Diminishing returns: not everything is worth doing

Countyoungblood

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Reading through the forums Ive been finding topics going into depth about things id consider to be inconsequential. Im reminded of another forum where someone was planning on redrawing all of their characters to allow the player the option to be left handed. it was going to be about 20 hours of work for something most people wouldn't even appreciate. Im not against investing effort but Im interested in spearheading my time.

any thoughts/examples?
 

Engr. Adiktuzmiko

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It all depends on what you're willing to do. Like that example, he is clearly willing to spend that effort because he wants to do it. Ofc it doesnt mean you should do the same.

Like personally, I like writing down my own scripts/plugins instead of using someone else's but that is because its the thing that I find most fun in the whole game development process.

Just find your happy place, and find a good compromise for the others. You can always outsouce stuff that you cant or dont want to do anyway.

As for the forum topics, some people actually post them not to do things, but more of to get our minds working. Its not really about the topic itself, but more of about the people of the forums grinding their minds together to try and find something new. Sometimes we just get these random ideas that we cant get out of our minds, so we then post it so that we can talk about it with other people.
 

Tai_MT

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The main reason people do this is very simple:

They want to create something unique. Something to "stand out" from the crowd. It is not always easy to see beyond the "core idea" you want to implement as a result.

For example, we sometimes have the running debate on the forums about whether or not to create a Crafting System for your RPG. Proponents of adding them often don't think much beyond "I find this appealing, so I want to add it". They don't usually consider why it might be ignored, why it might be hated, why people would choose not to waste time with it (thus rendering all the time the dev spent creating it absolutely pointless). Proponents of not implementing them often don't think much beyond, "I find this tedious and annoying and don't want to deal with it". They don't usually consider why others might find it fun or interesting or unique.

The major issue that always annoys me is: "Why is everyone wasting their time?"

I often express this sentiment as, "what purpose does this serve? What's the goal in mind?" to devs. Because, frankly, that's the most important question on these forums. It's the one that's seldom ever posited from anyone, including those who have actually published games.

Believe it or not... most people can't answer that question. Too often, it is "because I like it!" or "rule of cool!" with no substantive answer to be had. Devs don't like to confront the idea that they may have been wasting their own time and have to axe something they put 20 hours of work into, just because it serves no purpose and no benefit to the player or the experience at large.

Moreover, there's the issue of just people being people. Namely, they don't want to be wrong. Ever. They don't want to admit that they're wrong. Ever. Even when all evidence proves it beyond any shadow of a doubt. People will "double down" on being wrong because they let their pride and ego get involved.

As a consequence, we have a lot of "wasted time" on these forums in creating all sorts of crazy systems and such that serve no purpose and do nothing for the player.

For example, your example about creating sprites to be left-handed. I don't see the sense in it. What does it offer to the player? Anything? Link was Left-handed in some of the Zelda games and I didn't even notice. That's probably a good indication of how big of a waste of time it is.

If they just want to create artwork and that's their primary reason for creating games... My suggestion to them would be to just make artwork and don't make games. After all, they aren't making games, and don't know anything about making games, and have no interest in sacrificing artwork in order to spend that time to make a good game... So, just make artwork.

You simply cannot go into game design without being willing to sacrifice the things you love for the things you don't like doing. Too many devs aren't like that. They "get bored" and "make a new project" instead of continuing on with the one they had. Why? Because what they love about game design isn't actually designing a game. It's the small little thing in game design they actually want to do. Artwork. Plugins. Designing Combat. Writing a story. They're not in it to make a game. They're in it to dabble with the tiny piece of game design they actually enjoy. When they finish with it, they just create a new project so they can do it all over again.

But, I just continue to ask people. "What purpose does this serve?" in hopes that it'll click with some devs and they'll stop wasting their precious dev hours on things that are useless and pointless and worthless.

It rarely, if ever, works.

I get a lot of "excuses", but rarely do I ever get an answer when I ask.
 

TheoAllen

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Think of like evolution. Mutation happens, most of them are bad, but some of them are good. The good mutation survived to the next generation, and it is passed through. Now replace mutation with the invention to the game development. People tried many things to make them stand out mainly the same reason as what Tai_MT mentioned. The bad game design gets ignored, good game design gets acknowledged. You're going to walk through this process.

Wasting time? that entirely depends on what do you consider as wasting time. As a rule of thumb, I often heard in this forum or anywhere, "do things that make you happy". If your goal is just for fun, and try to be different, yeah probably that ain't wasting time. But other people could see you're wasting time trying something people wouldn't even bother. In this matter, it is just a matter of perspective, really ...
 

