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crazyheaven

Motivation

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In the past I have created games using scratch, alice and app inventor.  I took the following introduction classes: Java, C++, HTML.  All of these I found to be both easy and enjoyable.   About 6 months ago I sat down with the goal to create a android game after learning how everything worked.   My biggest problem wasn't the code as much as the motivation needed to learn it outside of a school environment.  I've read so many reports of things being "so" easy to program via android that I figured I wouldn't have much trouble.  Either that wasn't true or I'm no where near as good as I thought I was because I'm still at the very beginning stages.  

 

So how did you guys managed to stay focused on your very first projects that you were doing solo.  I don't have a team and I really suck as a artist.  But until I produce something, even something small no one is going to take me seriously enough.  

 

 

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Some say that if you don't feel like doing something (no matter what it is - programming or learning how to draw), then maybe (just maybe!) it is not your thing?

You don't really need any motivation to smash monsters in Diablo, do you? And I suppose you don't need some special motivation to kiss your girlfriend... am I right?

 

I think if you do programming and are having fun, because it is your passion, not because you have to do it, you will not have much problems with motivating yourself. But if you are sure you want to program but still have problems with motivation, there is one thing that might help you. Every time a person starts doing something complicate and energy consuming, they need like 15-20 minutes to get the ball rolling. At first you might feel bored or might feel that the task is overwhelming, whatever. Once you've reached the point where all your attention is focused on the task - thats where the magic starts and surrounding world disappears.

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I work a lot and forget the world around me even exists at some points.  Here we are at 5 am and I was suppose to be in the bed by 1 am.   I have a few problems that I'll list:

 

1)  Only computer I have that is powerfully enough to handle anything is in my exercise/computer room that everyone thinks I spend way too much time in.

 

2)  My direction isn't clear.  Picking up a book and trying to gasp all it's concepts may not be the best approach.  Right now I'm trying to work my way through Android game development for beginners.    Considered also using an engine like uility and or UDK since they allow me to get right into what I want to do which is design the game.

 

3) Getting stuck on a few concepts hurts.  I'm the type of learner who will be completely lost about something until I get that click where everything comes together.  Sometimes it is hard finding out what I'm lacking to make that click happen where it all joins. 

 

4) Completely unrelated to programming but I have few problems with depression.  When certain people in life get me down I find it hard to do things that I enjoy.   I'm taking strides to get as close to over that as possible.   Doing nothing at all has never made me happy so I have to stop resorting to that as a possible solution.  

 

Getting started isn't my problem at all as is finding excuses to go work so I don't have appear rude.  This is something I wish to and yea, it is taking a lot my time.   For about 6 months I worked a contract job teaching kids about computer science.  We explored games, websites and animation.   I enjoyed it so much it was the only job where I would have been willing to pay to be allowed to go into work.  I have a really hard time finding a balance between going around the clock to doing nothing at all.

 

 

 

That was the deepest second post I've ever made... anywhere.  

Edited by crazyheaven
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1)  Only computer I have that is powerfully enough to handle anything is in my exercise/computer room that everyone thinks I spend way too much time in.

 

That's not a problem, but rather a solution that you spend time in a computer room.  I did the same in college when my laptop broke, and coded a game from the computer lab.  Everyone else thought I did it for a homework.

 

 

2)  My direction isn't clear.  Picking up a book and trying to gasp all it's concepts may not be the best approach.  Right now I'm trying to work my way through Android game development for beginners.    Considered also using an engine like uility and or UDK since they allow me to get right into what I want to do which is design the game.

 

Having your own direction, and stick with it, is the best way to go.  It doesn't hurt to try using a Unity engine or UDK, or anything.  You may decide later if you like them or not.  The most important point here is the fact that you decided to go that path yourself, rather than having somebody telling you to do it.

 

 

3) Getting stuck on a few concepts hurts.  I'm the type of learner who will be completely lost about something until I get that click where everything comes together.  Sometimes it is hard finding out what I'm lacking to make that click happen where it all joins. 

 

That happens when you still learning things.  It still happens even among pros.  Don't let that deter you.

 

 

4) Completely unrelated to programming but I have few problems with depression.  When certain people in life get me down I find it hard to do things that I enjoy.   I'm taking strides to get as close to over that as possible.   Doing nothing at all has never made me happy so I have to stop resorting to that as a possible solution.  

