Now I have to decide how to spend these extra few days. Make some filler art to spruce things up a bit? Get a head start on the next milestone?
In order to give this post a semblance of usefulness, here's some things I've learned about that ultimate destroyer of projects: lack of motivation. It seems to me that motivation is very closely tied to hope. If I have a hope of actually getting something done, then it's easy to get motivated and do it. If not, then it's very hard. This means that when I have a large, difficult task to do, motivation can be a problem. But after I break that task down into bite-size chunks, it becomes a lot easier. It's important to note that the nature of the task hasn't changed; only my perception of it. If I look at Frogwood only as the final product, then I'm staring at the mountain's peak from down at its base and the path looks impossible. So I just have to focus on the next bend in the trail, knowing that this trail will eventually lead me to the peak.
Another factor of motivation is inspiration. Inspiration comes to me usually from playing games that make me say "Wow, this is cool! I want to make something like this too!" That's why I'm playing more and more indie games lately. Indie games tend to be far more creative than big commercial games, and they're made by people like me! If they can do it, then so can I.
One of the biggest motivational destroyers I've faced is art. Or specifically, lack of art. I'm not an artist. The average 4-year old can make better art than me. When I start a project, I very quickly need art. I draw some stuff that looks like crap, and pretty soon I have a semi-functional game that looks like dog doo-doo. And there goes my motivation. I honestly haven't really found a good way past this one yet. I think the next time I do, I'm just making my game out of solid-color blocks. That'll still look better than any art I could come up with, and it'll work until I can find an artist who can see past my block game to what it could actually look like. The way things are looking, I may have to try this pretty soon...
My final point on motivation is the most important. Sometimes you just don't have any. You've been at work and school all day, and you're tired. You don't want to do any more coding. You've been staring at a computer screen all week. Usually at this point, most people including myself will just not work on their game. We've earned a break, right? Sure. But if you don't work on the game, it won't get done. The longer you don't work on the game, the harder it is to get back into it, and pretty soon the game you were once so excited about is added to the heap of unfinished projects. The point is, sometimes you just don't have motivation. But if you want to finish a game, you need to work on it anyway. It turns out, making a game is hard work and you just have to work even without motivation.