Useful
Inventions
Favorite
Quotes
Game
Design
Atari
Memories
Personal
Pages

The Motivation and Creativity Page

For programmers who procrastinate or have writer's block.

Table of Contents

Do you have any of the following problems?

 

If any of those problems seem familiar, this page might be able to help. Read the quotes, listen to the videos, check out the links, then see if things start to improve.

 

 

 

 

Why Should I Make Games?

Image from www.InternetBumperStickers.com

A long, long time ago . . . I can still remember how that music used to make me smile. And I knew if I had my chance that I could make those people dance and maybe they'd be happy for a while.

Part of the lyrics from the song American Pie by Don McLean

We do it because we can, 'cause we know how. We do it whether people remember us or not, in spite of the fact that there's no shiny reward at the end of the dayother than the work itself.

'Angel' from the TV series Angel (S5:E6)

Why should you make games? Do it to give players joy from your unique perspective and to have fun expressing yourself. You win and the players win.

Duane Alan Hahn

Image from www.InternetBumperStickers.com

To me games have an extremely great and still unrealized potential to influence man. I want to bring joy and excitement to people's lives in my games, while at the same time communicate aspects of this journey of life we are all going through. Games have a larger potential for this than linear movies or any other form of media.

Philip Price from a Halcyon Days interview

I had no special training at all; I am completely self taught. I don't fit the mold of a visual arts designer or a graphic designer. I just had a strong concept about what a game designer is. Someone who designs projects to make people happy. That's a game designer's purpose.

Toru Iwatani

From the book Programmers at Work by Susan Lammers

Even though I enjoyed the challenge of programming, ultimately the motivation was the fans, the gamers themselves. I kept asking myself, "Is that guy enjoying the game?" In those early days we got fan mail all the time.

Bob Whitehead (adapted)

You have to measure your success by the way your audience responds to your games. No matter how small that audience is, it's yours. Your game is part of the lives and the memories of those people in a way that WordPerfect or Lotus 1-2-3 or Windows can never be.

Orson Scott Card

Compute Magazine, October 1992

Game development makes a great hobby. I also think in the future, with engines, tools, and books on game development becoming commonplace, that more artists, writers, and just plain creative people will start to produce more games for people to play simply because they enjoy doing it. For a growing number of people, constructing cool software is like building a neat model airplane; it's just a craft that takes a lot of skill but provides even more enjoyment in return.

Ben Sawyer (adapted)

From The Ultimate Game Developer's Sourcebook

Making a game is about having fun, overcoming challenges, being grateful for help from better programmers, and trying to make players happy. If people have a rough day at work or school, they can sit down, play your game and get away from it all for a little while. If we can help players relieve stress and just generally feel better after playing, we've done a good job.

Duane Alan Hahn

 

 

Humble Confidence

Image from www.InternetBumperStickers.com

There is a difference between conceit and confidence. Conceit is bragging about yourself. Confidence means you believe you can get the job done.

Johnny Unitas

Image from www.InternetBumperStickers.com

Many people believe that humility is the opposite of pride, when, in fact, it is a point of equilibrium. The opposite of pride is actually a lack of self-esteem. A humble person is totally different from a person who cannot recognize and appreciate himself as part of this world's marvels.

Rabino Nilton Bonder

Image from www.InternetBumperStickers.com

Sometimes you just need to have the confidence and the belief in the fact that you're going to pull it off and you just keep going forward every day and you don't allow the self-doubt or any doubt or even a shadow of a doubt to enter your mind because you just have to keep going forward.

Barrie M. Osborne (adapted)

The End of All Things documentary on The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Extended Edition) DVD

 

 

Criticism

Image from www.InternetBumperStickers.com

Criticism is information that will help you grow.

Hendrie Weisinger, Ph.D

The dread of criticism is the death of genius.

William Gilmore Simms

To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.

Elbert Hubbard

Concern over criticism clogs creativity.

Duane Alan Hahn

When you're young, you tend to believe what people tell you, and that's dangerous. As you get older, you learn that you're never as good or as bad as they say you are. If you understand this, you win.

