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Staying Motivated


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#1 Scobbo   Members   -  Reputation: 178

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Posted 16 August 2014 - 10:42 PM

Hey everyone!

I have been programming for quite some time since I was about 15 (just as a hobby, not really releasing anything just seeing how things work and making stuff for fun). I'm now 24 and I have not really done a whole lot. I have a bunch of started projects and even more design documentation on so many things and only two bits of software I really got anywhere with. The first is a file sync program that I am happy with but it is not very feature rich and the other is a game that is about half done, anything else is really just started. The problem I have is motivation. When I am programming I have a great time and I am smashing though it and really just enjoying the mechanics and how all the code interacts and watching something I build come to life. But then I get stuck on something and the times I can't figure it out or I can't get help with it, I lose interest, or I start working on something else while waiting for a reply or some insight and either start something else or I forget completely and go play games or something else. On top of my apparent Attention Deficit Disorder I work two jobs, one is sales and the other as an after hours call out undertaker that ruins any sleep pattern I may have had, and working on my fitness to get into the Army Reserve (to replace the undertaking, I'm not going to do three jobs at once, bugger that) I find I have less time to work on what I want to and I'm so exhausted that I end up getting home and I don't have the capacity to think so I play some games, eat dinner, exercise (usually going to the fiance's place and running the dog for 40 mins) and sleep.

 

I have tried a whole bunch of different ways to keep my self motivated but saying I will do 30 - 60 mins of work on a work day and 2 - 3 hours every other day, I have tried to organise my work space to make me feel like I am more efficient, I have tried making a profile on my computer with bland backgrounds and now games so I can't get distracted. But that is hard when I live with two boys who's hobbies are games and drinking.

 

What I want to know is how does everyone else deal with distraction, and lethargy and time management?



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#2 HScottH   Members   -  Reputation: 512

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Posted 16 August 2014 - 10:57 PM

I have known a great many people who had this problem.  For about 9 months I have been working--on and off--on a voxel game, and thus watch Youtube and other sources for people working on similar stuff.  I see that many people make it [this far] (rendering blocks), fewer [that far], still fewer [farther]...  I'm not sure if it is what you describe, or just the realization that a full game is technically much harder than they thought.

 

Personally, I know when I get onto a project that I can stay on.  It consumes me.  I find it hard to focus on my paying job, spend less time with family, and don't care one iota about recreation--I just want to get back to my code.  I think about it as I drift off to sleep, solve problems for it during my commute, and often find my wife has said a lot to me that I did not hear because my mind has gone back to my latest problems with "it."

 

Because of work and family illnesses in the older generation, I have taken as much as a month at a time off this project, but I am eager every day to return to it.

 

Those are my 1.5 cents.



#3 Scobbo   Members   -  Reputation: 178

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 12:38 AM

I have seen the 'games are bigger than most think' think quite a bit. It had even hit me when I was really young. And while I have ideas and concepts for big huge games, I have not started them because of that exact reason, it is to big for me alone. Where as the games that I do work on are small and I section them up and complete a section at a time and I have gotten to a point where I need just a few more things in it to become beta release worthy I just got bored of it. Which sucks because it came so far. It was a cut down version of a slightly bigger game than I wanted to make it basically played on 2 dimensions (while still being 3D) and I suppose that is part of the reason I lost interest, because it wasn't the one I wanted to make.



#4 Strewya   Members   -  Reputation: 1496

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 03:17 AM

Maybe you should prototype your ideas first in some rapid prototype language or editor (Unity springs to mind). Try out different ideas every week or two. When you find a prototype game that hooks you, then start thinking about implementing it proper, either continuing in Unity (or whatever rapid proto thing you choose) or starting from scratch.

I think the biggest problem for losing motivation is when you don't have a clear vision of what you want to make, and all the implications that brings. You need to know how the game will play out from start to finish, what all the mechanics are and what systems you need to make it possible (and you know that by making a prototype first). Also, keeping the code as simplest as possible that does ONLY the things you need to complete the game helps. Creating complex systems and code will only detract you from the goal, by making you forget why you were making it in the first place.

