Hitting a creativity-wall

sv3nxd

Member
For the past months I'm less and less working on games. I begin projects, do 2-5 sprites and create some objects - just to throw it into the bin because I'm not interested anymore.

I think, that I kind of know one of the problems: I'd like to have a partner living locally to bounce ideas off, but I don't think that this is the whole cause.

I tried participatig GameJams, but literally the same happens. I have an idea, I work on it - I begin to dislike it ... aaand Alt+F4.

I took a break by playing tabletennis with friends, even joining a club and I'm gong out way more often. Thought that'd fix it. But it feels like it just made it worse.

I just wanna know if someone encounterd something similiar? How do I get out of this hole?

Have a nice day.

Sincerly​

 

Bentley

Member
For the past months I'm less and less working on games. I begin projects, do 2-5 sprites and create some objects - just to throw it into the bin because I'm not interested anymore.

I think, that I kind of know one of the problems: I'd like to have a partner living locally to bounce ideas off, but I don't think that this is the whole cause.

I tried participatig GameJams, but literally the same happens. I have an idea, I work on it - I begin to dislike it ... aaand Alt+F4.

I took a break by playing tabletennis with friends, even joining a club and I'm gong out way more often. Thought that'd fix it. But it feels like it just made it worse.

I just wanna know if someone encounterd something similiar? How do I get out of this hole?

Have a nice day.

Sincerly​

I can absolutely relate. I get demoralized all the time. I wish I had a buddy who was into making games.
 

MishMash

Member
I guess the first step would be to try and identify what parts of game dev you find the most fun. For me, it was always about the technical challenges and programming, basic content creation never really interested me, unless there was already a solid game architecutre in place. (For example, i'd rarely start a project by making sprites and levels from the get go, as that would just be boring for me).
 

coryru

Member
First step is reach out and open a dialog. I find socializing (either online with strangers or face to face with friends) helps. Talk with them about why you decided to make games in the first place. Another thing that helps is make sure you have a system in place that drives you to create so that when you hit your uninspiring lows you force your self through. Self imposed deadlines help. So does posting a wip for people to see makes you want to create more to show off to other people. Form a group so that other people keep you accountable. All of these could help you to stick with it but.....

Honestly if making games isn't giving you enjoyment anymore choosing not to do it anymore is viable. You will find happiness in that choice as well. A break could also reignite your spark and you could come back tenfold.
Just some things to consider.

If you need a stranger to help you let me try. So Sv3nxd why did you pick up gamemaker in the first place?
 

sv3nxd

Member
I guess the first step would be to try and identify what parts of game dev you find the most fun. For me, it was always about the technical challenges and programming, basic content creation never really interested me, unless there was already a solid game architecutre in place. (For example, i'd rarely start a project by making sprites and levels from the get go, as that would just be boring for me).
If you need a stranger to help you let me try. So Sv3nxd why did you pick up gamemaker in the first place?
Creating always fascinated me. I've began doing art when I was as little as I remember. But as years went by, I met people that were just so much better than I. I would met people that picked art up weeks ago, but went past my skillset in that short span of time already.

I got discouraged and was missing a creative output. I kept drawing but barely enjoyed it. I joined a design-school, hopefully finding my passion there. But all I found was pure dissapointment, as literally only 1 hour-a-week would be free-art. (Which makes sense, it's a design-school - not art-school)

I picked up java and made some of the worst game human-kind has seen (Before even having really learned the language after-all)
And I loved it. Noone in my social-contacts had anything to do with programming or gamedev, so I had noone to talk about it in the first place.
And with barely any understanding of programming I had it rough enjoying what I did. My girlfriend supported me completly, which I was so happy about. But she could'nt help me when I was stuck. I remember posting a question on Stack Overflow and apart from one/two helpful comment/s, the rest was rather ... unpleasant. Probably because I was such a beginner.

I quit java and have a pause with programming. After a month I pick it up again but with a new start. Because I found gamemaker. That was literally what I was seraching for. I read myself trough a few posts beforehand and didn't even get into DnD as lots suggested.

