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Discussion How do you all keep focused?

I personally don't have issues with motivation, but how does anyone stay focused on the important things? I tend to drift from thing to thing so that I can keep going without burning out. Although, I realize its best to do things a certain way, I'm having issues staying on track. I'm sure this isn't just me.
 
I bounce from thing to thing, I have several projects in various stages and prototypes. Sometimes you just hit a bit of a wall with one thing and want to keep working, so you get to work on another project, often I feel a dmall reinvigoration for the project by the time I circle back, or I will suddenly have an idea or solution to a problem.
This probably isn't the best way to work but trying to stick it out with one thing just doesn't work for me, and the burnout can last months or years in one case.
I do however recommend game jams, the short time limit really forces you to just push through and simplify things, I've noticed a large increase in my skill and progress with other projects since first participating in the GMC Jams here.
 

Morendral

Member
I bounce from thing to thing, I have several projects in various stages and prototypes. Sometimes you just hit a bit of a wall with one thing and want to keep working, so you get to work on another project, often I feel a dmall reinvigoration for the project by the time I circle back, or I will suddenly have an idea or solution to a problem.
This probably isn't the best way to work but trying to stick it out with one thing just doesn't work for me, and the burnout can last months or years in one case.
I do however recommend game jams, the short time limit really forces you to just push through and simplify things, I've noticed a large increase in my skill and progress with other projects since first participating in the GMC Jams here.
This. Sometimes I'll pick up a game of a completely different genre of the thing I'm working on to give me a break as well. I think it's best remember that as a hobby Dev you are doing this for fun. Unless you make a lucky break on a project and earn a living from it, burning yourself out like a second job isn't good
 
Same maru, no problem self motivating. If you're developing it on your own, drifting does appear to keep things fresh.
I work on some difficult code that I really dont want to do and then follow up with some fun elements as a mental reward, then repeat.

If you only do the things you enjoy, the difficult stuff will bite you later. Imo, hit the difficult or boring work hard from the outset, try to get the dirty work out of the way as early as poss' to ensure you can actually do what you're aiming for.
It's better to find out early if you have all the ingredients before you try making the cake ;)
 

Mert

Member
I guess most of indie game developers can tell you that they occasionally abandon projects. Ask them, they have lots of unfinished projects that they had abandoned.

I myself was in that situation too up until I realized that making games is like dining out in a restaurant: Enjoying your good cooked steak. The problem is, most of us start eating their desserts before finishing up the steak.

Truely love what you're doing and you won't feel to need motivation or focus anymore.
Good luck
 
My rule is that I don't work on anything unless it is going to net me money at some point. It has made doing game jams impossibly unattractive for me but at the same time, I always finish what I start. In doing this I always am working towards a positive goal. Not a moment of "work" is wasted. Even if it is on a sort of "side system".
 

Niels

Member
I pick small projects atm that I know I can finish, then move on to bigger projects when I have enough experience that I know the approximate time I need to finish that project.
 

jucarave

Member
I'm actually having a lot of struggle with this topic for the last couple of years. I barely work for a couple of months in a project and then I abandon it... But I still want to make games, so I'm trying right now to push something that maybe gives me some money in the future.
 

flerpyderp

Member
I was most focused when I was regularly (almost daily) taking my laptop to the library, coffee shops etc. to work on games. It's obviously preferable to use whatever setup you have at home if you have multiple monitors etc, but being away from home really helped me do what I had set out to do that day with minimal distraction. Especially in a library, where most of the other people around you also have their heads down working on something. This is coming from someone who generally prefers to not be in public. It's a habit I should really get back into.
 

NeonBits

Member
Better to not feel in a hurry to see the project completed. Just think of where you are in it at the moment. And try to not fall asleep. The other problem is when a stage is completed or when the bug is repaired; too often it feels as if "job done"; step back, take a breath and continue.
 

RollyBug

Member
I usually keep one big project going, and maybe some little ones on the side that I don't really expect to finish. But I'll always return to that big one. My current project isn't even a game, but a software utility, and I've been working on it off-and-on for months. That's a record for me.
 
Regarding my massive GM2 project, I get focused by getting "out of focus" a lot of times... What I mean is that sometimes when I feel like I'm scrutinizing my project too much, I just start shooting from the hip, so to speak. I start wandering in my mind and then I come up with a loose idea for design or whatever. Then I come back and tighten it up. Gotta see the forest through the trees-type thing I guess.
 

pixeltroid

Member
I work with a timetable. In my world, everything gets done at a certain time. Even 5 minute cigarette breaks have allotted time slots.
This method ensures that things get done. The more things get done, the more motivated I get. And the more motivated I get, the more focused I become.

Its like finishing my project has become a "game" quest in and of itself!
 

