Finishing anything is hard. Finishing the development of video games? Twice as hard. After all, us game developers just have so many ideas and potential gameplay mechanics that could be implemented. If you’ve had a few games under your belt, you’ve probably had several projects that did not work out for whatever reason. Okay, not so bad, that’s normal. However, you should take note of your ratio of finishing projects versus not finishing. Don’t be that developer with fifty unfinished prototypes sitting on your hard drive with no released games to show fo rit. If your ratio for not finishing tasks is skewed, you’ll need to re-evaluate either your work ethic, your motivation levels during your projects, or the scope of the ideas that you choose to work on.
What about that last game that was just posted onto GameJolt? Was it good or complete garbage? You’ve probably seen too many trash games to count, but you have to give those guys credit — at least they saw a project from beginning to end. This type of tenacity is what you need as a game designer, the ability to see your projects through to completion. Being a designer that actually finishes projects means that you approach projects with the right mindset. It is far too easy to get lost in the potential of an idea and waste time and money on it. You might start making a small game, then get lost while daydreaming about awesome new mechanics that you think must be implemented. What you need to start doing is to be more practical. Choose games that are a combination of things you’ve have done before and things that you want to do. Don’t screw yourself over by trying to climb a mountain too high.
Actionable Takeaways: Start on a project. Then, finish it. Repeat. Participate in game jams. Set hard deadlines for yourself that cannot be pushed back any further. Tell a friend if you don’t release your game on a set date that you’ll pay them some cash. Hold yourself accountable. After a few projects you should know what you can handle and in what time-frame. If not, take on more mini-projects that you can complete regularly and ask yourself how long it took you to complete the project. Is it possible that you could complete this project sooner by changing some things around? Everyone has different priorities, but the most important priority of a game developer is to put your ideas out into the world. Release your game. Nothing else is as important as the learning experience from your release.
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Thank you so much for reading my article! I’m Daniel Doan, the Co-Founder of Black Shell Media. We're a publishing and marketing firm dedicated to helping indie developers succeed.