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tigertheory

when do you kill an idea?

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I've been working on a small game recently. Its over a couple of weeks. I chose it because its small, appropriately scoped.

The problem is...its just not fun. I've gotten it to a point where I can play it. And its just not fun. Im at the 70% point, where all thats left is somet tightening up, polish, graphics. All the gameplay is there.

I took a week away from it to see if it would help, but it still just isn't fun to play.

I don't have the urge to finish it, but I know the importance of finishing projects.

Do I grind through it just to get it done? Or drop it because its not a fun game to play?

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Just my opinion, but if the core of a game isn't fun, then no amount of polish will make it fun.  But I wouldn't drop it.  Figure out why it isn't fun, and try to make it fun.  These problems come up all the time.  If you're 80% into a game, and you add a new mechanic, but it's not fun, you don't just drop the game.  

 

Just treat this like an exercise in design.  

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I personally benefit from sharing my project with others (anybody, really) so as to bathe in their enthusiasm about it. Sometimes projects just get 'stale' once you've become so accustomed to their inner workings and the gameplay itself in general. It can become monotonous once you've experienced the relative gamut of possible game states as a problem space.

 

But the point of the game isn't so much the level of 'fun' of the core mechanic as it is the entire concept as a whole. You could make two games, identical in every way, with the exception of completely different graphical themes / appearance / motif, and surely one would seem more fun than the other, just because of the unconscious queues it presents players with.

 

Space games aren't fun because you are flying around with X number of degrees of freedom, but mostly just because of the idea of space itself being experienced (or simulated).

 

Even simple little mobile games can provide a more enjoyable experience with simple aesthetics.

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Its the core mechanic I don't find fun

This plays to the "value of prototypes" speech: prototype the core mechanic early, so that you can discard it if it isn't fun. At a couple of weeks in, I'd say you are pretty much in a prototype phase, and if you really can't see your way to salvaging the fun, throwing it away may be the best option.

 

But I'd caution that most game mechanics aren't that fun before you tweak them. Dropping shapes to build solid lines only becomes the addictive game of Tetris when you apply a difficulty/speed ramp... Think carefully about what you could add/remove/tweak to keep the player engaged.

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I only scratch an idea or project once I find out that the idea is not feasible.  In fact, I am always considering this possibility and I'm prepared to scratch any of my current projects after evaluating their feasibility, marketability, etc.  When I was a naïve programmer, I had tons of ideas, and only a few were even worth pursuing.

 

I'll give you a personal example.  At one point, I thought of making my own game, which would be a puzzle bobble clone, and have the best puzzle bobble clone ever!  After realizing that a) there were more than enough clones, b) it would be hard enough to convince people to buy my clone and convince them that mine is so much better than the others and c) I could create an original idea that could be a better success, I scratched the entire project completely.  I've done the same with a side scroller and a few others I had initially planned.  Although I'll be honest and say that I've never scratched a project that I was nearly completing.

 

As for your own opinion of your game, I'd say finish it based on other people's feedback (that's if you're planning on selling it).  You personally might not find your game to be fun, but others might.  Since I don't know anything about your game, I can't judge it personally.

 

Shogun.

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Uhm, give us a download or a link to a video already?

Maybe some people like it.

I recently bought Type:Rider on Steam which isn't fun at all but goreous.

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I think the line between finishing a failed experiment and dropping it lies not with the quality of the product itself, but the reason to finish it.

If you find value in completing the project (either to add to a slim portfolio), do so, but don't do any more polish. A MVP is acceptable for this, and it will be a good example of your ability to scope based on the project's worth.

If you're a seasoned developer and don't see any reason to finish the project, then don't. If you have no identified this as one of your weaknesses (not finishing project), then it is not a problem.

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What is this core mechanic that seemed like it would be fun in the design phase but isn't in practice?  I've seen a lot of instances where two games have the same core mechanic and one's fun but the other isn't, so I think it may be possible to rehabilitate your design.

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It started as a 2048 clone and I've been tweaking it different ways (bigger grid, different movement patterns, combos, etc) just to play with it. It was meant to be a small project I could use to learn game maker studio's scripting language. I really have no intention of making money with it, because quite frankly I just don't think it could.

 

I think maybe the biggest problem is that I generally don't like puzzle games. I only picked it because it's small, and there's nothing to the art so I knew that I could polish it without contracting out art (I'm not an artist by any stretch).

 

There's actually quite a few genre's I don't generally play. Maybe that hurts me as a designer, but I don't think it does. I still like a broad range of genres.

Edited by Andrew Perrin

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