How Long Can You Stay Motivated?

I’ve thought that I’m the kind of guy who gets excited about new things… but then drops motivation quite soon. I might impulse buy stuff that doesn’t get used. At least sometimes.

But… in game development, I find it pretty interesting that this doesn’t seem to be the case.

I developed Edoiki game for couple of calendar years (after which I cancelled it, but I wouldn’t call it lack of motivation – it was more like “too large project” thinking) and now after doing of couple of calendar years Dead Wake I still like to code it (which I now got to IGF and out for sale pretty much tomorrow day after that this week?).

I wonder how it’s been possible to keep the motivation when I’m doing things pretty much solo – with some help of course. I have managed to stay motivated pretty much all the time. Maybe it’s because that for the game project is something that simply keeps me motivated. I’m as excited about the progress of Dead Wake as I was on day 1. (At least if I remember correctly)

What about you? How motivated you are to work on your game? Do you lose your motivation? How you get yourself back to working? Is it easy? Tough?

Share your thoughts please.

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. Jake: % games thing. I actually have finished very few played games. Mainly… because I play online multiplayer :) No “finishing there”. As for books… I’ve got tons of them here and get from library. There are less than 5 unfinished book in my big shelf of collection (maybe like 2 or 3). So… it depends your style too… ;)

    But I do get the point.

    JC: “do what you enjoy”. Very good piece of advice. :)

  2. @psycho: Great article thanks. I believe that you can learn grit from things like martial arts, I can certainly persevere more now than before I did Aikido for 12 years, but maybe also just growing up (and having kids) gives you more perseverance too…

    Maybe a good test to see if you are the kind of person who sticks with something is too look at your game collection and see what % of games you have actually finished. I’ve finished most of mine, but it helps that I only buy good ones in the first place, as there is no point sticking with a crappy game, book, movie OR indeed job or project…

  3. I have been working full time on my current game for the last 14 months. It is a pretty big project for just 1 man. It wasn’t too hard to stay motivated that long (even if I had some lows at some time). Oviously it was pretty stressfull (loads of work and loads of money to invest into that project) but I never felt un-motivated.

    Before that, I cancel the game I was working on after 2,3 months. I just didn’t enjoy working on it. So, I guess the best factor for me (too stay motivated) is to work on stuff you really want to do and enjoy.


  4. To be honest, for myself its very hard to maintain besides my normal full time day job :(..

    Sadly to say that our current project once again just didn’t really make it.. or maybe again needs a kick in the back. Partially because of the motivation, its just really hard to keep it up.

  5. @Ruben & @Archatas: interestingly… both of you are telling about the 2 sides of the same coin…

    @psycho: good article. skimmed it through. bookmarked for reading.

    @Brian: yes… can’t argue with that.

  6. I think the mark of a professional is the ability to stick with a project. If you drop half-finished projects all the time you’ll never get anything launched.

    The way I get motivated is to imagine the end product. I think the real thing that causes people to lose interest is when you’re in the middle of something and there’s so much work left to do and it seems hopeless. Thinking about the end product and thinking about people who will enjoy the game helps keep me going when things are at their most mired.

  7. Well with me when i get off track with work i think about my carrier goal and how i got to stay focus(I am still in college) and how much fun it will be to be doing what i wont to. This is what keeps me motivated.

  8. I am ashamed to accept, but I can’t really keep motivation for longer than two weeks. Then I find some other things to do and forget my main project for another several weeks. Maybe it would be different if I was doing my main project as main activity, but currently I do it only during my free time, so I am usually too tired to do programming after 8 hours of programming at work.

  9. I think it depends on what your goals with game development are. If it’s just for the fun of it and you have other sources of income, it’s easier to stay motivated.
    But if you need commercial success, than you have to raise the bar a lot, and it just gets overwhelming to do it all in “solo” mode. That’s when your motivation goes down the drain.

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