Finishing a Game

Gomi Boy

 
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One thing I've noticed in my ridiculously checkered history with the RM community is that, well, we're pretty bad at actually finishing what we start. I've seen dozens of games just drop off the radar completely at varying stages of development -- some of them I even liked! And it keeps happening, too. The reason for this is really simple: most of us are coming at this with basically no experience at making these things happen, and we get so caught up talking about how cool our ideas are that we forget to make them exist. Or we get caught up looking at the latest resources and scripts and figuring out ways to glue them to an existing corpus. Or we just run facefirst into the realization that things aren't as easy as we expected them to be and completely lose heart (and guts)! For better or worse, I want that to change.

I not-too-recently found an article by Derek Yu, a guy you may have heard of, on the subject of game development and (more importantly) game completion. It does a neat job of encapsulating a lot of little mistakes people make, even experienced ones, and I found my own crimes on there more than once. It's concise, it's charming, and it probably applies to your situation no matter what kind of game you're dreaming about. Give it a read. Even if it doesn't really do anything for your process, it's got some cute pictures and stuff?


This should really be required reading for new devs, basically.
 
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The JJ

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Making a game is a long process and what I've seen is that most people are either remaking their games, or quitting their current one and creating a new one. People just really want to have that perfect game they've always thought about and put all their ideas into it. If you look at the Complete Games Section, You see some of the games will just be basic such as the mapping and features where as in the Project Development section, their games have a lot of detail such as in their mapping since most people are starting to parallax map. Imagine mapping a game with about 10 hours gameplay in photoshop? That would take forever. Well that's how I see, I could be saying rubbish but whatever :p
 

Indrah

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Ah, I remember reading this before. Tons of good advice. (Already used some of it!)
 

Ronove

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Imagine mapping a game with about 10 hours gameplay in photoshop? That would take forever.
Hey, that doesn't take forever. My game is about 10 hours of gameplay and mapping (most of it parallax too) it all took like 8 months (the game took 8-9 months to complete). I was just sick and bored and had nothing else to do at the time. If I had a job or wasn't sick, it probably would have taken me longer, but in the long run, it doesn't take forever!

Which could actually go into why people don't finish: thinking it takes forever. The article probably says this, but just take the game a step at a time. Don't get overwhelmed with the big picture and focus on smaller pictures and smaller goals. When I was finishing my game, every week I'd have some kind of goal to finish (and most of the time I exceeded that goal). If I kept looking at the game and going "man, look at all I have left to do, I'll never get this done" I wouldn't have finished.
 
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Espon

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Coming up with ideas is usually more fun than making them into a reality. You might have this really awesome idea for a game but when you start to work on it you find majority of your time is spent doing repetitive work and constantly checking for errors. You think you're finally done working on some part and the next day you find a dozen things wrong with it that weren't apparent the previous day. And unfortunately the closer you get to finishing your game, the more time you spend doing on these, which can get quite boring. Sometimes I can run some event like 50 times before I fix all the little bugs and typos I somehow put in and still end up missing something. It basically comes to the point where you gotta force yourself into completing it instead of getting sidetracked and starting a new project.
 

Mouser

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Coming up with ideas is usually more fun than making them into a reality.
^This.

You think this is something unique to writing games? How many novels get started? People decide to pick up an instrument or learn a new language?

At some point the shiny wears off the new and you realize it's a lot more work than you thought, and many people decide (rightly) that their time can be better spent elsewhere.
 

Gomi Boy

 
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I can definitely see where you're coming from -- there's no point to slogging through something you hate doing just for the sake of having done it, most of the time. Love it or hate it, though, making games is hard. Even short one-off projects and contest entries have their own little snags to run into. Like with any creative venture, you have to get used to working around blocks, and sometimes it's absolutely horrible to manage.

Personally? I feel that it's worth it. Whenever I try to make something, it's because I'm absolutely in love with the idea -- and I've had to deal with a lot of heartbreak so far as a result, but I'm going to keep at it! Making games isn't a game, whatever the tools brand themselves as. It's a huge effort, with everything that entails, and dealing with how harrowing that process can be at times is itself a skill that'll develop with effort.
 
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Indinera

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I think finishing a game boils down to one main question: do you like playing your own game?

If you do, it makes everything so much easier, you want to progress in your game, see it develop (and end), you also do not mind playing it several times (very helpful to debug...)

Of course, I'm pretty sure it helps being a natural at it. Like everything, if you've got some predispositions for it, you are most likely to get where you want to get. Being able to finish a game is a skill like pixel artist or musician is.
 
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AK47

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@Runaway Bro: Thanks for the article. Had a quick glimpse, will read it properly later.

My thoughts on the matter...

Everyone has their own reasons for quitting, or not finishing a game.

Though, some common factors are eventual boredom, or working on the game becomes more of a chore than it being something fun to do.

Also a big factor in this is the size and scope of the game you are trying to make, and your own ambitions.

Sure you could probably create a mediocre game in say a month, but if your aiming for something more ambitious, naturally it will take a lot longer.

So the logical answer would be to reduce the size/scope of the game and lower your ambitions In order to finish it quickly,

but to that I say "F*** that!”. Be as ambitious as YOU want, make it as grand as YOU want, do whatever it takes so that the game YOU are developing is exactly how YOU want it to be. As long as you enjoy what you're doing, it will keep you motivated enough to eventually complete it.

