How to Stay Motivated When You’re Burnt Out

image via Pixabay

Burn out is a real thing. Especially for indie game developers. I see a lot of people on the developer groups wondering what the point of it all is. They’ve worked hard for 5 years and haven’t seen any returns on their time or money investments. The same could be said about us. We’ve been working on The Painter’s Apprentice for the past two years after our day jobs.

Our Story

There have been a lot of changes (and more to come) that have delayed the release of the game. People are burnt out on working on the same thing. A game that could have been completed in a couple months if done full-time has taken much longer than anticipated. It’s the same issue we had with Once Upon a Runner. As the months go by, it can be incredibly disheartening that the game still is not released. There’s the temptation to just put it out on the market because hey, no game will every be perfect. We did it with Once Upon a Runner and now we had to go back and redo the entire game because it just wasn’t up to par with other games on the market. I don’t want to make the same mistake with The Painter’s Apprentice.

It’s been a hard road. We’ve had artists and programmers leave mid-game so the project was put on hold for months while we searched for someone else to fill in the gaps. When we launched on Greenlight we had mostly negative comments surrounding our art. As it stands, we only have a couple hundred votes. All that work and our current product isn’t enough to get on Greenlight. It’s especially heartbreaking when you hear other people comment that any half-decent game will get Greenlit. It makes us pause and think – Is our game just not any good?

Battling Burn Out

So how do we stay motivated despite burning out and generally feeling pessimistic about our future? We look forward and backwards.

Forward to see where we want to be.

We have a clear deadline and goal to reach. There are some great highlights coming up that legitimize our company such as being accepted into MAGFest and being selected to showcase at the PAX Rising Booth in San Antonio. It shows us the potential that our game company has to reach a wider audience. There’s also the other game we’re working on (if you want to learn more, subscribe to our newsletter!) and potential partnerships that we may be able to leverage in the future if we play our cards right.

Thinking this way makes me realize that while two years is certainly long for a platformer it means we spent time to polish it. Are there going to be changes in the near future? Yes. We’re already looking into some options to make the game even better. It may mean we take longer to release, but I’d rather release a polished and amazing looking game than something that’s “good enough.” Striving for excellence takes a lot of time and work, but in the end it is worth it.

Backwards to see how far we’ve come.

I love Thursdays because that’s when I use the hashtag Throwback Thursdays. It’s a nice way to remind myself how far we’ve really come with the game. Our animation is much smoother, our gameplay is improving and everything is slowly coming together. When I compare our current build to the first time we demo-ed the game at PGConnects, there’s a world of difference. It’s hard to see the changes when you focus just on the past week or even month. It seems so incremental. But when you look at everything as a whole, there’s absolutely huge changes.

It’s also nice to look back at the positive feedback we’ve gotten at the various events we’ve showcased at. People love the idea and love the game. We’ve improved overall gameplay thanks to people who’ve tried our game these past two years and it’s better because of it. Many of the people who we’ve met have become supporters and even helped out our Kickstarter. For that we’re eternally grateful. Over the past two years, we’ve grown our mailing list by 200% and increased our follower count from 0 to 400+ on Twitter. It might not be the explosive growth many others see, but it continues to steadily rise.

In the end

We’ll continue to polish and hone The Painter’s Apprentice until we’re satisfied with how to it looks and feels. We want to provide the best experience for everyone. It’s challenging, absolutely. Some days are harder than others to really get into the game development mood. Some days I don’t even want to look at the game. But on those days, I remind myself what we have accomplished and what we plan on accomplishing. Then I get to work.