How do you stay motivated to finish?

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namastaii
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How do you stay motivated to finish?

#1 Post by namastaii » Mon Mar 25, 2019 5:01 pm

I swear I've been working on the same game for half a decade and it's because I take really long breaks from it then I'll get really into it for a few weeks (I'm doing the programming, music, gui, writing all myself so there is nobody else I need to report to or anyone counting on me) and then I stop for months at a time. Does anyone have any ideas to keep myself focused and motivated on finishing the game? I have indeed over-complicated it but I think that's what's going to make it stand out when I actually do put it on Steam. Do you think starting a crowdfunding type thing and keeping people updated would be beneficial? Or.. I don't know. I don't really want to work with anyone else on this project specifically because it's mine. I love working in teams but I just want to do this one myself if it makes sense but I realize it's harder to keep at it because of this. What do you guys think? Does anyone else go through this?

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Re: How do you stay motivated to finish?

#2 Post by parttimestorier » Mon Mar 25, 2019 9:21 pm

Maybe trying to keep a more regular schedule of working on it could help you. It sounds like you sort of overload yourself with work for a while and then get burned out, so it might be more sustainable to stick to working on it for a set amount of time every weekday or something like that. Also, even if you don't want to get other people too involved in the development itself, it might help to just talk to some friends about it and keep them updated on what you've been working on. I find that having friends who are looking forward to reading my work can be a good motivator, and friends can also help out if you're stuck on what to do for a specific part and need to come up with an idea. (You could maybe get some of the same motivation from people following a crowdfunding campaign, but I don't have any experience with that myself.)
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Re: How do you stay motivated to finish?

#3 Post by arty » Tue Mar 26, 2019 4:04 am

I was in a very similar situation with my game! It took me almost exactly a year to finish it. It could have been done in three months probably. I had the outline for the plot written up in like two days because it came to me like I had always known it. But I had the same habit of working intensely on the game for a while and then not touching it for months. I was also doing basically everything myself. It was also emotionally draining.

What kept me going was that it was a story I really needed to tell. I am super attached to the characters also (had them for a few years before I even started making a VN about them, drawn them literally hundreds of times).

I guess the best advice I can give is, trust yourself. You can finish it, even if it takes forever. Better to make a game you're satisfied with in a long time, than churning out something quickly that doesn't mean anything. Therefore, make it not a project, make it your project. Make it personal to you. Make it mean something that will not leave you alone until you've finished it. If it's not like that, change things about it even if it means getting rid of stuff you already finished or started working on. Kill your darlings if they bog you down.

I hope that helps!

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Re: How do you stay motivated to finish?

#4 Post by Draziya » Tue Mar 26, 2019 8:05 am

My main motivator for finishing things is scoping games down into something that can be completed into a game jam. That's probably not very applicable to your situation though, especially when you already work on it for some weeks before taking another long break.

Still, scoping might be relevant in another way. You mentioned potentially doing a crowdfunding thing, and those tend to do better with a demo. Have you managed to create something that could work as a demo yet? If not, having something that would work as a demo would be a more manageable goal to reach for. And if you do that, and it does work for you, you could potentially turn the rest of the VN into more manageable chunks as well.
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Re: How do you stay motivated to finish?

#5 Post by namastaii » Tue Mar 26, 2019 9:51 am

Thanks for all your input guys :) I think I could try a schedule and maybe try to keep some friends updated I'm not sure.

As for the demo thing, it used to be able to be a demo but I've redesigned the whole game and it's kind of a mess haha a lot of the UI has been taken apart and I'm in the middle of reconstructing it all but yeah that's a great point too. A demo would show the potential for the rest of the game and people would be more willing to support it. The main reason I'm considering crowdfunding is even though I can do everything, I can't do the art and I am using some creative commons stuff right now and I can probably keep the character art for that but I need a background artist for sure and understandably, artists are super expensive.

I've made this game kinda ... big. I don't even know the main goal of the game yet, it's a dating sim but it has a lot of freedom, it's more of a simulation than a visual novel by any means.

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Re: How do you stay motivated to finish?

#6 Post by Corban » Wed Mar 27, 2019 1:39 am

I think something that might help is figuring out what exactly your end goal is going to be with your game. This way, you'll clearly have something to work towards.
My visual novel is still in the development stage and I'm still writing the story, but after a while I stopped to ask myself "What is the end going to be like?", "What kind of story do I want to tell?", "What is the goal of this game?". I know I want to create a story about an android that can pass as a human, with the central theme being "Finding Purpose". Just like arty said, mine is also a story I really want to tell.
Of course, yours doesn't have to be as in-depth and literary as mine is striving to be, but I think giving yourself a goal or a game end to work towards will help motivate you to achieve that.