 

Then, it is your responsiblity to seek a medical attention.  FYI, everyone goes through depressions in their life.  It's not a specifically your problem.  Finding it hard to do things that you enjoy is exactly one of the symptomps of depressions.

 

 

Getting started isn't my problem at all as is finding excuses to go work so I don't have appear rude.  This is something I wish to and yea, it is taking a lot my time.   For about 6 months I worked a contract job teaching kids about computer science.  We explored games, websites and animation.   I enjoyed it so much it was the only job where I would have been willing to pay to be allowed to go into work.  I have a really hard time finding a balance between going around the clock to doing nothing at all.

 

That was the deepest second post I've ever made... anywhere.  

 

See, I don't think you are in as much of a bad shape as you think you are.  From this post, what you experienced seems "normal" to me.  You are learning, you are teaching, you earn money (though temporarily).  A lot of other people can't even function at that level.  When they go through depressions, they can't even get a job or learn anything.

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One of the things I struggled with the most was to stop playing games and work on making them.  This is something that I wanted to do, but I realized in order to complete a project I needed to spend more time programming and less time playing games.

 

What I decided to do was to reward myself when I completed something.  This could be a pat on the back, playing a game for a while, or just taking a break.  

 

I think the most important thing is to take breaks and reward yourself when you get something complete.  Oh, and don't doubt yourself :)

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Oh, and don't doubt yourself smile.png

My personal opinion is that you SHOULD doubt yourself! The person in charge of your life is someone who can't get things done. Sometimes, some panic is constructive. Don't trust yourself, but prove yourself wrong for not trusting yourself.

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Sometimes everyone have lack of motivation, and this is natural. The way I deal with motivation is that I try to remember why did I want to make a game in first place. If I am in the mood I try and find some 'Making  of ...' videos of my favorite games - this helps me great deal in boosting motivation. I also try to avoid more difficult parts of programming that I am not good at, until I can't do that anymore and do all necessary research on how to solve the given problem. You always can pick up a book, if possible one that is not dated yet and contains viable information and the code in it actually works. If this is not exactly an option you also always can search the web for pdf or other articles and materials on the subject you are interested in. Sometimes only revisiting something you are interested in, can boost your motivation on overcoming difficult parts of making a game, and possibly creating snowball effect.

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Lack of motivation can be for many reasons...

 

1) You burnt yourself out. Take some time out for regular exercise.

 

2) You're comparing your solo effort to something like COD, WarCraft, Metroid, GTA or whatever. Realise now that 95% of all games made are done by a team of people which can range from two to two hundred. The resources, coding etc requires many to pull together...

 

3) You just don't know where to start! Seriously, either read a book on Software Development(Engineering) or take a course in it.  Interaction Design is recommended as a companion subject. Also, if you want to improve in an area - take some time out to learn it. Whether its drawing, animation, maths, AI...whatever...just do it. You may end up sucking bad at something, but at least you'll come away with respect for it and be able to bare in mind the associated complications. That's useful because it allows you to communicate better with another team mate because you respect their problems.

 

4) Get used to developing editors. One really does need tools to build something! From Object to level editors - make it happen!

 

5) You feel you have to be excellent at everything. Not so! You don't need music, sound or FMV intros. Also, not every game needs an epic story to rival The Bible.  Your animation for a game does not need to rival the old men of Disney, nor does your music have to put Vangelis to shame...if you must have all these things then add them with functionality in mind.

 

6) Your only inspiration is modern monster budget games.  You know, there was a time when a single person could write their own game without assistance. At best, teams ranged from one to a dozen staff members but there was plenty of lone wolves. Take a look back into the past - as in the 1980s and early 1990s. On resource limited machines such as the C64, Spectrum, BBC Micro, Amstrad etc...that is an era to look at as it shows you what a game really is at its core because developers back then could barely afford programming power to display a single sprite on the screen, let alone lavish FMV, sound, bells & whistles...it simply wasn't going to happen on a pathetic 48K of memory! But bugger my boots, miracles did happen!

