Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

This is why your indie game isn’t finished

  1. Because you are making a game that you don’t genuinely enjoy, and feel de-motivated
  2. Because you keep quitting game dev projects, and that feeling is more natural to you than to keep on slogging
  3. Because you have MSN, or another instant messenger / email active, and always distracting you
  4. Because you have no way to force yourself to work for a set amount of time (buy a timer)
  5. Because you keep jumping platforms/ technology to keep up with whats trendy (d0n’t)
  6. Because you hate the business /marketing side and dread having to start on it when the game is done (deal with it)
  7. Because you get out of bed late
  8. Because you watch TV every night, even if it’s rubbish
  9. Because you kid yourself that playing Call of Duty is research, and thus work
  10. Because you never re-use code
  11. Because your day job means you never really have to get your game on sale, so you don’t take it seriously.

None of these apply to me. How many apply to you?

From what I see, it’s mostly2,3 and 5 that affect indies.

31 thoughts on This is why your indie game isn’t finished

  1. Mine isn’t finished yet because I’ve not finished it yet. You might want to rename it to “This is why your indie game isn’t going to get finished”.

  2. 12. Because you have a highly unrealistic goal (WoW-killer, here I come!)

    Doesn’t apply to you, but for some people it is so true…

  3. Dwarf Fortress also has a highly unrealistic goal. Its a perpetual work in progress. Supposedly Dwarf Fortress version 1.0 will be a drunken midget universe simulator.

    At least with DF there are no worries about keeping the game engine up to date, with its awesome ASCII or 8-bit artwork. :D

    Multicore support is sorely needed for DF, or some sort of optimization overhaul. Large embarks will bring any computer to its knees.

  4. I have to agree with 3 so far, other ones don’t really apply to me (or apply to me in a different way ie: I need a job right now and I won’t make games until I find one and start getting money for food and roof).

    5 also applies to me but in a different way. I jump technology as soon as I notice there is an important game feature I was planning on that wouldn’t be possible using my current tools. Still I reuse about 60% of my code so tech jumping isn’t that great of a deal for me.

    I would add one thing that at least keeps me from finishing anything: Bad time management. Right now I can’t really say this since I’ve spend working 6 hours straight on a project for Uni and I’ll spend another 4 hours on it today but when I’m not overloaded with work I don’t manage my time well, I spend too much time procrastinating even though I love making games.

  5. This post just slapped me in the face as I’m pretty much guilty of all eleven accusations. That said, the number one biggest reason my indie game isn’t finished would be fear of failure – when I’m done, if it flops I will be sad and so I subconsciously sabotage my efforts and drag development on perpetually to avoid the hurt. I think that fear of failure should be #12.

  6. For me it’s being easily distracted by my computer (oh, the irony). Also, because I’m making it as freeware and I have a job there is no real incentive other than it being fun to make. I tend to start games with a cool idea that then gets morphed into an even cooler and more ambitious idea, etc, etc until I’ve created a verticle cliff face to climb.

  7. Cliffski, thank you for the kick.

    Gotta revisit #1, maybe start working on the things that will cause MAYHEM. Because, you know, that was the key word that the game was designed around.

    Guilty of #7 as well lately… there’s this to be said for day jobs: they keep you from sleeping late.

  8. 5. Soo true! I keep using Flash regardless how often others tell me how much they think it sucks or is underpowered. I know I can achieve great things with it.

    7. Not sure if I agree with that. Personally i can be more concentrated on work at night than during day.

    9. Soo true part II! The latest Call of Duty is utter shite anyway! Don’t waste time with it!

  9. Scary, it feels like you know me by heart :-D

    But judging from this list, one might think you work 24/4 (well, except sleep time). Would you mind telling me/us what your average work week looks in terms of work hours? Because I find it really hard to draw a line between “private life/fun” and “work time” when you’re a indie dev sitting at home all day.

  10. Nice list. I had problems with my game when I couldn’t make it fun to play. THen I just added another pressure factor to gameplay (homing missiles), tweaked parameters for everything to be faster, and voila – fun and challenging!

    Also, I was caught in overengineering trap initially. I used to write code for features that I would later throw out or implement in a very different form. Now I only write very basic code for a feature, just enough to test its gameplay, and add polish it later. Saves a lot of times and rewrites!

  11. 2, 4, 7. :-) Though I guess it depends on a person, e.g. I wake up at 12, but I can’t fall asleep before 3 a.m. no matter how hard I try, and sunset hours are my most productive time of day anyway.

    What I would add to this list is “no one is waiting for your game”. It’s hard to commit to work for one’s own sake.

  12. 4 and 7 for me – I’m a god-awful late riser and when it’s almost 1pm before I even settle down to do something, I find it far too easy to drift. In the days when I was getting up at 10am – even that’s late – I was getting far more done.

    Another irritating factor I’m finding is that I’m at a point where I need to conjure up some functional art. Not final art, not even good art. I find I’m often delaying things when they’re not problems to be solved, but simply a matter of doing.

    Hurdles I absolutely have to overcome, of course.

  13. I’d add another:

    Your off the wall concept doesn’t actually work out as well as you’d hope.

    I those cases, it can be a positive to cut early. Pouring energy into something that doesn’t work out…

    …well, I guess that’s #1. So, um. It’s covered, I guess.

  14. I’d add

    ‘Because you’ve just had an even better idea for a game, and start that instead.’

    However, I’m printing that list out and sticking it over my desk.

  15. Andy: My programming history from highschool to college in a nutshell is what you just said. Subtitle that one “Ooh! Shiny!”

    2, 4 and 8. Dear god, 8. The main reason I want to shove myself into C++/OGL engine making is so that I can avoid that dreaded octanumeral monster. Up until recently I had no standard code I could share between projects.

    So; if I had any recommendation, if you do anything more than once, write a function for it. If you do two similar things, derive them from a function. Lather rinse, repeat, and you are now the proud owner of a personal toolkit built around your field-tested demands!

  16. My largest vices are:

    – My contract work I use to pay the bills get in the way of me actually having time to spend on my indie project (taking one contract is bad, taking on multiple simultaneous contracts is suicide)
    – Twitter. (similar to your IM point, only worse in some cases)
    – Hygiene, and I don’t mean showering, I mean keeping the house clean and organized while you work — I can’t begin to believe the number of life forms I’ve had to kill in my kitchen because I just pulled 14×14 hour days in a row without cleaning up the pizza boxes, soup cans, and Chinese food containers strewn about

  17. Agree with pretty much 100% of the list… I think you should make a 9b with World of Warcraft instead of CoD. I don’t even want to think about how many potential indies WoW has swallowed up.

  18. Number 6 is mine. I’m quite encouraged by that list, thanks! :> I’ve gone through a few of those, but most are ironed out and I feel under control whilst others are no longer an issue. The marketing/business/website stuff… I just dunno, I cannot summon even one iota of motivation or drive to even think about that stuff, tbh it’s mainly the website. I am guessing I’m going to end up paying someone to make it for me, with all this free money I have floating around.

  19. Msn is the ultimate time killer for me. The main problem here is that I use it to talk with my artist and sound guys.

    So… just because you mentioned this, I will create a new messanger acount that is only for work related contacts.


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