Download

Dealing with Stress and Scope.

About 4 months ago I decided to work on an ambitious project, a multiplayer FPS/TPS system with vehicles and inventory all in blueprints and for a while it went quite well. Individually there is no problem I feel I can’t overcome, but collectively they overwhelm me.

I have so many blueprints that I am simply overwhelmed with stress when ever I try to change of fix a problem.

It is really defeated my and I often joke about how I have some sort of PTSD from trying to be a game developer, but in all honesty I just can’t face the problem without getting a headache and swearing. It has ruined my passion for game development, I just stare at the engine, sometimes for hours, wondering around not doing anything and I’ve not done any gamedev stuff for a few months.

On top of that you can start getting weird errors that nobody has ever had before at scale and nobody knows what to do about it, and when nobody knows, nobody says anything, it sounds silly but sometimes I just want a fellow developer to say “I can hear what the problem is you are having, and I don’t know how to fix it either”, I had a problem with a check box I needed to mark for replication with an item I was working on which I spend a few days on and it was just the checkbox, we might feel collectively silly, but as an individual I have a deep sense of guilt and resentment that I am incredibly stupid and pathetic for not getting it.

I also have friends who are devs who I have spoken to about this, and they know what I’m talking about.

As for my ambitious project, I think I am just going to have to back out of it, I’ve learnt a lot from vehicle rigging to working with sounds and I suppose I will have those blueprints there for reference in other projects. I think I just have to confront the fact that scope is not just about the amount of man hours in a project, but also about the amount of information a person can hold in their head and still be effective, going from UMG, to AnimBp, to the Item BPs then the Controller, then 2 weeks on modeling and art etc, it’s just a whole lot of stuff, and even though I can grasp what I’m doing on any single piece to be effective, juggling back from one piece to the other often requires relearning what I’ve already done.

Maybe this is also a problem with the methodology, and if I used more C++ and less BP then I may have been able to holder a greater amount of this information in, there is also the problem of not really having a standard orthodox or convention of how I should be doing all of this and that maybe after a few more projects I might recreate this ambitious project I set out to make.

Throwing away my ambition to be a game developer means throwing away 10 or so years of sacrifice, even though I could translate bits and pieces of what I’ve learnt to other fields, such as art skills or code skills, I’m really not the leviathan of abilities I am in game dev if I separate these skills. Now it is my goal to get back on the game-dev horse and make games.

After several years in art and code, I consider the greatest and most difficult ability in the art of game development to be the ability to manage scope, picking the absolute limit of where the phrase “yes I can” can take me. I’m not going to get into how many times I’ve seen even the most talented people come up with a project way out of scope and fail miserably or just end up having nothing at all.

I’d like to hear from devs about their experiences with Scope, and how that scope effects their stress, or anything at all you’d like to say about the issues with scope or stress.

It’s normal when you ask me, that there are phases of more or less activity.
Even a fresh girlfriend or a weird cat could influence that.

I have seen some of your stuff, before this thread and i like some. :slight_smile:
I am only amateur in UE4.
Projectorga was a great barrier for me too, but i only use BP and it was hard enough to fight the noodles.
All these commentboxes and stuff i no longer need, my noodles are pure chaos, but when i have a problem, i could locate the problem relative quick (for me).
It was so important for me, to keep the fun going, while working on something.
I do only very basic stuff in BP, but i could understand what i do there and i like that feeling.

Last years i did some nice meshes for projects and they died halfway up.
That was a bummer for me/my motivation.
But i learned something out of it.
thinking of releasing some stuff on blendswap
“Never make complicated meshes, when you are not 135% sure, you will use them later”
Same for code…

never give up :slight_smile:

Well I can’t say I had the same experience, but what you’re feeling is pretty normal. I’ve been working on a game for almost two years now (see below) - before that, 18 months on another game. Here are some thoughts.

About scope - the fact that the size of a project and the resulting difficulty of making changes slow development down is a widely known effect of software development. There is a joke that says that once you’ve done 90% of the project, you only have 90% left to do. Blueprint is probably making this much more painful because it’s harder to connect stuff, more tedious to change, and almost impossible to track on the long term. As a professional programmer I believe graphical scripting is a very nice feature for prototyping, or creating small features that don’t connect with the rest of the game ; but it’s inferior to code when it comes to stability and long-term support.

I dunno if you were new to the engine, but the first project with something is always bad. Now that’s common sense. I made a complete multiplayer shooter with UDK before, and my first UE4 project was still completely hacked together and wrong, even though the engine didn’t change that much. I still had a lot to learn. First projects are good for learning but if they become a long-term thing, they are going to need refactoring at some point to fix beginner’s mistakes.

About morale, and this I’m guilty of : large projects are bad for your health. Large projects are slow to create, and if they fail the disappointment is even bigger because you spent so much time. Start small, make sure your project is fun with only a month in development, and add stuff if you’re motivated after that, and so on. See : Rocket League.

I’ll absolutely agree that scope is the #1 thing to check for a project.

I’m not new, I’ve made several games before, everything you say is totally legit.

The thing is that I, like lots of people I speak to, want to make really awesome FPS games like far cry and nothing in and of itself in the core mechanics is that difficult, it’s all stuff I’ve done before, it’s just as a whole it is overwhelming in the midst of noodley Blueprints. As is the case with the essential problem I am having there is some sort of magic going on behind the scenes that is troubling me with the BP that I am unable to fix.

I think I just need to take this lesson on the chin, that even though I might be able to fix and sort parts of the project, that it is fundamentally impossible, because it is unmanageable to have a blueprint project of this size. That the original advantage I intended to be in the final product, that it be an easy way to make really full featured FPS is just not going to happen in this way.

Yes I need to work small, but it’s the larger projects that keep the greater dream of game development alive.

A big problem for me is coming into GameJams and having to start from the very basic templates epic gives, a better idea for me might be to make simpler templates, and launch from each of them individually rather than trying to do something so all-encompassing.

The free tools / community threads have a lot to offer, especially FPS / TPS templates.
Not as much as UDK but things are improving. Its just a case of searching and learning from existing ideas.
However, if you’re planning an RTS, SpaceSim / Moba / MMORPG / Other… Why not join an existing team?

Thinking small is overrated advice imo. Instead, what if thinking big helps keep you focused until completion?

What’s really at stake anyway? There’s no forking out megabucks to open a store or hiring for a start-up!

What you described above doesn’t seem that unfeasible…
The greatest problem in scope is when the ground below you is shifting fast.

If you had started in UDK when it was EOL, you’d probably have done ok!
Kismet was a lot easier than BP, learn a dozen nodes and you have a potential FPS!
Its just that UE4 has been changing so much, its like hitting a fast moving target.

Time & patience are key, overall it can take 2-5 years to make a PC game solo.
Making a game is a rollercoaster journey too, lots of fist-through-monitor moments!
In short, if it makes you happy keep going. But if you’re miserable, then take a break.

Games are a serendipitous journey as well… Hard to believe maybe… But…
Sometimes by not getting help, you make new choices that actually improve the game!