A Slow Start

So it’s been a while since I first wrote about my plan to go indie. It’s been about half a year, so now is as good a time as any for an update.

In short, it’s going a lot slower than I’d hoped. It’s been more than six months since I stopped work on Alpha Strike, and I don’t actually fell like I’ve made much progress toward becoming an independent developer since then.

Chaintanks feels like it’s still a long way from being finished, and I’ve been working on it for the last five months. When I first cancelled Alpha Strike, I envisioned shipping two or so games a year. Not big games, just small games for sites like Newgrounds. At this rate, I won’t be done Chaintanks until next year sometime. If my goal was to make around 2 small games a year, then what the heck is going on here?

At least as far as I can tell through analyzing my own work, there’s a few things that are making progress so slow.

Weak Game Design Skills

The first is my lack of game design skill. I’ve wasted a lot of time on planning out features and implementing them, only to cut them later when I realized that they were badly designed. My skills as a game designer are weak, and that’s pretty much exactly what I expected. The only thing I didn’t foresee was that I would end up wasting time as a result of bad game design, but at least I know that now.

It’s a bit disappointing that I won’t get to see a finished game as soon because of my weak game design skills, but at least now I can be a little more prepared for the fact that I may end up spending more time than a more experienced game designer would on a similar game.

This delay isn’t entirely due to a simple lack of skill though, it’s also due to a lack of proper planning. Back when I was working on Alpha Strike I made a few attempts at planning out my work. I made a schedule which eventually fell way behind and was dropped. Later on I made a list of tasks with time estimates that totaled more than 800 hours for just a demo version! Not only was the number of hours huge but I kept adding things on so the amount of time left never really budged.

No Plan

I’ve been reluctant to do any serious planning since it hardly seemed to help, but that’s not a good plan and I know it. For the last two weeks I’ve been settings out goals for the things I’ve wanted to finish each week. Even with those goals set out, I didn’t finish them by the end of both weeks. The goals were a bit of a stretch, but even then I just wasn’t putting in enough work.

The problem is that lately I’ve had a lot of trouble staying motivated to work on the game as it’s starting to feel almost like Alpha Strike did at the end. I keep working and the volume of work left doesn’t seem to get any smaller. On the bright side, I do know that the amount of work I have left is something reasonable, but that doesn’t help a lot.

Not Giving Up

Regardless of how motivated I’m not feeling, I’m going to keep pushing and finish Chaintanks at the very least. I honestly don’t know if I’m ever going to be able to make my own games for a living, but in the short term I can at least do this. I don’t want to give up on Chaintanks. It’s not going to be an incredible game or anything, but I want to finish what I’ve started. I won’t do myself any favors by training myself to quit.

I’ll spend some time reading up on how other game devs deal with the same sorts of problems with motivation. Maybe this sort of thing is common with making games given how much work is involved. It might also just be that I’m not well suited to making my own games. If that’s the case though, I’d rather at least try to change and get better at it that rather than give up.

I’m not going to be sharing this post far and wide, so if you’ve stumbled upon it you’re probably one of the only people to see it (my blog has almost literally no traffic!). My hope is that this will just post will be one down period in a series of ups and downs on the way to something awesome.

2 thoughts on “A Slow Start

    1. I can definitely relate to what’s written here. I’ve seen it before actually, just not sure when! Worth reading again though, and I’ve definitely started to learn firsthand some of these points. It’s also good to see that I quit working on Alpha Strike for the right reasons (too big!) and made the right choice focussing on the much smaller Chaintanks!

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