How to finish your game (or any type of project for that matter)

If you are like me, you’ve probably started and stopped countless prototypes and side projects. Maybe something got too difficult or complex. Or it just wasn’t turning out like you imagined. There are lots of reasons to leave a project behind.

It’s not a bad thing. It’s efficient to abandon things that aren’t working out. You might come back around to these ideas. Some ideas need time. One thing is certain. You definitely learned something from working on all those projects, and you’ll bring that with you to the next one.

In any case, you probably started working on your project with the intent to finish it and share it with people. After you’ve amassed a lot of these unfinished projects it’s fairly easy to start questioning whether you’re ever going to finish anything.

Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re working on your next project. I’ve found these few things helpful to keep me going:

Work on the project every day

It could be anywhere from a few minutes to hours. But take a moment to get some things out of your head and onto paper (and art, code, or whatever you happen to be working on.) You’re going to start making lots of progress faster because you’re not only working on it when you feel inspired or motivated to.

Take frequent breaks

It’s easy to get sucked in to what you’re working on and focus in on the details of what you’re doing at any given moment. In fact, this is necessary to solve complex problems. But instead of jumping right into the next thing it’s really important to step away and regain perspective in between these moments. You’ll be more efficient and make less errors in judgement.

Everything seems easier than it is

Don’t expect your project to turn out exactly like it is in your head. When you envision and imagine your great idea, you’re probably going to gloss over a lot of the details. Your mind is good at that. The system or picture may be clear in your mind, but when it comes to getting it down on paper, you’ll start finding lots of gaps to fill. Whether it’s art, code, or design, you’ll have to spend time to work out all those details. Have a goal in mind and know where you’re heading, but be flexible with the details of how you get there.

Just keep going

Once you land on a project and a vision you think is worth sticking with, keep these ideas in mind, and keep going. The habit you’ll form from a daily routine of getting ideas down will help you make constant progress. Padding the space between work time with ample time to explore your ideas, helps you focus on the right things. And know you’ll have make changes along the way makes it easy to consider alternative solutions when things get difficult.