I have done a few game jams and have only once been thoroughly uninspired by the theme. Even then, I haven't had an issue working my way through the initial, "What AM I making?" most (longer) projects I've worked on are plagued with. It's not that I'm uninspired by the project (well, mostly, anyway), it's more of the long burn the long project presents me versus the, "Gotta go, gotta go, GOTTA GO!" mentality that pushes me through a short, succinct project that I embark on in any game jam. Why would doing a game jam seem relatively easy compared to a solo project, where I have as much time as I need? I have had to think about this exact problem as I work on my latest project and I think I have come up with a few reasons.
3. The rush.I'm not sure what it is about doing a jam, but I always get a rush when I'm in them. It's like a gaming Mardi Gras filled with fellow masochists. We're all in a fellowship of suffering for our favorite pastime, designing games. There's some comfort knowing that I'm not the only one who is doing it, all competing for attention and glory. That's a huge rush.
2. Long burn versus short burst.A solo project long-term is not the same thing as a quick weekend of design. Sure, you can continue to develop the game you come up with in the jam, but at the end of the day, you're still facing the prospect of a long, sometimes soul-crushing, development time. A jam is nice because it has a clear, short time frame in which to work. Polishing any game takes a looong time. And from my experience, once you have that proof of concept from the jam, guess what most of it ends up being? That's right, the polish. I haven't quite mastered the polishing stage, since all of my games have come from quick burst of inspiration. Once the inspiration expired, I moved onto another project that caught my fancy. The long burn of the polishing stage is the next stage I need to master.
1. It's a solo project.I really want to discount this as my number one reason, but I must come to terms about my own behavior. I suck working alone. Sure, I can work my day job a whole day alone, with me being the only one in the office that day, but I feel as those days fall into the short burst category. When it comes to the long burn type projects, having someone there to bounce ideas off of or prod me into doing that part I don't care for really helps me advance. Not having someone relying on my work to get something done makes me want to put that project on the "I'll do it at some point" list. This destroys most immediate motivation I have. Honestly, I'm not sure how to remedy this.
Thank you for reading this rant!