Sure there will be a lot of challenges you face, but you shouldn’t give up! Keep trying until you overcome them, this will not only improve your skills as a developer but will give you a sense of accomplishment that will greaten your motivation, this is the case for me, at least.

If you get bored with one aspect of the game, work on something else! There are a ton of different things involved in making a game.

Don't put all your eggs in one basket! Try different things, if you are a great mapper and are bored from just mapping all the time, then why not work on your writing skills and look into ways in which you could improve it. Or maybe look into composing your own music? There is a ton of things to do and learn. This will also improve your skills as a developer, but most importantly it will keep things refreshing and fun, whilst contributing to the game!

It may take you years to complete your game, but if the final outcome is exactly as you wished and taking into consideration all the things you have learned in order to achieve this, I think them years were well worth the time and effort.

Personally, the reason why my game is taking so freaking long to finish is because of my Job. I have very little spare time at the moment to work on the game, but I really look forward to this time, and have fun working on it, these are the most important things right here.

Imagine mapping a game with about 10 hours gameplay in photoshop? That would take forever.
Once you have gotten used to it, it doesn’t take very long. In fact, it's almost as quick as tileset mapping for me.

Like everything, just keep practicing and it will be easier and quicker the next time round.
 
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Ocedic

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The problem is unrealistic expectations. RPG Maker is a powerful tool, but it doesn't do everything for you. Are you not a very good artist? Or have no audio background? Or have no scripting ability? Then for the love of god, keep things simple and focus on your strengths. Don't try to make the most artistically beautiful game if you can't do anything in paint and have to rely on others for your artwork. Don't delay your game because the super amazing script you need doesn't exist yet. Work with what you have, keep things simple and focus on what is important.
 

AeonSpark

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That article actually inspired me to try a lot harder to get a game finished.

I know I'd rather have 1 finished game than half a dozen projects.

Although, if I did learn some advanced coding I'd probably wait until I started a new project, unless I could just shift it in there.

Good post, lessons for us all.
 

Clord

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Well it does not help either when some people are overly righteous and hypocrites. Not that I'm a perfect either. In fact even I fall to that pit to judge game by screenshot even if over 90% of the game is way more detailed and story is way more fantastic than the mapping in the game.

Still I continue doing my main project but it has frozen for now because of the new contest.

Also my quite popular THE Card Game map in EU server on Starcraft II is one of example of the projects I really liked to do and turned out well, thousands of votes, over 14K bookmarks and hundreds of games each day are played with that map.
 
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PixelLuchi

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Ah, I remember coming across this article at RMN a while ago. Really useful. Although I have my down days where I just feel like giving up on the entire project, I somehow have to block out those demons that gnaw at my brain, and press on with development. Yes, testing is daunting. Yes, getting the game to have as few bugs as possible is hell at times ( especially if you're only one of a handful of people working on a game ), but if players are having fun at the end, then it makes it all worthwhile.

After all, who is going to play your game if you yourself will take no joy out of playing it? ( I know Reynard posted something like this in his status update yesterday, it's very true ).
 

Helladen

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This is a very good blog post, thank you. :)
 
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Gomi Boy

 
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I'm really interested in finding out to what extent I can still enjoy a game I've made, even after extensive debugging and playtesting forces me to run through it multiple times. I legitimately have no idea whether a gulf would form between my experience and a player's or in what direction the difference might run. Offhand, I've noticed that often people are much more positive toward their own games -- but there's also been a few who've had very low opinions of their own work, even if it's a lot of fun for someone like me to play.

I guess this is a question I should address to people here who've finished projects of their own:

In your experience, is a game that you've created yourself still fun to play?

Well it does not help either when some people are overly righteous and hypocrites.
If you'd like to talk criticism slash rage against the mawkchine, this isn't the topic for it.
 
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Ronove

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In your experience, is a game that you've created yourself still fun to play?
I must have tested my game so many times because of a certain bug I was trying to catch, so I've played it far more than I think I ever wanted to. But even still, I still have fun playing it. That's because I took what I've enjoyed in other games I've played and packaged it together in my game. It's at a difficulty I appreciate (despite knowing exactly what to do cause it is my game, it's still at that level I like) and it takes as long as I think a game should take. Granted, if I replayed it now I would go "oh jeez, I should redo this, this and this because I know how to do it better" but I won't because I'm finished with it. All those feelings of wanting to redo something can wait for my next game.
 

PixelLuchi

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I'm going to agree with Ronove there. I've honestly lost count of how many times I've tested and played my game, but never once ( in the 20+ months of development ) did I ever get bored with it. That and the fact that everything I loved about RPGs I threw in my project as well ( like Ron mentioned ). Sure, it will be far from perfect, but if it's still fun at the end of the day, then I'm happy. I've since pushed the "I'm going to re-do this with better graphics/art/maps etc" mindset out of my mind. It's very unhealthy for game development.
 

RyanA

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Indeed it is Lu-chwan, it's almost like in music, when you say the guitar needs more zazz, then the next thing you know everyone's got a 15 minute solo and no one likes listening to a musical whackawhackanyan :3
 
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Indinera

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In your experience, is a game that you've created yourself still fun to play?
It does get somewhat boring after a while. Beta-testing involves repeating the same thing over and over and it's no fun.

It's fun to play if you decide to play it a couple of years after you've released it though. :lol:
 

Clord

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I have been playing probably hours worth of that contest entry I'm doing. But my interest towards it, helps.
 
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