Tai_MT

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Wasting time? that entirely depends on what do you consider as wasting time. As a rule of thumb, I often heard in this forum or anywhere, "do things that make you happy". If your goal is just for fun, and try to be different, yeah probably that ain't wasting time. But other people could see you're wasting time trying something people wouldn't even bother. In this matter, it is just a matter of perspective, really ...
I think some things would make it a matter of perspective. Some things would make it a waste of time. For example, if you just really like making artwork and keep making new projects in order to keep making artwork... you're wasting your time. Just make the artwork you're enjoying.

From an objective standpoint, if the dev has no "follow through" with a project they've started, they are wasting their time by any definition. If you have no intention of finishing a project you started, than any time you put into that "forever unfinished" project has been a complete waste of your time.

That being said... if you're just adding in systems because you like them and you think they're fun and your goal isn't really to make money off the game or really have anyone like it... Then no, not a waste of time.

However... we all want to be praised for our work. We may say "I don't care if anyone likes my game", but deep down, we do. We're lying to each other and to ourselves. Because of this, we can objectively state that if you add something to your game that a vast majority of players don't like and they will criticize your product for it... then, yeah, it's been a waste of your dev time.

Much as even I tout the platitude of "I'm just making a game I will enjoy and am trying new things just for the sake of it, I don't care if other people play it!"... I don't mean it. I do care. It's one of the reasons I care so much about negative feedback... care more about it, in fact, than I do positive feedback. Positive feedback doesn't tell me where I can improve. Negative feedback tells me where I've likely screwed up and what I can do to make people enjoy my game.

It may be painful to deal with negative feedback, but it's necessary to learning how to make a game that doesn't waste the time of the player or the time of yourself as a dev.
 

MushroomCake28

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I've moved this thread to General Discussion . Please be sure to post your threads in the correct forum next time. Thank you.

 

TheoAllen

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I think some things would make it a matter of perspective. Some things would make it a waste of time. For example, if you just really like making artwork and keep making new projects in order to keep making artwork... you're wasting your time. Just make the artwork you're enjoying.

From an objective standpoint, if the dev has no "follow through" with a project they've started, they are wasting their time by any definition. If you have no intention of finishing a project you started, than any time you put into that "forever unfinished" project has been a complete waste of your time.
There're many of my friends started their artistic career from drawing for their RPG Maker project, granted that the project itself never seen the light and you may call the project itself is wasted. Guess what? they became a professional artist in the end. But why it started from RPG Maker and not just draw artwork they like? it's all comes down to their initial motivation. Somewhere probably in the parallel universe when my friends didn't come across RPG Maker, they might not be a professional artist. You can argue objectively if the project never finishes, it is a waste of time from the objective standpoint. But you couldn't argue how other people actually feel or should feel.
 

Failivrin

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@TheoAllen I agree. Art is much more than an occupation. If you think of art (including game design) only as a job, then every minute that doesn't rake in money is wasted. But being an artist/game designer is a whole lifestyle. If you put a bunch of artists on a desert island, they would still make sand castles, beat coconut drums, and paint pictures on rocks. In fact, that's how art began.
Game engines are a great space for unproductive work. Even if no one else plays the game, the artist plays it. Play is the ultimate form of unproductive work, but in spite of having no surface value, it's enormously necessary to our mental, physical and social wellbeing. I have a ton of unfinished games and art projects, and even though others will never see them, each one was important to me in some way.
 

Tai_MT

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That's sort of the point I'm making. If the artists don't need RPG Maker in order to make art... why waste time with it? Artists will produce art regardless of what medium is available to do it.

In theory, they didn't need the RPG Maker Engine in order to make artwork. Or to attempt to make a game they were never actually interested in making. They need only see that people are making artwork for a game and do the same.
 

Countyoungblood

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How do you weigh the effort youd invest against the product youd create? Lets assume they enjoy what they do.
 

Milennin

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From an objective standpoint, if the dev has no "follow through" with a project they've started, they are wasting their time by any definition. If you have no intention of finishing a project you started, than any time you put into that "forever unfinished" project has been a complete waste of your time.
It's not a waste of time if you had fun working on it and if you learned something from it. If someone has no intention of finishing a project yet put time into it, then not finishing it is according to their plan and by definition not a waste of time to them.
Basic lessons learned: It's the journey that matters, not the destination. As well as learning from past experiences, whether they were successes or failures. None of that time is wasted.
 

Tai_MT

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It's not a waste of time if you had fun working on it and if you learned something from it. If someone has no intention of finishing a project yet put time into it, then not finishing it is according to their plan and by definition not a waste of time to them.
Basic lessons learned: It's the journey that matters, not the destination. As well as learning from past experiences, whether they were successes or failures. None of that time is wasted.
I mean, we could get into platitudes if you want. I'm not really a fan of them as they're there just to make people feel good about behaviors they otherwise wouldn't...

