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Ideas are a dime a dozen...


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#1 SinisterPride   Members   -  Reputation: 210

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 12:14 AM

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At one point in my life I had a naive and somewhat delusional sense of what the game industry must be like. I thought an idea (and ideas in general) were the bread and butter, the sole resource, the industry ran on. Obviously, all great developments and designs start as ideas. However, it took some harsh realizations and shifts in perspective to note that ideas are the least sought after commodity within the industry. This insight came largely in the form of articles written or suggested by Sir Tom Sloper. 

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I shed a large portion of the arrogance that followed the way I envisioned the role I wanted to play within the design and development of a video game. Part of me believed I could waltz into a publisher or design studio with what I thought was a great idea, lay out my thoughts and if I was lucky enough, gain the resources as well as control over a project to develop said idea. I never wanted to pass off an idea and just have someone make my game for me but even so my proposal was unrealistic to say the least. I now know that completed work, and in essence, "fleshing out" of a project is far more sought after than how innovative the idea behind said project may be. In fact, ideas that are too far from the norm tend to be deemed risky or too much of a gamble from a publishers perspective.

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Dispirited and at a loss of hope I started to give up on the notion of becoming a game designer. The climb necessary to be in a position where I COULD put my own ideas into play didn't seem appealing so it was realistically out of reach. After shattering the narrow goals and naive career path I had once thought existed I settled on following one of my strengths, writing. I had always found it easy to convey my ideas as well as paint vivid imagery with only written words. Deciding that I may still want to be a part of the game industry as a story or dialogue writer I was able to mentally revisit my design ideas from a different perspective. This all left me thinking "well, what CAN I do with my ideas?". I've always thought story mechanics/plots were simple to come about if you have the imagination for that sort of thing. In my opinion, the only things that set the greats apart is the creative attention to detail as well as diverse exposure/inspiration. I had always focused on game play mechanics and environmental interactions/properties due to this stand on story development. 

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Although I didn't feel like I could get much of anything worthwhile down if it only pertained to story and lore I started simmering in my ideas again. I didn't have the same goal of one day presenting it to some company or even working through the DIY method to bring it to life; As arrogant as it may sound the scope/scale of my ideas could never come about efficiently/effectively with limited resources. With my renewed interest in game design and a more humble/modest approach I reread a lot of the articles which had, in a sense, broken my spirit. This time around I realized something that had been obscure to me before with my delusional sense of things which should have also been obvious. Ideas are nothing in and of themselves, this much is true, if they are all you have. As Sir Sloper had said (paraphrasing here) an idea is nothing, it takes dozens and dozens of ideas to even get the ball rolling. In all these years of thinking up concepts and "designs" I had never once wrote anything down. I kept my ideas vivid by revisiting them constantly which kept them alive and partially let them grow. Nonetheless it was a key error because what is an idea when its just sitting in your head? Nothing but a dream. But if you can coherently write them down for someone ELSE to make sense of...


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My ideas were developing to some extent since about 2001. They took a sudden halt when I found a game that had almost all of the things I originally sought after while designing and conceptualizing. I no longer felt the need to develop a game with some concepts which weren't mainstream due to this game. That game was Fable, with its announcement my ideas seemed to have been played out closely enough. A lot of the things I had wished for were coming into the industry in one form or another so why should I keep developing them? Others would eventually think of everything I had so why not sit back and enjoy it right? I didn't feel cheated or bitter as some would think when it was released, I was glad I could enjoy the things I wanted for so long. After playing Fable (and eventually all of its successors) I realized the experience was satisfying but didn't quite quench my thirst. It added loads for me to build on and furthered many of my original concept. Yet, I still felt I had more to offer.

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With the ideas instilled by Sir Sloper and many others I finally decided to start writing. I wrote the basis of my ideas down in a coherent manner which anyone (even a non-gamer) could grasp. The more I wrote the clearer things became. I was determined to, if nothing else, write the building blocks for what I wanted. It didn't have to be technical or specific (as in for the programmers or graphic artist) but I just wanted it to be understandable across the board from designers to artist to programmers. I later realized I had started on what is known as a GDD (game design document). The skeleton on which everything is mounted on. Even though ideas were worth nothing, I now had plenty of ideas piled on one another which, in my opinion, could realistically start something meaningful. After I had written all I thought summarized what I wanted and essentially sown the seeds which could grow into a game, something resounded in a part of an article I read. I had recently read something similar, to what had resounded within me, about writing books (for a somewhat separate project; my story/my book[s]). What I had remembered was that Sir Sloper said something along the lines of "why would a company want to hire you for one idea/game?". They want someone who has the ability to develop ideas and manage projects effectively, not someone who has an idea to develop. The article on writing said that it is unwise to try and one shot a masterpiece/your life's work. Tolkiens don't write the Lord of the Rings and Rowlings don't write Harry Potter in one shot or one part. For multiple reasons this made sense. Proving your worth with lesser projects, cutting down how daunting the scope of your project must be into manageable portions, building a fan base as well as learning from trial and error in technique/approach to a project itself.