Andy

Member
Avoiding social media, and limiting the time I spend connected to the internet helps me focus. It forces me to better manage my time. I don’t necessarily advocate this as a model, what helps me might hinder other. It’s just an explanation of my current personal system.
 
My project is so big that if I'm on any particular task, then there will typically be a heck of a lot to do, but if I can no longer focus on it, I have thousands of other tasks to take on. I do have a side project, but I only invest time into it when a great idea hits me as it is a totally different genre and is too early into development to reuse any facets from my other engine.
 

Rob

Member
I haven't had much time to spend on my own project, and when I do go back to it, I'm always working on the battle system - usually the text - although I've decided to go with "what works" for now in an effort to make some progress. What's keeping me working on it is I'm excited to work on the Kingdom Management feature (which probably comes after the battle system) and I want to get a playable demo out so people can actually give me some feedback.

Sometimes I get ideas about working on other games, and there's always that rush of "new game" excitement, but I'm just as excited to work on the Kingdom feature of my current game, so that's keeping me going atm.

Time to change my underwear...
 

Bluetail7

Member
I usually lose interest on my projects right after I finish the day. The day after I open the files and keep the idea going until the base is done and I feel like I accomplished my goal: that feeling stops me from going any further since I feel like I projected my thoughts already.

What I'm doing on my current project is to think about the things I like from other games and the things that went missing: that could have made it better. So I replay those games (since I finished them back then) and refresh my thoughts and motivation.

When I see a goal being too complicated I follow the following steps:
  1. Take notes on the variables that can be reused.
  2. Start over and use those variables.
  3. Seek compatibility resolutions.
  4. Integrate it.
 

Ludo Design

Member
I tend to get "directional drift" when I'm not following a checklist, so I try to adhere to one as often as possible.
  • I'll make two checklists - one for my general list of tasks, and one for the specific task I'm working on.
  • The highest priority general task and specific action will be at the top.
  • Once I understand my task and have an idea for the solution, I'll set a competitive time limit for me to accomplish the work at hand. This is more to force me to start than to squeeze out efficiency.
  • If I am unable to focus at this point, it is an indicator that I need a break.
 

the_flow

Member
Whenever I start to drift, I get up and walk around the house for a little bit, maybe look out the windows, while I collect my thoughts and try to focus them back on what I'm trying to do.

Sure, my productivity is worse than what it would be if I didn't do that, but it's better than just staring at the screen with an empty head.
 

Sk8dududu

Member
Solid meal before deving, beverage at hand. Chill music like romantic garbage or emo rap. Take breaks often because I feel like stepping back for a short while often gives me a new perspective. And if I'm doing art instead of coding then sometimes psychedelics can encourage me and keep me interested in the task.
 

Posho

Member
I don't. It's been years since I finished anything, really.

I swirl in an endless vicious cycle that generally starts off by me getting extremely excited by a well-thought idea and the classic "this is the one". Then I put whatever project I was working on behind, work nonstop on the new one for, like, two weeks max. And in the end, if I stop for one day, I never come back to it. I have tons of folders containing unfinished GameMaker projects, over 80.

Some miraculous times I go back to the project, years later even, only to be horrified by the spaghetti code mess and start over from scratch instead of doing a code surgery. I have two games that I've redone from scratch FOUR times. I am not kidding you.

Then I demoralize myself by thinking the exact opposite of what I thought at the beginning: "this is NOT the one", "this will never be liked", etc. It also doesn't help that the people I surround myself with never give me feedback or show interest in what I do, despite me showing them, so it's pretty sad.

Often the stare depends whether I need money or not. It's a never ending limbo of me trying to decide whether I want to make "an average game I can make fast to get revenue and/or exposure" or "my dream game that'll take 2+ years to make". I never settle and others' opinions on this generally screw me up.

I've become obsessed with Game Jams in the last years. They are a time and place where I can make games and wrap-up fast. I am confident that I am a very decent programmer so I generally rank decently whenever the jams are competitions and it's really gratifying. But 24-48 hour games are not really great material and will never be something that will either grant me success or money or whatever. In the end, they delude and distract me from making the games that matter as well.

How do I stay consistent at what I do? How do I figure out what I really want to make?

Dunno man. I came to this thread for some answers.

TL;DR: I am unable to settle down for one project. Help.

 
For me, there are a few things that help:
  • Make a list, and focus on one small task at a time. My list is physical, written in a notebook, and when I finish something, I check it off.
  • Decide how much time you want to work on your game, and don't work less--or more--than that.
  • To help with the above, save fun tasks (for me, level design) for when you're less motivated, and when you have energy, do the boring stuff (for me, engine programming).
  • Keep in mind the reason you are making games. Don't get distracted by other motivations. If it's for fun, then don't be doing it for money. If it's for money than you might be doomed.
  • Take appropriate and consistent breaks. I have a 5-minute "brain-break" every hour or two. I literally just stand up and walk around or look out the window.
  • If you have something partially done, then find people who also like games to play it. For me, critical feedback helps me stay motivated as well.
 
