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  How to stop prototyping concepts  (Read 3748 times)
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Offline _Al3x

Senior Devvie


Medals: 7


Indie Games FTW!


« Posted 2012-07-25 10:10:08 »

Hello everyone! Smiley

I had like 8 game concepts written down. I started working on one when the posibility to work with someone came up. I had to design yet another game, and I did (I also designed a game for ludum dare, but it didn't got done, altho' it was pretty fun, maybe some day I'll make it!).
I had to put my project on hold (see AEI) to work on this one. For the last few month I had an idea in my head and last night I saw how it would be great, awesome and super fun! I had to write it down. I want to work on that RIGHT NOW, but I lack the knowledge to develop that game.
I wish I had a lot of money to hire people to code for me, so I can stick to game design and making game concepts.

But as in 90% of the topics, there's a question, and here's mine:

How do you stop thinking in new ideas so you can focus on finishing the one you are actually working on?
Do you take notes and keep working on your current projects? (What I do)

Thanks for reading Smiley

Offline moogie

JGO Knight


Medals: 13
Projects: 6
Exp: 10 years


Java games rock!


« Reply #1 - Posted 2012-07-25 12:08:08 »

well, i find that telling others about a current project and projected milestones is a good motivator... I find that I do not want to disappoint the people that I have committed to produce for Smiley
Offline Mads

JGO Ninja


Medals: 26
Projects: 3
Exp: 6 years


One for all!


« Reply #2 - Posted 2012-07-25 12:10:50 »

well, i find that telling others about a current project and projected milestones is a good motivator... I find that I do not want to disappoint the people that I have committed to produce for Smiley

This is really silly (sorry), but it's true. As if I'm the most interesting person in the world.  Yawn

Games published by our own members! Check 'em out!
Legends of Yore - The Casual Retro Roguelike
Offline _Al3x

Senior Devvie


Medals: 7


Indie Games FTW!


« Reply #3 - Posted 2012-07-25 12:28:48 »

Thanks for the input! Smiley What about storing your ideas? If you come across a concept, do you run right away to write it down? Do you draw sketchs? Do you EVER come to those concepts and try to make them? Lol

Again, I wish I had at least 2 programmer friends to help me make those concepts true Tongue

Offline moogie

JGO Knight


Medals: 13
Projects: 6
Exp: 10 years


Java games rock!


« Reply #4 - Posted 2012-07-25 12:52:19 »

After my day job, and young family I dont have much time to spend on personal programming projects that I used to Sad but my one saviour is the venerable java 4k competition. The size restrictions allows for ideas for prototypes that I might have had during the year the potential to be realised with out the progressive feature creep and thus time and lost focus that inevitably occurs.

Prototyping is fun... so I would not suggest that you stop entirely and focus on only one project as in my experience you loose the "fun" aspect and loose motivation for the project all together. I have projects that I keep coming back to that span multiple years... so just because you stop one project does not mean that it is dead.
Offline _Al3x

Senior Devvie


Medals: 7


Indie Games FTW!


« Reply #5 - Posted 2012-07-25 13:22:45 »

Thanks for your reply! Cheesy

Java 4k could be nice to try, but many concepts are just too much for it.
I hope I have the time to participate in one J4k soon Smiley

Offline Cero
« Reply #6 - Posted 2012-07-25 14:12:49 »

I have done 2-3 prototypes in the last month.

Here is what you do: 2 days MAX, per prototype.
That includes like drawing concepts on paper.
It should be very simple and strait to the point - dont work on ANYTHING you dont need. If it gets too complicated, leave it out or stop and just write/draw it.

You really gotta seperate prototyping(fooling around) and seriously working on a project.

Offline Mads

JGO Ninja


Medals: 26
Projects: 3
Exp: 6 years


One for all!


« Reply #7 - Posted 2012-07-25 14:24:24 »

As you say, you don't have a lot of programmer friends. I don't think a lot of us do. I find it quite rare to meet someone with an interest in programming. Less that programs in java, and less that wants to make a game. Even if you meet someone who does all of that, who's to say they can write code of a decent quality?

However, this forum is full of programmers. It's weird how nobody in here joins forces. Smiley
I write down ideas, and store them for later. Usually, I think about any concept too much and decide that nobody will want to play it, or that it's too close to some existing game.