Let's say you're right. For the sake of argument.

So, you create a new project, you learned all you could learn from that project in the first 5 hours, but continued to create that product for an additional 300 hours and it never sees completion.

Doesn't that mean the other 295 hours are wasted?

We are humans, we have a finite amount of time on this planet. Any time we spend is time we do not ever get back. If you gained nothing with those other 295 hours, couldn't you have spent that time doing something more productive? More fun? More personally enriching? More in line with your personal goals?

The journey only matters if the destination is worth reaching. There's a difference between a journey to paradise and a journey to a boring place you don't want to be.

I've heard that phrase quite a lot in the writing industry, by the way, and always thought it was somewhat... disingenuous.

"It's the journey that's important". No, it's not. The entire journey can be ruined by a destination that doesn't satisfy. It doesn't matter if you've written 3,000 pages of pure gold if the last 4 pages utterly undermine everything about the journey and do not conclude things in a satisfying way.

Real life works the same way. It doesn't matter how your own personal journey was if it ends in a depressing hate fueled drug binge of you destroying your own life. It's sad, but it really doesn't make your life worth much to talk about other than, "Yeah, don't be that guy."

I received two bits of amazing advice that wasn't even directed at me when I began writing. "Beginnings are difficult. Where do you start?" Deciding where you are starting on any journey is important. Because deciding where to start ultimately decides the overwhelming amount of content of that journey. The other is "Endings are hard". Deciding where to end your journey is also difficult. Everyone wants and needs closure. A perpetual journey isn't interesting. It's why we have chapters in books. Everyone needs a place to end a story so they can begin the next one. That ending doesn't have to be perfect, it only has to wrap things up nicely enough.

People on a perpetual journey or who value the journey over the place they end that journey ultimately have no goals to strive for. They achieve nothing. Acquire knowledge for no reason. They become well-built ships locked on land with no ocean to sail on.

All through wasted time.

These people attain knowledge, but never develop the ambition to use it. They flounder about. Waste time. Don't chase their goals. Muck about with things that aren't helping them achieve their goals.

There comes a time when everyone needs to accept their own limitations. If you want to create artwork and are using creating new RPG Maker products as the excuse to do so... you're hurting yourself. You don't need the engine to do that.

I don't need the engine to write stories. I don't need it to write books. I don't need it to create characters. I've known I could do all of that long before ever even messing around with RPG Maker 2000 back in the day.

The reason I am drawn to RPG Maker is because I genuinely enjoy the experience of creating a video game. I love the unique writing style that creating a game is (it's like writing plays, but different in many ways). I love creating the systems players will interact with. I love seeing just what players will do with what I've given them. I'm not making a game because I want to write. I'm not making a game because I want to prove I can do something to myself. I'm not making a game because I want to interact with people on a website. I'm making a game because I enjoy the entire process. Even if that process takes me 10 years to produce a game, I won't mind.

But, let's say I do work on that game for 10 years. Have I been wasting my time? Not really. I work on it here and there when I have time or drive. I'm focusing my energy elsewhere. Getting a good job, earning pay raises, managing 14 employees, building a better resume, looking to build credit and cash in order to buy a house, so I can get a couple cats and get out of the tiny apartment I live in. I'm aiming for my boss's job at work, or something similar to that. I'm aiming to be able to pay for everything I own and genuinely have quality products in my life rather than "used" or "hand-me-downs". I'd like to buy a brand new car someday without taking out a loan. I'd like to have a nice kitchen that I can cook some really great food out of.

But, I also want to make a game. It's low on my priority list. It isn't always fun to work on. I slash anything in it that has become a "waste of time" rather than try to get it to work. I vet new things in my game to see if they would be a waste of time if implemented.

I don't want to get to the end of my life and think, "Man, I wasted 70,000 hours of my life building a game that never got finished. I could've learned a new language in that amount of time... I could've dated more... I could've went traveling... I could've played more video games... I could've read more books... I could've made a difference in the world somewhere by volunteering my time."

But, some people are comfortable wasting their time for no reason. Knowledge without ambition.
 

Countyoungblood

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We are humans, we have a finite amount of time on this planet. Any time we spend is time we do not ever get back
This, on the nose. Some people lie to themselves and say theyre satisfied running in small circles others accept similar advice without ever realizing it and live the entirety of their lives in a small world fussing over inconsequential things.

Great if you enjoyed it. How much more would you enjoy creating a whole thing instead of mismatched pieces?

Great if you learned but what difference is it learning how to not complete games or learning how to not build a complete house?

