It took me 10 years to finish my first game. I wish that was a joke. But life is full of surprises. You start a project, you work really hard on it, it loses its luster a bit…but then, maybe you play something that you LOVE, and BAM! The cycle can repeat itself. And before you know it, you have a folder full of unfinished projects.
Let’s face it. Finishing a game is hard.
And not just because it takes a lot of work and a lot of time. It’s also because you can get distracted with life, love, and the pursuit of happiness. Life is an attention whore, and beautiful indie games can fall victim to her focus-sucking evil powers.
For me, that’s what happened. I got stuck trying to pay rent. I started a marketing company. I tried to repair my relationship with my sister. I tried to be SOMETHING in the real world, because I was terrified of making games and not making cash along with it.
When I sold my company in 2015, I got bored and depressed. My mind was occupied 24/7 with making money and building a company for years, and now all of a sudden, there was nothing. So I went back to the things I loved as a kid: programming and making games. And I remember that empty feeling, and the weight of defeat that came over me…realizing that I had never finished a single game in all this time.
Don’t be me.
Finish your game. Do the things you want to do because when you’re on your death bed, you’re not going to wish that you tried less. You’re going to regret not doing more.
3 Ways to Finish More Projects
There are thousands of motivational strategies and books on how to increase your productivity. There are entire week-long seminars on how to finish more stuff. There is more information on the internet than you could possibly fathom about carrying through and completing things that you want to do in your life. But I’m not going to regurgitate all that info here. For me, there are 3 things that REALLY pushed me over the edge and made me finish my first game.
- Pick a small projects. Whatever you think you can build, cut it in half. However long you think it will take you, multiply that by 3. Ideally for your first game, it should be something you can build in a week . That way, you can probably finish it in a month. DO NOT jump in and try to build the next Halo or WOW, you are setting yourself up for failure. Build a pong clone first.
- Be consistent. Every. Single. Day. If you really want to finish your game, you have to do this. No matter what, every single day, work a little on your project. If you have no time for the day, you can literally open up a code editor and write 1 line of code, but make sure you do it AT LEAST once every single day. This trains your brain to be consistent and it will make sure that you finish. Because even at 1 line a day, you will finish eventually.
- Decide on a deadline to publish. You are going to finish this damn game no matter what. If you decide on a deadline to publish, and you MAKE yourself publish on that date, finish or not, you will be more motivated to get shit done. When I did this, it made me work over time because I knew people were going to see it either way, and I’d rather them see something cool.
No Matter What, Decide to Finish
Really if you think about it, there are only 3 steps to finishing your game.
- Don’t stop.
It just takes dedication. It takes non-stop, daily focus and reminders that no matter what, this is the most important thing that you can do. If you don’t make that decision that NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS, you will finish a game, you never will. You have to consciously put your focus towards it, realize it’s a problem you have, and then tackle it head on.
The more you try and convince yourself that you don’t have an issue finishing or that you’re just not that interested in publishing, the less likely you will be to actually make it past the finish line.
Come clean with yourself and just admit that you have an issue. When I finally realized this, it’s what really propelled me to throw everything else out the window and finish a damn game no matter what.
So don’t be like me. Don’t wait 10 years until you finish a game and feel dead inside because you could’ve done it YEARS ago. Do it now! You will not regret it, trust me.
Have you finished a game yet? How long did it take you? Any tips you want to share with others that helped you along your path?