Offline gimbal

JGO Knight


Medals: 25



« Reply #8 - Posted 2012-07-25 15:20:49 »

However, this forum is full of programmers. It's weird how nobody in here joins forces. Smiley

I've operated in circles where people actually joined forces multiple times - a few times with people I know personally. "Yeah we're all these awesome programmers, lets stop doing personal things and build something epic together!"

You start with the easy part - vent ideas. Put something together which a lot of people are very enthusiastic about; excitement and expectations grow 10-fold and people not directly attached to the project start to pipe in and provide their mental support. And then when there are no more ideas to be vented and it is basically time to start hammering... comes the moment where someone has to do something to start. That's when things crash, people stay silent and eventually the whole thing is completely ignored like it never happened. Because who is this person named Someone?

In my experience: you need something existing before you can get people you commune with only through the internet to join in and contribute. At least then someone (you) bit the bullet and actually made that start which is otherwise a gigantic barrier for all and everyone. Someone (you) stepped up and became the captain of the ship.

I'm quite curious what princec has to say about that as he has basically succeeded (LWJGL) where I have failed so many times now Smiley
Offline Mads

JGO Ninja


Medals: 26
Projects: 3
Exp: 6 years


One for all!


« Reply #9 - Posted 2012-07-25 17:18:41 »

@gimbal
Don't forget that jumping right into a codebase is often more confusing than making it - Even if it's speed is highly accelerated due to multiple commiters.

Games published by our own members! Check 'em out!
Legends of Yore - The Casual Retro Roguelike
Offline gimbal

JGO Knight


Medals: 25



« Reply #10 - Posted 2012-07-26 08:10:51 »

@gimbal
Don't forget that jumping right into a codebase is often more confusing than making it - Even if it's speed is highly accelerated due to multiple commiters.

Agreed, although people much smarter than me seem to have little problems with that seeing how they do stuff like port ID software code to any platform available including doing something as insane as porting Quake to the Commodore Amiga Smiley

The trick IMO is to have something that is not so far ahead that your ideas are locked into it, but more of a... prototype! Wink
Offline Damocles
« Reply #11 - Posted 2012-07-26 09:07:57 »

Java4k has the nice side-effect to automatically do the "feature creep" filter, simply
by its limiting nature.

(Plus I like linear and simplified code, Else I loose the overview quickly)

Feature Creep kills off projects quite often. Its so easy to add ideas in the concept, but
hard to let go.
You end up in a situation where realizing all the nice ideas would just be overkill.
But removing them makes the project look more boring and "scaled down"
The motivation fades away.

Working in teams has the other effect to limit your perceived productivity.
More time is spend on communicating and syncronizing ideas, code, assets, meeting times and ideas.
And you cant just change stuff as you like.

I would suggest to always develop incrementally, getting out a working prototype as soon as possibe.
Then making a "complete" game. (Simple goal, Mainmenu, mission)
Only when this stage is reached, add more features, content
and complexity. You might have to discard and rewrite some elements, but they serve as good placeholders until then.
The advantage is, the at any time then, stopping the development would leave at least some
kind of completed product. This is also great motivation to pick up development after a down period.

Offline _Al3x

Senior Devvie


Medals: 7


Indie Games FTW!


« Reply #12 - Posted 2012-07-26 09:28:15 »

Great comments are great Smiley

I thank you all for your reply, I've taken mental notes from all of you Smiley

Offline keldon85

Senior Devvie


Medals: 1



« Reply #13 - Posted 2012-07-26 11:50:02 »

I used to do the same thing, and here are a few anecdotes you might find useful:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NHopJHSlVo4
http://lifehacker.com/5907717/366-days-or-how-i-tricked-myself-into-being-awesome
http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2011/02/how-to-write-without-writing.html

Offline Oskuro

JGO Knight


Medals: 40
Exp: 6 years


Coding in Style


« Reply #14 - Posted 2012-07-27 12:52:15 »

I'm often in the same situation, coming up with a million ideas and losing interest in projects as new ideas creep up, my approach regarding ideas themselves is:

  • a) Let the Ideas Simmer: Instead of writing them down right away, I give myself time to think them through, which ends up refining them.
  • b) Bounce the Ideas Around: Get a friend and tell him about your idea, note how not only is the feedback important, but the exercise of having to explain your ideas to others helps shape them.
  • c) Integrate Ideas: If two ideas are similar, I consider actually merging them, or I might have an idea be the "sequel" to a previous idea, to be implemented later on.
  • d) Write Them Down: Finally, sit down and write the ideas down in an structured fashion. Save them. You never know when you'll have a new idea that can benefit from all the stuff you've written down.