George Clooney (adapted)

Too many games are made for the challenge of it, without seeming to care that much about players. Even though players are important, their reactions should only be taken as feedback you can use to make better games. Player comments shouldn't feed your ego or damage your self-esteem.

Duane Alan Hahn

 

 

Hesitation and Worry

Image from www.InternetBumperStickers.com

The essential part of creativity is not being afraid to fail.

Edwin H. Land

While one person hesitates because he feels inferior, the other is busy making mistakes and becoming superior.

Henry C. Link

Imperfection clings to a person, and if they wait till they are brushed off entirely, they would spin for ever on their axis, advancing nowhere.

Thomas Carlyle

Image from www.InternetBumperStickers.com

You can't hit a home run unless you step up to the plate.

Unknown

The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.

Elbert Hubbard

You can't build a reputation on what you are going to do.

Henry Ford

No man ever sank under the burden of the day. It is when tomorrow's burden is added to the burden of today, that the weight is more than a man can bear.

George Macdonald

Image from www.InternetBumperStickers.com

Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.

Will Rogers

I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.

Leonardo da Vinci

It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can do only a little. Do what you can.

Sydney Smith

Use those talents you have. You will make it. You will give joy to the world. Take this tip from nature: The woods would be a very silent place if no birds sang except those who sang best.

Bernard Meltzer

 

 

Self-Motivation

Image from www.InternetBumperStickers.com

My dad delighted in me, which is an interesting realization. Anything that I would do throughout the week was kind of like when you're at a casino and you get casino chips but it's not real money until you go to the cashier's window. On Sunday, when I'd go home and do laundry, I would tell him about my week. Just to watch him delight turned those chips, if you will, into hard cash. When that was taken away from me, you realize that you have to do things for your own gratification and not for parental acceptance or whatever. You just need and want to do it for yourself.

Mike Myers from Inside the Actors Studio (adapted)

Image from www.InternetBumperStickers.com

You can get all the advice you want and read all the books you want, but what you've got to do is stand at the computer like I did from day one and say, "What can this stupid little thing do?" You've got to try little things out and make a million mistakes. But the great part about a home computer is you can do whatever you want and you aren't going to blow anything up.

Gary Kitchen from an AGH Library article

Failure is not the only punishment for laziness; there is also the success of others.

Jules Renard

 

 

Getting Started

Image from www.InternetBumperStickers.com

First you write down your goal; your second job is to break down your goal into a series of steps, beginning with steps which are absurdly easy.

Fitzhugh Dodson

Many drops make a bucket, many buckets make a pond, many ponds make a lake, and many lakes make an ocean.

Percy Ross

Learn how to program and play lots of games. If you find yourself capable of writing a game, someday you'll be capable of writing a really good game. My dad's a writer, and when you ask him how to learn to write, he says, "write." So basically, do it and keep doing it until you get good.

Fred Haslam

From SimCity 2000: Power, Politics and Planning by Nick Dargahi and Michael Bremer

Image from www.InternetBumperStickers.com

Very few programmers are able to create a big hit on their first or second attempt. It takes time to build the skills required. So start simple (at the bottom), write a game you are capable of doing, and work your way up to the top. After you create one game, take a short break, then make your next game. Each time you'll know a little more than you did before.

Ben Sawyer (adapted)

From The Ultimate Game Developer's Sourcebook

 

I have a a design philosophy that can be summed up in one sentence: "Make it work reliably and fast." This sentence can be broken down into the basic steps of a project:

  1. Make it.
  2. Make it work.
  3. Make it work reliably.
  4. Make it work reliably and fast.

Donald R. Lebeau

There are cases where you design something that looks good on paper and there's only one small part of it that's fun. You have to focus on that and throw the rest away.

Brent Iverson

The best way to move game design forward is simply to develop, design, and construct a game. And make sure you finish it. No matter how bad, how simple, how slow your finished product is, you will learn an immense amount simply by building a game on your own.

