Contrary to popular belief (or maybe just my belief) I am human which means I make mistakes. Things like greed, selfishness, and other character flaws tend to creep up in my life once in a while. On the bright side, they always make me think about where my life is going and how I can get back on track.
Why Do I Make Games?
Maybe that's a stupid question, mainly because the answer is in the title, but I have to continually ask myself this question if I want to keep making games that make me proud. I have made games with other motives in mind and they never turned out how I expected.
Luckily, I have an amazing wife who goes to work while I get to stay home with the kids. This means that money is not my first priority. All of our expenses are taken care of by the sugar momma in the house.
Unfortunately, I still get the urge to contribute and that means that my game-making goals occasionally get off track and I need to reset. For most people, I can only imagine how strong the urge (aka the need) to make money is. Hopefully this can help you stick to your values.
How to Reset Your Game Design Decisions
There are some major questions that I always ask myself when I'm making a game or coming up with ideas for games:
- Would I play this game if someone else made it?
This question always comes first for me because it's a simple yes or no answer. If the answer is no, throw out the game and move on to something that you would like to play. If I ever find myself making a game that I wouldn't want to play, I know I've taken a wrong turn and for me, that is unacceptable.
- Am I enjoying working on this game in my spare time?
This is another yes or no question, but it's a bit harder to answer. Obviously, some parts of development are going to feel a bit... grindy. You have to look at the big picture. Are you excited to put in the next cool mechanic? Are you pumped that you just squashed a bug that took you three days of ass-kicking work? If you can take a step back and say that you are enjoying the project, you should probably keep going.
- How proud will I be when I finish this game?
If you want, turn this one into another yes/no question and ask yourself "Will I be proud of this game when it's finished?" but be careful. I try to quantify my satisfaction with the game as much as I can. Compare the time spent with how much you are looking forward to playing the finished product. Also compare your time spent with the amount of time you're willing to put into sharing the game. If you aren't willing to work towards sharing the game, you might not be that proud of what you've made.
Going back to the start of this whole ordeal, I first had to realize that I wasn't on the path I wanted to be. Then I had to find out what was taking me away from my goals. Finally I had to find a way to reverse the problems and get back on track. What do I do now?
Don't be afraid to scrap your current project, or projects, if they don't fit with what you want. Every game developer out there has a graveyard of discarded games. It's almost always a good thing to finish your projects, but you need to be finishing projects for the right reasons.
If you find yourself with an empty todo list, it's time to go back to the drawing board and find a game that you are dying to make. Start with the three questions above before you ever write your first line of code and you'll have a good start.
If you can find a project that you are excited to play, excited to develop, and excited to show to world, you have a winning idea.