Now, regarding how to implement the ideas, I think you need to have a clear idea of what game making is to *you*.

The thing is, if you look around, you'll find tons of self-help guides on how to complete projects, but rarely will they ask the very first question you need to ask:

   Is this a hobby or a job?

The thing is, soldiering through development is tough. Stuff you loved becomes dull quickly, and frustrating, and you stop having fun.

If what you are doing is a job, then you must press through, as the point of doing it is the final product (and the attached compensation). It's no different to any other job, you might not like it, but you have to do it.

On the other hand, if what you are doing is a hobby, then the point is not the destination, but to enjoy the journey. If you force yourself through, you might just lose interest, and without the motivation of it being an actual job, you'll end up abandoning the project.


In the later case, my recommendation is to have different projects active, so you can shift your interest from one to the other, never actually stopping work completely. Think of this like building a puzzle, growing frustrated and putting the puzzle down for a while and going back to writing a short story, only to go back to doing the puzzle once the writing frustrates you again.


Now, if you do want to face the project as a job, not wanting to let people down is a decent motivator. Just make sure everyone in your team is motivated, or you'll find how easy it is for a group of people to synchronize their procrastination.  Cheesy

Offline _Al3x

Senior Devvie


Medals: 7


Indie Games FTW!


« Reply #15 - Posted 2012-07-27 12:56:11 »

Nice words, thanks! Smiley

This is a hobby, but I dream I could live from it! Maybe one day, who knows!

Offline Oskuro

JGO Knight


Medals: 40
Exp: 6 years


Coding in Style


« Reply #16 - Posted 2012-07-27 12:58:47 »

You and me, pal.

Offline gimbal

JGO Knight


Medals: 25



« Reply #17 - Posted 2012-07-27 14:30:50 »

On the other hand, if what you are doing is a hobby, then the point is not the destination, but to enjoy the journey. If you force yourself through, you might just lose interest, and without the motivation of it being an actual job, you'll end up abandoning the project.

Arrrr; for hobby projects you lack the drive that is forced into you by the fact that you don't want to lose your job, that's a very good motivator. In my case the killer for personal projects is frustration. As soon as something about the project frustrates me, for example because I lose grip on the code, its basically done. I might stretch it out for a month more but eventually I start to focus too much on "starting over and doing it right this time".

So for me the trick is to avoid frustration. Unfortunately there is only one way that works for me - go very, very slowly. Still its better to make very slow progress than to make lots of progress too fast and then stall because you made a big mess of it.
Offline Damocles
« Reply #18 - Posted 2012-07-27 14:40:11 »

The main killer for a project for me is having a new idea, wanting to realize it.

Thus I make lots of small (working) prototypes.
But sticking to a larger project is a pain somehow...

Offline _Al3x

Senior Devvie


Medals: 7


Indie Games FTW!


« Reply #19 - Posted 2012-07-27 14:43:51 »

The main killer for a project for me is having a new idea, wanting to realize it.

I know right? My concepts seems SO FUN i want to make them all RIGHT NOW Smiley

Offline Sickan

Senior Devvie


Medals: 9



« Reply #20 - Posted 2012-07-27 14:47:24 »

The main killer for a project for me is having a new idea, wanting to realize it.

I know right? My concepts seems SO FUN i want to make them all RIGHT NOW Smiley
You're lucky. I haven't been able to come up with a concept in ages, let alone a fun concept.
Offline gouessej
« Reply #21 - Posted 2012-07-27 16:51:05 »

Lol, I haven't had this problem since the beginning of my biggest project in October 2006.

Offline Mads

JGO Ninja


Medals: 26
Projects: 3
Exp: 6 years


One for all!


« Reply #22 - Posted 2012-07-27 16:59:39 »

Lol, I haven't had this problem since the beginning of my biggest project in October 2006.

Is that not still kind of like a prototype?

Offline sproingie

JGO Kernel


Medals: 202



« Reply #23 - Posted 2012-07-27 17:14:28 »

I have concepts all the live long day, but lose all motivation to write them as soon as I sit down.  I think it's because programming is also my job.  I'm wearing out one part of my brain and not exercising the rest.
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