I made so many games in such a short span, but only a few were actually "complete" already. The more I did, the more I noticed how little I know. I tried learning several advanced things like pearl-noise and A*. But I ran into a huge-a** wall.

Even tough there were several video, I never was able to learn it. I'm german and even tough I'm getting better at english - learning things from square-one in a different language is rather ... difficult.

So I dropped pearl-noise and A*. I thought "Maybe I need to learn a 'real' language first", and started learning C++ with a book. (Ironically the "C++ for dummys" - series)
I loved the humour and how it's explaining the topic.

But even there I hit more then often a wall, because I don't have anyone to ask.

With the things I learned so far, I'm capable of doing like 60% of the ideas I have. Which is a lot more than what I was capable of at the beginning, obviously.
I love making games; I love creating sprites for my games; I love building a wall and being challenged by bugs and needing to fix them ... But still somethings missing and I don't know what.

Honestly if making games isn't giving you enjoyment anymore choosing not to do it anymore is viable. You will find happiness in that choice as well. A break could also reignite your spark and you could come back tenfold.
Just some things to consider.
Stopping isn't an option. I've done and tried so many things - and nothing gave me even close the feeling of enjoyement I have with creating games. Also, when being done with school I'm determined to choose this as a carrierfield. Not only as a job, but a passion.

Which makes me even more frustrated about my current situation to be honest.

I watch YouTube videos. Miyomotto or developer conference speakers. Better yet go to one.
A partner is a huge motivator as well.
I've learned 90% I know from GDC-Vault-Videos and tutorials. And GDC always has been a huge inspiration.





__________________________________


Thanks for all the answers. I appreciate it.
 

MishMash

Member
From my observation, I think you just need to chill a little with it. If anything, it sounds a bit like a combination of burn-out and frustration. Remember that any skill takes years and years to learn, and with programming especially, you will constantly be learning and improving as time goes on. Equally, comparing yourself to others is just a surefire way to land yourself in a hole. For example, if after a year of running, you get demotivated because some olympic athlete can run a 5k twice as fast, then that's the wrong way to approach these things. Most people who are good have dedicated an inordinate amount of time to their craft. In the situation you described with artists getting better in a short space of time, sometimes it can seem that way, however you may not know much about this persons true background, or the time they put in outside. They may already have been highly skilled in a different field of art and the course simply acted as a means of transferring skills. (This would be similar to the way a mathematician would likely pick up programming and algorithm design far faster than someone coming from a chemistry background for example.)

There really is no rush, I think that it might be worth taking some time off (even if it may not seem productive) just to break the rut and give yourself an opportunity to re-align your mind. If you can approach programming with a better mindset and have more realistic expectations of rate of improvement, or even just change your approach to how you tackle problems, the things that are holding you pack may disappear.

-- On a note of learning, I can't comment on your experience, as you haven't given a great deal of insight other than listing what you have done, but one thing I do often see people do is not actually put in the hard work to truly understand something. They can read a tutorial and can understand the intent, and can accept how things are meant to be done, but sometimes they need to take it that step further to really understand why things are done in a certain way. This can be anything from understanding how memory works in C++, and what the CPU is actually doing. This can also be understanding the core object oriented programming principles set-out in Java, understanding why programs are designed in certain ways. I also think that you could perhaps alter your approach to programming in general. A* can seem daunting at first, but when you actually break it down into its core components and the processes it follows, it can become rather straight forward. You should never really let problems overwhelm you but try to analyse what you can do to simplify it, or break down the understanding so you know exactly what is going on, rather than trying to blindly copy code and hope for the best. Most problems can be made simple if you break them down into lots of small parts.

Perhaps you would benefit from having some formal teaching in programming. Have you considered studying computer science (or related) at University after you finish school? This would put you in a community full of other students with the same ambitions and goals, as well as an environment well-suited to learning with professors and teaching assistants all over the place that can help give you a thorough understanding of something.