Joy and expirience that culminate to nothing are worth less than time invested into a complete production. These things have value but productivity has more.
 

dragoonwys

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Wasting time depends on what you are trying to do. If your goal is to earn money by making a game, doing anything that raises your cost but does not make an impact in sales will be considered, wasting time. If your goal is to finish a game, not finishing the game will be wasting time.

There are lots of examples of what is a waste of time, but it is on a case by case basis.

For me, I'm one of those artists who use RPG maker as a tool to make short to mid long length interactable art pieces than a 'traditional game'. While sure I can make art pixel art and other art as .png or gifs, the feeling is different when I make assets that are usable in an engine and see them working as intended with user input.

My hobby ended up evolving into making Themed game assets in specific. The criteria for that would be make something that is pretty and tested to be useable in game engines, RPG maker just so happened to be the quickest to design and format for my tastes since everything is plug and play. A game that happens is at its core a theme that I am designing assets for so I have a direction on what to focus on (assets for platformer/ generic rpg/ horror/ visual novel). My projects tends to end when I have finished all the assets that is needed for the current theme. So regardless if I never publicly publish a completed game, I have not wasted time, I came here to make usable assets and I came out with finished assets. I achieved the goal that I set.

Plus, it makes for good game artist portfolio. I have so many assets that I made that can and have been used to get jobs before.
 

Tai_MT

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@dragoonwys

I just have one question. Is creating the project in RPG Maker absolutely necessary to the production of your assets?

As an artist myself (wordsmith rather than brushsmith), I discovered a long time ago how to divorce what I was creating from the engine itself. I'm asking because I'm wagering you don't actually need a new project for each piece of artwork. If necessary, you could probably just reuse the same one over and over and over again. But, I do wonder if it's even necessary to begin with.

When I write for a video game, I don't start with writing in word. I typically start externally with a Spreadsheet and a bunch of random information in notebooks that I write down. I tend to write the story after all the initial planning stages are 100% complete. This saves a lot of time and rewriting in the long run.

I'm not sure how it works for artists, but I'd personally wager that it's possible to do something similar if you're doing sprite work or animations or whatever else. You'd really just need the engine as a "test environment", if I'm not mistaken. So, no need to create brand new projects. The only thing necessary is just a place to put those assets in and test them.... which you could accomplish with a single map.

But, more to the point, you're not really "creating a game". You're creating art assets. You're not necessarily wasting your time, because the tangible progress you're making hinges on using the engine for the purpose of furthering your goal.

What is most commonly seen on these forums is artists making game after game after game and creating their assets... then abandoning the entire project so they can start a new one and do just their single bit of artistry again. If you don't have to create new projects or operate under the illusion of "I'm making a game!" and can rather focus on the one task you do enjoy doing... you're probably much better off and aren't actually wasting time.
 

dragoonwys

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@Tai_MT Oh, it doesn't have to be in RPG maker, but it does comes with everything out of the box thus makes it perfect for like you said, a test environment. Example (player sprites come coded so I just have to switch out the image) So I would say, any engine is important for my hobby's production pipeline, due to very nature of making usuable game assets itself. RPGM is just the one I picked as my go to template.

But, I think you a thinking a little too hard on how I use the engine. I use new projects as folders for organization. I normally don't usually think "I'm creating a new game" when I do this, I'm always under the mindset of "I'm going to make assets for a X type game in this folder" There are different mechanics that don't nessicarily share the same test environment which extends to how the assets are being made or formated. Hence the different projects for easier sorting.

So yes, at these times I am clearly aware I am not making a game, but the side effect for making themed game assets for various genres of games is ending up thinking what that such a game would need, and how it will be used so that I can make said assets correctly. I don't find satisfaction at making a random treasure chest that is not formatted and can just be shown with a gif, but I do get great satisfaction knowing that I have made a usable asset set that can be readily used within the chosen game type's theme.

Sometimes if the theme is larger it ends up looking more like a game, such as if I were to decide on a theme "Horror Visual novel" I will need to make assets for a text box, the backgrounds and the character busts. And from there it spreads out into more game like stuff such as, icons for the UI or a bad ending game over screen, how bout throw in some animations for good mesure. Bit by bit eventually to test all these assets to see if they have reached the end product as intended, I end up with a test enviroment that looks like half a game.

So while its sad to see some artists who's goal is to make a finished game end up making game after game, and still not managing to finish a game while endlessly making assets and attaining no satisfaction. There are the people like me who aren't here to a game, but because of the nature of what I am actually doing and love doing, there is the side effect of making one that looks like it by accident.
 

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"Creativity is the residue of time wasted." Albert Einstein.
 

CrowStorm

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For as long as I can recall I've been pretty firmly in the "less is more"/"keep it focused" camp, but that's because for as long as I can recall going back even past that, I've constantly had the examples of other developers' struggle with feature creep as solid examples of what NOT to do.
 

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