What's the hardest part of making a full game?

Discussion in 'Game Design, Development And Publishing' started by kpenrose92, Aug 12, 2019.

  1. kpenrose92

    kpenrose92 Member

    Oct 4, 2018
    I'm curious - most of us agree that making a full game is like scaling a giant mountain with many deadly hazards and walls that can't be climbed - we all agree it takes planning, work ethic, intelligent design practices, and good game design in general.

    I'm wondering though, what do you think is the hardest part of making a full-length video game from scratch? Is it coming up with enough good ideas for fun gameplay? Is it the implementation of features? Is it the need for organization? Or is it scaling up your systems to support large amounts of objects, rooms, etc?

    For me, it is probably organization and scalability. The bigger my game gets, the more debugging that needs to be done. And the more enemies and other objects I build, the more possibilities for error, and thus, the longer that debugging takes. It's a vicious cycle that I'm trying to keep down by reducing dependency between objects, but it's not easy.

    Let me know what you think!
  2. Khao

    Khao Member

    Jun 22, 2016
    The hardest part is holding back.

    No, you don't need that complex crafting system.

    No, you don't need the VS mode.

    No, you don't need that infinite procedural overworld.

    No, you don't need that many named NPCs.

    No, you don't need the day/night cycle.

    No, you don't need a second playthrough with redesigned dungeons.

    No, you don't need more endings.

    No, you don't need the stupid long story mode.

    And 100% no, your game does not need to do everything.

    It's super easy to think your game needs something when it would be a better game if you spent your effort somewhere else. The hardest part isn't realizing what exactly your game needs, but realizing what exactly it doesn't. Don't get attached to any of your game's features, even the ones that you think are the very core of the project. Because it might turn out it's not making your game better. And if it doesn't make your game better, working on it is a waste of time. All finished games end up leaving something out, and you need to know when to stop adding new ****. If you come up with a new idea in the middle of development and desperately add it in, you'll most certainly have a new idea by the time you're done. Just be ****ing careful.

    (By the way, the list above is not a list of things you should never have in your game, but when you're considering the complex crafting system for your linear platformer with simple mechanics, the stupid long story mode for your 4-player party game, or the VS mode for your epic single player RPG, you really should think twice about it).
    Zizka, Kyon, Cpaz and 9 others like this.
  3. RefresherTowel

    RefresherTowel Member

    Jul 13, 2016
    Work ethic is probably number one. Ideas are (in general) easy. Most people have more ideas than they'll ever implement in their life and even if you don't, you can find a million for free by googling "game ideas" or something like that. Work ethic encompasses learning good coding practices so projects don't fail through lack of coding chops. If you're going to complete an actual complete game, you're going to have to both fail a lot at previous projects and spend a lot of time working on why you failed by learning coding techniques and best practices. Then, once you're at a point where you can actively manage to not fail technically, you'll need the same dedication and work ethic you showed getting yourself to the point of being "experienced" to maintain active development on a project for what could potentially be multiple years (though, it should really only be multiple months at most for your first complete project).

    Most people can't do one of those two work ethic related things.
    Cpaz and MaxLos like this.
  4. BaBiA Game Studio

    BaBiA Game Studio Member

    Jun 20, 2016
    I find that staying focused and motivated can be a major problem that stops all of my game making.
    I finished my last project in June, and have just been procrastinating/unfocused with trying to start my next game (which I have a good design of) as I am just struggling to get motivated enough to get properly started. Instead I try to find other things to do instead which don't actually benefit anything towards creating my game.
    Zizka, MaxLos and Toque like this.
  5. Toque

    Toque Member

    May 25, 2017
    The hardest part is just finishing the game.
    Cpaz, Elgarion, Rob and 4 others like this.
  6. Lord KJWilliams

    Lord KJWilliams Member

    Jul 2, 2018
    The hardest part of developing and finishing a game ( or for any software development ) is writing the ALL the instructions for it, for someone to understand. This specific part of pedagogy ( google defines this as : the method and practice of teaching, especially as an academic subject or theoretical concept.) , is called technical writing.

    You have to brainstorm and plan out using outlines, how your going to explain your idea to an idiot, because you cant assume they know what you know. You cant assume that they will naturally understand your game, just like the way you understand your game. You have to walk them through all the details of each part of the game that you mentally fly through in your train of thought. The complexity of the game, will determine the complexity of the manual that will explain it. Some games, have a built in tutorial ( that can be turned off ) that will walk you through, so that you understand the basics as your playing, but when you need to know something a little more advanced then you have the manual as a reference guide to read.

