Ludum Dare 31
December 5th-8th, 2014

I’ve been having trouble with motivation lately. Like, trouble working at all.

I’ve decided to do some super-small projects in a sprint style to try to get me back into the habit of working on games.

I have a question for my fellow LDers, though.

How do you folks handle the problem of motivation? What do you do to help yourself finish things?

I want to hear some ideas and maybe have some useful methods out there.

More about this after the page break! :D

Personally, I’ve usually been better at finishing smaller projects. I’ve gotten into the habit of starting things that are doomed by a combination of their scale and my attention span. Since I have trouble staying on a single idea for very long (I actually have ADD, diagnosed by my psychiatrist), having much smaller things will hopefully help me. Heck, since I know that my upcoming project (which I’m starting tonight at 8PM EDT / 12AM GMT) is only going to be about 24h long (really will be working for that, though I’ll take a little more time if I really need it and am almost done), I’m very excited to work on it. I know I won’t have to commit to a single thing for months on end, so I can finish easily and then move on to the next thing very soon after.

So… what do other LDers do to get and stay motivated? What helps you finish projects? I’m curious what others do, since this has been a problem for me lately.

As for the game I’m going to make…

I’m going to put it on Kongregate to see if I can get a little bit of ad money from it. I don’t expect much (really, I don’t), but it’ll be nice to get something out there to prove that I really am a game developer.

I’ll write a post about it when it’s been uploaded and I’ve got it ready for people to play. :D

Peace, love, and the sweet feeling of progress,

– Henry


24 Responses to “Motivation and Finishing – How Do You Handle It?”

  1. kddekadenz says:

    Simply break down your big goal into small goals. Usually I create Todo lists on A6 paper:
    ( ) find a way to motivate myself
    ( ) program the basic engine
    ..
    Where the ( ) is, I insert a check when the task is fulfilled.
    If you’re working with others a digital, shareable todo list is the best choice.

    • kddekadenz says:

      Also references: I’ve over a dozen finished games, am lead-developing a non-commercial 3d RPG since over an year and now are starting with my first ‘real’ commercial game :) The method is simple and works.

    • sorceress says:

      Divide and Conquer

    • Henry McLaughlin says:

      You seem to be assuming that I get overwhelmed. I don’t. I get *bored*.
      I don’t get overwhelmed, sometimes even when I really *am* doing something WAY too big. Seriously.
      I get bored when the goal is too far away. Not overwhelmed, bored. :)
      As an update, I’ve extended the 24h thing into a 48h thing (same game, but giving myself an extra day) so that I can actually finish it. However, since I’ve given myself such a small amount of time, it’s been VERY easy for me to stay focused! I’ve gotten farther in about four hours of work (subtracting time spent sleeping) than I have in DAYS of work on large projects. Since it’s so short, I don’t lose interest.
      I’m hoping to both increase my rapid-dev skills AND build up a resistance to losing interest in projects so that I can do bigger and better things.
      However, I *do* want to do little mini-sprints now and then since they’re just so damn fun! :D
      Anyway…
      tl;dr – I don’t get overwhelmed, I get bored.

      • kddekadenz says:

        Really?.. Well.. It’s part of game development to do boring things as well. For example I recently implemented 90 of my textures into my RPG project – they were fun to make but writing the cfg was repetitive and boring (lol, I should’ve wrote a tool for that). ALSO: Gamification: make a game out of making a game ^^

        • sorceress says:

          Game making is no different than any other task in life, insofar as it is composed of not just one action, but a multitude of interdependent actions/aspects/parts.

          When we undertake some task, some parts of it we may enjoy greatly; while other parts we may find dull and uninteresting.

          As an example, I enjoy making cakes. And although I say I enjoy it, I don’t much enjoy the part where I have to wash the utensils. I don’t much enjoy the part where I have to line the tins with paper either. But the overall process from start to cake, has more positives than negatives, such that I’m happy to do this every couple of weeks.

          The moral of this is: if we jumped ship every time we are faced with a less interesting part, then we’d struggle to see any task through to completion.

  2. I have exactly the same problem and I’ve found that having a driving concept is the best way to stay motivated on a big project. The concept can be simple (Flying, jumping, crouching, etc.) as long as it’s something you haven’t done before. The only flaw is that how do you have a “driving concept” for something like level design, or sound design? Sure you can have unique levels and sounds, but obviously in order for the whole game to have unique aspects, you need to have a good imagination. I suck at level design basically because I just get bored :P

  3. ilo says:

    Here are my suggestions. Make games…

    1. That are instrinsically rewarding to make, not just to play. This includes games that allow you to see the results of your work quickly and which can be playable in a short time, instead of building lots of systems that have to fall in place before the game is fun to play. Be wary of games that are fun to start making but which require lots of tedium later on though.

    2. Whose genre/theme/subject whatever is personal or important to you may also help. The danger of making small games is that you start making a game just because it sounds easy to complete and not because you are actually interested in it.

    3. That suit your abilities as a developer and allow you to spent time doing the things you enjoy instead of tasks you find tedious.

    Finally, if it applies to you, don’t be a perfectionist. You’ll fall out of love with whatever you’re making if you hold yourself to unrealistic standards of what you can achieve. Playing other games that are realistically within your scope may help with this.

    I think the tips also apply to anyone who has problems with depression. I’ve struggled with motivation this year, not managing to finish 1GAM projects and going for long periods without making anything at all… Actually, that isn’t the best advertisement for what I’m saying, but, er, I hope it helps in some small way! :D

    • kddekadenz says:

      to 1.) use an engine and customize it to fit your needs.

      About the perfectionist thingie.. I compared the textures of my RPG to the friggin good textures of Skyrim.. However, I found points they were better or at least different :) I’m bit of a perfectionist I think.

  4. Puzzlem00n says:

    You know, if it’s a problem with getting bored, then maybe posting frequent builds of the game for other people to play might help. Every day, perhaps, post what you’ve done with the game and ask people to play it, no matter how little is actually complete. Hopefully, everyone else’s attention for the game can supplement your own lack of attention for it. :)

  5. mohammad says:

    What I do to motivate me is to stun myself. To keep hitting the test button over and over at each and every little detail. So I keep myself thinking that I’m playing a game rather than making one. Of course, that could just be what development is. If so, I just like doing it in general.

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