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How do you stay motivated while making hacks?
Forum Index - SMW Hacking - SMW Hacking Discussion - How do you stay motivated while making hacks?
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Yoshiatom's Post
Because, I honestly struggle to stay motivated enough to make a single level at times. I usually have a blank "canvas", not knowing what I'm going to make before deciding to flat-out procrastinate.

So what keeps you guys motivated to make it through your projects?

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That's a pretty good question.
You can get some inspiration by playing through some hacks hosted on the site.
Furthermore, you could brainstorm a little about how your level should be designed, for example before you go to sleep. Think about which enemies you want to make use of, or which gimmicks you want to implement.
Just keep building a level, this is also getting you somewhere. You can easily remake parts which you don't like afterwards.

Last but not least, from my personal experience, motivation will eventually come back somewhen, and then you can continue.

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I play different games on Twitch, currently I speedrun Pokemon Gold or play some other shit, can also include SMW hacks. Check out my twitch!

Exits done: 45, Overworld: 85%
Play through Taomb Demo 3
Taomb is a frozen project. GodDamnit.
The dead fucking end.

Pretty much that, emphasis on playing other hacks and taking breaks sometimes. Make sure to play stuff that's close to what you're trying to make, that helps.
Aside from playing other hacks and taking breaks every now and then, I also watch videos of random levels when I have the time. Motivation can show up when you least expect it to, so make sure to not overwhelm yourself or nothing is going to turn out as you initially intended (and this is one of the reasons why most people never complete their hacks).

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VLDC motivates me, but that's it. I don't play hacks anymore, but sometimes playing other retro games can make me somehow motivated.

I won't force myself to make a level if I'm not motivated, even if the reason is like "I need to meet this deadline".
Not rushing things helps me. I don't usually sit down for long periods of times and build a level, it happens gradually. I'll sit for a bit, work on a level, step away and come back in a bit, usually over the course of a few days. If I'm unsatisfied with an idea or lacking in one, I'll take an extended break and return to the hack once I feel mentally refreshed.
Honestly, what I do if I don't have any inspiration is just find a well made 2D platformer and look online to find its level maps. Then get ideas and model your level to things that you like in the already created level.

Use the same formula so to speak.
Motivation comes and goes for me. I try to cultivate discipline instead, because motivation is fleeting and never lasts long
As some people have already said, motivation comes and goes for me. As some may have noticed, I have stopped Super Mario World hacking for a while between July of 2015 until late January of this year; motivation has now returned. How I keep that motivation going is only by my mindset to be honest. I can all of a sudden be lacking in interest in hacking at the moment, and then quickly return to hacking as fast as I had stopped. Also, when I have run out of ideas for a level, it also leaves me unmotivated, as I do not know how to progress. When I am in this situation, I take a short break from hacking and think of new ideas. If I instead force myself to make a level when I have no ideas, then the level will not be very fun to play. It is always better to not rush when designing a level, and take a break when you do not know how to progress with your hack. Another situation that I often come across is when I change interests. My interests and hobbies change very frequently. So sometimes, I can start hacking Super Mario World, and then out of nowhere, start focusing on other things such as hacking a different game, or playing other Super Mario World hacks.

In short, motivation comes and goes for most of us. When we are stuck designing levels, we avoid rushing and building the level anyway to avoid mediocrity. Just take breaks in between levels to give your mind time to think of a level gimmick.

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Currently: Starting college!
A lot of the same stuff everyone else is suggesting:


Go look into other hacks/ play other hacks for inspiration. Often you will find new gameplay mechanics or gimmicks that you may wan't to integrate into your hack. If nothing else it gives you a breather and an alternative perspective.

Don't over do it. Spending hours on a hack at a time can really do some damage to your mental health. Especially with some of the tiny pain-staking annoyances hacking can bring.

Take a break for a while. Sometimes just walking away from the game (or whatever your working on) can help you to get a clearer view of things. Often when I take a break from hacking (even if only for a day) I come back refreshed and invigorated to continue tedious work.

All in all you gotta find out what works for YOU individually. You don't wanna strain yourself and make your hack any less amazing than it is supposed to be :P But hey I'm no expert


Additional meh:

Try putting on some good tunes and grinding out producing a level or two. I do this all the time actually, where you just throw on some long music playlist off of Youtube and create an entire level while it plays through. I find this extremely effective for making levels, but its probably not so effective for producing GOOD levels.


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We are part of this universe; we are in this universe, but perhaps more important than both of those facts, is that the universe is in us.
Neil deGrasse Tyson
One way to motivate yourself is to set personal deadlines. Keep a calendar somewhere in sight where your next milestone for the hack will be. Don't plan things too far ahead. Only set a new milestone when you're done with the previous one.

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Originally posted by Torchkas
One way to motivate yourself is to set personal deadlines. Keep a calendar somewhere in sight where your next milestone for the hack will be. Don't plan things too far ahead. Only set a new milestone when you're done with the previous one.


