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Crippling Fear of Unoriginality (Any Advice?)


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#1 NateOcosoft   Members   -  Reputation: 105

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 04:58 PM

Hi,Everyone.
I know this may seem like a weird thing but I'd appreciate any advice.
The problem is I've devloped a crippling fear of writing due to discovering that a key element to my game's backstory is slightly similar to a big AAA RPG's. While I'm a big fan of said series I had no idea that said element was even in their game till I played it.
While the two are more than different enough I still cannot help worrying about someone thinking I copied them and starting some sort of Twitter mob to destroy my company before it begins. Do I just stop need to stop hanging around 4chan and people who think Mass Effect 3's ending was a literal criminal act or do my worries have a valid point?

Any advice would be appreciated.
-NateOcosoft

Edit- Yes I do have OCD before someone asks.

Edited by NateOcosoft, 24 October 2012 - 05:02 PM.


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#2 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4984

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 05:06 PM

Well, pretty much no matter what sort of creative thing you do, when you release it to the public some people are gonna slam it, for an assortment of reasons. This is the same reason why it's generally a bad idea to post an idea to some forum asking if people like it - no matter how cool the idea is, it's not going to be cool to everybody; can't please everyone, it's simply not possible. So as an artist, you gotta figure out why you are creating your art besides the urge to have everyone praise you. Hopefully you have some other artistic goals and motives, and as long as your writing satisfies those, that's what really matters, not what random bozos think.

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#3 dakota.potts   Members   -  Reputation: 455

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 10:42 PM

I guarantee you if the writing is strong enough and it's not a blatant, soulless rip off, people will still enjoy it. Do you. Don't plagiarize or steal someone's ideas because you want to get away with something quick and easy. But if you feel it, who cares if it's cliche? Look at Skyrim as compared to thousands of other RPG's. You start the game as a prisoner, freed by a dragon, and enter into a world where two warring nations are trying to take hold of the land and you can choose to help one. Then dragons and time travel and the end of days and our mystical overlords yada yada... but I still enjoyed the story.

#4 Prinz Eugn   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3656

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Posted 25 October 2012 - 06:08 PM

I wouldn't worry about it. Every story ever bears some degree of resemblance to some other story. There's just so many different types of stories that people enjoy creating or consuming. People to a large degree even expect common elements, especially if a story is supposed to fit into a particular genre. A fantasy story without some sort of magic I don't think would even be a fantasy story, for example.

You might want to look at http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/HomePage just to see the degree to which pretty much every story ever can be broken down into some common elements, although I have to warn you that it's the kind of website you get sucked into.

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#5 Ravyne   GDNet+   -  Reputation: 7859

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Posted 25 October 2012 - 06:50 PM

Its been said that there are only 7 original stories in all of storytelling, so I wouldn't sweat it. It's the detail, character, arc, and progression that make a story unique.

#6 MrDaaark   Members   -  Reputation: 3555

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Posted 25 October 2012 - 07:28 PM

Its been said that there are only 7 original stories in all of storytelling, so I wouldn't sweat it. It's the detail, character, arc, and progression that make a story unique.

Yep, and you just change the window dressing depending on the genre.

#7 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 10079

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Posted 28 October 2012 - 03:11 PM

The problem is I've devloped a crippling fear of writing
Any advice would be appreciated.
Edit- Yes I do have OCD before someone asks.


Wise sayings about fear - these may help you.
http://sloperama.com/advice/lesson47.html#fear
-- Tom Sloper
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Please do not PM me. My email address is easy to find, but note that I do not give private advice.

#8 Geoffrey   Members   -  Reputation: 544

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Posted 29 October 2012 - 05:33 AM

I still cannot help worrying about someone thinking I copied them and starting some sort of Twitter mob to destroy my company before it begins.


I'm not sure if you meant this literally, but I'll say this anyway - if you're a new developer such a mob is probably just as likely to make you (via publicity, people checking out your game to see what all the fuss is about) as to break you (via negative publicity) anyway. This is probably especially true if your game is interesting enough that others will step up to defend you as well.

I suggest you spend more of your time worrying about simply not being noticed!
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#9 Telcontar   Members   -  Reputation: 906

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Posted 29 October 2012 - 10:16 PM

It has been said, but I will repeat for emphasis: anything you do has been done before. Maybe you knew, maybe you didn't, who cares. If you write your idea and it ends up being more derivitive than you thought, that is what editing is for.

Besides, sometimes what people want is more of the same. Just look at the state of major movie and book successes.

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#10 Lastworthy   Members   -  Reputation: 101

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Posted 03 November 2012 - 03:20 AM

I think it's important to decide what your goals are for writing on any given project. Try to examine what you already have written through the lens of "Why did *I* write this?". Identify the events and values in your life that made you want to write the game you're working on; It's unlikely that the AAA JRPG embodies/comments on them in ways that perfectly allign with your worldview. Find the differences and amplify them. Dont worry too much about surface details (sewer levels, magic stones,etc), it's easy to embellish those as you edit and ultimately the visuals will determine how familliar they feel to the player.
Try to find opportunities to make characters and solutions idiosyncratc in ways that are truer to you and the things you care about, players remember personality more than they remember cold plotting logic.