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Re: How do you stay motivated to finish?

#7 Post by 磯七ラスミ » Wed Mar 27, 2019 3:41 am

I can't finish because I want to make something so special too, of course.
If it is something so personal, you wouldn't want it to be done before its time comes.
I started to lose sight of the end, wanting it to grow bigger and greater.
But for my ending purposes, that's to stop doubting about my works, I started making short projects for myself, where I can doodle my own way, trying simple tasks a time like ordering scenes, try plot twists or bring the story to an end.

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Re: How do you stay motivated to finish?

#8 Post by nerupuff » Wed Mar 27, 2019 11:51 am

Honestly, sometimes it is hard to stay motivated. It's why my college instructors tell me that it is much better to be disciplined than to wait for motivation to entice you to work on the things you need to do. I'd say it's pretty sound advice, but very hard to put into practice. Sometimes, life just gets in the way (especially for me, since game-dev is more of a hobby for me than an actual job I earn money from), which is a very natural reason for delays in finishing a game you're working on.

For the most part, what I do is "try to remember why I started this in the first place". Then I start from there and reason out with myself that "hey, I already started working on this, so it would definitely be better if I finish it instead of letting it stagnate". Of course, it's a personal method, so it may or may not work.

Somehow, I find that if you do announcements on your progress, people are inclined to watch and even respond to your updates, which makes you feel a bit more responsible in working on your game. It doesn't really have to be a public audience, like the others are saying in this thread. Even just friends can help be motivators as well.
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Re: How do you stay motivated to finish?

#9 Post by fullmontis » Wed Apr 03, 2019 6:08 pm

For me the best thing to remain motivated on a project is getting out the "hard thinking" parts as soon as possible.

Hard thinking as in parts where little changes can create big sways in terms of how the game is going to look and feel. For example planning, outlining the routes and creating the first draft for the story, how the general VN is going to feel, atmosphere etc.

These don't take much in terms of time itself, but are the foundation for the rest of the project and can be very stressful and overwhelming to decide, especially when they start coming up halfway in a project, where most of the initial creative energy is lost. This can lead to some lethal procrastination. So getting this decisions out of the way quickly is important in keeping the process going.

Once you have those then it's mostly grind. You can schedule the rest pretty easily. Here energy is not the important factor but discipline and working on the project every day, creating a routine.

I know it's an oversimplification, and in every project I've worked on I've had to take "hard thinking" decisions very late in the dev process (sometimes even on the day of release), but in general I've seen that once the big of the decisions are done it gets exponentially easier. From there is just a matter of grinding it out as quickly as possible.

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Re: How do you stay motivated to finish?

#10 Post by Imperf3kt » Wed Apr 03, 2019 7:08 pm

Warning, the following is only just barely on topic and may bore some. 🤣

磯七ラスミ wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2019 3:41 am
I can't finish because I want to make something so special too, of course.
If it is something so personal, you wouldn't want it to be done before its time comes.
I started to lose sight of the end, wanting it to grow bigger and greater.
I empathise with this so much lol.

For example, a year or so ago I made a simple game/experiment.
It was a Rock, Paper, Scissors game, so nothing fancy.
After finishing the core mechanics, I wasn't satisfied, it needed to be more "complete".
So I devised a cheat code system, and posted everything to the cookbook. But still, I wasn't satisfied.

I set the project aside for ages, unsure how to make a rock paper scissors game more interesting, how to make a person want to play it for more than five seconds. I considered adding online multiplayer features (which I never got around to trying), but still it was not enough.

Then comes two weeks ago. I'm putting the final touches on a GUI custom built for somebody else. I had been working on it for a few weeks and was starting to burn out, and somehow found myself opening up my RPS project again for a change of pace.
Initially just wanting to optimise it and remove some of my rookie mistakes, I ended up scrapping the cheat system in favour of a variable difficulty system.
I found myself adding a monetary system through which a player can purchase hints about the computers next move.
I completely reworked the navigation of labels and how the player interacted with the game when choosing which move to make.

Still, I wasn't satisfied.

I came up with a plausible plot to go with the experimental game, to turn it into more of a visual novel.

Which brings us to the present day (well, last week actually)
So here I am. Boatloads of work in front of me, a pretty decent amount of gameplay planned out and... I'm still not satisfied xD


I guess what keeps me motivated is coming up with new things to add.
It's a double edged sword though, as the more motivated I become, the less motivated I am to actually finish due to the ever growing mountain of work in front of me.

At this point, the only thing keeping me going, is my desire to prove to myself, "I can do this".
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Re: How do you stay motivated to finish?

