If you are thinking about making games for a living, and you are wondering what's the biggest difficulty for a game developer, then here is my experience.
I started making Hoppy Animals in July, 2017. Now it is December, 2019. It's been over 2 years. When I first started, I thought this game would take about half of a year to make, but apparently I have underestimated the difficulty of being a first-time game developer and getting the game published.
Hoppy Animals is my first title. I have developed games before, but they were not commercial quality games. They were games for my own enjoyment more than for making money. Hoppy Animals was conceived from the very start to be a money-making project. This was not because I was money-hungry. Hoppy Animals needed to be a money-making project because that was the only way I could justify spending so much time and money on making it. Like most people, I have to work to survive, and if I spend too much time and money on making the game, my finances suffer. For this reason, Hoppy Animals needed to produce income.
In order to produce income, Hoppy Animals needed to be published. For me, there is no financial reward until people buy the game from the Oculus Store. I don't mean to sound cheesy, but basically Hoppy Animals is a risky move for me. I had never published a game before, so you might say that there is no way for me to know that I am capable of making money with a game, nor do I know the VR game industry enough to know how profitable it is to make games for the VR platforms. How do I support myself before the game is published became a problem.
About one and half year into making the game, I tried to submit the game to the Oculus Store. It was rejected. Apparently, the personnel at Oculus felt the game was not ready for the Oculus Store yet. Now that I look back, I am actually glad that they had rejected the game, because it caused me to significantly improve the game, but at that time it was quite a blow for me. It was especially made hard because Oculus provided no explanations for the rejection. In other words, I didn't know what to fix about the game. That was also the time when I have depleted my money savings and was supplementing my living with credit card debts.
For about half a year after that, I didn't touch Hoppy Animals, partially because I had to focus on making money, and partially because I was still in my disappointment from being rejected without an explanation. Finally, my loving of making games won out, and I got back to continue developing Hoppy Animals. Now, I will be submitting my game to the Oculus Store again.
So, if you ask me what is the biggest difficulty in developing a game, then I would say it is to handle rejection, and to solve the financial difficulty that came with it.
Financial difficulty is a problem almost everybody faces, and eventually solves, so I won't belabor that topic here. I will simply assume that every game developer that reads this post is smart enough and hardworking enough to solve financial difficulties in his or her own way somehow.
On handling rejections though, my advice is to learn to be willing to be rejected. In fact, seek to learn from the rejection. Seek to improve the game and make the game better. I know that as a result of the rejection, I have improved the game a lot. I have tested the game on many more people as a result, and I have listened and watched and discovered the difficulties people had with my game, and I have fixed all of the points which were not smooth that people had brought up. It's funny to note that the indicators of the people test-playing the game got better and better as a result. They were less confused, they frowned less, they seemed to enjoy the game more. Now Hoppy Animals is a much better game than before. Currently, it is in such a good state I can't think how I can make it any better, but I'm still not done testing it on more people yet.
Nowadays I love discovering any point of confusion, frustration or boredom with the game. I look for any tiny bit of negative feeling in the players. I think of people's test-playing as a way to flush out the problems of the game which are unknown to me. I have learned to not resist finding out about the problems. In fact, I love to discover more problems.
In a way, I feel I have broken through my own ego shell, and now I simply want to make the game as fun for people as possible.