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goal 1 reached, and ramblings on motivation

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Spencer Bowers


I added code for loading a new level and for firing the basic attack spell. This completes everything I can do right now for the bare minimum of functionality between the map and the player sprite. My goal for this accomplishment was set for Saturday, so I'm a few days ahead of schedule. Go me!

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.
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Oh, one more point: baby steps. Just do some easy little thing and then you'll want to do more. I got one little thing done on Frogwood this morning, and now I just want to work on this all day instead of going to work.

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Don't let unfinished project get ya down... realize ever unfinished project means you can do those things even faster now. You won't notice it but you're learning every time you write something. Keep it up and we'll all have another platformer to play soon.

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Yep, I'm seeing that a little when I try writing music as well. I haven't written anything I would call good, but it's starting to get noticeably less bad.

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I have had several projects that are like this already. As for as indie game development goes, I have three game projects on my back -- one for the mobile, and the others are intended for either or the PC or the game console.

Most of the time, I usually lack the motivation once I do not spend much time on it. Somehow, having teammates on the project help me keep my interest in developing the game. Much as I like working alone, it's great to have someone else to throw ideas around.

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