It's been awhile since my last post here on my devblog - that's something that I need to change. Here's a quickie little article that I wanted to write about - motivation.
"How do I keep my motivation in the middle of a project?" is a question that is frequently asked around in the game development community. I feel like when people ask this question, they think of motivation as some kind of inspiration - some kind of above-average, long-lasting desire to work on and complete a hard and long project. As someone who has been working on a single project for the past 1.5 years that's nearing completion, I think I've gotten a bit of perspective on what helps you keep motivation. I think having a goal, or even financial needs that you hope the project will fulfill can help keep you on track. Also, nobody other than you will make your project, no matter how similar it might seem to other games out there. However, I think there's more to motivation than that.
I think most successful developers (heck, most successful creators) don't really have that kind of "magic motivation" most people think of - the kind of ardent passion for working on something every single day, regardless of difficulties encountered or the creator's moods. I think most successful developers just take it one day at a time and just keep going. They have a goal - a desire to create something, and they keep plugging away at it, which, fortunately, is something anyone can do. In other words, I think it's not about generating motivation, but rather using it wisely.
Think of motivation as some kind of resource, like money. You wake up every day and automatically earn a certain amount of motivation, and you can spend that motivation in different ways on different things. If your project is smooth as butter, then you don't really spend anything - it's like driving in a brand new car. Super easy to get where you want to go, and do it pretty quickly. Making new gameplay systems, integrating art, making the assets - nothing's difficult, and everything's coming together according to a plan.
However, if your project is prone to bugs, has lots of systems that aren't coded as well as they should be or aren't very easy to work with - those are the kinds of issues that cause stress. They're the kinds of things you have to spend motivation on. Those issues add up, and they become something like driving in a busted-up junkyard car. It may still run, but it's uncomfortable, slow, and you have to spend more and more to keep it going.
So you want to avoid spending your motivation, as spending too much kills your momentum and overall desire to work on your project. The act of game creation is a large task, but it's not too hard to keep going if you keep plugging away at it and remove any obstacles to your process. If something in the project is suckin' the life out of you, fix it, improve it, get rid of it, work around it, whatever you have to do to "pave the way".
If you're doing it right, you won't need to push harder - you already have motivation.