I never had really thought about setting deadlines before...But it sounds like a brilliant idea! Planning things out and having a loose schedule of things seems like a good way to maintain morale while working on a big project. Part of my (personal) problem would be feeling too rushed or too relaxed no matter what the deadline ahaha. Perhaps I can start setting some very basic and general goals for "by the end of the month"

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We are part of this universe; we are in this universe, but perhaps more important than both of those facts, is that the universe is in us.
Neil deGrasse Tyson
Here are somethings that can motivate me.
~Criticism / feedback
~Don't force yourself to make anything
~Don't rush either
~Listening to music
~Try not compare your stuff

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“Lucas peeked inside the mailbox. There’s nothing inside. Except the 1000 rat corpses.”

"The Hero Appears! The Hero Appears! The Hero Appears!"
I might not be a great example of a motivated hacker, but what keeps me going is thinking about the final product. This means that, whenever I don't really feel like making levels or run out of inspiration, I try to expand the plot or design bosses. Well, that usually brings me to drop the hack and start a new one with the new ideas, but most of the time I can salvage a few levels from past hacks, so I'm slowly working towards my ever-changing goal while ditching the stuff that hasn't aged well.

I also found out that listening to more relaxing music without lyrics can really help me staying focused while making levels proper. I usually tend to zone out for hours at a time, but it doesn't happen as much now.

Another thing... if that doesn't demotivate you, then making "experimental" levels when you're not sure if your gimmick will fly or not. Sure, maybe you'll drop the idea in the long run, but if it works, it can lend itself to some pretty original stuff. Plus, it gives experience that helps making better gimmicks and/or exploiting them better, especially if you try to salvage a meh gimmick with particularly good execution.

I'll admit that I have a hard time following this third advice, but everytime I did, it has been for the better.

tl;dr:
- Fantasize about the final product and move the goalpost once in a while (just me);
- Calming music with no lyrics;
- Don't be afraid to experiment.
Listen to some uptempo music or gradually watch a play through of a game that has the same kind of mood as your game. For example, if you were making an intense hack, you could listen to some of Jonny Atma's heavy metal covers of video game music or if your hack is a puzzle, you could watch a LOZ video of sorts. Personally, I listen to M&L PJ Final Boss phase 2 music sometimes.
Being a kaizo hacker, I don't find it that hard to be motivated. Playing other hacks helps, but here are the two things I do (this mostly applies to kaizo hacking, but it can apply to regular hacking too):

1. What sprites (custom or otherwise) and/or music don't get used often?
There are some original sprites that go unused a lot of the time (when was the last time you saw a Bowser ball or a gas bubble in a kaizo/regular hack?). And there are a lot of great custom sprites that can be used really well in kaizo hacks that rarely, if not never, get used. As far as music goes, I like to use songs that aren't commonly used, because there are a lot of great ports that I don't feel get the attention they deserve (that's just my opinion though).

2. What hasn't been done before, or how can I improve on existing gimmicks?
What kind of cool wacky gimmicks haven't been done before? There are a lot of sprites and patches that go unused in the world of kaizo hacking that could really spice things up. TheAbusefreakhacker0 recently started using the reverse gravity patch in his hack, I didn't even know that patch existed.
I take breaks. I might also play some Kid Chameleon and marvel at the sheer expertise of its level designers. That game is so underappreciated.
SMWC members who have helped make Ganymede the hack I want it to be
I'm making my game no matte what because its been a crazy dream of mind for a long long time to create a video game. Its like a life accomplishment. Thats how I stay motivated.
It's the passion of Mario games that's brought us all here, and that's what motivates us all to make ROMhacks. Of course we take breaks here and there, and that's completely normal. Nobody can have a one-track mind for such a long time.

I think of what I've always wanted from Mario games. Not just Super Mario World either, I'm talking about the whole series. I've always wanted to have a challenge from levels, maybe a story or unique bosses that really stand out.

And that's how it's been. With lots of help, I've been able to make (in my opinion) decent levels and I know a bit of ASM to do some of the things I want. To this day I'm still learning about different things, and getting inspiration for my next level, gimmick, or boss, and that really makes every day on SMWC interesting and fresh for me, because there's always something new to learn about and explore.
So this has been a struggle for me too. I have found some ways to help me combat this however. For note I have ADHD and take vyvanse to "fix" this. I noticed if I sit down about 30 min after taking my medicine in the morning then it will be kicking in as I start making my level. I've also found it is best to just start making random things and unless you have plans for the level ahead of time then just make them as you go. One thing that has helped me a lot is making the end or middle of the level and work backwards. This allows you to add in your secret exits easier (in my opinion) and make puzzles or special ways to get to them. Another way I keep on track is I make all of the level before adding in any sprites. (unless they are needed to pass a certain part of the level) By doing this I feel like you are really able to keep your "flow" going.

Hope this was helpful to someone! :)
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