How to get motivated to make games?

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I like programming, and recently I got lots of ideas for my game.
But I just can’t make myself take the initiative to work on my game anymore. I just play games all the time, one more match… Haven’t even opened FlashDevelop for like a month. Got any tips on how to motivate yourself and forget about all those tempting games?

 
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I think the thread title should be “How to get motivated to make games?”, not “How to program?”

Anyhow, if you’re not up to it, maybe you should take a break from game making and go where your passions take you. Is there some other productive activity that you feel a greater desire to do than developing games? If there is, go for it.

If you feel like returning to game development later, you can do it then. Otherwise, trying to force yourself to do something you don’t feel like doing won’t lead to a job well done.

 
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If you figure out how, let me know. ;)

 
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Originally posted by Draco18s:

If you figure out how, let me know. ;)

Same! Let’s figure it out.

Elyzius, my passion lies in mainly Programming and making music and playing music, and some drawing. But I have just the same problem in all of those. And instead of doing such constructive things I keep playing, facebook, looking at “funny” pictures and all of these are not funny at all actually, games can be funny but they can also make me mad. Playing music is okay tho, because it’s just playing. It’s easy to take the initiative, just like playing games. This is all laziness I guess, a lack of self discipline. I found this.
My thought however is that it shouldn’t be a matter of discipline, as I should consider it a passion rather than work.

Right now I’m writing down the storyline I’ve thought about. Then I will probably play after that. But I think writing that down will make it a lot easier to actually start code things. I should make it a goal to open FD everyday and think 10 minutes about what I want to do. That’s a start.

E: And I agree on everything you said!

 
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Just keep trying!

 
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Originally posted by Draco18s:

If you figure out how, let me know. ;)

++

 
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This is a good blog post.

 
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Watch other people’s devlogs and devblogs, play indie games, hang around the forums, delete COD, LOL, BF3, SC3, WOW, Diablo, and block reddit.

 
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Do a little bit every day.

 
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Originally posted by epicfail1994:

Just keep trying!

Originally posted by qwerberberber:

Watch other people’s devlogs and devblogs, play indie games, hang around the forums, delete COD, LOL, BF3, SC3, WOW, Diablo, and block reddit.

Originally posted by RTL_Shadow:

This is a good blog post.

Originally posted by CuriousGaming:

Do a little bit every day.

None of that helps to get motivated; doing a bit everyday, keeping trying or doing the suggested stuff in that link is something you do once you’re already motivated. Just as having installed games or knowing a bunch of funny websites wouldn’t affect you if you were motivated.

 
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I could post a certain link here, but I will refrain from doing so as it will cause a commotion.

 
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In general, I think longterm goals are overhyped. However, making short term goals/tasks for yourself to accomplish in relation to a programming project is a very good thing. It keeps you organized, but more importantly, focuses on what needs to be done. I think it helps with motivation somewhat to, having something specific and accomplishable to do instead of just a huge blurry picture in the future you’re working towards.

 
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For me, I can get this feeling a lot. Or rather, I used to.
Warning: Metaphors, Rambling, and comparisons ahead
The only thing that seems to help is to just push through it. Put on some tunes, and just force myself to work.
The thing I’ve noticed is that programming is lot like working out. Your muscles may ache, you may tell yourself your not in the mood, but you force yourself to pick up that dumbbell and do it anyway. And eventually, you like feeling worked out afterwards. You feel accomplished. Even if it was just a little something.
Also give yourself credit for trying. You may work at the same problem for hours, days, weeks, a couple months with no success. But the more you try, the closer you’ll be to figuring it out. I promise.
Eventually your mind will be trained, and you can just do it. I find myself playing games less and less, and programming more and more. Because every time I play a game, it makes me want to make them, and make them better. I see all the flaws in what they’ve made and wonder why they didn’t fix them.
If you find your mind wander, let it for 5 – 10 minutes. This is something I’ve learned from meditation. People believe that when you’re emptying your mind, you should force yourself to not think about anything… but you find your mind wandering anyway. When this happens, you shouldn’t force your mind to empty, but rather allow yourself to think about the thought until its gone. Than try to empty your mind again. This happens because you’re essentially “turning your mind off” and this scares it. Using this method, it will learn that theres nothing to fear.
So if you find yourself wanting to check your facebook, your email, see whats for dinner, ect… do it. Than come back. That way you’re not sitting there dwelling on the thoughts, or repeatedly forcing them into the back of your mind. This prevents you from thinking at full efficiency. And I’ve found you won’t retain as much of the knowledge you’ve learned.
Also don’t be afraid to take a day off here and there. If you’ve recently accomplished something huge, reward yourself with a little bit of R&R.
Like with weight training, its unwise to work out every single day… your muscles need time to rest and rebuild. Your mind is exactly the same way.

