How I was able to finish Warrior Defense

As of writing, Warrior Defense is not really finished. Software is never finished. I’m still updating it. I haven’t released for iOS yet. Right now, I’m completing a web version. But the game is out there. Some people are probably playing it as you read this. I’m quite proud of that.

There’s a phrase in the game development world that says something like “It’s easy to start a game but finishing one is very hard.” This is very true. Just ask any game jam (our term for hackathon) participants. I’m writing this post in the hopes that it will help or at least inspire game developers to push on and finish their games.

Why?

I think the main driving force for finishing a game is the answer to the question “Why should I?” I always ask myself this every time I encounter a stumbling block be it technical problem, laziness, boring feature to implement, or loss of motivation. The answer to this question should be profound enough to make you jump up and feel motivated again.

“I should finish Warrior Defense because I want to prove that I can finish a mid sized strategy game on my own.” That was my reason. I want to present myself as a game developer in the strategy or action genre. My first game should probably be one.

Very early version. Naked dudes slugging it out.
Very early version. Naked dudes slugging it out.

Pressure

If you’re really committed to finishing a game, it shouldn’t be a problem if you let yourself to be in some pressure, right? Because if you don’t, then you’re not really committed. Guess what, you can impose pressure by yourself. I call them self imposed pressure.

The first in my list of self imposed pressure is joining the One Year Game Challenge last year with 5 times the minimum pledge value. 1YGC is a one year program by IGDA Manila to help developers finish their games. Each participant hands in a monetary value not less than 1000 to IGDA Manila. They get their money back if they released their game with a certain number of downloads within a year. If they don’t, the money is considered donation. I pledged 5000 for fun!

Another self imposed pressure is to tell people a release date consistently. Choose at least an exact month and year so you have an answer ready every time someone asks you. Believe me, a lot will ask you. Mine was June 2014 (but the game was released on August). What it does is it sets a deadline for yourself. You already told people, you better work on it or risk the perceived embarrassment.

Spending a lot for the game is another self imposed pressure. I bought lots of Unity Asset Store products that I could use in my game. Some of them are quite expensive. I also spent a big amount of my budget for artists and music. What this does is it tells you that there’s no turning back now. You’ve already spent this much, better finish that damn game!

Last of my list is posting the progress of the game to everywhere. I uploaded the game to Gamejolt then posted the game to various tech or gaming groups in Facebook. What you’re really doing is you put expectation to people that you’re making a game and you’re bound to show them a polished version eventually.

With these multiple self imposed pressure stacked on me, I should get my shit together and work on the game every time I can. If all fails, I go back to “Why should I?”

Release version. Looks spiffy.
Release version. Looks spiffy.

Luck

I can’t deny that I got lucky at times. Luck does have a hand in finishing my game. I was able to get really awesome artists to work with me for a “friendly” price. I’m very grateful to Robot with a Smile (Marvin and Shelly). I’m lucky enough to know Kane Aoki and the guys at Dualist. He makes awesome music for a very reasonable price. I hope you guys get more gigs after Warrior Defense.

I feel lucky that I found out about Full Mana Studios (Mars, Jaica, Mandy). They’re the reason that I was able to quit my full time job. They gave me a part time job so I could spend more time on my game. They also eventually funded the game and I was able to pay my artists in full.

To conclude, I hope this post gave you ideas on how to go about finishing your game. It’s hard I know, but it’s doable. Answer your “Why should I” and think of clever ways to impose pressure on yourself. Let’s finish more games!

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