devstropo.blogspot.com - Random stuff about my gamedev hobby


#5 Dexario   Members   -  Reputation: 179

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 07:19 AM

I am currently having the same exact problem. I am working on a game and my motivation just keeps going up and down: when I start thinking and programming a new part of the game, I get very excited and motivated. The problem is that I then usually get stuck with lots of bugs everywhere and my motivation goes down very fast. The problem is that I do 99% coding and 1% analysing so my code is not clear and has no real structure. I knew that it's important to structure your code, think about it, make diagrams, before coding anything but I felt too confident so I went directly into the code and this is what happened. Some how, this has been an experience that has been benefit to me because now I truly know and understand why it's so important to structure your code, make everything as clear as possible, make diagrams... I decided to code some debugging tools (logs, memory leak detection...) and some intelligent classes (renderer...), kind of like a graphics engine, to make things easier and spend the less time possible on debugging (because coding is fun and cool, but debugging, not really...) . Then, once that I have these classes finished, I will restart my game but having thought a lot about it and used tons of paper for diagrams.... I didn't test this "technique" but I hope it will work (I am still working on the debugging tools) and I hope that it will help you.



#6 Kaptein   Prime Members   -  Reputation: 2175

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 07:21 AM

I have known a great many people who had this problem.  For about 9 months I have been working--on and off--on a voxel game, and thus watch Youtube and other sources for people working on similar stuff.  I see that many people make it [this far] (rendering blocks), fewer [that far], still fewer [farther]...  I'm not sure if it is what you describe, or just the realization that a full game is technically much harder than they thought.

 

Personally, I know when I get onto a project that I can stay on.  It consumes me.  I find it hard to focus on my paying job, spend less time with family, and don't care one iota about recreation--I just want to get back to my code.  I think about it as I drift off to sleep, solve problems for it during my commute, and often find my wife has said a lot to me that I did not hear because my mind has gone back to my latest problems with "it."

 

Because of work and family illnesses in the older generation, I have taken as much as a month at a time off this project, but I am eager every day to return to it.

 

Those are my 1.5 cents.

 

That is unfortunately the only way to solo-create any complicated games, much like voxel-block-based games.

Any other route is going to fail miserably. It's just too much work. If you don't have to 250k changes on your github repo, your voxel world likely isn't doing anything. Or it isn't scaleable at all. Or it doesn't have multiplayer (which is the point of sandbox collaboration games) and so on. Or, hopefully you specialized the engine in such a way that some of the most complex parts went away. Eg. simple voxel/distance-based lighting maybe. I had ray-based lighting, which was a blessing and a curse.

 

There are fun and unfun parts of everything. If you stop working on projects just because it's not fun anymore, everyone will understand, we've all been there, but you're never going to finish anything. I don't know how to make the unfun parts fun, at least, but I just grit my teeth and do it.

 

https://github.com/fwsGonzo/cppcraft/graphs/contributors

That's how far I got before I got tired of the whole voxel thing. It was fun and well worth it. All the engine needs is some more gameplay, but to me that's the least fun part, I guess. I did all the fancy stuff like modern graphics (minus SSAO, because there's better ways with voxels). I actually had several SSAO implementations, they just won't work because you have too much detail in the distance.

Now I'm making 2D engine, which feels like vacation. I don't have to profile every little thing. Nothing has to be in a parallell threads with deep planning and 10+ test-cases.

 

Unrelated:

I'm using libTCC (C-compiler) to generate machine code on the fly as my script API to the engine, because it can generate directly to memory.


Edited by Kaptein, 17 August 2014 - 07:23 AM.


#7 Gian-Reto   Members   -  Reputation: 1421

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 11:34 AM

To me, the main point is to get a project that motivates you and keep up a good pace so you see improvements. Especially if its just a hobby, this seems the sensible.

 

Now, if you have little time (which you make it sound like), make sure you start something where you can get little achievements even after 30-60 min sessions. Like "get character A moving" or "program little function B".



#8 Orymus3   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 10195

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 10:08 PM

Funny you should ask

 

I wrote an article a while back (see above) which had a suggestion to get one going.

Worked for me, hopefully it can work for you too.



#9 rAm_y_   Members   -  Reputation: 450

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Posted 18 August 2014 - 01:28 AM

Work ethic, commitment, wage packet, competitiveness, professional pride and enjoyment in your work. People need a purpose and a motivation, without that your like a boat drifting in the ocean, how do you find purpose though....?

 

Maybe get involved in a group of like minded people....



#10 Eck   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3096

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Posted 18 August 2014 - 05:50 PM

First of all, you should realize that staying motivated is a pretty common problem. You're not alone. There was a really good post that lots of good advice on how to stay motivated. Here's a link to my post. 

