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Author Topic: Burnt out on project. What to do?  (Read 933 times)
diegzumillo
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« on: January 25, 2016, 01:58:43 AM »

So I have this game I'm working on and I said to myself "I will finish this game" and I really meant it. I don't care if I have to change it completely and release it as a 5 minutes free game. It will reach a point to be deemed "done" by me and it will happen before my unborn children graduate from college.

Having said that, I am completely burnt out from working on it. It has problems I can't solve at the moment. Not technical but design problems. But just to make this clear: the prototype is not bad! I've abandoned other projects because the idea sounded great on paper and not so great on practice, and in those cases abandonment is perfectly reasonable, but this is not one of those cases. The game really does seem to work, but it's too bare bones as it is. It needs more meat, and that is proving to be very difficult.

Anyway, my urge is to start a new project, and I have a few ideas I'm dying to start working on. But this is exactly the cycle that lead me to abandon other projects before. The new idea is always more attractive than the current thing you're stuck on.

On the other hand, it might actually be healthy to file away a project you're stuck on and work on something else for a while. Specially considering how little work I get done at all lately, so I might as well put the time to some use. But I need the discipline to actually come back to the first project when I get stuck on the new one. Maybe now the creative juices are flowing better and I can get unstuck on the first one, and then I finish it and the second one also gets unstuck! One can dream...

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Oddball
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« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2016, 02:23:14 AM »

Locally we have a playtesting day once a month for devs to come together and play each others stuff and give feedback. If your issues are of the design kind something like this might be of use. Is there any way for you to organise a playtesting session with devs in your area? They are more likely to be able to help you out of a design cul-de-sac than waiting to have a eureka moment yourself.

Definitely be proactive in trying to work through the games issues. In my experience putting games on ice doesn't work. I've known a few devs bring old projects back to life but mainly it signals a games death knell.
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diegzumillo
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« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2016, 02:47:14 AM »

That sounds like a great idea but I don't know anyone around here. In fact, I never personally met another dev at all.
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Grhyll
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« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2016, 04:44:06 AM »

Look on the web for dev communities in a big town near you Smiley I myself found one in my city some months ago, which I never suspected to exist before!
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diegzumillo
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« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2016, 10:00:40 AM »

You know, I just remembered there is a dev group meeting here! I don't know why I deleted that from memory. I participated on the first meeting thinking it would be a nice way to interact with other devs but it turned out to be more of a teaching thing for people who wants to get into game dev. A couple of enthusiasts would lead the group into creating a prototype of a game for the duration of the semester. Extremely basic stuff, but awesome for beginners. Needless to say, not what I was hoping it would be.
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Muz
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« Reply #5 on: January 26, 2016, 05:32:47 AM »

Do not work on other projects. It will kill this project.

We all know the best solution to difficult problems is 'ambient thought' - when you realize something in the shower, on the toilet, when walking, etc.

I suggest you actively do nothing. Have a great date. Ride a roller coaster. Read light books. Or literally force yourself to do nothing - it's called meditation and it works great.

You want to give your brain room to wander, but you want to keep your problem at the top of your brain. Such that your brain passively solves the problem.

Or talk about it. Devlogs were awesome design tools for me. Usually when you argue why a problem is impossible to solve, you accidentally find chinks in that armor.
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Zorg
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« Reply #6 on: January 26, 2016, 05:54:41 AM »

You will always have ideas for games you want to work on instead of your current project. But the best thing to do would be to note those somewhere for later. Think about how to reduce features of your current games to finish it asap. Reduce to the max. You can always come back to this game and do a better version with more features if you want to. Or make other, better games. It sounds like you'll be disappointed if you don't finish something. So you should finish something, even if it's not perfect.

Good luck! Smiley
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orange08
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« Reply #7 on: January 26, 2016, 06:22:50 AM »

Well, first of all... every game developer seems to have these kind of problems(including myself).
I don't think I have a cure, just a few ideas you can try that usually help me.

