The reality about Indie Game Development
Staying motivated can be one of the hardest tasks I encountered while working in my own game development projects. Reasons are many, obstacles are many, challenges are many and last of all I worked A LOT of hours even when I didn't anticipate to do so.
I don’t want to start this article to scare you off, but instead, explain to you with my own experiences how much is really going to be sent your way, whenever you become part of this awesome community of hard working indie game developers. When I say hard working, I mean it with all my heart because I know for a fact how much work, dedication, and sacrifices go into creating a game. To the eyes of many, game development is easily be taken for granted and it may seem as something with low complexity, which is perception of a high volume of games currently available and shipped by indie game developers.
How can we stay motivated even when you feel you’ve lost the motivation you began with? You started having a passion to create games, wanted to change the life of many, and not only that but seeing people play your games gave you that kick that drives you to work insane amount of hours, even when you may have worked a lot already in your day job, or you may have kids and willing to sacrifice your time with long night hours.
The truth is that you were motivated and you may not be doing the things that got you motivated to begin with! All we really need to do here is fix it is, not fix you but fix the process you follow on a daily basis. And before we talk about the process let's look at what motivation really is by definition as stated below:
Motivation is defined by Wikipedia to “the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving a particular way” also “the general desire or willingness of someone to do something”. So if we need to be acting or having willingness to do something perhaps we need to understand what our goals are and where we really headed in order to have a desired to do certain things specially things that need passion and extreme amounts of dedication.
Asking yourself few simple questions
Let’s ask yourself the following questions and write them down as you answer each one of them. Take a minute or two to answer each question and please don’t overthink it just answer quickly and from your heart and then read each of the answers back to yourself.
- What do you see yourself doing in 2-5 years from today?
- Do I want to keep doing what I do today?
- What excites you the most about game development?
- What areas do you think you should improve on in order to accomplish your game development goals?
- What drives you even if you’re not getting paid?
For instance here’re the answers I came up with for myself:
- What do you see yourself doing in 2-5 years from today? I want to have a well known game studio that produces high quality games and also provides publishing services.
- Do I want to keep doing what I do today? no, I see myself having my own studio and not working for anyone.
- What excites you the most about game development? The innovation and the amount of creativity that allows me to bring my own creations to the hands of millions of people.
- What areas do you think you should improve on in order to accomplish your game development goals? I need to improve on my own marketing skills, also been able to let other people contribute with code and letting other(s) help me to avoid having to do it all.
- What drives you even if you’re not getting paid? I love creating games even if I don’t get pay, I could do this day and night because I love it, I have a passion for it, and love the fact that I can create a world or anything I want with my code.
As you noticed, I wrote down from my heart what I really looked at myself doing from 2-5 years from today, I know for a fact what I want to do professionally with my life, I know where I need to get to and what I need to do to an extend, however I know there will be challenges, I know for a fact that I’ve a small studio but I've a path and vision to where I need to be headed to which I know is one of the reason I stay motivated every single day.
A great reminder is to make sure you stay motivated not to become rich and also not to become famous, no doubt that it would be nice but it shouldn't be the main reason why you're in game development in the first place.
The goal is to see your own dreams become real, working on your dreams and keeping up with long term goals is what you must do on a daily basis to seek motivation. I would also recommend taking up on simple tasks such as writing down all weekly goals, write down weekly attainable tasks and do not get caught up in the long term details to avoid getting yourself overwhelmed.
In general, I tend to recommend anyone who works on large projects, to break down tasks into smallest possible pieces. This will help you not only to get more work done but also bring you the successful feeling of getting work complete. I honestly tend to feel down if I don’t get much work done and doing this exercise helps me reassure that I'm on schedule.
Positiveness is your best allied
Keeping a positive attitude is one of the keys to your own success, we need to share, interact with many people, and everyone wants to be around a positive person, everyone wants to learn from you and always avoid any type of negativity. You have to be positive no matter what, always seek hope and say YES to everything, do not ever put barriers and if there are just think of them as learning lessons or find alternate ways to get pass them.
For instance, a negative person may have the following sayings:
- Well I get motivated and then it wears off.
- I just can’t commit to spending so many hours.
- I have too many kids now and is almost impossible.
- I can’t this, I can’t that, is too hard, etc
If we answer each one of these questions and change our attitude about it, we could honestly make big positive changes. Try not to find the reason why you can’t do it, instead how can you do it and focus on alternate ways to get to your goal.
For instance, an optimistic / positive person may have the following sayings:
Well I get motivated and then it wears off.How could I stay motivated? Should I read a book about a particular skill I need to improve on? Should I show what I have so far to a group of people? Should I look at how the game looked like few months back? I just can’t commit to spending so many hours.Could I spend one hour a day on game development? Could I just try every other day? If I have a day job maybe, could I take a vacation day every month to use towards game development? I have too many kids and is almost impossible to concentrate.Can I ask my wife for one hour of her time to watch over the kids on a specific day? or could a family member to watch over the kids? Can I work at least 1-2 hours after the kinds are in bed? I can’t this, I can’t that, is too hard, etc.Should I study more before I jump into coding? Can I make a much simpler game and possibly do a more complex game in the future?
As a summary, I want you to always look at the positive outcome. Always always and always no matter what you're doing try to find a good reason why you should do it, which I'm not saying you should say YES to everything, well maybe I am, but in general, there's always a way to do something and the positive / persistent / optimistic people are ones who sacrifice everything and the ones who really make a difference. Also the only way you can stay motivated, is to always do what you’re passionate about and never ever do something just to make anyone else happy, or to make money. Passion is what will drive your motivation and ultimately make you stay long hours, working in what I like to call your BABY project, and seeing it grow is the best feeling you can achieved professionally in life.
Thank you for your time and don't forget to subscribe to my newsletter, also be sure to find me at @dilmerv and stop by and say hi as I love to chat with everyone.