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Gaining interest in something new is dangerous

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Mike Bossy

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One of the problems that has been a thorn in my side with any side project that I've started is being distracted by new project ideas. It never fails to happen that about half way through my current project I come up with my next great idea to work on. The next great ideas don't have to be another game either. It could be some new engine idea you read about, a new design pattern or coding practice you want to try. I'm not the only on with this problem I'm sure.

This time around I have done my best to fight the temptation to start new things. For me the toughest thing has been keeping from doing major work on my engine. Right now it's not very data driven and every time I do something that could be better handled by just working on an external data file it pains me to no end but I suck it up.

When it comes down to it you can have the cleanest engine or the coolest game idea but you're only judged by your final product. How many amazing screen shots have you seen of games in development that never end up seeing the light of day?

To help me keep the eye on the prize and working on my main project I've kept all my "new" ideas in a paper journal so I always have them for the future. Another way is to keep focused on my eventual "dream" goal. Having a cool game or engine isn't my final goal with these side projects. My final goal is being able to work on what I want, on my own time. Having a shiny engine isn't going to help me build a company, a good reputation, a product line or revenue stream as much as a solid completed game.

Keeping my dreams in mind and believing in them, no matter how unrealistic they may be, helps to keep my mind on track.
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After doing my share of comercial projects and shipping code to consumers, making a quality product is tough. You can have a terrible idea, but lots of quality design, code, art and polish into it, it'll be amazingly better then a amazing idea with poor execution. The excution is what matters.

Excuting a home grown product is tricky. Not impossible, but best case you have limited resources.

I hope you succeed, because that is the same path I am working towards too. Although I'm pondering the idea of a general contract house that does complete products internally and handles contract jobs with the same talent in several fields, not just games. :)

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I know the problem of having too many idea; I've started and stalled on way too many projects this year alone. Admittedly my solution is to start work on my own shiny engine, although "solid" and "easy to use and maintain" might be better descriptors (since it's not going to be fancy at all).

I've also got a similar ambition - to make games on my own terms; although I have the disadvantage of not having as much commercial experience (and very limited business sense what-so-ever, which I'm starting to realise is a big problem). I'm impressed (and a bit jealous) of how well you seem to be prioritising your work, and avoiding being distracted by the various shiny things that game development throws at you.

Best of luck!

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