The bottom line is… its going to suck.
Its like…. you have a fish tank, thats painted black so you can’t see whats on the inside. The top layer is Swedish Fish, and all your favorite candy, floating around. And you think “OMG, this is so much fun, its so much better than playing a game, because I’m making one! wooo” and than you eat all the candy, and you’re bored. Because you come across something you don’t know how to do, and you don’t want to think about it. You just want to do the fun coding, the candy coated stuff. So you dig through all this dirt, and it really sucks. But the thing is, you won’t find buried treasure unless you dig. So dig, and dig, and dig. Eventually you’ll succeed, you’ll find that treasure. Open the chest, and you’ve got this awesome program, or game, or whatever you made. And it was worth it. Every last grain of dirt moved around.

Also, you can’t just instantly love to do it.
Its like playing a guitar. You may pick it up for like 5 minutes every week or 2. Maybe not even that. And it just sits in the corner, collecting dust, becoming untuned. It mocks you. Because you know its your choice. So you procrastinate.
But the thing is… force yourself to pick it up and play it anyway. Turn on the tv, turn it up, watch tv. But play the guitar at the same time, just play random chords, or whatever. Eventually you’ll start to enjoy it. You may find yourself trying to find funny tunes to play while watching certain parts of your show. Keep forcing yourself, and you’ll find yourself picking up that guitar every single day of your life. And not being able to live without it.

 
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Originally posted by alecz127:
Its like playing a guitar. You may pick it up for like 5 minutes every week or 2. Maybe not even that. And it just sits in the corner, collecting dust, becoming untuned.

That sounds like my guitar. D:

 
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Originally posted by GameBuilder15:
Originally posted by alecz127:
Its like playing a guitar. You may pick it up for like 5 minutes every week or 2. Maybe not even that. And it just sits in the corner, collecting dust, becoming untuned.

That sounds like my guitar. D:

That sounds like just about everyone’s guitar.

Or sketchpad, or whatever.

 
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Originally posted by draganviper:
Originally posted by GameBuilder15:
Originally posted by alecz127:
Its like playing a guitar. You may pick it up for like 5 minutes every week or 2. Maybe not even that. And it just sits in the corner, collecting dust, becoming untuned.

That sounds like my guitar. D:

That sounds like just about everyone’s guitar.

Or sketchpad, or whatever.

I actually recently used up my whole sketchbook that I got when I was 8 or 9.

 
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It takes time to get motivated. In fact, you don’t even see the whole point of doing the damn project until you actually see progress. So build up to the point where you can see a fully functional game emerging, and then keep building until you have the final project.

Of course, because you, as the developer, are a one-man team play-testing 24/7 to make sure the game works, you are going to get bored. Very quickly. After playing the same level one hundred times, who wouldn’t be? So instead of playing one level one hundred times, play a hundred levels one time. This way, variety is added to your playtesting so you can check for more bugs.

 
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Originally posted by jasonjie88:

It takes time to get motivated. In fact, you don’t even see the whole point of doing the damn project until you actually see progress. So build up to the point where you can see a fully functional game emerging, and then keep building until you have the final project.

Of course, because you, as the developer, are a one-man team play-testing 24/7 to make sure the game works, you are going to get bored. Very quickly. After playing the same level one hundred times, who wouldn’t be? So instead of playing one level one hundred times, play a hundred levels one time. This way, variety is added to your playtesting so you can check for more bugs.

Short of building a procedural level engine for every game you make, I don’t see how that advice is practical.