#11 Post by namastaii » Wed Apr 03, 2019 9:27 pm

I also have trouble being satisfied. I can't finish my game because I keep REDESIGNING it haha and I've been trying to get the foundation of the game done first. The GUI and the big parts of the game - which was mentioned. But my GUI is really complicated and there are a lot of elements I've put in, a phone, a computer, a banking system, school activities, jobs, shops, I was basically turning it into a text based RPG and pretty far from a visual novel and that's cool and all but yes it's hard to stick to especially when it's messy and overwhelming because you keep starting over because it's not "good" enough. I need to accept what I went with and move onto the next element. If I really hate something later on, that's what updates are for AFTER the game has been released.

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Re: How do you stay motivated to finish?

#12 Post by Holland » Thu Apr 04, 2019 12:14 am

fullmontis wrote:
Wed Apr 03, 2019 6:08 pm
For me the best thing to remain motivated on a project is getting out the "hard thinking" parts as soon as possible.

Hard thinking as in parts where little changes can create big sways in terms of how the game is going to look and feel. For example planning, outlining the routes and creating the first draft for the story, how the general VN is going to feel, atmosphere etc.

These don't take much in terms of time itself, but are the foundation for the rest of the project and can be very stressful and overwhelming to decide, especially when they start coming up halfway in a project, where most of the initial creative energy is lost.
I read once that game design is the art of making hard decisions, while game development is the discipline of making them a reality. Game design is what determines the experience the player will have, while game development gets that experience to them in as few pieces as possible. This split approach (decisions first, assets later) falls in line with those definitions and makes a lot of sense to me.

I can tell when my pre-planning isn't enough because the writing and art just don't happen. I get that nagging feeling in the back of my head like, "Wait, something's wrong." It completely blocks out all the work I need to get done. I had that just recently and, thanks to a bit of journaling, found some major plot holes in my story that would've made the writing I was about to do pointless.

(I used to compulsively re-design projects when I got these blocks. I would feel "aimlessly" frustrated and, not realizing that the source of the frustration was actually just one small inconsistency in the characterization or worldbuilding or organization, completely scrap the core concepts of the game. I know better now that it's usually a smaller detail that's been overlooked rather than a problem with the overarching premise.)

OP, I think it helps to trust your instincts and question your design when dev-related tasks get hard to start or complete. ex: If the game seems complicated even to its own creator, then maybe it's because the design behind it isn't well-organized/accessible or has some conflicting elements, which can cause problems when you go to code everything later.

I find that the Q&A format works really well for sussing these things out -- I write down any concerns I have as questions and then answer them in more detail than I knew previously. YMMV.
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Re: How do you stay motivated to finish?

#13 Post by Donmai » Wed Apr 10, 2019 4:08 pm

How do I stay motivated to finish? I don't.
I work solo, and frequently I'll lose interest in a project. I will then start another, and another. Eventually, I return to an abandoned project, and I think "Hey, why did I lose interest in this project? Thinking well, it's a nice one". And then I will work on it for some time before losing interest again. I know it looks like a recipe for never finishing any project, but somehow it works for me. Working with different projects help me to stay motivated to be always working on something. Eventually, one of those projects finally sees the light of day. Currently, I must have about fifteen projects started, one very different from the other. The only project I know I will never finish is an old 2012 sci-fi opus called "The Maker". But I used some parts of The Maker in three projects I've completed: The One in LOVE, Running Blade and The Other Question, so it wasn't wasted effort after all.
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Re: How do you stay motivated to finish?

#14 Post by namastaii » Fri Apr 12, 2019 11:20 pm

If something works for you and you actually eventually finish ANY projects, good for you. haha :) I'm really hoping I finish the one main one I've been working on (on and off) for like 7 years now.

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Re: How do you stay motivated to finish?

#15 Post by Katy133 » Sun Apr 14, 2019 2:16 pm

What works depends on the individual, but here are some notes I've observed in myself and other VN developers:
  • Use your social media (Twitter, etc) to post screenshot updates of art assents (completed or works-in-progress) and screenshots of code (you can use the Snip Tool to quickly get cropped screenshots of your work). Try to keep people who are following you up to date.
  • Stick to a schedule. Try not to leave a project for over a month: It apparently takes 21 days to break a habit. Similarly, it takes 21 days to break a routine. Once you leave a project for a month, it's hard to get back into it.
  • Use online checklists like Habitica, Trello, Google Spreadsheet, or use pen-on-paper notebooks to make lists of things to do. Make sure these lists are very specific: Don't write "Finish making the art for the VN". Write "Finish the art for Character A". Divide your VN development into manageable chunks.
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