#11 Lord Darkshayde   Members   -  Reputation: 151

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Posted 09 November 2012 - 06:25 PM

Well I believe a few people have already mentioned this in this thread, but good advice always bears repeating. There are no new stories, ever! Avatar (the James Cameron film) was nothing more than a sci-fi retelling of the plight of Native Americans, but it was told with such an interesting setting and characters that it became a huge hit. Star Wars was nothing more than a Cinderella story when you get right down to its core. Do not let the idea of writing similar works skew you from pursuing your passions as a writer, simply embrace your story and mold it into something you truly believe in. Haters are going to hate, generally because they will not have accomplished what you have brought to life with your creative works. My best advice is to read Joseph Campbell's "The Hero With a Thousand Faces" cover to cover and use it as the backbone of your plotline. Whether the story you have mimics some other work of art (which it is going to) the Hero's Journey is never a bad baseline to use.

Edited by Lord Darkshayde, 09 November 2012 - 06:27 PM.


#12 Khatharr   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3031

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Posted 10 November 2012 - 02:54 PM

Mass Effect 3's ending was a literal criminal act. Cmdr Shepherd is presently serving time in Lompoc for failing to deliver the goods.

That being said, originality isn't really usually possible. If your story is something that you yourself have never heard of then it's probably original enough. Finding out that some idea you came up with already exists in a popular game should really be an encouragement because it means that people like the idea! Players will usually get miffed if they feel like a promise you made to them was broken. In the case of ME3 it was the promise that the things you did in the game actually mattered. (whoops)

In the case of plot, as long as the story is cool and the game is fun to play then people don't usually get hung up on how original it is unless they're just having the knee-jerk deconstructionist reaction that's common to modern society. Some people will sit down and play a game for hours on end, then take a break to complain about how awful it is and go back and play it for a few more hours. As long as you're not just throwing a new paint-job on someone else's work (that's M$'s job!) you should be quite alright.

If you're looking to get a pat on the back from a customer base then this probably isn't the right industry for you.

If you're looking to make something that people can enjoy then just ignore all outside factors and go for the gold.

Edited by Khatharr, 10 November 2012 - 02:57 PM.

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#13 heavycat   Members   -  Reputation: 383

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Posted 27 November 2012 - 11:13 PM

Saying there are only 7 stories in all of literature is like saying there are only three colors in all of art.

#14 Ravyne   GDNet+   -  Reputation: 7859

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 12:38 AM

Saying there are only 7 stories in all of literature is like saying there are only three colors in all of art.


And yet some really smart people insist on saying it! Depending on how coarsely the 'basic' plots (and plot is a more accurate word here than story) are defined, people have outlined anywhere from 36 to just one, with 7 being the most-quoted number. The exact number is irrellevent, as they are all effectively zero compared to the great variations of detail that we call stories (again, 'plot' is a better term than story to describe the basic enumeration).

Color and form in the visual arts are akin to detail in the literary -- an apt analog for the basic literary plots in the visual arts would be the subject (in abstract art, the subject might be form and/or color itself).

But if you want you can split hairs all day long, but then you start to sound like two teenagers arguing about whether band X is really metal-core-screamo or screamo-core-metal.

#15 MrDaaark   Members   -  Reputation: 3555

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 01:41 AM

Saying there are only 7 stories in all of literature is like saying there are only three colors in all of art.

There are only a few colors in art. Some of those colors are even imagined! Pink doesn't even really exist. The rest are shades and hues of those basic colors. There are even limits on what colors look good with other colors, further reducing possible color combinations. There are also limited techniques, poses, angles, and composition rules that actually look good, further reducing your options if you want to produce great work.

There are only a few basic story types, everything else is splitting hairs. And that's fine with me! Stories also follow pre-defined structures to work out for the best. Most stories follow a basic 3 act structure, and characters are a mixture of predefined tropes. Only the names and places change.

#16 kuramayoko10   Members   -  Reputation: 386

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 08:51 PM

The problem is I've devloped a crippling fear of writing due to discovering that a key element to my game's backstory is slightly similar to a big AAA RPG's.

It is interesting that you mentioned it.
Watch the recent video about your problem in the VlogBrothers' channel.
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#17 ManuelMarino   Members   -  Reputation: 153

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 11:38 AM

unfortunately, whatever you do, you'll find always people criticizing you. in theory, 50% will love you, and 50% will hate you. Then the percentage changes depending many factors, the actual trends in entertainment business, the advertising, etc etc

the cool thing is that also if you make something mediocre, you'll always find fans... it's statistical. how many stupid games became famous games???

so the best reviewer is yourself and your conscience. If you feel ok with your work, go ahead. Maybe change something of the plot to be 99% sure anything will go right. If you fear something is wrong, just change the plot and relax. but always follow your intuition, never the others one.
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