Read, experiment, design, develop, play, and most important of all, have fun. In the end, having fun is what games are all about.

Ben Sawyer (adapted)

From The Ultimate Game Developer's Sourcebook

Woody Allen said "Eighty percent of success is showing up." That seems to apply to just about everything, including programming. Even if you barely know what you're doing, there is some kind of magic in 'showing up.' All you have to do is work on your program. That simple action can have an almost supernatural effect. Your subconscious mind will bubble like boiling water and amazing things will happen.

Duane Alan Hahn

Image from www.InternetBumperStickers.com

By first taking a leap of faith toward your goal without worrying about the material means to get there, these material means automatically fall into place.

Montalk

Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don't quit.

Conrad Hilton

I wrote my first game on a remote terminal using APL/360 as the language. My first microcomputer game emulated a complete tank war game on a home-brew system I built that had a whopping 4K of memory and a 512-byte operating system. The point is, a good writer need not blame his tools. He'll make do!

Scott Adams

K-Power Magazine, June 1984

The concept for PITFALL took less than 10 minutes. The difficult part was sitting at the computer, for over 1,000 hours, and making it happen.

David Crane from a Digital Press quote page

Ideas are cheap. A dime a dozen, as they say. It's the implementation that's important! The trick isn't just to have a computer game idea, but to actually create it!

Scott Adams

K-Power Magazine, June 1984

 

 

We May at Least Improve

Where we cannot invent, we may at least improve.

Charles Caleb Colton

Nothing is new except arrangement.

William J. Durant

Begin with another's to end with your own.

Baltasar Gracian

What is originality? Undetected plagiarism.

Dean William R. Inge

 

 

Creativity and Flexibility

Image from www.InternetBumperStickers.com

Even though it's fun to crawl inside a computer and play with its potential, it's really important to look at other aspects of your life as well. That's where ideas for programs will come from.

Marcia Burrows

K-Power Magazine (April, 1984)

How Stampede, Activision's first country-and-western video game, came about is indicative of how the design process works. "My parents live in a small farming community," Whitehead explains, "The big annual event there is a stampede. At one point, I thought to myself, 'Wouldn't it be great to have some sort of cowboy game?' I decided that yeah it would be great and got to work on it immediately. For awhile I was waking up in the middle of the night saying 'Hey, this might work!' But then the next morning it wouldn't. The actual design for the game didn't hit me until two or three weeks later. Sometimes games come together all at once in your mind, but other times you have to throw the whole idea out and start all over again."

Bob Whitehead

From Video Games Magazine (August, 1982)

Image from www.InternetBumperStickers.com

If you fall in love with an idea, you won't see the merits of alternative approaches—and will probably miss an opportunity or two. One of life's great pleasures is letting go of a previously cherished idea. Then you're free to look for new ones. What part of your idea are you in love with? What would happen if you kissed it goodbye?

Roger von Oech

Discoveries are often made by not following instructions, by going off the main road, by trying the untried.

Frank Tyger

People should think things out fresh and not just accept conventional terms and the conventional way of doing things.

R. Buckminster Fuller

INTERVIEWER: What kind of skills or philosophy must a game designer have to be successful?

IWATANI: You must understand people's souls (kokoro) and be creative enough to imagine things that can't be thought or imagined by others. You must be compelled to do something a little bit different than the rest of the crowd and enjoy being different. You must also be able to visualize the images that will make up the game, and you shouldn't compromise with the first easy idea that comes to mind. In the last analysis, you must enjoy making people happy. That's the basis of being a good game designer, and leads to great game design.

Toru Iwatani

From the book Programmers at Work by Susan Lammers

While tight with concentration on what is being written, the writer has a thought, an insight, a partially articulate concept. The natural response is to think, "I can't stop what I am writing. I'll remember the idea," and continue writing. The writer is wrong. He will not remember it. The thought, the insight, the concept will disappear. It may return, but you will not need it then, or recall when it might have been appropriate.

