I’ve been working on a project on-and-off for the last few months. Last month, I got to a point where I successfully answered what I think is the most challenging technical question: how to create the AI opponent. Now that the gameplay itself is just about finished, I am down to just a few more last pieces to plug in. I need to add multiplayer support, add a tutorial, and give the UI its finishing touches.
At this point, I lost most of the energy that was pushing me to finish the game. What this has taught me about myself is that I am more motivated by solving a challenging problem than by releasing the final product.
This can be a good thing, sometimes. But if I never release the game, why did I bother putting this much effort into it? I got 90% of the project done, and if I don’t finish the last 10%, was it worth doing at all?
Yes, I learned about how to create a basic computer AI. Yes, I figured out how to make the game engine do what I want. But ultimately, what I have learned can only benefit me if I either release the project and earn money for it or if this knowledge gives me the ability to pursue job or research opportunities in the future. If I don’t release the product, neither of these can happen.
My current problem is that another challenging technical project – that (I believe) has the potential to do so much more than this game – has shifted my motivation away from finishing this game. But while the new idea is still almost entirely in my head, my game is very much real already. I can’t give up on a project that is 90% done to work on another project that is still at 0%.
Part of the reason I am writing this on my blog is to force myself to finish this game, and soon. Finishing the game will allow me to get a sense of completion from it, and will let me work on my next project without the guilt of abandoning this one.
Last month, I had the same sense of excitement about the game as I now have for my new idea. If I can channel just some of that back to the game, I think it can become something I am really proud of.