    The proof of well written documentation, must pass the test of one question :

    How well can you explain your game in writing to someone else, so that they will understand it the way you do, without question?
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2019
    Calvert likes this.
  7. KPJ

    KPJ Member

    Jan 19, 2019
    The motivation is one of the biggest parts holding indie devs back, from finishing their game. They quickly lose interest in their project, for example, they get another idea that they think is "better" and start working on that, or they just find their game boring after a while. Having the grit to actually finish your game and not give up, is one of the hardest parts of developing a full game, and what being a game dev is about.
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2019
  8. HeWhoShallNotBeNamed

    HeWhoShallNotBeNamed Member

    Nov 9, 2018
    I find that one of the hardest parts for me is the way all the systems you build for your game interconnect. This is great for a player, but the more you build onto your game, the harder it is to, for example, just work on a battle system without also having to add things to your movement system, inventory, camera, etc. Sometimes you sit down to work on one thing and go down a rabbit hole into something else, and it feels like you didn't get anything done because you never really got to that one specific thing you were planning on working on.
  9. AzureCube

    AzureCube Member

    Aug 16, 2019
    For me, the hardest part is keeping everything organized so that a feature implemented at the end of development doesn't break one added at the beginning.
    Old School Ben likes this.
  10. SnotWaffle Studios

    SnotWaffle Studios Member

    Jun 21, 2016
    The hardest part is the part that is most difficult.
    RefresherTowel likes this.
  11. JON213

    JON213 Member

    Apr 8, 2019
    The hardest part is making it good
  12. sitebender

    sitebender Member

    Sep 13, 2016
    Style and then promotion.

    Anything can be a full game. Getting people to play it is a whole different story. Style sells, but you need to get the word out. With a desirable style it makes everything so much easier and yields so much more rewards. Without a good look people won't pass around your screen shots and your videos to spread the word to even play the game.

    A full game can be a 24 hour game jam game even if people would argue it's not grand enough, it's still a full game. There are popular games on Steam made in 72 hours and then polished through updates, but those too are full games. Then the developers make it their full time job to promote these made in 72 hour games doing interviews, going to conventions, finding different ways to get it in front of people when the style doesn't make it happen.

    If you think the length and scope makes a "full game", knowing when to quit will help you complete a "full game."
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2019
    Old School Ben likes this.
  13. Rayek

    Rayek Member

    Jun 27, 2017
    This, and the final 10% polishing.
    kupo15, Elgarion, rIKmAN and 2 others like this.
  14. DBenji

    DBenji Member

    Sep 20, 2016
    The hardest part is getting people to actually give a **** about your game. Anyone who calls them self a professional game developer but doesn't consider marketing as part of game development need to go back to the drawing board. They are doing more harm than good to the indie market. We are no longer in the age where a good game simply sells itself.

    Every game that is released to steam or the appstore where the developer did not do their marketing homework and foolishly put it there in the hopes that it would win the global lottery only serves to further saturate an already over-saturated market as well as waste the blood, sweat, and tears of the developer.

    If marketing is not working for you despite all your efforts, then you need to partner up with a competent artist or coder who makes up for your weaknesses.
    pixeltroid likes this.
  15. Yal

    Yal GMC Memer GMC Elder

    Jun 20, 2016
    There's a saying that the first 90% of a project takes 90% of the effort, then the remaining 10% takes another 90% of the effort. It kinda works for everything between massive systems and small tweaks: everything always take at least twice as much work as expected, even when you're aware they're gonna take more time than expected and compensate for that in your plans.
    SnotWaffle Studios likes this.
  16. Rob

    Rob Member

    Jul 12, 2016
    So 180% total effort then? :p No wonder we're always switching projects.

    Finishing the game can be hard.
    A few times I've thought that the first 80% of our game was done in the first week and the last month has been spend on the last 20% lol...
    Successfully Marketing and Selling it would be my main hurdle though at this point in time because that's unfortunately part of Game Dev too, unless you don't need to make money from anything
  17. Xer0botXer0

    Xer0botXer0 Member

    Jun 29, 2016
    The hardest part is dealing with having given up after giving up.
    MishMash likes this.
  18. MishMash

    MishMash Member

    Jun 20, 2016
    Hardest part of a game, this is a very interesting topic. It's taken me nearly a year to understand what went wrong for me. For a bit of background, I have been working on my game Vitality for around 5/6 years now. Mostly in parallel with high school and University. However, after my final year of uni, I decided to spend a year to try and finish the game. That didn't quite go to plan, so 11 months ago I got a normal job in the games industry, now working as a developer technology engineer at Samsung.