 
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The only way it works for me is if I’m genuinely excited to play the game I’m developing. Otherwise I’m not gonna put any effort in getting it done. I have to believe I’m creating the game I want to play. I can’t just develop a game for the sake of developing a game.

 
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Originally posted by ItsaMeeeeeMario:

The only way it works for me is if I’m genuinely excited to play the game I’m developing. Otherwise I’m not gonna put any effort in getting it done. I have to believe I’m creating the game I want to play. I can’t just develop a game for the sake of developing a game.

If you love the game you’re making when you first start the project, you’ll probably hate it by the time the project is almost done.

 
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Originally posted by ItsaMeeeeeMario:

I can’t just develop a game for the sake of developing a game.

I can when it’s GiTD time, but it doesn’t work when it comes to games I actually care about.
May be why over 90% of my uploads are games done in a couple of days.

 
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Tell someone that you’re going to accomplish milestone X in Y days, and have them hold you to it.

GiTD helps with this.

 
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I think working in a group is more motivating, because you can argue to someone that’s not invisible ;)

Men’s best successes come after their disappointments.
Henry Ward Beecher

 
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The main reason you play games is that you derive enjoyment from this activity, whereas programming feels like work. Tedious work, with no clear direction, no clear goal. But what if you could change that? What if you could turn programming into a game?

The key to understanding how to accomplish this feat is to realize that games are work. And hard work at that. They take time, effort, concentration. They make us repeat tasks over and over again, each attempt ending in abject failure, before granting us one fleeting moment of triumph. So if they’re so tough to us, why do we play games?

Simply put, because one moment of triumph is one more than reality usually provides.

So I’m offering you a game programming game. If you choose to play it (and all games require voluntary participation, if I could force you to do it it wouldn’t be a game anymore) it will take some adjustments on your part.

First, don’t call it a TODO list: it’s your Quest log! Your end goal is to make a game, but you can’t just go and make one. Doesn’t work that way. It’s like rushing straight for the last boss fight with your level 1 party. It will end quickly, and it will not be pretty. No, you will have to level up quite a bit on your way. So let’s talk about how you can level up.

Random encounters: These are found in the forum. This forum. People make posts about a programming issue monster they’ve encountered and ask for help solving killing it. Read their calls, and if it sounds like a problem monster you’ve faced before, it is very likely you’ll be able to help. Every time you help someone fixing their code killing their monster, award yourself some XP, in relation to how useful you were in slaying the beast. Here’s an example for the rules:
- The problem got solved and you contributed at least one helpful post: 10XP.
- You offered an algorithm or some pseudo-code: 20XP.
- You contributed actual code: 30XP.
- You posted a link to the relevant docs or a tutorial: 20XP.
- You read the docs to answer: 10XP
- and learned something: 20XP.
- The OP thanked you: 10XP.
These are cumulative. If you researched, created and offered a full, well-documented solution that was exactly what the OP was looking for and they were grateful, you could potentially get 120XP for a single post.
The amount of XP you need to level up is 100 times your current level. So, 100 at level 1, 200 at level 2, etc… When you level up, the proper amount of XP gets ‘used up’, so if you were level 1 and had 95 XP, then gained 10 XP, you would become level 2 with 5 XP (105 – 100 for leveling up).

Quests: These are missions designed to get you closer to the end of the game. You should write them down as you unlock them (read: realize that they exist), preferably on Bristol paper organized like flashcards so you can manipulate them easily. Each quest should contain the following parts:

- Title: It’s not a good quest if it doesn’t have a good title. Make them witty and eye-catching. Think about how Greg and rawismojo choose titles for the badges. Pop culture references, movie quotes, dirty jokes, puns. If it makes you crack a smile every time you read it, it’s good.

