How I stay motivated as an indie developer
Making games as an indie is tough, it requires complete focus and hard persistent work. I've been working on my debut indie title as a one man band since November 2009, around 1 year 8 months. There's rarely a day when I'm not working on it, and it pretty much dominates my life. You may ask, how can I work on the same project for that length of time?
Knowing that until you launch something, the time you spend is meaningless
If you don't launch your game, it's sat there on the hard drive of your computer and nobody in the world cares how much time and effort you've put into it.
I'm doing this all out of my own pocket. However, I've done pretty well to ensure I've spent very little. I bought a macbook, an iPhone 4 and paid the iOS developer fee. Of course there have been other small expenses like software, but I haven't spent much over £1k.
The biggest cost is time. I guess this is much harder if you are trying to make a living for yourself, but fortunately I have a bed to sleep in and a room where I can sit and tap away at my keyboard and get fed for free :)
I view sleep as a waste of time, but yet it's so important and dictates your performance. The late nights really have their toll on me, my sleeping patterns are horrendous. People talk about crunching in big companies, but on average I work from 11am to 5am.
I'm the programmer, the artist, the producer, the designer, the webmaster, the managing director, the [insert role]. As a one man indie it's important to have a wide range of skills, and fortunately covering every ground during my childhood helped with that.
All this work could be for nothing. I could launch my game and it could flop. I'm doing everything in my power to ensure that it doesn't, but there is always the possibility.
What keeps me going
Passion / Enjoyment
I enjoy what I do. I want to make games. I want to code. If I didn't, I'm sure I would have given up in the first month.
Dreams / Imagination
The only way in the real world I can recreate my dreams is through games development. I can construct any lucid experience my imagination can think of. Being able to see my imagination come to life is pure awesome.
I listen to a lot of music - namely electronic music, soundtracks and rock. I love how it drives my imagination, and it gives me a great sense of excitement. In my time out, I even make music (be warned: I'm far from pro). It's a great way for any creative person to express themselves and it's a nice change from writing code.
The idea that my game will be a success, and the benefits I will reap from that as a result. It's hard to define, but I would say that if my game makes 2 years of work worth it, then I'd say that's a success.
Many motivational theories suggest that money is not a motivator. While I agree this is probably true in terms of an everyday job, I don't believe the same applies when you work in business. At the end of the day, the objective of a business is to make profit and grow :)
Life / Death
We only live once. Someday we are going to die. As Steve Jobs said, "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you will most certainly be right." I want to be an achiever, and I want to make a difference.
Nothing will get in my way
There are a lot of setbacks in life, and I've had my fair share, but I'm so driven about what I'm doing that anybody that tells me I can't do something, or puts a brick wall in front of me, I simply break it down and become even more motivated as a result.
The support of my friends and family is invaluable to me, while they don't understand the technicalities, they help keep me on the sane side and offer support in any way they can. I try to balance my social life, and my friends get me out of the house every now and again which is great.
People and the things people make inspire me. They prove that anything is possible.
So that's how I keep motivated as an indie. I'm coming close to the launch of my game, and things are only going to get tougher. The forward thinking mindset that I have will hopefully see me through to the end, but sometimes I need to remind myself that I'm only human :)