I got into game design about sixteen years ago. I was ten years old and made a simple little RPG using an English hack of RPG Maker 95. I didn't program anything, design any art assets, or even think much about the music I was using. I clicked to place something, selected the presets that would make the thing do something, ripped some WAV files from a Tupac cd, and called it done. The game was about five minutes long. There was only the overworld map, which was cobbled together from all of the different tilesets available. I didn't actually know that you could have multiple maps. The game was laughable even by the standards of a ten year old. But I was proud of it.
It's been sixteen years and I have yet to be able to say I have finished creating a second game. I've started games. I've started a ton of games. I've filled hard drives with concepts and assets for games. I've learned a dozen programming languages in my pursuit of designing a game. I have paid for licensing rights on engines I have never used. I have pre-published games on indie sites only to never update them. I have taught people the tricks I use for my art, my code, my music. But then I've watched them actually publish their games while my half finished projects get deleted to make room for the next one.
And I'm not sure I'll ever finish one.
Now if only I spent less time on minuscule details and more on finishing the rest of the game.
The above image was a gas station that I had made three years ago for a multiplayer 2D GTA-inspired game. I spent hours sketching out how the city would look. I created a radio system that went beyond the intents of the sound engine. I created a multitude of systems, pushing boundaries of the game engine and proprietary language that it came with. Then I got bored and stopped working on it. A year or so later and the files were not even on a backup disk anymore.
Doing all that I have, it seems silly that I haven't finished a game. At this moment, I could probably pull out any three random disks and cobbling the code from the various projects together to make a game. But I wouldn't be happy with it or proud of it. I would just see it as an amalgam of my failures. Besides, other people have released those games since. Not in the same form as I worked on, but the ideas have been turned into reality. This is not to say that other people stole my ideas. Rather, I just sat on them until someone else made them. (Though, I admittedly cursed their name when I found out.)
NOOOOOOOOOOTCH! - Me in 2009
Maybe I'm just not as original as I fancy myself. Half of my ideas when I started out began with "This game is cool, but what if it had..." Then I'd find myself creating the scripts that would cause the game to be different, without building the rest of the game around it. But then I have some ideas that have yet to be realized in a tangible form. I know I'd be proud of it, that I'd be able to share it with everyone.
And there's the crux.
Whenever I start a game, I imagine what it will be like when everyone loves it. When I work on the games envisioning the way everyone will react, I become complacent. I once read a study that stated the brain releases the same chemicals when thinking about success that it releases when success is actually reached. That's why I need a different goal for design. I need to not create games for everyone in the world. I need to create them for my friends, for my loved ones, but mostly for myself. That was when I enjoyed game design the most, when it was game design for me and mine.