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This question might seem a bit vague but it is hard to formulate properly. I will try as best as I can. So here goes...

For many years I have been trying to create games but I haven't managed to finish even a single one. The main reason, among others, was that the game creation process lacked focus. There never was a concrete vision of what I was trying to create.

Now I realize that I would usually want to create a game that was similar to some other that I recently played and liked. It seems like there are many games I would like to make but there is none that I would see as THE game I want to make (or one of THE games).

I really want to create something that I (and hopefully, others too) like and can be proud of. But I'm having a hard time discovering what it is. It doesn't have to be big, graphically awesome or anything like that. It should simply be something I really enjoy and am motivated to create.

So, has anyone else here had the same or similar problem? Have you found a way to overcome it? Have you discovered "YOUR" game?

If so, what was different about it from other games you tried creating?

EDIT:

Thanks for all your answers. Just want to clarify some things a bit...

Before asking this question I already read through various older questions about things like prototyping, having deadlines, to-do lists, participating in competitions with short deadlines, etc.

What I wanted to know more by asking this question was not how to create a game in general but how to discover a project that feels like what you really want to do.

For example, I play racing games very rarely, but sometimes I might play some game that is quite fun for a while and get an idea about creating some racing game of my own. But that idea won't stay for long and I will soon get bored with it because in general I am not the kind of guy who is really "into" racing games.

It would be nice if someone here could tell how they discovered what their game was. And I would appreciate if you could tell your story with more details, especially about the things that made the difference between "it would be nice to make this game for myself" and "I want to make this game really badly".

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Byte56 Aug 27 '13 at 4:01

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

5 Answers 5

I have been in the exact same position.

What I did was playing a lot of games and thinking about what elements made the game fun. This eventually lead to my current project which basically takes it main elements from three different games I've played earlier.

EDIT: Sorry, this answer was a little short. Anyway, earlier games I've attempted either a) was an exact clone of an existing game, which resulted in that as soon as I had completed the core functionality I would drop it as I already knew what the game was going to be like, or b) had no real plan at all, which made the code hard to overlook as different ideas was trying to get their way into the game.

What I did was that I, as I said, looked not at whole games as a template but at elements, and mixed them together. I made up a clear idea of what the core functionality and content was going to be like (with a little space for some changes of course). Then I worked actively towards that goal, always checking my mental checklist (this part, done, that part done, etc.)

Also, I never sat too long each programming session. Before I sat down and coded I already knew what part I was going to get done and stop and do something else.

I hope this is of some more use than my original answer.

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How does this answer the question? It feels like more of a comment to me. –  muntoo Mar 29 '11 at 7:22
    
Could you give some details about the game you are making? I would like to know more. How is different from earlier games you made? –  Onlainas Apr 1 '11 at 18:50

In reply to your edited post, and not directly at prototyping a game

what was different about it from other games you tried creating?

I couldn't stop playing it! And when I talked/showed my friends they loved the idea/gameplay.

I generally make games that I like to play, and my friends like to play. I keep them updating and that keeps me excited in creating my game.

Edit: Most of my earlier games I would create for the sake of creating them and getting better at game programming. Once I started creating games not for learning or for making money is when the games starting to be better and more enjoyable.

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So the game was not "planned" to be fun but "came out" that way by "accident"? –  Onlainas Apr 1 '11 at 19:31
    
It was planned to be fun (in my head) but I did not think it would be as fun as it is, I find I was spending more time "testing" it then fixing any bugs. –  Spooks Apr 1 '11 at 20:04

There's nothing wrong with making a variant on someone else's game, but I think there's a difference between making a variant and "fixing" it. If you play the game and think "I like this, but I wonder whether XYZ would improve it" then you're driven only by curiosity - which can be a powerful motivator, but not for everyone. If you play the game and think "I like this, but XYZ would make it far better" then I think that's a much better motivator. So try looking for games which have one obvious flaw which has somehow escaped the developer.

The simple solution to keeping your motivation going is to start with a short deadline. There are a number of game development contests which take place over a single weekend or a single week. At the end of that you won't have a polished game, but you can have something which is finished for some value of finished. You'll either be burnt out or have the momentum to keep polishing. Ludum Dare is one such contest I know of, but there are others. (Found a list while Googling).

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I personally give up easily on projects, so I found out something that keeps me interested throughout the whole development process.

I start out really small, like drawing a character to the screen. Then, I try to make it a little more interactive by accepting input to move that character. After that, I just add small functionalities that, in the long run, really makes you feel like you're making progress.

As for making "YOUR" game, I'd say start out by making "clones" of classic games(like Pong or whatever) and adding a little something that makes it different(why not 4 players Free For All Pong? :) ). The more "clones" you'll make, the better you'll get. Eventually you'll just get a really good feel of what game you want to make, and that game will be YOUR game.

For more tips on staying motivated, see this question: " How can I effectively manage a hobby game project? "

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It took me dozens of failed projects before I started actually managing to finish and release games. This is my two cents on how to finish a game:

  • Draft then polish. Instead of trying to make a game from "start to finish", start by developing a complete game that is a very rough representation of the final product. Use as much stand-in stuff as possible. Then polish it over and over until it feels done. This is analogous to a painter drawing a sketch, and painting over it later.
  • Further to the previous point, the most important thing is for the game to become "fun" as soon as possible. If a game isn't going to be fun, it's better that you discover that sooner than later.
  • Talk about your project with others often. Stick to a strict blogging schedule, perhaps one per week with a screenshot demonstrating something new.
  • Do short release schedules ("Milestones") perhaps every other month or so, to gather feedback to guide development of the game.
  • Keep a to-do list for the project that has as many items as possible, split up by milestone. A to-do list isn't really complete unless it lists everything that needs to be done for the game to be complete. Deal with bugs first to keep the source code from deteriorating.

As for the vision, that's a difficult one to answer. I think any vision for a game project is fine as long as it's something that the developer would play if someone else made it.

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I certainly agree with the first two points, the other ones sound very interesting too. –  pimvdb Mar 26 '11 at 23:01
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I completely agree. I've always found that developing in Iterations usually comes out better. (Draft then polish) –  Michael Coleman Mar 27 '11 at 18:25
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Concerning vision, try to define a "core". This can be a fun/unique gameplay mechanic or an overall theme. The core defines the game, and most every idea you have should support it and build it stronger. Starting with a well defined game should help you feel more kinship with it and possibly more drive to finish it. –  Amplify91 Mar 29 '11 at 7:20

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