    At first I thought of all the obvious things:
    • Lack of motivation
    • Raw time it takes to get things done
    • Planning/design
    • Work environment isolation (was working with others, but remotely)
    • Financial concerns (not actively making money, but spending money to develop and live)
    And while all of those things are definitely factors, after evaluating it more, I knew that I was a very disciplined individual, who didn't rely on motivation alone to get things done, so that didn't quite feel right. Then, I also believed in myself that I could get things done. However, the real nail in the coffin was the mental factor, and this manifested in quite a strange way for me. Whether it was my interpretation of the situation, or genuinly what was happening, I constantly found that all of the people around me, my friends, my family and flatmates really had no faith or confidence in what I was doing. Having so many people around you make you feel like what you are doing is a waste of time and that assumption that you are dicking around all day long really starts to burn after a while. Family pressures to "get a proper job" (despite only using my own money and resources) and friends who seemed to have absolutely no interest in what you were doing and would constantly brush it off. Conversations starting with "have you got any plans for your gap year", and then I say, "I'm not taking a gap year, i'm working on my project", followed up with a "Oh?! You're still working on that?".

    After a few months of this, you start believing them, maybe I am wasting my time? What will realistically come out of this? I found myself constantly trying to seek validation for all the effort I was putting in, and the hard work that I knew that I was doing. The horrible part is that when you work from home, any time you spend not working seems to get held against you. If you spend 5 hours gaming in the evening, suddenly people think you aren't really ever working. This whole process has basically given me pretty bad imposter syndrome and that's what really destroyed my ability to effectively work.

    You could argue that it's my own personal responsibility to take that with a grain of salt and still continue to drive towards my goals and passion, though I guess I didn't have the fortitude to do so. I would also hazard a guess that many others don't as well, so I have a lot of respect for those indie's who do manage to finish their games, because while it seems "easy" when you are working on something, and so many people here are definitely capable of it, the reality is much harder and stressful. I also know that many other Indie's can suffer from different mental battles, but this was mine. It almost feels like what you need sometimes is just someone to tell you that you are doing the right. Oddly, I now consider the 9 to 5 full-time job as the "easy" option, because for some reason, people in society value that much more.

    To lighten the mood, here is a meme that encompasses my post:
  19. Yal

    Yal GMC Memer GMC Elder

    Jun 20, 2016
    I totally agree with MishMash, and apart from struggling to accept my own mortality, dealing with imposter syndrome probably is my biggest battle as well. The problem with today's global world where any Big Amazing Thing gets so widespread everyone knows about it (e.g. Dwarf Fortress, Undertale, Spelunky) is that it's much easier than before to compare yourself with stuff that's outta your league, rather than objectively assessing your skills. No wonder imposter syndrome is a big issue. I try to deal with it by comparing myself to asset flippers and Sandbox-level creators instead, wallowing in how much better I am than that rabble. But it's hard not to lose motivation seeing the Big Amazing Things other people somehow manage to create even when you've successfully managed to convince yourself you're not the worst in the world.
    Desert Dog and MishMash like this.
  20. cadika_orade

    cadika_orade Member

    Aug 12, 2019
    The hardest part is definitely getting GMS:2 to compile your app to bundle instead of an APK so Google will accept it.
    It's been 6 months and counting, just trying to get the thing compiled. 2 weeks to build the game, 6 months to compile it.
  21. Desert Dog

    Desert Dog Member

    Jul 30, 2019
    Probably completely unrelated, but this does remind me of one of my favourite GM dev's, poetkathi. I don't think many people have heard of her these days: She was an early GM user (GM4? 5?), and I think she was one of the first to go 'commercial', and selling her games on her website.

    She was a poetry writing grandma. She must be nearly 70 now. She listed her favourite game as a some Solitaire varient, and also blogs about knitting. Her grandkids liked games.. so she wanted to make them a few games they can play.

    I kinda admire that. Talk about an unlikely game dev!
    HayManMarc likes this.
  22. Mert

    Mert Member

    Jul 20, 2016
    Here's a big big tip, that'd save your time: Don't make a game that you wouldn't play. And never do them for money. Monetization should come later.
    rIKmAN, HayManMarc and Niels like this.
  23. Niels

    Niels Member

    Jun 22, 2016
    Yup I have started so many "mobile games" and "hyper casual games" only to find out that I hate those games haha.
    A well the learning experience was nice
    Mert likes this.
  24. Warspite2

    Warspite2 Member

    Jun 23, 2016
    Easy question...finishing it and actually releasing it! :)
  25. Elgarion

    Elgarion Member

    Apr 12, 2018
    @MishMash Thank you for sharing ! Your story really moved me :s
    MishMash likes this.
  26. Booyaa

    Booyaa Member

    Nov 18, 2018
    Motivation. And not just for finishing.
  27. Starpolygon

    Starpolygon Member

    Apr 12, 2017
    It´s extremely enjoyable to build a game to the point where it is "playable", but motivation usually dips for me over time and hits a bottom somewhere - When you are at that point and realize the amount of polishing, levels, graphics, bug-fixes other implementations that needs to be done.
    When you work with all this it feels like you are progressing very slowly, and why it´s less motivating.
    If you can overcome this "boring period", motivation will build up again over time. That´s the hardest part for me.
    Then after that comes the soul-crushing part of actually releasing the game and managing everything around that all at once, marketing for example. But usually motivation is extreme by then and I can overcome that awful period. :)
    Cpaz likes this.
  28. marsbarnigiri

    marsbarnigiri Member

    Nov 7, 2019
    Finishing a project is a skill in itself.