Stopping isn't an option. I've done and tried so many things - and nothing gave me even close the feeling of enjoyment I have with creating games. Also, when being done with school I'm determined to choose this as a carrierfield. Not only as a job, but a passion.
Now this is a rather important topic. There is a big, and i mean BIG difference between developing games as a hobby and developing games as a full-time job. When you make projects for fun, you aren't accountable and you can work on whatever you want. If something is boring, you would likely just stop and give yourself the freedom to go and work on something else. Very few hobbyist devs actually have any significant amount of discipline to power through when they have to work on things that aren't fun.
For me personally, this year has been the first year I have worked as a full-time indie game developer and whilst I do enjoy working on my project, I can very comfortably say that once my game is released, I have no intentions of starting another big commercial project any time soon :p I really miss being able to work on random projects and tech demo's just for the pure fun of it. I used to get home, excited to try out something, whether it be a new shader, a mini tech demo, an algorithm I had an idea for. But now, I don't have the time to do that because I feel any time I do spend programming should be on my project. It is okay to work on a project, but it does require a tremendous amount of discipline, and when you have to work through things that don't necessarily interest you, but need to be done to "complete" your project, it can become an entirely different beast, and not have the same appeal it once had before.

I can also safely say that after this year, I don't really want to work as a general gameplay programmer as a career, but would much rather work as an engine developer/graphics programmer, given that i've also realised that general content creation doesn't interest me that much, especially not if its not my idea im working towards. The reason I mention this is because it is easy to put something you really enjoy as a hobby on a pedestal and assume its going to be the best job ever, however its important to again be realistic and know that eventually work becomes work. Let me add again that I do enjoy game dev as a job, but I got a good amount more satisfaction out of it when it was just a pure hobby.
 

sv3nxd

Member
There really is no rush, I think that it might be worth taking some time off (even if it may not seem productive) just to break the rut and give yourself an opportunity to re-align your mind. If you can approach programming with a better mindset and have more realistic expectations of rate of improvement, or even just change your approach to how you tackle problems, the things that are holding you pack may disappear
The thing is ... I thought I took a break. As I said I even picked up tabletennis with friends. I play in a local sports-club. Also did I play several games. I tried taking my mind off of it as much as possible.

I'm afraid the more I distance myself from pushing to do something with gamdev - well, the more I'd be losing the interest in it.

On a note of learning, I can't comment on your experience, as you haven't given a great deal of insight other than listing what you have done, but one thing I do often see people do is not actually put in the hard work to truly understand something
I'd always take nothing for granted. If there was something, I'd not understand - I'd either think about it or inform myself. So take my word when I say, that I'd always try to piece everything down. And I think that was the problem I had when watching for example the A*-Algorithm-tutorial by Arend Peter or his pearl-noise video.

Hes the only one that made a A* in GM as a tutorial. But he'd not explain most of his actions. For example - when he tried explaining, why and how set up seeds, so the noise looks as it should ... I just didn't get it. I've spent 2 days playing around with this part ... but I just didn't understand.

Also seemed his A* so overcomplicated and barely explained.

But the thing is - Everbody in the commentsections seemed to understand - ... But I didn't.
I watched other videos on the topic with other languages - But that just made it more compicated. So I felt ... well - stupid.
I understand how both functions work in theory (I think).

A*: Setup grid -> Make costs per field -> set target and position -> heuristic analysis -> move to most effecient field and ignore obsticles

Pear: Make a graph with random values, interpolate -> repeat with less amplitude and add onto

But when it comes to coding it - Im 100% lost

Now this is a rather important topic. There is a big, and i mean BIG difference between developing games as a hobby and developing games as a full-time job.
Im not talking of being a solo-indie-developer. I'd love to work in a studio with a team. I'm aware that this is the same scenario of what you're talking about. But I don't think I'd mind that.

Perhaps you would benefit from having some formal teaching in programming. Have you considered studying computer science (or related) at University after you finish school? This would put you in a community full of other students with the same ambitions and goals, as well as an environment well-suited to learning with professors and teaching assistants all over the place that can help give you a thorough understanding of something.
I plan on going to the university of saarland or university of science and economy here in germany. But that's still one and a half year to go. But yes, that's a plan.