Insights and perceptions pass through the mind like fleet fireflies. Lit for an instant, then gone back into the dark. They are precious, irreplaceable. Stop what you are writing and write them into a notebook, onto a napkin, a scrap of paper. ANYWHERE. They are more important than what you are writing now. What you are writing now is there. It is visible, tangible. You will not lose the mood, the flow, the roll.

From the book Dare to be a Great Writer: 329 Keys to Powerful Fiction by Leonard Bishop

Write it, even if you think it's terrible. Don't prevent yourself from jotting down a word, phrase, or paragraph just because it "isn't quite right" or "it won't work." Maybe it will, maybe it won't, but it's better to write it down, you can always edit later. And you don't want to stop yourself before you even get started! The point isn't to use everything you write. You can't be expected to pop out perfect prose your first time out! Write now, edit later.

Cristine Grace (adapted)

Make Your Own Custom Bumper Stickers at MakeStickers.com

Creativity, as has been said, consists largely of rearranging what we know in order to find out what we do not know. Hence, to think creatively, we must be able to look afresh at what we normally take for granted.

George Kneller

Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.

Erich Fromm

Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.

Mary Lou Cook

Image from www.InternetBumperStickers.com

He who never walks except where he sees other men's tracks will make no discoveries.

Unknown

They will say you are on the wrong road, if it is your own.

Antonio Porchia

 

 

Things to Think About

Make Your Own Custom Bumper Stickers at MakeStickers.com

The zero-sum game: that's the way it is if you're a competitive person and you see capitalism in that way. Zero-sum game implies winners and losers which I don't agree with. Somebody has to win and somebody has to lose, it all comes back to zero (minus eight, plus eight). But I don't agree with that because all boats can rise on a rising sea. Good films can help other films to be open. There's a different psychology at work. If you're overly competitive, you'll be exclusionary and say it's a zero-sum game (I must get eight and he must lose eight). Gekko simplifies it down to a painting. He says he bought this painting or this building for X and he sold it for Y and he made that profit and he assumes that somebody else got beat, but that's not necessarily true. You don't always lose.

Oliver Stone (adapted)

Director's commentary from his Wall Street DVD (2000)

A good game has to have a fun core, which is a one-sentence description of why it's fun.

Paul Reiche III

Compute Magazine, January 1992

'The player is paramount' is a phrase all game developers should remember. Great game designers have a certain amount of love or respect for their players. If you're not helping your players feel happy and fulfilled in some way then you shouldn't be making games at all. Don't make games just to express yourself. Don't make games just to impress other game designers. Think about the players too. Make games that are fun, games that satisfy, games that make your players feel like you care.

Duane Alan Hahn

Image from www.InternetBumperStickers.com

Keep the rules of the game simple. Ideally, first-time players should understand and enjoy the game without instructions.

Mark Cerney

Next Generation Magazine, January 1997

Anyone can make the simple complicated. Creativity is making the complicated simple.

Charles Mingus

The really blisteringly original games are incredibly simple.

Paul Reiche III

Compute Magazine, January 1992

Make Your Own Custom Bumper Stickers at MakeStickers.com

People want to go back to a simpler time where you walked up, read two lines of instructions, and knew the game. People want clean, simple challenges, and are tired of the 45-move joystick/button combinations it takes to do a roundhouse kick.

Curt Vendel from Weekly Wire

Pinball is a good example of what makes a great game—a mixture of luck and skill. That's a very critical aspect. In the long run a more-skilled player will do better, but in the short run anyone should be able to win. There should be some randomness, which offer challenges over the game. When you get to games like Pac-Man or Mortal Kombat where there's a documentable sequence that you can execute to succeed, to me that's totally antithetical to what a game should be.

Howard Scott Warshaw from a Digital Press interview

Image from www.InternetBumperStickers.com

One of my best tricks is to make every damn possible thing random. If something repeats (for example if your character looks left and right) don't make it ping-pong in perfect timing like a metronome. Always slip in randomness so that something that does repeat never looks the same twice. Nothing in your game should move to a "beat."

