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Heartomics wants a bone.... no no no not that kind.

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Hello, <insert usual background story of an indie dev here>. Well the thing is i'm not really an indie developer. 
I would argue that an indie dev is a successful developer (made more profit than their opportunity cost + other expenses) who does not work for a publishing company. 
I just view myself as a hobbyist. You see, i've had a problem for quite some time now. Ever since I got a Nintendo Entertainment System as a distraction (around 6 years old), i've been addicted to games.
How do I know it's an addiction? My desire to play games bleeds into my productive time. Well, more like take over to a point where there is no productive time (40 - 100 hrs / week easy).
 
There was a time where I tried to monetize my game playing habits. I started testing games for Activision-Blizzard, THQ, and Encore. I was fortunate enough to work on some fun titles,
"Hoyle Casino and Games", "Call of Duty 4 : Modern Warfare", "MX vs ATV", and "Frontlines: Fuel of War". Even after dumping 60+ hours/week testing games, I still found time to play games afterwards.
 
This is getting long so i'll start crawling to my point.
 
A decade later I've finally traded one addiction for another. Making games.
 
So why am I writing this? To ask for your help. I understand you have no reason to help me, thus the whole throw me a bone title. I'm just scared, especially at times where the work of making a game
is TEDIOUS. Even more so when I dump hours into a design/map/feature only to later realize it doesn't meet my standard. So what kind of help am I wanting from you the reader?
 
Knowledge.
 
It doesn't matter if you have successfully finished a game, funded it, blew it up, ate it, or know someone that did. I just would like tips or ideas that helped a project succeed. Maybe even tips
or techniques that helped the project stay motivated.
 
Almost forgot, you can find a short clip of what the game is like at our website or facebook page Heartomics. The game is written in C++.
 
TL;DR
 
Making a game called Heartomics. Advice and tips that will increase motivation and success rate wanted. 

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Some thoughts not based on any experience:

 

Have you tried using your desires (playing games, or working on a specific area or game feature) as rewards for achieving goals?

 

Aim for perfection, but don't feel disappointed when you fall short - which you always will, because things could always be "better".

 

If one area is "good enough", work on the areas that aren't at that level of quality. When most areas are "good enough", then starting improving them to "great enough". Distribute your effort between many areas, raising the quality of each in smaller increments, instead of trying to push one area to an impossible level of quality.

 

Iterate on your areas quickly. Don't start out making an area beautiful, start out on making it functional gameplay-wise, using minimal effort so you can create, tweak, delete, create, tweak, modify, change, tweak, until it works well for the game. Then come back and dress it up with basic visuals after the geometry has proven to be correct for the gameplay. And then later in development, after many areas are gameplay-ready, and mostly locked in stone, go through them and visually prettify them. Don't try to make areas look nice, before you even got them playing nice. That'd be like an artist trying to put down paint before drawing the sketch the paint is supposed to go over.

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Thank you for the tips. The latest map that I finished was done exactly how you suggested. Of course it was after failing at another attempt that took 5+ hours.

 

I really like your goal of "good enough" THEN changing it to "great".

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I just would like tips or ideas that helped a project succeed. Maybe even tips
or techniques that helped the project stay motivated.
 ... 
Advice and tips that will increase motivation and success rate wanted.


Moving this to Production/Management.

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Advice and tips that will increase motivation and success rate wanted. 

Remember that the commercial games you play are made by large teams of professionals over many months using fancy and expensive tools.

 

A published game tends to represent hundreds of thousands of hours of work.  Some games reach millions of work-hours to create. Even working full time by yourself the best you can reasonably get is 2000 or so hours of work in a year. 

 

If you play a major blockbuster games and see ideas you want to put in your game, STOP. You almost certainly do not have the resources to invest in that. Take the idea, reduce them by a thousand times, and maybe you'll be able to put that in your hobby game.

 

You may think your head that you want a game like {AAA title here}, but that is unrealistic. Since you are a hobby game developer, you will discover that even your first few rounds of Pong clones can take weeks, Breakout clone several months, and a Tetris clone can have you stumped for ages.

 

One of the best things you can do to keep motivation up is to think small. Really, really, really small. Think about something you can accomplish in one or two hours. Let that be your next milestone.

 

 

 


I'm just scared, especially at times where the work of making a game is TEDIOUS.

This is a surprise many people discover after entering the industry.  You should have already figured it out given your stated testing experience.

 

It is a job. It is work. Making a game is different from playing a game.

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So true. I have yet to think of my favorite 2D games as AAA titles. 

 

Also didn't think that one individual would do about 2000 hrs / year.

 

Thanks!

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Also didn't think that one individual would do about 2000 hrs / year.

 

That's a regular 8-5 job. 50 weeks in a year (excluding, say, two weeks off), 40 hours a week = 2000 hours.

When you include lunch, and driving back and forth to work, a normal person actually is "working" 2500 hours a year.

 

As an indie developer, you gotta put in a heck of a lot more time than that - merely working 8-to-5 won't be self-sustaining if you're trying to run your own business. You don't want to burn yourself out either, but working 40 hours a week is not burn-out levels. I think 60 a week would be sustainable, if you do it right, but you have to do it at a pace that gives you plenty of rest and relaxation as well.

 

But that's an aside. Priority is figuring out how to motivate yourself to do the work.

 

My personal issue isn't motivation to sit infront of the computer, it's the motivation to actually write code rather than hang out GameDev.net all day. Some developers call this "ass-in-chair productivity". My butt's glued to my seat, but of the ~10 hours I spend a day "programming", probably only ~3 (on average) is actually productivity, ~4 is helping people on gamedev.net, and ~3 is reading world news and/or tech stuff or articles. Some days are more productive than others, but if I can increase my average productivity, then it'd significantly impact my development progress. Um, I'm gonna go get some work done now. tongue.png

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lol~ i think you spending a lot of time on game dev is a good thing for people like me.

 

Is it common to find a similar game being made or released that looks amazing and you feel jealous?

 

I think my main source of jealousy comes from of my lack of skill in creating sprites.

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Is it common to find a similar game being made or released that looks amazing and you feel jealous?


Yes. But how useful is this information?

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I think my main source of jealousy comes from of my lack of skill in creating sprites.

 

Keep working at it. I'm not an artist, but over time my pixel art has improved dramatically. I still suck at character sprites, but that's because I haven't kept working at the sprites.

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