One of the questions every aspiring game developer must ask itself after working for months on the same game and losing motivation is whether he should just give up. I believe these kinds of questions aren’t exclusive to game developers: any kind of project you engage with for a long time is subject to these questions, be it a book, an album, a poem…
To know if you are just being stubborn or having the kind of persistence that success requires, the first step is figuring out what you want of the project.
It might be the case that you’re building your game just to learn, so as long as your game has anything new to you, you’ll still learning. Perhaps you are building your game to make money, in which case you have limited time and resources and probably want to be as efficient as possible about not wasting time pursuing unfruitful ideas.
At my company, Bloom Games, we always approach game design wanting to meet a specific fundamental human need (read about it on Gamasutra) for a specific audience in a sustainable manner. In the Michael Seibel’s Interview for the Capital and Growth blog, the CEO of Y Combinator tells us:
Foolish stubbornness comes not from working on the same problem, but from an unwillingness to iterate on the solution. Many founders fall in love with their product rather than the problem they are trying to solve.
I’ve seen founders build a product, realize it didn’t solve the initial problem and then throw away the problem and look for a new one that their product can solve. Instead, they should keep the problem but try to find a new solution.
More startups would succeed if they were bull-headed about keeping the customer and the problem the same but changing the solution. This is why passion matters. You are unlikely to pivot quickly through lots of different problems or customer types if you care deeply about the initial problem you set out to solve.
If you, like us, believe you are actually solving real needs of real people when you’re building a game, then the answer becomes clear: keep working on it for as long as it solves the problem. Don’t fall in love with your game: if you want to have players who actually play every single day and spread the word, and you can’t get that with your current game, then it’s time to change your strategy to solve the problem, and that might mean either changing the game or the design.
Reach me on Twitter and let me know what you think: @thenameisflic.