Dave Perry

Next Generation Magazine, January 1997

I used the random object placement in level 3 for variety. I didn't want it to be like a puzzle, where once you've solved it, it's not very interesting to do it again, and I wanted to avoid that. The bat was also added as a confusion factor, to move objects around a bit, so that the game wasn't too predictable. (I did make a mistake in my random object placement code, and there is a 1 in 18 chance that the yellow key will start out in the yellow castle, making the game unwinnable. This only happens in level 3.)

As you may gather from the above, I think that randomness in a game is very strong medicine, and must be very carefully controlled.

Warren Robinett from a Good Deal Games interview

Don't ever take control away from the joypad/keyboard unless you really want to piss off the player. When you press jump, make him jump. Fight animators or anyone else who tries to get you to do anything else. Instant response is key.

Dave Perry (Adapted)

Next Generation Magazine, January 1997

Image from www.InternetBumperStickers.com

It is said that our leisure activities no longer give us a break from the alienating qualities of the work we do; instead, they have come to resemble that work.

The chief reason our recreation is like our work is that it has become more competitive. Sports, for example, have always been competitive and never really qualified as play in the first place. Although it's not generally acknowledged, most definitions of play do seem to exclude competitive activities.

In an experiment with five-and six-year olds, Janice Nelson and her associates found that "success as well as failure in competition produced consistent increases in aggression, as compared with the effects of noncompetitive play," although failure made the children more aggressive. Another study discovered that boys who won a subsequent competition were more aggressive than those who failed. Even winning is not enough to eradicate the frustrating elements of competition. The hostile act of competition, on the playing field and in other contexts, for both participants and spectators, leads us to become more aggressive.

Any activity whose goal is victory cannot be play, if you are trying to win, you are not engaged in true play.

Adapted from No Contest: The Case Against Competition by Alfie Kohn

Play is supposed to be the opposite of work, but most video games are just jobs with a little bit of fun thrown in. These games can leave players feeling abused, frustrated, and overly aggressive. What your players need is freedom from competition and aggravation. Give your players a place to play where they don't have to win anything. Let them have fun without having to follow a bunch of rules. Give your players a chance to overcome challenges that have many solutions. Your game can either irritate or alleviate. Which would you rather do? If you want to add to the happiness of your players, give them freedom.

Duane Alan Hahn

For science fiction, you establish a framework; you establish the rules. Now you have to be honest in those rules. You can't just do anything you want to because it's science fiction. Otherwise it doesn't become particularly believable.

Joe Jennings (Production Designer) from the Designing Khan featurette on the Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan - The Director's Cut (Two-Disc Special Collector's Edition) DVD

 

 

 

Finishing Your Projects

Image from www.InternetBumperStickers.com

Every great work, every great accomplishment, has been brought into manifestation through holding to the vision, and often just before the big achievement, comes apparent failure and discouragement.

Florence Scovel Shinn

Art is never finished, only abandoned.

Leonardo da Vinci

The last 10% of game design is really what separates the good games from the great games. It's what I call the clean-up phase of game design. Here's where you make sure all the elements look great. The game should look good, feel good, sound good, play good.

Gary Kitchen

Gary Kitchen's GameMaker Manual

Even if your first game doesn't turn out the way you'd like, it can give you ideas for other games.

Christopher Chance

K-Power Magazine, April 1984

Hydrofracking is Evil

Visit waterdefense.org to learn why hydrofracking is bad for you, your family, your friends, and the environment.

Tip Jar

If my web site was helpful and you'd like to show your appreciation, feel free to send a gift card to me from my Amazon Tip Jar Wish List.

Related Links

Creativity Links

Books About Creativity

YouTube Videos

Back to Top

 

Disclaimer

View this page and any external web sites at your own risk. I am not responsible for any possible spiritual, emotional, physical, financial or any other damage to you, your friends, family, ancestors, or descendants in the past, present, or future, living or dead, in this dimension or any other.

 

Home Useful Inventions Favorite Quotes Game Design Atari Memories Personal Pages About Site Map Contact Privacy Policy