How to tell when you are stuck in gamedev hell

Game development can be extremely fun and rewarding, but this doesn’t mean that it is easy. On the contrary, developing a game in a serious fashion is a gargantuan task that must not be taken lightly. You want to plan and set goals for your project right from the start, and having a few deadlines to keep you on track is also a must.

If you don’t, you are in for a bad trip, and you will probably get to know what it is known in the business as: development hell.

This happens when a game dev project turns itself into a zombie. When you make almost no progress at all and you just can’t see the end of it. At this point, you might say it would be easier to just forget about it and set to work on something completely different. And you would be right, for the most part. Problem is, sometimes it’s not that easy to notice that you are in trouble when seeing things from the inside. Luckily for you, here at StrandedSoft we are always happy to help, even on the darkest of hours.

kirby_code

Don’t let dead projects take away your gamedev spirit!

So here are a few tips that will help you notice when your boat is starting to sink, and how to fix the situation, or at least how to leave the boat while still being afloat.

 

You can’t see the light

First things first. If you don’t have clear deadlines for your games you are going to be in trouble. It is that simple. If you just think that your game will be finished by working on it in little sprints of a few hours a week, whenever you get some free time and whenever you are in the mood after a long day out working on your full-time job…, well, think again.

When you lack planning and clear and precise goals everything turns into a big messy fog of undefined tasks, which bascially renders the project endless. How can you finish a task that is not defined or limited?, you can’t.

Good thing is, at this point your project might not be dead, you might be able to fix things out by just starting to get serious with your goals and deadlines. And also, you should spend some time thinking about what has to be done and when, as well as listing the whole group of tasks that must be completed in order to have a game done. Once you know what must be done then you can try to estimate how long will it take, and then you can start setting deadlines.

 

Unsolvable problems

Maybe your problem resides on a very specific part of your game. For example, you might not know how to implement a vital feature of your game. Or maybe you got stuck with an unfixable bug residing at the very heart of your game’s engine. When this happens you may spend days trying to find a solution without making any progress at all. You will probably start to feel demotivated and the temptation of forgetting about the project might be strong.

Captura de pantalla 2015-04-11 a la(s) 16.47.43Sometimes, a big rock may appear on your way…

When this happens you can try a few things before scrapping the whole thing up or running away somewhere else.

First, make sure you completely understand your problem. Tell someone else about it and try to explain it out loud. Sometimes you find the answer to an apparently complex problem when you have to explain it to someone else.

If this didn’t help, look out for help any place you can. Ask everybody about it, probably someone on the internet might know the answer or had been in the same spot as you are right now. Also, if you finally find the solution consider sharing the answer with the world, it will only take a small fraction of your time and it will surely help others coming the same track as you did.

 

No time to waste

You started working on a great game idea you got one day. The first days were thrilling and you made a lot of progress. But soon things started to slow down. You started to work on the game a lot less often, and soon, whenever you thought of spending a few hours on your game you just couldn’t get yourself motivated and decided to skip it.

Well, if this is your case, I’m afraid there is not much you can do. In this business you must be absolutely motivated about what your are doing and you have to be the first (and maybe the biggest) fan of your game out there. If you can get yourself to work on the damn thing you will never be able to get anybody else to play and love it.

It is that simple.

But, as with almost anything in life, things are not so black or white and they always tend to be more grayish. With this situation, you may be able to get motivated by your game again. Better than this, you might consider having a set of motivational stuff that get you pumped for this kind of stuff (music, books, movies, etc). Also, try to visualize what you want to achieve with your game, and make sure that it is something really important and vital for you. If you can’t manage to do this you are probably better off spending your energy somewhere else.

 

No fun at all

You managed to get things done and you are making a lot of progress with your game. You are also very motivated and work on the thing almost everyday. But there is one big problem that makes you sleepless: your game is not fun.

This is probably the most difficult thing to realize, because it is like as if a father would have to accept that his son is a bit dumb or not as tall as he would have hoped. But you have to be objective, and you have to see your game in a complete critical way and be very conscious of your game’s flaws. If your game is not working as you thought it should you have to be brave enough to change stuff up (which will probably help), but if even this does not work you have to be courageous enough to be able to ditch the project and focus your energy somewhere else.

 

Conclusion

With these few tips we can make out one important lesson: game development is not a task to be taken lightly. You will most likely fail and quit, and in fact almost everybody does, so you want to make sure you stand the best chance you can at succeeding on it right from the start. It might feel daunting, but the prize is absolutely worth it, and as they say, it wouldn’t be worth it if anybody could get it.

 

Thanks a lot for reading, see you next time!

 

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