So maybe you have an idea but you’re not really sure whether to develop it or not. How would you know? Well how about:
Do your thoughts keep drifting back to it?
Do you find yourself carrying around a notebook and scribbling half-imagined thoughts at inappropriate times?
Are you obsessing on particular parts of it just for fun?
These kinds of behaviours are what passion looks like. They’re the point where game making is not just an intellectual exercise or a problem to be solved, but instead where you’re excited. The most important question to ask is this:
Would you play it?
It’s very difficult to make a game that you don’t see yourself playing. It’s hard to empathise with it, hard to see where the flaws are and hard to innovate solutions to the problems that will arise. Mainly it’s because making a game that you wouldn’t play isn’t fun. It’s a job.
When you can’t see yourself playing it, it means you either believe it won’t work or it’s not interesting to you. Enthusiasm depletes and needs renewal or else it withers altogether, and only the project that your imagination can picture will do that.
Be wary, however, of getting completely lost in the fervour. The greatest creative people in any field are those who have enthusiasm tempered by listening to the outside world.
When you first show your game to other people, they won’t like it. At that point it is very tempting for enthusiasm to override what they’re telling you and put a positive spin on even the most negative news. This is the moment when rationalisation, ad hominem attacks and just plain blocking out of other voices comes into its own. Nothing good comes from doing that.
And yet listening to what everyone has to say and then slavishly treating it as a todo list is also a huge mistake. At that point enthusiasm will depart and depression will settle in. You’re back to just-a-job territory and the list of to-do’s just gets longer and longer.
The trick is to learn to listen to the problems, but not the proposed solutions. Understand why they don’t like it, but think for yourself what the cause of that problem actually is. Read the metrics (if you have any) but imagine why they might be showing failure points rather than just reading them flatly.
Let your reason understand the problems but let your passion guide you in figuring out the solutions that sit well with the direction that you believe in. Modify, but not to the extent that your game becomes something which you would no longer want to play. Don’t be an ego, but don’t be a hostage to fortune either.
(Today's image comes from The Vitamin D Society.)