Edited by Anri
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Then, it is your responsiblity to seek a medical attention.  FYI, everyone goes through depressions in their life.  It's not a specifically your problem.  Finding it hard to do things that you enjoy is exactly one of the symptomps of depressions.

 

This.

 

Depression doesn't necessarily mean clinical depression, but it certainly can make the smallest task into a herculean effort.

 

I know I went through a very dark period, where I was working a job at a company that had gone through heavy ongoing headcount reductions, working for a bipolar boss to boot.  I didn't realize how much of a fugue I was in at the time, but it was crippling, in my own time I accomplished almost nothing... I wasn't pleasant to be around, I was having minor health problems ( acid reflux, heartburn, indigestion, that kind of stuff ) and it was all linked to being trapped in that situation.  To make matters worse, I had a child on the way so it wasn't exactly the best time for me to do anything about it.  I almost literally accomplished nothing during this period, nor did almost any of my fellow co-workers.

 

Little things got me out of it... joining a gym and actually exercising, eating better, taking a few supplements ( Vitamin B and Ginseng if you care ) and things were night and day better.  Once I started feeling better, I realized how much it was my environment that was dragging me down and shortly after my daughter was born, I took a massive career change.  ( Quit job and went self employed / full time dad )  My productivity tripled, even though my sleep and time available halved.

 

 

Do not underestimate how much being in a dark place can drag you down.  It's certainly worth talking to a professional, especially if you can't identify the causes.  As frankly, until you lick that problem, you will fight really hard to have any motivation.

 

 

 

 

My other piece of advice... turn off the internet.  When I need to get stuff done, thats exactly what I do... grab my laptop, leave my phone ( so I cant tether ) at home, and bring a few dead tree books with me if I need reference materials.  Without the distraction and sirens call of por... er... internet, you become way more productive.

 

I still work from home, and I will admit that its still a constant fight.  Distractions are... everywhere.

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As for finding excuses so you can get work done... talk about what you're doing like it's your job. Even if other people don't get it, pretend you're making money from it or something.

 

I've written a novel, and I've worked on a lot of commission artwork. The hardest parts about those were that I felt an obligation to people who wanted to spend time with me or even just have idle time with me--my friends, my family, my husband, etc.

 

Just tell people you've taken on software development as a second job, and if you don't have a first job, say you work as a software developer. Say you can do it from home, and you're still a novice, but that's your job. Hell, you can even say this to your spouse. I mean, it's easier to sit down and have a conversation with your husband about why you're shutting yourself in a room for 10 hours a day. But you don't need to sit and have that conversation with every friend and relative you have. Just say it's your new job.

 

People are a lot less likely to pressure (both directly and indirectly) to stop working if they see it as work and not as play.

 

And as for "getting stuck on concepts hurts," Luckily you have us. And the rest of the internet. One thing I've found about software development is that there is so much community out there. You can ask questions here and get a variety of responses from people with all kinds of explanation styles. It's a big community, and a very helpful one. Getting stuck on a concept is very frustrating, and we all deal with it. But often it really helps to hear someone else explain it, and when you can volley back and forth, saying exactly what parts confuse you, and getting help tailored to your needs.

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As for me, in order to be able to release my first game on Android I had to :

 

  • prioritize this personnal project against other personnal project : time spend on an hobby is lost for another one
  • choose a very simple game, as you will struggle to discover all the thing you must implement to do things like displaying animated sprite, process input event, etc... I had to restart 3 times : the first projet was too ambitious, the second one was mildly complex but finally not fun at all when the prototype was up and running, the third one was simple and fun enough. For my second project, my initial idea piled up features over features, so finally I keep it for later, as I will not have enough time to release it in three monthes, and started with a simpler project. But it will be more complex than the first project, as basic technical problem are already solved.
  • setup a work session of 45 minutes and try to achieve something : add a button to a screen, test something, etc. if 45 minutes is too short, prepare 2-3 sessions. The goal is to have a little pressure to drive your mind, and get the feeling of going one step forward. Plus, 45 minutes should be easy to take somewhere in an otherwise busy schedule.
  • manage a list of what you have to do. I discovered a web app named trello (trello.com) that, to my taste, is one of the best list manager I ever used.
  • Decide on a realistic date of release, and try to stick to it, or at least do not release too far from this date : you will have to choose what is really required.

Hope this help.

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