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At this point I decided to halt any further mental/written development of my concept/design. I was to partition my three main "innovative/trademark" ideas into three projects. Since then I have developed and documented those three ideas decently enough but all of my writing still feels like just that, ideas. I know I can't realistically take it any further because it would be time consuming to get any concrete progress done with "indie"/home brew methods. So I guess my reason for this post is simply for opinions. I know I will reach the same point I originally did and "sow the seeds" for what would be needed to start an actual project. But then what? If I am to believe what I've read from experienced veterans in the field, the chances of me even getting a meeting to pitch my thoughts are slim to none. So what hope do I have in actually succeeding at getting my ideas into reality? I've accepted that my work could never see the light of day but positive feedback from anyone I've shared with has lead me to think I should pursue it a bit more actively.


Open to opinions/suggestions,
Alfred
←§•ɸ◦§→

 

My Threads

 

Project: Alter Ego - An introduction

Project: Alter Ego - Growth, Stat gain mechanic


Edited by SinisterPride, 23 January 2013 - 01:29 AM.


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#2 jbadams   Senior Staff   -  Reputation: 18575

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 12:57 AM

I know I can't realistically take it any further because it would be time consuming to get any concrete progress done with "indie"/home brew methods.

Yes, it would be time consuming, but you mentioned that you've been thinking about and developing your ideas since around 2001 -- that's 12 years ago! -- is it not worth putting in the time to take your ideas further and hopefully create a playable game?  With a bit of dedication and effort it could take significantly less time than you have already spent to flesh out your ideas into a working demo or even a complete game!


It's likely that the best direction you could take to proceed would be to either:

  • Develop your ideas as a mod for an existing title rather than as a stand-alone game.
  • Distil your ideas down to the basic concepts so that you are able to express them through significantly smaller (perhaps even "mini") games that are much more approachable for a lone developer or very small team.

A third option -- especially given you mentioned you were happy simply to play your ideas and aren't bothered if others develop them -- might be to simply put the ideas out there for free and see if anyone picks them up. An example of this is Three Hundred Mechanics, which is a large list of one person's ideas (some basic concepts, others almost fully fleshed out game concepts) provided for free for anyone to examine, use as-is or take inspiration from, and many of which have since been used in different games; there are some example links on the "about" page.



Realistically for your ideas to become reality, you'll either have to just put them out there and hope, or you'll have to invest a lot of time, effort, and quite probably at least some money in order to make it happen. Personally I'd look into developing the skills for mod development, and then pay others to produce assets such as art and audio. You can then either develop the entire game yourself, or at the least can produce a working demo so that you would actually have a chance at the opportunity to pitch the idea. The barriers for entry to creating games are getting lower and lower, and with products like Construct 2 and Game Maker and the ready availability of top-quality engines such as Unity3d and UDK it's less daunting than it's ever been to do your own development -- you'll always have to put in the time and the effort, but all of these great tools are there waiting for you to pick up and use them.


Hope that's helpful! smile.png



#3 SinisterPride   Members   -  Reputation: 210

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 02:12 AM

Thank you for taking the time to read and reply to my post (especially so promptly :P).

 

For a long time I was very protective of my ideas and would never share in detail out of some odd form of paranoia. The more often I shared though, I started realizing that it was unrealistic to think someone would steal my ideas so THEY could do all the work lol... Your post might have just helped me shed the last few reservations I had towards sharing in a public/open setting. I think I might start posting some of the things I have written out for others to criticize and offer feedback. Who knows, maybe even possibly network with some people who might be interested in contributing just out of sheer interest. Don't want to get too far ahead of myself lol... But ya, thank you jbadams.

 

Question:

 

Should I just put everything in my Evernote Database up in one shot? I'd do it in an neat/orderly/compact way. 

 

or

 

Should I post up bits and pieces? As in concepts and mechanics but not so much at once about a design



#4 jbadams   Senior Staff   -  Reputation: 18575

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 05:02 AM

Your post might have just helped me shed the last few reservations I had towards sharing in a public/open setting.

Even for an idea you're planning to develop yourself there can be great value in sharing your designs and ideas.  See "why you should share your game designs". smile.png  

 

 

As to your question, I think either way would be a valid choice, so it really depends on your own personal preference.  If you're interested in the possibility of using it for networking with others you might be better off steadily releasing things over time, as this would allow you to essentially build a following of sorts and you could get feedback and have discussions as you go.  A large, complete release of the information might be more intimidating and less likely to spawn discussions, but could be more attractive to the odd developer who is simply looking for a complete concept that's ready for them to develop. 