I don't. It's been years since I finished anything, really.

I swirl in an endless vicious cycle that generally starts off by me getting extremely excited by a well-thought idea and the classic "this is the one". Then I put whatever project I was working on behind, work nonstop on the new one for, like, two weeks max. And in the end, if I stop for one day, I never come back to it. I have tons of folders containing unfinished GameMaker projects, over 80.

Some miraculous times I go back to the project, years later even, only to be horrified by the spaghetti code mess and start over from scratch instead of doing a code surgery. I have two games that I've redone from scratch FOUR times. I am not kidding you.

Then I demoralize myself by thinking the exact opposite of what I thought at the beginning: "this is NOT the one", "this will never be liked", etc. It also doesn't help that the people I surround myself with never give me feedback or show interest in what I do, despite me showing them, so it's pretty sad.

Often the stare depends whether I need money or not. It's a never ending limbo of me trying to decide whether I want to make "an average game I can make fast to get revenue and/or exposure" or "my dream game that'll take 2+ years to make". I never settle and others' opinions on this generally screw me up.

I've become obsessed with Game Jams in the last years. They are a time and place where I can make games and wrap-up fast. I am confident that I am a very decent programmer so I generally rank decently whenever the jams are competitions and it's really gratifying. But 24-48 hour games are not really great material and will never be something that will either grant me success or money or whatever. In the end, they delude and distract me from making the games that matter as well.

How do I stay consistent at what I do? How do I figure out what I really want to make?

Dunno man. I came to this thread for some answers.

TL;DR: I am unable to settle down for one project. Help.

[/QUOTE
OK, please stick with me for a possibly lengthly response:
I'm going to make tons of "artist"/"art world" analogies here because the symptoms of your trouble —the nature of this "trouble"— relate/relates directly. What you are suffering is common with very creative, passionate people. Make no mistake regarding the following: Not every creative person is "passionate." Notions surrounding ideas of creativity itself/creative people are often romanticized. In your case it is true. This combination is can be incredibly potent, resulting in very positive outcomes, but it can also result in terrible frustration, misguided products (games, art, designs, books, etc.)... The earmark, if you will, which tells us that you're not just passionate, but extremely so, is this mania you exhibit when starting a new project. You get an idea, theme, set of ideas, etc., and become feverishly inspired. The inspiration is so powerful that it starts as a huge, flowing wave. The consistency of this "wave" allows you to work at a heightened and intense, yet even pace. This means that your emotions, zeal, technical restraint, all of it, are steady (for a time). All of the sudden, and very unexpectedly, you calm down; and the disparity between how you just recently felt vs the way you now feel is so great that it is in a way disorientating. It is in that disorientation that you begin to search for the interest that you had when you were just working, but you can't locate it —at least at the level that you were experiencing. Then, it becomes "all or nothing" for you... If you can't revisit these things you were just working on while feeling the same things that you felt at the time, you begin to point fingers in the wrong places end end up wanting no part of it... or... You look over what you'd done and become overly critical of it. You judge those things through the lens of a person who is a lot more calmer. You start to think that this thing and that thing —whatever they may be— are somehow deficient, "problematic" because they don't give you the same feelings you had when you made them... Consider this: When a woman gives birth and is experiencing all of the intense emotion, wonder, and highness of the event, does she say "meh" the next day when she looks at the baby simply because she's returned to her regular level of emotion? No, but it must be hard to reconcile the difference (emotionally). The higher you rise, the harder you fall. "TRUST YOUR FEELINGS, LUKE." Do not return to recent or older projects, judging them based on the criteria that you don't feel now the way you felt when you made them. Judge them on their own merits, and the fact that you did feel so strongly —and for good reason. You may think that you're revsiting these projects with a clearer mind, so whatever you see that strikes you as problematic must in fact be problematic. This is often wrong. Apart from some necessary tweaks or what have —and which are almost always required with things as technical as coding— the fundamentals of what you originally made should absolutely stay in place. Did you ever see the movie, "Mr. Holland's Opus?" This guy was the same way, but was an author. He wasn't alleviated of this burden until all of his pages blew away in the wind. "He could not stop writing," he said. A professor I knew burned all of his paintings from his studio in a huge fire. DON'T YOU DO THE EQUIVALENT, LUKE... Here's why: In their two cases (one fictional, one not), they had not become frustrated enough to voice their struggle prior to wiping their slates clean. This means they've only wiped the slate clean to allow for more of the same disfunction. So to summarize the advise for this portion of the response, Trust how you first felt when creating "whatever" and to "whatever" extent. Upon returning, ask yourself about the merits of the work itself, putting aside your new "feelings" vs "the original feelings" ("circle of despair"). Yield to "technical perfectionism," if you must, but not emotional perfectionism. PARSE THESE. Yield to the former upon new inspirations, yield to the latter upon revisiting the work.
For this issue about not knowing what you really want, or want to produce, or what you really care about: This is largely linked to the above, but there are some aspects that are singular and need to be addressed on their own. First off, and before we get into a back and forth in this thread regarding specifics of your projects, my advise is that you not share any of your interests publicly at this point. You are too sensitive right now, and you are in desperate need of your own approval of your work, not anyone else's (approval of it). In the art world, "studio visits" were the worst things that could happen with an artist feeling similarly to yourself. The reason being, if someone else can "see the forest through the trees," but you can't, you will become more and more isolated (in that/ "your" forest) and no way out. That aside, you are a manic creative. So am I. So was Francis Bacon. So are tons of the best painters there ever were, and many people I've known personally through the years. Many painters have a saying: "You spend your whole life making the same painting." This is true. You say that you don't know what you want to make, —and you're not lying— but if you were to pour over all of your work (these many unfinished project folders) you would most certainly find a number of recurring items. These could be anything, and it doesn't really matter what in regard to my point. The point is that these items exist throughout, and I would bet any money on it. No matter how different many of your projects might be from one another, there are commonalities. And this is where we look refer back to the fist issue... How did you feel when you first had whatever idea/ideas about those projects...? So two questions: Going through all of your work, what notes would you take regarding these "threads?" How did you feel when you were first working with them? My guess is that you have a bunch of folders with stuff that you can recognize as being very similar across the board, BUT, BUT... you stopped working with these things because you thought something was wrong, or heaven forbid, not good enough with them. But you sure as hell did them over and over, right?. See the cycle. And let me slightly ammend something I wrote at the end of the first section about evaluating previous work on the merits alone... Don't even do that YET, because you're not strong enough to "parse." Start out trusting first. When you start reigning in this mania more to your advantage —because of course their are advantages to creative mania— then you can start that brand of nit-picking, but not before. Just believe what I've advised here.
 
