Serious question. I'm not talking about anything specific here, but I've started to notice people who claim to have built these very impressive looking projects from scratch, in a matter of weeks, days or hours. I've been working on a game now for about 6 months and it feels like I've come nowhere.
I've been moving from doing programming (which I'm horrible at) art (which I'm... Improving on) and video related stuff (Which I've now abandoned.. -_-). I've recently started reaching out to people who could help me with art and animation as my project has turned out to be very ambitious, but no luck yet.
Anyway, I'm pretty certain I've come across people on here who have the drive to get huge amounts of work done in a short period of time. (72 hour compos for example) How do you do it?! I spend 80% of my day sat at my computer, in either Photoshop, Illustrator, Motion or MMF2. I'm not sure why I've hardly got anything to show after all this time! Anyone else ever feel like this..?
There are folks who do something for a hobby, then there are folks who do something as a career.
If your family needs food on the table, the rent needs to be paid, and the utility bills need to be squared away, and software is the only way you're gonna make that money...Then you'll make a game in a week that will be a solid, passion-filled piece of work. One for which you're proud to charge money for others to play.
If you're really struggling to make your projects come to fruition, I recommend two things - one much less drastic than the other.
- Find a mentor. Someone else who was able to do the solo-developer thing and make it work. This is a crucial step and is what I consider "not just working hard, but working smart."
- Quit your day job and give yourself a week to finish a software project, post it in the online marketplace, and start providing for yourself with it. This is a foolhardy, incredibly risky thing to do. But it just might work if you rise to the occasion.
I don't think there's a middle ground when it comes to this, since the playing field is leveled for pretty much anyone in the developed world.
If you want to make a living at this sort of thing, if you want to actually finish massive, worthwhile projects...make it a desperate race to completion for yourself. Only if you risk going hungry (if only in a metaphorical sense) will you finish it.
I've just been reflecting on what I've done over the last half a year, and actually I've achieved quite a lot. It's just a shame that a lot of it has been either replaced or abandoned. I've redrawn the same graphics countless times now, and thrown away a couple of minutes of video footage I spent about 2 months on. At least this way I'm filtering out the weaker aspects.
I think if you're building from scratch you should expect it to take time.
I tend to pull stuff out of other games ive made already to help speed it all up. Or even just tweak some of my random crap ive done that might be useful.
In the end most of my stuff takes ages anyways.
I suppose a good approach to take, if you do have a severely tight deadline, might be to make the first level and the final boss first. Then no matter how little you make to fill in the middle you'll have a complete game in a sense.
It's unfair on yourself to compare games made in 72 hours to your current project; they're two different mindsets. You could think of a short competition game like a 100m sprint, and your long-term project being like a marathon. I would argue that often the reason people are comfortable releasing those 24/48/72 hour games is that we can always excuse the bugs and rough edges by saying "well, that's all I had time for." whereas you literally have until the day you die to mull over every feature of your large project and delay its release.
I used to have a lot more free time than I do now, as I'm sure most of us do, but it's important to keep going even in small amounts.
A few things that help me:
1. Learn to accept your own working pace. It can be frustrating because it's just harder to notice your own progress. So..
2. Write everything down. I keep a spreadsheet of everything I can think of - new features, bugs, polish. Don't delete items when you complete them, but cross them out instead. Soon enough you'll be looking at a whole lot of completed tasks.
3. Record yourself playing the game every once in a while. Keep the video and look back on older versions of the game to remind yourself of how far it's come since x weeks ago.
4. Set small targets and stick to them. "Today I'm going to fix this bug." "Today I'm going to make a start on this next level.", etc. If public pressure would help you, announce your targets on your devlog or Twitter, eg. "New screenshot coming this Saturday!"
I also think you need to consider experience (I'm not saying you're inexperienced). Look at the guy who made Minecraft who's doing a 72 hour thing for charity somewhere around now. He's experienced and my bet is he has a couple of engines or programming languages he's already comfortable in so he probably has a basic framework that he can start off from when he beings a new project.
When you compare yourself to others consider how much experience/work on whatever project has been achieved through other projects.
Also I'd like to caution you on comparing yourself to others. For it it's been poison. I've actually been stuck in a rut for at least 10 years because I was frustrated that my work didn't measure up to what I could see was being done by others. Some weeks back I decided I'd make a simple as hell game loosely based on Nintendo's Balloon Fight from 1982. It seems to work. I've actually come somewhere with the game already and more importantly - I haven't lost my interest in working on it. Dunno if all that was off topic but there you go
Thanks guys. I've actually just noticed what nim said about looking back at how the game used to look, I can definitely see a huge improvement as time as gone by. I think keeping a check list is a great idea!
Expanding on what Eight Bit Battle Cat said, personally I do compare my work to others. The only thing I'm good at/have a passion for is art. And unfortunately when I became a teen I decided it'd be better to go into database design and other technical things. I'm not a technical person at all! So I wasted a lot of years not drawing and now I'm not as good as I should be for my age. It bothers me a lot, but I'm dealing with it.
Honestly I think every artist says that, no matter how good they are or become. It's no use crying over spilled milk that's already dried up. It's time to look forward and just make sure that when in 5 years you look back you don't feel like you've wasted your time again
I don't think you can help comparing yourself to others. It's human nature. The trick is to not let it bother you and make you hate yourself and try to steal their tricks