 

http://www.gamedev.net/topic/653198-how-to-overcome-biggest-hurdle-motivation/#entry5130107

Watch the movie Collateral! :)

 

Focus on smaller games at first. There's a great article on which game you should code first and why.

http://www.gamedev.net/page/resources/_/technical/game-programming/your-first-step-to-game-development-starts-here-r2976

 

If you go straight to your dream-game of awesomeness, you'll quickly get overwhelmed. But if you take baby steps of small reasonable goals you'll be rewarded with a sense of accomplishment and be equipped with tools and code to tackle bigger projects.

 

If you can stay motivated to get into shape, I'm pretty sure you can stay motivated to work on game development. It sounds like you have a pretty busy life right now so the time simply might not be there.

 

The only "trick" is, that there isn't a trick. You have to prioritize it or it just won't happen. You have to want to lose weight more than you want to eat donuts. You have to want to complete a game more than you want to play a game. :)

 

Good luck man,

- Eck



#11 Scobbo   Members   -  Reputation: 178

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 12:01 AM

Thanks for all the suggestions and links, I have a dream game, just like everyone, but it is huge and I have made documentation on it but I have not started it. I am working on little projects because of the mentioned reasons. I'm gonna try the things in your post Eck. And the reason I'm excercising so much is because I am trying to get into the military as a reservist so that has an incentive. Programing has no monitary gain for me unfortunately (maybe one day but just a hobby at the moment and I kinda want to keep it as a hobby) I just love doing it and I'm going to try to schedule my life so I get time to do so. Thanks everyone, your posts are very informative and have helped a lot!



#12 Eck   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3096

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 03:08 PM

Yeah, being an indie game developer is rarely the path to riches. In fact, it usually costs you lots of time, effort, time, socialization, time, money, and time. But if you do finish a game, release it, and even one person (not a friend or family member) buys your game. You get to say... "I'm a professional game developer!" :)

 

- Eck



#13 Orymus3   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 10195

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Posted 20 August 2014 - 08:38 AM

Being an indie has a lot more to do with dealing with your frustrations (the relationship between 'my boss wants me to do this and I hate it' vs 'I need to do this') and it can be fulfilling in its own right because you never take a battle that's not coherent with your initial mindset. But it does require you to do 'more' than the job would usually demand. If being indie proves to be too hard on your motivation, I suggest either of these:

 

- Deal with it, you're a grown man. You're there because you chose to be there. Make yourself a system to handle the hurdles along the way. A system is what makes pro sports players able to perform day after day (notice how a golfer, for example, has a very specific habit before putting, how he takes his ball, moves back, checks the scene. When interrupted by noise, they often do the ritual from the start just because it puts them in the right mindset).

 

- Give up on being an indie and go back to the industry. If you're struggling with motivation there as well, consider giving up on the video game industry. Chances are you like games, and like the idea of making games, but possibly, you don't particularly enjoy making games, at least professionally. 



#14 3Ddreamer   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3159

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Posted 20 August 2014 - 11:07 AM


On top of my apparent Attention Deficit Disorder I work two jobs, one is sales and the other as an after hours call out undertaker that ruins any sleep pattern I may have had, and working on my fitness to get into the Army Reserve (to replace the undertaking, I'm not going to do three jobs at once, bugger that) I find I have less time to work on what I want to and I'm so exhausted that I end up getting home and I don't have the capacity to think so I play some games, eat dinner, exercise (usually going to the fiance's place and running the dog for 40 mins) and sleep.

 

You lack motivation because you do not have focus.  Most people can only excel in 2-4 major areas of life at one time, often at the expense of something or things in order to make progress (sleep often being one of them).  Obviously you are already overloaded by what your own words show.

 

Focus on your work and your relationship with your fiancé and continue in programming as a hobby until you make time in the future for it.  Don't worry about it.  Just be patient and someday you will make the time for it. Now is simply not the time.

 

Back to motivation, you need to learn the habit of STEP by STEP progress toward goals in a PLAN.  As you accomplish realistic goals, then you will be motivated to concentrate because you desire the next reward of accomplishment for your hard work.  Somewhere in there you need to develop the desire to work hard and methodically.   Desire has a lot to do with concentration, motivation, and completing projects.  Desire, plan, and focus!