Thank you a lot for your really fleshed out answer and the insights you gave me.
 

MishMash

Member
I'm not really seeing where your mind is at now, but I still get the impression that you are trying to force it. Talking about having to come back to avoid potentially losing interest is a bit of an odd thing in my mind. As for me, i'll take a break when I get burned out, but even after a couple of days, i'll be itching to get back at it. I don't force myself to come back to it out of a sense of duty (unless im mid-way through a project), I come back to it when I am genuinly motivated by a random idea, or because I want to create something, nothing else.

-- On a note of those tutorials, I did have a skim through and I do agree, he doesn't really explain the process that well in either. It seems to be the case that he's created a working solution and is just re-writing the code for it progressively. Copy and paste tutorials may work for some people, but they aren't that great for actually learning the process. It is far more valuable to try and understand what tasks are being achieved and work towards thinking about how you might do that, rather than copying someone elses code.
By this I mean with Perlin noise for example, you listed the key steps in the process, so now you should be asking yourself, well how do I do all of those steps:

Filling a grid with random values should be easy, I create a grid, loop through it, and assign a random value to each cell.
Interpolating it should again be rather easy. For each cell, I want to interpolate it with the values of its neighbours, so I sum up the values of neighbouring cells and average them.

At this point, if any of the steps suddenly become complicated again, then break it down into more steps.

So A* is actually an optimisation on top of Dijkstra's algorithm. Dijkstra's algorithm is the basic case, and you should ideally understand this fully before you try something more complicated like A*. Dijkstra's algorithm can be generalised as a graph pathfinding algorithm which simply follows the following process:

We start with a graph (A graph is any network where nodes are connected to each other. A grid is a graph where each grid cell can be modelled as a node connected to its 4 neighbours. Dijkstra's algorithm boils down to a process of determining the shortest path from one node in a graph to another. The shortest path in this case can be considered in terms of distance, but you can use a "cost" function in general. The algorithm finds the path that minimises cost. In this case, you can treat the cost between each cell as 1, given it costs the same to move from one cell to any other cell.

We start by keeping track of two things per cell:
- 1) The cost to get to that cell using the best known path so far (we dont need to store the full path, just:
- 2) The node we came from to give that cost

The algorithm starts at the start node, and finds all accessible nodes to itself (excluding nodes we have locked). We then evaluate each of the connections, and for each node, determine a new cost, which is the total cost up to the node we are testing, plus the cost between our current node and the next. If the overall cost to that new node is lower than its existing, we replace that nodes cost, and also change the node index we came from. Once a node has evaluated all its connections, we lock that node.
We repeat this until all nodes are locked. At that point, we can trace a path back from the destination to the source using the 2nd piece of data we store per-node.

A* is an additional optimisation on top of this which controls the order in which we evaluate nodes, using a "Heuristic function" to first evaluate nodes which are going to be more likely on the path (e.g. not checking nodes which would likely be further away.)

This explanation is thin, but the point im making is less about trying to explain the problem, but a process for breaking things down. A* for example is an easy generalisation if you already understand and have implemented dijkstra's (which is a simple case).

Also remember that there are many different ways of doing things. There is no requirement to follow something exactly to the book. For example, there are so many outdated and horrendous OpenGL tutorials out there that people still reference because it is believed they are good, when in reality, they completely miss the ball as far as teaching useful graphics programming techniques. As you move forward with both computer science/programming study, you'll learn that ultimately things matter a lot less than they may first seem to. Implementations change drastically, however it is the core principles that you need to focus on understanding, the exact mathematics and exchanges going on. If you can understand that generally, then you should find it easier to work towards implementing them. This is also important because implementation details can be vastly different depending on what language you are working in. Creating an A* algorithm in Haskell is a completely different ballgame to doing it in Java, however, the core definition of the process is the same.

