The following guest article is written by Nicholas Mamo of Nyphoon Games. Mamo is a 17 year old student from Malta, and is the sole member of the Nyphoon Games staff. In our first of a new series on indie developers talking about their development process, he writes about keeping motivation for indie games development alive, even when the going gets rough.
It’s that time of the year once more – the time when we start breaking our new year’s resolutions. Lack of resolute? Maybe. Lack of motivation? Definitely. And as an indie game developer, I can relate to those broken promises, as can other developers.
For a small indie studio, developing a game isn’t a year-long pledge, especially for part-time developers. With work stretching into months and years, part-time developers and hobbyists must reaffirm their commitment almost daily, making sure their motivation is intact.
All developers have their own stories – untold tales of projects which never saw the light of day. At heart, the fault lies in waning hopes and dreams and the ensuing drop in motivation. Naturally, it’s a generally-accepted opinion that the most difficult part of developing a game is actually finishing it.
Sure – designing a game is difficult, and even more so than marketing one. Nonetheless, all this would be to no avail if the game remains half-baked and unpublished. Breaking a personal commitment is understandable, yet in a creative industry like the indie market, how does motivation even become a worry?
As in other large projects, video games too face many problems – way too many to list. From marketing the game to handling feedback and dealing with deadlines, the pressure can often be overwhelming.
For smaller studios, such as hobbyists or solo developers, coming home after a long day at work to resume development on a game is often the last thing on their mind. With success never being a guarantee, it’s no surprise that most games never get the coveted ‘finished’ status. And that’s when motivation stops being an unwavering pillar.
Keeping the flame that is motivation ablaze for months on end is no small feat, especially when things start going wrong at each turn. The most obvious suggestion which comes to mind when this happens is to ignore the lack of motivation, practice self-discipline and keep working. But then comes another factor in play.
The indie spirit in game development is heavily-characterized by creativity and passion. For indie developers, working on a project shouldn’t simply be a chore. They shouldn’t be developing because the final product could net them some extra bucks, but because they love what they do.
And to this end, working on something when the flame is extinguished could well be considered going against the indie spirit – the spirit which pushed you to become a game developer. So what to do when the flame starts to die?
There are numerous ways how you to keep yourself passionate as an indie. Feedback and interaction with the gaming community and other game developers is a great way to keep yourself motivated. Game jams too could be a good way to take a short break from your main project, and they also help you boost your portfolio by releasing a new game, however small it is. Nevertheless, the most obvious solutions may not always be the best ones.
From experience, I’ve found that another, perhaps better solution lies much closer to us than we realize. Musicians started playing music because they loved music and wanted to create their own. And as indie developers, our innate desire to develop games came out because we loved to play games.
Just as the games provided the leverage to start developing your own ones, games aren’t just a tool for inspiration, but a gateway to motivation. Sometimes all it takes for us to spark that flame back to life and keep us moving forward is to return to our roots.
So before you push yourself to open your preferred engine and code away, remember to tend to your motivation. As game developers, it was games which defined us, and just like that first time when we wanted to be the catalysts in our own gaming world, games can be a continuous source of motivation.