1. Have a checklist of things you need to add/implement into the game.
Once you finish adding the different things on the list, you cross them out with a strikethrough. I've been doing this for years and it always feels awesome and helps to keep me going.

2. Take a walk outside in the fresh air.
You can daydream or brainstorm about your game while you're walking... although sometimes you need to actually stop thinking about your game, get some distance from it, and come back to it in a day or 2. I have found walking is helpful to make me think more clearly and get better, more original ideas.

3. Talk to a friend (online or real life) about the difficulties you're having with your project and see if they have any ideas to help you with your design or even with code.


good luck with your project!
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Prinsessa
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« Reply #8 on: January 26, 2016, 07:44:16 AM »

I have two active projects to get a little variation (one in Unity and one in a custom engine), and I always allow myself to do Ludum Dare, but that's it. I find that brings me enough of a change from time to time without having to drop productivity on any project completely.
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diegzumillo
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« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2016, 05:06:45 PM »

Just a little update. I found a monthly meeting in my city. I'm going to propose making them playtesting-oriented or at least make additional meetings for that. But I think just meetings and interacting with other devs will already help!

That was a nice tip. Thanks!

@Prinsessa Even though most people think starting a new project is a bad idea, I think they can help if you have the discipline to return to the main one afterwards. And game jams are ideal for that, because they have a deadline.
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Jordgubben
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« Reply #10 on: January 31, 2016, 06:38:56 AM »

One thing I've found quite recently by a practical experiment is that it's very important to keep a game project warm. It's a bit like smithery I guess.  You need to give your game at least 20 minutes of hard effort every day to keep it in at a workable temperature.

By hard effort I mean to very specific things. A hard effort always has..
1) ..a potentially tangible result.
2) ..an associated risk of failure.

So just thinking (really hard) about the game is not good enough. But test playing the game after making few small tweaks and then reverting the tweaks (because they where the wrong tweaks) is perfectly fine. It is a valuable effort as long as there is some potential for the result to end up in the game. You could (attempt to) improve art, refactor code, add small features, do spell checking etc.

I'm still testing this on my self so I'm not sure where to draw the line yet. But I'm fairly confident that "just thinking" or writing things down in a personal notebook is not good enough. The "just thinking" part will happen naturally t you keep your game warm. Research is one grey area. Writing in your dev log is another. I'm not convinced that these two activities keeps a game warm, I may even cool it of a bit faster than doing nothing.

Tangible result are important because they always move you (slowly) forward. Risk of failure is important because they show if you are on the right path.
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diegzumillo
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« Reply #11 on: January 31, 2016, 09:41:49 AM »

I like your thermodynamic argument.
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jon_mdi
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« Reply #12 on: February 02, 2016, 02:38:10 PM »

I am completely burnt out from working on it. It has problems I can't solve at the moment.

Hi there!  I wouldn't describe that as burnout myself, more hitting a creative wall, which is much less serious  Wink  There are the techniques of not consciously thinking about it, and letting the subconscious do the work as others have described, which really work for me.  I've read about music engineers and producers hitting similar walls, where one doesn't know if the tinkering is improving things or not, simply because they've been so deep in it for so long, any "big picture" context is lost.

I've read that simply playing the music/showing to other people can really help because immediately you start perceiving it as others do, and then it can seem "obvious" where the problem areas are once the context is switched.

Just my 2p, HTH Smiley
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diegzumillo
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« Reply #13 on: February 02, 2016, 02:43:59 PM »

Yeah! most opinions seem to converge on "reach out to other people" in some way or another. We can't be islands, right.
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Prinsessa
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« Reply #14 on: February 05, 2016, 02:56:07 AM »

We can, if everyone else is a violent ocean trying to drown us.
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Jordgubben
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« Reply #15 on: February 05, 2016, 10:58:01 AM »

We can't be islands, right.

If you take a look under the surface you will notice that most islands are already connected. Wink
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