Personal life and your private thoughts always effect your career. Research is the intellectual backbone of game development and the first order. Version Control is crucial for full management of applications and software.  The better the workflow pipeline, then the greater the potential output for a quality game.  Completing projects is the last but finest order.

 

by Clinton, 3Ddreamer


#15 Scobbo   Members   -  Reputation: 178

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Posted 20 August 2014 - 03:28 PM

2-4 areas hey, I had never thought of that. I have 3 physical hobbies but each of them have 1 or 2 set times a week, and they are not very long. I'm definitely not giving up on the programming though, it is heaps of fun but I just need some direction I think. I keep thinking of ideas for games and just so I don't forget them I write them down into my design doc folder and I have quite a few, I'm only working on one at a time but I stop working on one and move to another which sucks. But I have mapped out my fortnight into Google calendar so hopefully that helps.



#16 Metalbreath   Members   -  Reputation: 226

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Posted 21 August 2014 - 12:14 AM

That was my team problem and the reason why we haven't released any game. I ve worked with various teams for the past 5 years... always reaching to close to beta and then they stop.

I know the whole topic is about solo dev a game but I think all you need is 1 person thinking alike. Preferably artist or a Game Designer.

You ve mentioned that you don't enjoy creating the gameplay. So I think all you need is someone to point you into directions and keep you on the track.

Example:

Game Designer will tell you "by next week we will need this and that" small pieces at a time for you to develop and learn. Slowly slowly without realizing it you will have a released game. That is of course of you don't leave the team.

Artist will help you keep working. Doing it alone you can always say "maybe tomorrow... next week" end up not bother to go back after so long... but if you have a person on the team working too, you will see the game evolving from your partner side and try to catch up.
Such as code the new character s/he made. Listen to his ideas and find new concept to work on.

If you get excited with new ideas artists is what you need. Because during game development s/he may think of something better.
With a game designer the game will most likely be already on the papers. He will only guide you on how and what is need to be done first and have your next assignment ready.

Even better find a team with an artist and a game designer. This way you will get an organized schedule and your partner progress that you need to catch up.

And since you have a lot to do in your real life (even if I don't support it) a team without deadlines could work for you. Or a team with flexible deadlines. But still they will have demands :)

#17 Gian-Reto   Members   -  Reputation: 1421

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Posted 21 August 2014 - 09:24 AM

That was my team problem and the reason why we haven't released any game. I ve worked with various teams for the past 5 years... always reaching to close to beta and then they stop.

I know the whole topic is about solo dev a game but I think all you need is 1 person thinking alike. Preferably artist or a Game Designer.

You ve mentioned that you don't enjoy creating the gameplay. So I think all you need is someone to point you into directions and keep you on the track.

Example:

Game Designer will tell you "by next week we will need this and that" small pieces at a time for you to develop and learn. Slowly slowly without realizing it you will have a released game. That is of course of you don't leave the team.

Artist will help you keep working. Doing it alone you can always say "maybe tomorrow... next week" end up not bother to go back after so long... but if you have a person on the team working too, you will see the game evolving from your partner side and try to catch up.
Such as code the new character s/he made. Listen to his ideas and find new concept to work on.

If you get excited with new ideas artists is what you need. Because during game development s/he may think of something better.
With a game designer the game will most likely be already on the papers. He will only guide you on how and what is need to be done first and have your next assignment ready.

Even better find a team with an artist and a game designer. This way you will get an organized schedule and your partner progress that you need to catch up.

And since you have a lot to do in your real life (even if I don't support it) a team without deadlines could work for you. Or a team with flexible deadlines. But still they will have demands smile.png

 

If I might chime in on that... I had the exact opposite expierience. Granted, bar one pretty good programmer the guys I tried to team up with 2 years ago were most probably not only no very expierienced, but also not very motivated.

 

But also, I myself was (and still am, 5 years part time expierience is NOTHING) kinda new to the whole Game dev topic, and while I have some years of expierience with leading a team of people in the army (which hardly qualifys as real expierience outside of the army), I had zero expierience of leading a team and managing them in a hobby game dev project.

 

In the end, not much came out of it, most of them never did any work, and even worse, it cost me a good part of my dev time to keep them up to date, try to motivate them, organize meetings, try to learn the necessary management techniques.

 

One after the other dropped out of the project. So I came up with a new plan with the last two (which also failed to really contribute till today) last year, came up with a more modest project (still very ambitious for a lone wolf), and just started developing on my own... without having to worry about the other 6 guys, not having to wait on a contribution that never arrives, and being able to completly focus on getting done what needs to be done.

