How to make Big Projects?
Submitted:|| 27th June, 2010
I'm getting asked quite a lot how I got the endurance and motivation to complete a project that took such a long time to make. GunGirl 2 took me about two years and you may or may not have heard of Legend of Magnador, which took me about one year of development. I have also made my own pen&paper RPG which was about five years in the making. So I kind of know what I'm talking about . I know there are quite a lot of articles about this topic around and maybe I won't say anything new to you, but this is about MY PERSONAL rules of thumb.
1) Make a game that YOU want to play
This is the main reason for me to keep at my projects for so long. Before I choose what type of project (be it a game or a mod), I think for a very long time about what type of games I like most. Sometimes it's games that I love to play such as Cave Story or Castlevania. After that, I think about what could be added/changed or in my personal opinion improved on it?
For example wouldn't it be fun to play Castlevania with a Rambo type of guy who shoots all zombies and splatters them with lots of blood? Yeah, that would be cool (*add to list*). Or how about if the guns in Cave Story would use ammo? The Machine Gun and Rocket Launcher kind of do that, and it's fun to switch to other weapons when they run out (*add to list*)... and so on.
After a (long) while, I get a list with lots of badass shit that I really want to play! And then I start making it
2) Never forget the fun while making the game
Whenever I read some article about making games or other stuff, a lot of them say like *FORCE YOURSELF TO WORK ON IT* or *NEVER GET DISTRACTED FROM YOUR PROJECT*... this is total bullshit! When I force myself to work on a game and I really would like to do something else instead - the results become shitty, I get frustrated and eventually stop for a while.
When I come back to a project later and play the stuff I've forced myself to make, I usually don't like it, delete it and do it over. So, all the time I forced myself to work on the project was a complete waste! I never force myself to work on a project unless I'm getting really close to finish a project.
When I come back to a project after a while, I always add something new and fun to the game. More visual effects! More weapons! More monsters! More levels! Just something new and exciting to play for myself. Seeing the same old shit every day is boring! Why would you get new motivation to see the same old garbage you saw yesterday?
But what if you completely lose interest for a while?
When I get distracted by shiny objects (or because Left 4 Dead 2 comes out^^) I just stop working on the game and do something else to relax. You might think this would hurt the project, but in fact it adds to it! Because whenever I relax by doing something else like playing other games, I get new ideas. So when I return to my project, I can work on new and fresh ideas that gives me new motivation. This leads me to my next point...
3) Take breaks and clear your mind
There are times where I can't possibly think of anything better than working on a project, making ideas into reality, writing new stuff and playtest the cool new shit I've just created.
But there are also times where I can't even think of the game without getting annoyed like crazy. Just the pure thought of something related to the game makes me want to punch kittens. Well, not really. But you get the point. So, what if this break continues? For a week? For a month? Yeah, that happens. Don't worry . But what do we do about that?
Well, in my personal opinion NOTHING. If you have no motivation at all to work on your stuff - don't do it. Play something else. Or even start a new project *OMG*. Yes, I dared to say it. BUT! Don't even think about making a new project of the same size (pfff or even bigger *lol*) as your main project. This will never work, because you think of all the stuff that still needs to be done with Project1, so you work on Project2, but then you realize how much stuff needs to be done with that too, so in the long run you realize that none of the projects can be finished in a realistic time period and you lose interest in both.
My personal rule of thumb: it gets very hard to keep motivation up after the first year. So, what about GunGirl2? It took two years! Make a playable demo. Get feedback. Get beta testers. You can look up the dates! After year one, BAM I release GunGirl2 demo. After another half a year later BAM I release a GunGirl 2 beta.
Why? Because feedback is great new motivation. As long as your project is good, that is. When you have worked your ass off, there is nothing better than to hear that people that also play it share the same love! And to see that they want MORE! That will get you back in the seat, believe me.
And if people hate it? Well DUUH how about quit your shitty project and make a better one!
Bottom line, get feedback and take breaks. It's okay! You know that your project is going to kick ass if you still come back to it some weeks or even months later, play it and have the same fun you had on the first day
4) Never start a project and let it be made by others!
I see this all the time. People start projects and the first thing they have in mind is shout for help.
*Yay I will create the greatest game ever but I need 5 other people to make it because I suck at everything*
This is FAIL. Your project will never see the light of day. Never ever. You want to know why? Because other people that would like to help you have their own thoughts. They have their own ideas. Maybe even their own projects. And as soon as you start giving orders that they don't want to hear, they will quit. Because it's more fun to work out your own ideas than getting commanded by someone else.
So, always work alone? Not really. I usually work alone, because I have a lot of ideas on my own and I want to realize them in my own style and I'm kind of a perfectionist .
But if you want to make a project as a team, FIRST create the team. THEN create the project AS A TEAM. The project is less likely to fail if everyone in the team has ideas and thoughts about it and the project gets shaped in a way that everyone likes. But because you have more people work on the project, is it more likely to get finished? Not really. Because now you don't have to worry too much about the project, but more about the team. If the team breaks up (which happens A LOT), the project will never get finished.
5) So, what's the bottom line of this bullshit article already?
Simple. To make a project over a long period of time, simply have a good concept of a great gameplay experience to start with. If the game kicks ass and is fun to play, the game itself will give you a lot of motivation, because you want other people to feel the same awesomeness while playing as you felt while making it.
Well, this is it. My advice to you people who keep utterly failing at making big time consuming projects. Hope it could help you and have fun