Eh I just don't think about anything else and I stay focused. It's pretty easy. Some might call it obsession, but I call it focus.
 

Posho

Member
@Sean Catherine

Woah, quite a lot to pack here. Dunno man, everything you wrote here is so true and relatable it felt uncomfortable reading all this. And worst part is I know all of this.

I do not drop my projects because I dislike them. Like you said, I get pumped for the next thing and put the other for later. Getting these emotions in control is like trying to lose weight: it could be as simple as not eating junk stuff, right? But one's emotions and NEED for the doughnut is incredibly irresistible. In my eyes, that new idea that popped up is like a golden doughnut and what you were eating becomes a spinach. So my chubby butt literally can not escape from this dumb cycle.

There is nothing on this planet that I love more than making games. This behavior of mine is not just exclusive to game development. If I want to learn a new language, or stay on a regular diet, or build the consistency of reading everyday even though I was motivated about it... I will randomly lose interest and drop it in a flash. My life is driven like this and I really need to find a way out. I can not depend on just cravings and have to know that the best gratification is the one that comes last after a ton of work.

This is not a creativity or game dev matter, it's a me matter. Thank you for what you wrote here, it gave me a lot to think about. Also, respect on that writing style, my god.

[Edit] No idea why I can't quote your post.

My man.
 
@Sean Catherine

Woah, quite a lot to pack here. Dunno man, everything you wrote here is so true and relatable it felt uncomfortable reading all this. And worst part is I know all of this.

I do not drop my projects because I dislike them. Like you said, I get pumped for the next thing and put the other for later. Getting these emotions in control is like trying to lose weight: it could be as simple as not eating junk stuff, right? But one's emotions and NEED for the doughnut is incredibly irresistible. In my eyes, that new idea that popped up is like a golden doughnut and what you were eating becomes a spinach. So my chubby butt literally can not escape from this dumb cycle.

There is nothing on this planet that I love more than making games. This behavior of mine is not just exclusive to game development. If I want to learn a new language, or stay on a regular diet, or build the consistency of reading everyday even though I was motivated about it... I will randomly lose interest and drop it in a flash. My life is driven like this and I really need to find a way out. I can not depend on just cravings and have to know that the best gratification is the one that comes last after a ton of work.

This is not a creativity or game dev matter, it's a me matter. Thank you for what you wrote here, it gave me a lot to think about. Also, respect on that writing style, my god.

[Edit] No idea why I can't quote your post.



My man.
No problem, dude. I hope I didn't overstep with my brand of counsel... I was really worried because of the cat pic. I've had the same expression on my face many times and I know how hard that is —feeling of emotional exhaust.
 
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