 

 

Don't get me wrong, I am not saying working with a team is not a good thing. Depending on your project and your skills, working alone can definitely be a very BAD thing!

What I want to say, before you assemble a team, you need to be aware: somebody WILL need to manage the team. This will cost this person, whoever he is, quite a lot of time (So it might actually be a good idea to have a guy that does just that, the project lead, so to speak). He WILL need some expierience in it (a group of hobby devs can be quite an unruly bunch... nothing different to military, but there they cannot just drop out like with a hobby project smile.png ).

 

So seeing how the TO is drowned in different jobs and hobbies, suffers from ADD and wants to program because he enjoys it, I would rather stick to smaller projects and find a pattern that helps to stay focused on his own than trying to assemble a team.

 

Joining an existing team or joining as non-lead in a newly assembled team might be a good idea on the other hand, provided they are working on an interesting project (the TO will need all the motivation he can get) and can relate to his time limits (it can be frustrating working with guys that don't even have 3 hours per week to work on a project when you invest 20+ hours into it yourself... so not everyone will tolerate a lower or lax time schedule).

 

 

My 2cents


Edited by Gian-Reto, 21 August 2014 - 09:32 AM.


#18 Metalbreath   Members   -  Reputation: 226

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Posted 21 August 2014 - 12:21 PM

I couldn't agree more.

As well as for the 5 years experience I wouldnt even call me Jr. Game Designer. After going through Sloperama I can clearly see that there will be always something more to learn. Even after 10 years there will still be new stuff to learn maybe even a new game era. (Such as Oculus Rift which it started becoming more and more popular).

Back to the post.

I know what you meant by saying "it can be frustrating working with guys that don't even have 3 hours per week to work on a project when you invest 20+ hours into it yourself... so not everyone will tolerate a lower or lax time schedule".

"
So seeing how the TO is drowned in different jobs and hobbies, suffers from ADD and wants to program because he enjoys it, I would rather stick to smaller projects and find a pattern that helps to stay focused on his own than trying to assemble a team."

But I think all he needs is someone to organize his priorities and how to proceed.
I offered to him my help. I can rewrite his documents and give him tasks to complete at his own free time. After completing with 1 i will pass another one.

This way he can narrow his focus on specific aspect and get motivated in finishing smaller parts of the game each time. Than losing motivation during building a whole game.

After this it will really be up to him to see how it is to be a game programmer (not only coding the fun part and losing interest as soon they are done) and decide if this is actually what he wants to do as hobby.


(That is of course if he wants to finish a game or just enjoying the coding of the 1st part of the game)

I hope that may help him and a lot of people who want to get involved in game Industry :)

#19 Spyderzone   Members   -  Reputation: 182

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Posted 21 August 2014 - 02:49 PM

I used to feel the same way you did until one I came across a quote:

 

"The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bull$#@% story you keep telling yourself as to why you can't achieve it"  -Jordan Belfort

 

I'm not saying the author of the quote should be your role model or anything but for some reason that really struck a chord with me so I printed it out and taped it below my monitor.  Every time I feel a little unmotivated my eyes drift automatically (now) to that quote and I quickly realign myself to task.

 

So not to put it rudely but I see a bull$#@% story you seem to be telling yourself and it looks like you are trying to tell us, maybe even trying convince us, to tell you, you don't have time, you should quit, or this might not be for you.  But I read your story, and see one not so different from mine, and I say what's really standing in your way?



#20 Scobbo   Members   -  Reputation: 178

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Posted 21 August 2014 - 09:24 PM

Well I have started making a schedule of my life and I think it will help, I'm going to do some today and see if I can get a rhythm going. I like the quote idea though. Really helps. I had been focusing on one small part at a time, and I do enjoy programming the gameplay, but I had cut down a game so that I was working with a smaller project but that wasn't as fun as the bigger one (not really big but it was a space game and I hadn't quite figured out how to do movement in space just yet so I made it 3rd person shooter) but I think i have sorted out how to make the bigger one. I love every part of making something (even if I am no good at it like the model creation) but I believe I'm a decent programmer and I have so many different projects all written out which I have designed myself that I haven't seen before some that are more just amalgamations of other ideas into one. I tried music design too but I don't know music so I will pay someone for that. But creating is fun. Not worried about making money off it.






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