Edit: (November 23, 2012) A new post will come in a few days. Its been a busy week and DT3's latest changes were taking up my free time... that and Borderlands 2. There's actually plenty of stuff to mention and talk about at least. :]
Continuing on from the previous post regarding DT3's changes to later chapters. This post is also long.
I get very attached to my projects. I want DT3 to be great and my best so far. The game has had a lot of time put into it, and I'm always afraid to make major decisions for it, since I don't want to do anything that could harm it. I'm afraid to change it from my first view and design of it. I detached myself emotionally from the project and took another look at the project as a whole to see what was really best for the game. Then I needed other opinions from those with an unbiased view of the project and presented what was currently there and where it was heading. It wasn't hard to see the superfluous content in the game, especially considering I already knew what that was.
It was pretty clear what needed to be done, so I immediately began rewriting that portion of the game. Gate 7 had a somewhat solid set, but Gate 6 wasn't clicking. Even then, I was looking for a reason to keep those 2 Gates, specifically the 3rd set they would bring. I asked the available testers what they would like the Gate 6 theme to be and got some decent suggestions. Then made a decision based on that, which was shot down with a better alternative. I thought about going with that. Still, this didn't fix the real issue. The rewrite was finished and really, things were better from all sides with the change.
More specifics on the change that won't spoil anything. There are now 6 Gates with their 1 McGuffin each. That number is arbitrary anyway, the Gates mostly serve as a spring board and training ground for the ability sets. Like the first Gate, the final one utilizes both characters and does give a unique ability to both of them, but only for this Gate. It does break the sequence the game had, however it gives the benefit of not having to keep that set balanced with the other sets and works very much in favor of the narrative at that point in the game.
It does have pickups associated with it, but they won't be around except for inside that Gate, so it's identity is kept hidden unlike what happened with the previous Gate 6. Which was the idea anyway. On those 2 removed levels. The first is one that you've all figured out if you looked around much in some of the later parts of the DT3 demo. That was Ninja Gaiden with a bit of Shinobi mixed in. The final Gate for Claire is one that had a joke applied to it that anyone will get if they've played the games. Sad to see it go, but a single laugh is not worth keeping it. Its theme was Ghoul's n' Ghosts.
There was a very special event that would happen around Central City between Gates 6 and 7. It wasn't removed, in fact it stays right where it was after Gate 6. It actually works much better as a bridge to what has been called the 'End Game' chapters of the game, which are just the chapters after all the Gates are completed. While it's called 'end game', it makes up quite a large chunk of the story.
Something that seems to happen with every major project I've had is discouragement. Not from external sources like negative feedback or lack of interest, but from myself. There are times during the process that my motivation runs out and I think that the project is going nowhere or that it's terrible. That I just can't do it or I'm inept at what I'm doing. I think this is something that hits many people for anything they put a lot of time and themselves emotionally into. This seems to hit me at least once for any big project whether it sucks or is great. Feeling burned out is part of this, but discouragement can stem from anywhere.
There are many ways I've found people combat this problem. One of my methods is simply to think back to why I'm creating what I am and what my goals for it are. This has nothing to do with the game's concept or gameplay structure, it's more personal than that. It's all reasons why I'm doing what I'm doing. These are two things I write down at the beginning of a project and occasionally look back on. The act of writing these two things down is fairly recent. DT3 was the first to have this done and its been considerable help in the process. The Bird Game has also had this done for it, and oddly enough, I often think on that when thinking up how I want the Bird Game to play out. I reference it just as much as the high concept when talking about the game and discussing potential ideas.
The DT series has been one of my stress relievers. It's what I do when I want to relax. Often times, instead of playing video games, watching a movie, or any other activity used to assist in stress reduction, I'll further the DT project. Sometimes though, I'll simply spend a few minutes with it and code something small. Those are the moments when something like the birds make it in. Or in the most recent area of the game, the dancing/cuddling flowers, which goes along with the more upbeat vibe to the area. That area also produced something that filtered into the rest of the mainland areas, which are respawning birds. These birds fly in from the sides and land in a set place and are given a slight randomize color blend. Seeing the birds simply fly by periodically was the major reason behind putting them in, rather than the more practical use behind them with their dive bombing nearby bad guys. The thought that the bird lands and becomes a bigger part of the scene makes them that much better. That was a fun side tangent.
There are external things that can assist with keeping motivation of course. Feedback of any kind has always been great, it's a big indicator that there is interest. My unexpected fanbase, while small, is amazing to me. The tropes page being completely fan made is super nifty. Seeing people discuss the game and strategies that worked for them and the LPs are equally as nifty. After seeing interest in the game pick up, I figured it would get a Lets Play or two, but not 9 or 10. I didn't realize the game was that Lets Playable. (We're going to pretend that's a thing for that sentence... I am anyway.) Something else that's always been great has been when people point out something in the game that they found neat that was intentional on my part. One specific off the top of my head was when raocow noticed that the fight with the Artist felt more like a battle between Jeremy and Hexor rather than one between Jerry and the Artist.
Okay, I gotta wrap this up, this is all ready longer than the Act 1 post. So what are ways that you guys keep yourself motivated or help pick that motivation back up?