I would suggest that you read about A* or Dijkstra's more generally, ignoring code samples and try to understand the process, then think about what datastructures and functions you may need within GM to try and achieve that same task. It can also be beneficial to implement algorithms visually. That said, rather than performing the entire algorithm in one go, create a visual representation of the state, and step through it by pressing a button. (so each button click performs an iteration of the algorithm for example). I did this exact thing when working on a pathfinding algorithm for my own game:
https://i.imgur.com/Gnksp6U.gifv
 

Smiechu

Member
There is no such thing as "my hobby is my job"...
When hobby becomes a job it's a job... there are deadlines, finances, personnel issues, customer issues, random events, stress, goals, changes, processes, documentation, paperwork...
Work, even in most creative industry branches is most of the time accomplishing the boring repetitive tasks... 5-10% is the real creative work.

In my opiniom you should just cool down and don't be so hard on yourself...

What is my advice??? Find yourself another hobby (or two, three)! and not strict a creative one. When you feel you are close hitting a wall just let it go and concentrate for a moment on another hobby. Maybe just sit and play computer games. There is so many cool things in mainstream and indie you could do just that... and to be honest, everybody need inspirations, ideas, comparations.

In my case my main hobby is music and sound engineering, but I work as a mechanical design engineer / project menager. I also know how to handle with tools and I like to create some nice custom furniture, or do some practicall upgrades in house.

I.e. I had a motivation drop by my music project a year ago, no new music mixing jobs, and in my fulltime job there was nothing creative at the time, so I started to develop my game. Than after couple of months of a "afterburner" development I lost my motivation becouse I had to start and program my game from scratch, and I saw the graphics I made are not so nice etc...

But it was not so bad, becouse fortunate there was a kick in my music projects. So for couple of months I concentrated on music, and achieved some cool things.
Now last week, refreashed and higly motivated after small sucess with my music projects I came back to my game project, and the work flow is just great! New ideas, and suddenly I found a solutions to some issues I couldn't solve earlier...

So I advice... do the same thing, find something else, and it would be good if it would be something giving results in shorter period of time than game development, which needs mostly couple of years to finish a project.

P.S.
In what part of DE do you live? I'm currently living in Kassel. Maybe we could join forces if you live anywhere near.
 

sv3nxd

Member
@MishMash
Now I understand what you meant with breaking down things.
I will take a break, today I'm gonna play Dauntless with my girlfriend and best friend anyways. We'll probably invest some time in it.

When I feel like going back at it, I will tackle what you just taught me, because I really feel motivated learning it. Having learned Djikstras, Pearl and/or A* would give me a way bigger span of possible ideas. And I feel like suceeding in those tasks could give me a boost. Do you know any good resources for Djikstras Algorithm?

As for now - I just really wanna say: Thank you. You've been a great help getting me out of this hole I was in.
Have an amazing day.

 
T

Timze

Guest
Is this a common occurrence in other pursuits as well or just game development?
 
D

Dan McKinnon

Guest
Finish something small even if you hate it. Polish it up even if it's a turd. You have to finish. It's the hardest skill to master when first starting out.
 

The-any-Key

Member
I think you need to pick your 'thing'. When I started game dev I was lost on many things. And after many years, I still am. Instead I wanted to find the thing I was good at. I tested to do one thing after another until my brain said: "Coding 'this' comes naturally". And when I run into a problem I can just leave it there and the next day my brain came up with a solution. I started to learn more about it and became more skilled at it. Most people here are great at doing one or some things. But no one is skilled at absolutely everything. So if you are more into art try draw art and see if there is a branch that feels naturally and easy to make (ex pixel art, realistic, comic...). Also try coding and try make collision systems, network, animations, sounds, AI... Somewhere your 'thing' is waiting for you.

My understanding is that you like when a project come to life. But there is more than one road that lead to a completed game.
  • You can create your own game. As a single developer you should aim for a 1-5 hour game. And some parts may turn out great, good, ok and bad. This is because we can't be skilled on everything. (1-5 hour game = it takes a player 1-5 hours to "win" the game)
  • Or you can look for a team that already creating a game and present what your 'thing' is and what you can contribute to the team. This will give you some satisfaction when the game go live.
  • Or you can start your own team and describe a project you want to work on.
 
Top