    The first quarter of the games life is enthusiasm and excitement, the remaining three quarters is hard work and discipline to see it through and not be distracted by a new shiny thing.
    nacho_chicken, MaGicBush and Cpaz like this.
  29. MaGicBush

    MaGicBush Member

    Jul 17, 2016
    This guy gets it. I've started and stopped so many games over the years and have only finished 3 since I started using this type of software as a kid. Funnily the games I finished were all as a kid. As I've gotten older I don't have as much time, and I grow bored when it starts getting tedious doing certain aspects(mostly art as I'm just not good at it and hate organizing it and trying to make tilesheets, etc). So I tend to give up and start a new project or just go a few years not working on anything. Lately I've been more committed though, and intend to finish something before I die hopefully lol. My son keeps encouraging me to finish a game I started last year and so I keep chugging along on that project. But, I found some nice assets for cheap a few weeks ago and now I'm off on another side project using those.. I just can't finish a game :(.
  30. GM029

    GM029 Member

    Feb 6, 2017
    For me there are few:

    Resisting moving onto another idea before one is complete (yes I have 6 unfinished games so far)

    What direction to take a game in, especially in world building/level design. I struggle at level layouts. I usually just start randomly creating a layout until something interesting starts to form. But it's such a struggle to start a new level design, trying to ramp it up fairly, what size to make it, and be cohesive with the rest of the game.

    Like others mentioned avoiding feature creep. Realizing that many of the crazy ideas we think will be amazing to add may actually detract.

    And finally... actually finishing a game! Since we are working for ourselves basically keeping motivated to stay in the grind is really hard.

    For a lot of reasons I've listed I am working on a simple 70s/early 80s style arcade game and I am on the verge of finishing it. And I actually find it fun to play which is usually not the case when I've tested my own games over and over again. Sometimes working on a simple project can be good although we all come into this with really high ambitions.
  31. RangerX

    RangerX Member

    Jun 20, 2016
    The hardest part of making a full game is.... making a full game. :p
  32. cliftonbazaar

    cliftonbazaar Member

    Dec 15, 2019
    Hardest part is the bug finding, and the playtesting to find those bugs.
    The biggest problem is that you know how your game should be played so you don't do anything stupid or 'outside the box', which means you don't find out the weirdest bug. What if a player decides to kill all the NPC's, then what happens?
  33. Kyon

    Kyon Member

    Jun 27, 2016
    Hardest part for me is the content polishing.
    Thinking of new content, adding that, making the art, is super fun. To see your idea come to life.
    But then you have to think about all the strange things a player can do.
    What if he comes in this scene from this angle?
    What if the player doesn't hit this button on time?
    What if the player didn't read what that character said, how does he solve the puzzle?

    Also what I'm struggling with now is making sure new content fits with old content.
    I started my game as "just a test project". So the older codes are messy and really lazy coded.
    Now when I'm adding new features, I suddenly notice all these variables with weird names that I have to learn to understand again.
    Literally right now retyping whole systems, making the code clean, using less variables etc.

    Also just non-gameplay stuff. Like, a save/load system, I'm literally ignoring that for over a year now haha.
    Or a menuscreen, or a pause screen, etc.
  34. Yal

    Yal GMC Memer GMC Elder

    Jun 20, 2016
    Or you could just use comments properly... :p

    One thing in particular I've become infatuated with lately is having a "//HACK" label whenever I make something that relies on flimsy assumptions or weird behavior, so that if something breaks in really weird ways later, it's possible to go through all the kludgy hacks you made and see if you broke any of those. (Or even better, get reminded how those things work when you read through the code, so you won't break them later)

    I picked up the //HACK label idea from how Gedit (the Ubuntu counterpart to Notepad) highlights uppercase "TODO" in comments, and I figured having //TODO comments wherever there was something I left unfinished (to allow easily finding them with a text search) was a good idea... and then lately i've decided to expand on it with more labels. It's always easier to write information down when you know it than reconstructing it later when you've forgotten everything.
  35. Crepe

    Crepe Member

    Mar 23, 2019
    With Game Maker? User interface.

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