When do you know it’s time to shelve a game you’ve been developing? See what the members of the league say and share your own thoughts below in the comments!
When frustration > accomplishment. Put it aside and work on another idea – later perhaps you’ll have some insight that will allow you to move forward.
I don’t know… in some ways, all the ideas are in me, waiting for the right long drive or shower for the eureka moment. I agree that putting a game aside is a good idea when you’ve hit the wall, but I may not have learned this lesson yet because there’s this “wizard-shapeshifting-animal-duel-for seven players” game that I cannot seem to give up on.
It reaches that point where it’s just not working. The stress of forcing it to work has outweighed the fun of working on it. Not to say that I’ll never go back to it. Or maybe it has some element I’ll pull into another game later. But when the development isn’t enjoyable anymore, I find it’s best to leave it for a while. After some time away I might come back to it and all-of-a-sudden realize how to fix it.
When I shelved “Diabolical Inc.”, it was partly because I found a better way to do a game in that genre, and also partly because I saw 4-5 “evil genius” games hitting the market . Sometimes when I know there’s no viable market for a game currently, I would rather wait on polishing it and focus on things that can be developed into products.
When it’s not fun to design. I’m designing several games at once. If one gives me trouble, I move on and come back to it.
It’s ok to put a game down at any time. A mistake I’ve made is to keep reworking at times and trying to force inspiration, rather than being patient and letting things come together more gradually. Please, designers, especially those who would self-publish, take your time, and don’t be afraid to work on something else for a while until you’re ready to come back to a design with meaningful purpose.
I agree with a lot of what has already been said, especially when it stops being fun. Also, shelving a game doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve given up on it altogether. I have at least 3 prototypes that played well and were received well by the testers, but didn’t quite reach pushing for a publisher. I’ll probably revisit them later.
I try to imagine the game was designed by somebody else and commercially available. Is it a game that would get me excited to want to read more about it? Is it a game I would want to purchase? If not, then chances are it’s probably not worth my time. As others have said, sometimes new inspiration comes and an old idea becomes exciting again. Let your excitement be your guide.