Sunday, November 14, 2010

Blog: Managing Time

Creating your own game from scratch isn't an easy task. Even when people use tool-kits that do a lot of the background work for them, like RPGMaker and Gamemaker, there's still a mammoth amount of work involved if they ever hope to finish. Development times that stretch over several years are not uncommon and neither are unfinished projects, so anyone who wants to get into amateur development really needs to understand before they start that it isn't going to be an easy task to complete a project... 

... but, having said that, are the long development times we encounter in the amateur community really because it's so hard to finish or is it because we aren't organising our time properly? And is it even a bad thing that we take so long to finish? 

It isn't unheard of for games to have much shorter development times, with games like Generica and Visions and Voices managing to be finished in a matter of weeks. These games were created with a particular time-frame in mind and the developers, Kentona and Crazuman (Craze x Karsuman) respectively, obviously planned their work around that time-frame. This certainly isn't a bad way of doing about things; setting yourself a limit and working to stay within that limit is the most efficient way of finishing a project and, if you stick to it, it's going to ensure you get your game finished as quickly as possible. 

It's also a mindset that you have to respect because it takes a lot of will-power. Why? Because by setting yourself a certain time-frame and dedicating x amount of your time to your game per day, you are essentially making your amateur development into a second job. It becomes something you you have to do rather than something you want to do and, at the end of the day, this may not be ideal.

Imagine the situation: You come home from work (or school or college or whatever it is you fill your day with) and you're tired. All you want to do is have something to eat and lazily watch the television (or play on the computer or read a book or whatever it is you do when you want to be lazy). However, instead of getting to be lazy, you come home knowing that you should be working on your game. See how that could get frustrating? For a short-project it might not be so bad because you can always see the light at the end of the tunnel, but for longer projects like the 10 hour+ games a lot of people in the RPGMaker community are taking stabs at, it's likely to fail; the frustration would likely build up to the point where the game is cancelled.

What's the other option? The other option is to treat amateur game-development as what it is; a hobby. To treat it as something you only do in your "spare time". The advantages of doing this are obvious. First of all, there is less chance of you getting frustrated and so less chance of you rage-quitting halfway through development. You're also less likely to make mistakes by rushing through things if you're not constricting yourself to a certain time frame or to certain "working hours". Finally, if you're treating development more like a hobby, you're less likely to get bored of your game and quit making it (although this does assume you have fun developing games, but if you don't then you should probably get a new hobby anyway!)

There are, of course, downsides, with the obvious one being that you won't finish your game nearly as quickly as you would if you meticulously planned out your time. A slightly less obvious downside is the risk of falling prey to scope creep or getting stuck in the "improvement cycle", neither of which being something you want to do. A game will suddenly take ten times longer to finish if you do fall into one of these and this is likely to result in boredom and frustration.

So, both ways of working have their upsides and downsides. Which is better? Neither, really, because there can never be a strict answer to the question I posed at the start of this article. It's all down to the kind of person you are and the kind of game you're making. If you think you have the willpower, or if you're only working on a short game, then treating development like a second job might not be a bad idea. Conversely, if you're working on a long project or you don't think you have the willpower, then it's probably best to treat development a little more casually. 

Personally, I fall into the latter camp; I would never finish a project if I treated it like work. As far as I'm concerned, you don't need to finish your game as quickly as possible and you certainly don't need to put any added pressure on yourself to finish. Developing the game is meant to be the fun part anyway, not finishing...
 

48 comments:

  1. Yeah I'm the same way. If I try and treat something as work then it will never get done.

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  2. sure, i mean you gotta make a plan first

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  3. Anything is possible, just gotta have a plan and be motivated :O

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  4. Great read cool blog I will be following

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  5. Hmm when I had to make a video for my senior year of highschool (wasn't necessary, but was the most fun format available), I spent hours upon hours working on editing and making everything just right. I had a deadline because it was due by a certain date, but that forced me to keep working on it. I wanted to work on it too though. The only problem the deadline created for me was that the project was never as good as I would have wanted because I just didn't plan my time well enough.

    As far as video game developing, I have always wanted to do it. I have one solid idea in mind that I think could be fun. However, I have no programming skills. I have tried to teach myself, but learning on your own is really difficult.

    ANYWAYS, I am the type that likes deadlines. It really forces me to work hard and get things done. If I finish it for the deadline, that's a good thing because I will at least have a product that I can go to and modify to make perfect. Just getting the thing done is the most important part imo.

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  6. definitely important to set goals and timelines (even if they are loose guidelines) so you don't get sidetracked. this applies to other professions as well, i'm sure.

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  7. i like to have a set time for work , cause other then that i just jerk off somewhere waiting for the time to pass then rush at the end...

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  8. yea especially for rpgs now that i think about it

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  9. there are some people that work very well under pressure but it is my opinion too that when creating one should take his time

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  10. creating your own game takes tons of talent

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  11. keep up the good work, and I'll keep coming back :)

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  12. Great post. waiting for more updates

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  13. I wonder what category the Garry's Mod and Minecraft people fall into...

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  14. Making a plan's good on paper, but it never really pans out for me. The best way I relate to this is drawing, I just can't wake up one morning and tell myself "Tonight I'll get a comic done" and keep my word.

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  15. interesting\Some love is just a lie of the heart

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  16. interesting post thanks for the read!

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  17. Cool story, bro!
    Following your blog

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  18. nice i like your post!
    Following you bro!

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  19. they need a lot of luck to succeed.

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  20. motivation and a little luck is all

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  21. RPGS are my favorite type of games! I hope to make one day :)

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  22. take it easy. and go with your instinct. like you say it should be fun when your working on your game.

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  23. actually time management is an invaluable skill

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  24. Personally, I think amateurs should be given a chance to make good games, we all know they can.

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  25. I like the idea of setting a time limit, but at the same time, I know that I personally could never produce anything worthwhile in that time frame. This is why I turn in all my essays late at uni!

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  26. great post! i like it!
    supportin& following!

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  27. this post took me so long to read. whews

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  28. Whoo, time management is key to success!

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