just the idea bouncing lifted my spirits).
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