- Description: Every quest must have a little blurb which tells you why you should accomplish it. What need will completing this quest fulfill? How will it contribute to saving the world? Why is it important? Don’t write a novel, leave some room for:

- Steps: Now you need the list of steps, as detailed as possible without getting ridiculous, needed to complete the quest. Imagine you are writing the quest about coding the screen renderer “Renderer? I hardly even know her!” (shut up! It makes me laugh.) The steps could be:
1) Update all asteroids, enemy ships, bullets, and the player ship.
2) Get the camera position.
3) Display the proper background for the current level, centered on the camera.
4) Display all objects.
5) Check for special events.
6) Ensure the renderer works at least at 60FPS.
From reading this list, it becomes immediately apparent that items 1) 4) and 5) are too long and complex to be simple quest steps. So what to do? Easy, create three new quests for those items and make them prerequisites for this quest. Item 6 requires that you have a way of measuring frames per second. Don’t have one? Making one becomes another quest: “Slow and Furious”, and is also a prerequisite for this quest.
Note: When I say ‘prerequisite’ I don’t mean that you can’t do the quest before you’ve done all the prerequisites. I’m only saying you can’t complete the quest until all of its prerequisites are completed as well. You should work on whatever quest feels most interesting at any given moment. That is the essence of voluntary participation, and you don’t want to jeopardize it.

Finally, the last component of a quest is the reward! That’s right, you deserve a reward for accomplishing all that hard work. In addition to the feeling of pride you are most likely to feel at having completed a difficult task, you should give yourself some XP. How much is up to you, but a regular quest should be in the 50-100 XP range, like a very good forum post. Make sure to write the amount on the quest, and to vary the amounts depending on how likely you feel you are to tackle a particular quest on an average day: the more boring the quest sounds, the more XP you give it. Maybe one day you’ll be only 80XP from leveling up and that quest will be the only 80XP quest left.
Finally, avoid the temptation of giving yourself real-world rewards for doing the quests: Research has shown that extrinsic rewards only increase participation among the people who would otherwise not participate at all and that they immediately stop participating when the incentive is removed. Among the people who were most likely to participate in the activity, participation declined when an extrinsic reward was offered. In other words, you’re not playing for ice cream, you’re playing to level up!

Boss fights: Let’s imagine you have no problem with most of the items in the quest above, but point 1 (updating all positions), you’re really not looking forward to. The reason? That’s where the Collision Detector goes, and just thinking about it makes your brain turn to mush and your eyes glaze over. Clearly, this monster is going to require special treatment if you’re ever going to have any hope of vanquishing it. So what can you do?

First of all, boss monsters deserve their own quest. Some of them even deserve several quests, as you might require special items (Classes, methods) to kill them, and acquiring each item is its own quest. Also, you’re going to need a strategy. Thankfully, you’ve got the internet, and a brain. Tap both. Come up with a battle plan, based on how much you know about the boss, how you’ve killed similar, but smaller monsters before, and how others have killed similar bosses.

If it seems daunting, remember two things: 1) you don’t have to fight the boss now. If you’re not ready, you’re not ready. You can always do other quests, or grind some random encounters and level up some more. 2) Nobody has ever killed this boss before. Oh sure, lots of people have killed lots of similar bosses. But not this exact one. This one has some unique features that make all previous tactics either imperfect or incomplete, otherwise you’d have used a canned solution and you’d be done by now. You are going to find the right tactic and, when you do, you will be the first person in the world to ever kill that boss.

Killing a boss should award you about twice as much XP as a quest. This is not an incentive to kill it, it’s a recognition of how tough the boss is, and how much you’ve accomplished. Don’t think of it as a reward, think of it as the game showing its respect to your performance.

Holy wall of text Batman, did you read all this!? And if so, do you feel like playing? If the answer is yes, then get some heavyweight paper and start writing down some quests. Top-down, bottom-up, it doesn’t matter. You can add quests at anytime, split them whenever you want, change the rewards, change the steps, you’re in control. Just remember, once you run out of quests, the game is over. Your game will be over. And it didn’t even feel like work.

Credits: This post owes a lot to Jane McGonigal’s research and ideas, and to her book Reality is Broken.

 
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Woah, that’s an extreme amount of helpful posts! I found it all helpful! Bookmarked the link for later (when I am more motivated), good idea to read devblogs. Everybody should award themselves with some xp. And 100 XP to alecz and AceBlue who wrote portrait format posts with great contents. I thank you all!
I feel it’s a lot easier to work on my game now.