I've been giving this article a lot of thought, and honestly I have been thinking about it for the last couple of days. Also before writing it, I really wanted to think about it, and identify what were few helpful things I learned through previous games that allowed me to complete each project.
We all have up and downs, and I am just a regular guy who wants to be an indie game developer full time. Also, I don't let ups and downs control my ability to stay on track, and I make sure I meet every one of my long term dreams. So let's get few questions down that you may ask, and give you some how to guides to help you get to your end goal (of completing your indie game which is the main goal).
As simple as it may sound we must use some kind of project tracking tool (in my case I use Trello but you can use the one that fits your needs).
Project management phases are critical part of your long term success, and visibility allows you to visually see what needs to be done, and also what is completed overtime. At this stage I recommend you add everything you know about your game, don't make it too complicated just start small, and begin applying these practices in your daily indie game routine. I also recommend you keep your board updated, by updated I mean you complete one task associated with a story and right after you move the story from an "in progress" state to a "done" state. This technique may sound easy at first but it is what kept me going, my brain works in a very interesting way, I see stories in the "done" state and automatically I get the motivation I need. This is mainly due to how I work, I am driven by how many tasks I complete in a given time, if I don't complete much then I don't feel motivated, which is why I always try complete as much work as possible even if the tasks are small, yes this is what makes me feel productive, in fact that's what I am (a productive person) when I am staying on task and completing many stories regardless of their size.
This is simple, and trust me by saying "many many people don't ever get to meet their goals in life". This is a true fact that many don't get to meet their goals just by the simple fact that they assume goals to be on their head and they knew exactly what their goals were when in fact they lost their original vision.
Life gets busy, and you may be in your early 20s or it may not be an issue now but once you have kids, a job, a house, then many of these things may cause that you forget about why you started making games in the first place.
To give you an idea of my own routine, I wake up at least 3-4 days a week at 5:00 AM, I quickly open up Trello which is where I keep my goals. I read each goal to remind me why I am waking up, why I do what I do everyday. Also, my goals are not just related to my own personal career but also related to my family, I need to make sure my wife, my kids, my parents, and friends are all getting the attention they need. A social life is a healthy life and I stay socially connected to everyone, so don't let your work get ahead of your social needs as you need all of these to be in a healthy state and also be productive.
Just as it says you must be reviewing your goals, I suggested doing it early morning, and not only that you're reviewing them but also changing your goals based on your life experience. For instance let me give you a realistic example of what I had to do when I first launch a startup company. About 5 years ago I didn't really have an idea of what to do with my business ideas, I knew it was going to be related to tech but I never wrote my goals down. I started a company called Clean Source Code LLC, which main goals were to provide Unreal and Unity assets to game developers much like the Unity Asset Store does now, but in a cross engine way. I didn't think about it too much and just launched a quick e-commerce store, started emailing various authors I knew, setup a PayPal business account, and opened the site for business. Well this didn't work very well, I only had one site up and the store was way slow, people were also buying assets with fake credit cards, my team wasn't completely excited about the product, and to be honest I didn't want to do this for the rest of my life. I knew I wanted to make games and to me this was a good way to get into the industry and boy I was wrong. The other piece of the puzzle and biggest lesson I learned was that I wasn't super passionate about it, and unless I was obsessed with it I wasn't really going to be able to build the business to the level I wanted. From that moment and for the rest of my life, I decided to reevaluate my own goals, I wrote them down and put them in Trello. I also read them out loud to ensure I stay passionate about them .
Sharing is a scary part of the game development process. I remember the first time I shared an image of one of my games, and my first thought was, someone is going to steal my idea, someone will make a game just like mine, and man I was so wrong, there are so many people in the industry making games right now, so many different great ideas, and after few years in the industry I learned how much support is in this community where game developers just want to be there to help you out and not to steal something from you. Anyhow, sharing is the key, make sure you're sharing in social medias, I use twitter more than any other social media because is where I started, but you should be experimenting with Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Twitch, and any social network that you could find to be supported enough to help you get your voice.
There is honestly no a limit amount on how much you should share, but to give you an idea of how much I share daily, I post at least 40 times in Twitter daily, this includes motivational quotes from my own experiences, game in progress screenshots, GIF from code snippets, etc. I also ensure that in every single post I am providing value to the community and not just providing value for myself. You must give in order to receive but be sure to keep your content as high quality as possible and this doesn't mean it needs to be perfect but always think about value for the person on the other side.
Why is sharing progress of my game of any help to complete my game? Well this is simple, it just helps, it helps you evaluate wether your game idea sucks or is awesome, and it is easy to see how much people engage with you to know if your game is interesting or not. I use Twitter to ask my audience wether a game will be something they will play or get. I also run polls frequently to evaluate various parts of the development process. Also I get motivation, I get adrenaline, when people share my work and they send me messages of how much they love what they see, is what keeps me excited, I love people talking about my games.
Do work and finish work
You must get work done, if you do the previous tips I gave you and you don't get shit done then nothing will happen. Yes you must be consistent and stop thinking about opening the game engine, stop thinking about what if you did that, and just start doing. Your brain is a powerful part of you, you must teach it and build the habits, and believe me that after few weeks into it you will get into the process and would never want to get out.
There is no magic formula here, you must do what works for you, but you must create a process that is consistent and keeps you in line with your timeline. Also I tend to create very small games, I also get asked why not work on larger projects, and my answer is mainly to make sure I finish as a rather be known as a developer who finished "x" game versus the one who abandon a game, and don't get me wrong I abandoned a game before and learned from it, after that it never happened again.
Thank you for your time and don't forget to subscribe to my newsletter, also be sure to find me in twitter at @dilmerv and stop by and say hi as I love to chat with everyone.