#5 SinisterPride   Members   -  Reputation: 210

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 07:37 AM

Thanks again, I'll start planning on where to start posting and how I can share in pieces from my Evernote. Expect something soon smile.png


Edited by SinisterPride, 26 January 2013 - 06:44 AM.


#6 Acharis   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3687

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 09:43 AM

I always get puzzled, why there are so many people that want to "be game designers" and so few that "want to make games"? I mean, there are like hordes, huge hordes, of people that scream "we hate making games but we love inventing them". I don't really get it :) Where is the fun of designing a game without making it? Isn't designing merely a tool to make a game the reality? Isn't the process, the sweat during coding/making graphics, the fun part in all this?

 

To me is like being a gardener who is planning and putting on paper where each single plant shall grow but later not wanting to go and dirty his hands to plant them? Isn't all the point of gardening the manual labour with soil and seeds and plants the fun part?

 

You said you were thinking about your game for more than 10 years, yet you never got an urge to actually make it? If you instead used 1 year for thinking about the idea and 9 years for coding/drawing/etc you should have it finished by now. I don't understand...


Europe1300.eu - Historical Realistic Medieval Sim (RELEASED!)


#7 Legendre   Members   -  Reputation: 966

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 11:10 AM

1) Start by making a small project (flash game, simple browser game, game maker etc) using just 1-2 of your most brilliant ideas.
2) Learn new skills from this project.
3) Keep repeating step 1 and 2

Over the last 10 years, I have seen so many indie game developers start by putting out small, simple games and then slowly growing into an actual, profitable, game development studio. There is a difference between "day dreaming" and "game design/development":

Day Dreaming = Spewing ideas without regard for feasibility or taking resource constraints into account.
Game Design = Taking an idea (existing or brand new) and making it work in an actual product under resource/time constraints.

I have some experience working as a web designer. A lot of my clients engage in Day Dreaming - they are able to sketch/design all sorts of fanciful websites and special effects without regard of whether it is actually feasible or it is realistic given their budget (and think that they are brilliant web designers *roll eyes*). On the other hand, I pluck just 1-2 of their ideas, work within the constraints of our budget, and turn them into a functional and beautiful website. That is why I am the web designer/developer and they are the clients.

TL;DR version - Don't talk, deliver.

Edited by Legendre, 19 January 2013 - 11:11 AM.


#8 SinisterPride   Members   -  Reputation: 210

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 04:12 PM

@Acharis: I said I never wanted to pass off an idea and just have someone make my game for me.

 

The prospect of working on bringing my ideas to life has always been exciting. Using your gardening analogy what I had done would be closer to studying Botany, having an understanding of every plant as well as how each could realistically grow, generally knowing what would be required, then realizing I'd be setting to plant the botanical gardens.

 

@Legendre: I understand what is being said in regards to spending less time thinking and more time doing.

 

To a certain extent a large part of the doing is thinking and planning in my opinion. I wouldn't build scale models of increasing size if I were planning on building the empire state building. The models in between would be a waste when I could have been developing floor plans and different architectural facets.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

If you can prove a theory without physical experimentation why spend the time on experiments that could be used towards building your proposal? We all have our ways of developing in which we flourish and expand. Some are more physical and gain insight through construction. Others are more cerebral and approach things through foresight and planning. Like it was said, you could day dream all you want but if the resource/time constraints aren't feasible, it is unrealistic to start a project. Yes, I could have started small, building light version of things which weren't exactly what I envisioned but had the concepts behind them. I would undoubtedly have something to show other than plans by now. I'm human though so of course not all my decisions are based solely on logic. My stand on the extent I reach through concept has always made time spent on building lesser projects seem trivial. Working in a sandbox to experiment and having a sandbox within your mind may not seem the same to some but it is exactly how I've approached things. The time I mentioned was the furthest I could remember contributing anything towards what would later become concrete. I obviously spent time within that where things were nebulous at best and had hardly considered realistically developing any of it.
 
I'll start posting some of my concepts and such soon, it'll atleast be something to share.

Edited by SinisterPride, 26 January 2013 - 06:43 AM.


#9 Legendre   Members   -  Reputation: 966

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 06:46 PM


I wouldn't build scale models of increasing size if I were planning on building the empire state building. The models in between would be a waste when I could have been developing floor plans and different architectural facets.
 

You shouldn't see smaller projects as "scale models of increasing size". You should see them as learning how to develop floor plans and different architectural facets. Or learning how to use a program like Adobe AutoCAD to produce a technical drawing (blueprint) for a building.

Before you can actually start drafting the technical drawing for the empire state building, you need to know how to draft blueprints for smaller structures/objects and work your way up.
 
 If you can prove a theory without physical experimentation why spend the time on experiments that could be used towards building your proposal?

How do you know you can prove a theory without physical experimentation, when you are lacking in knowledge and experience?
 
 My stand on the extent I reach through concept has always made time spent on building lesser projects seem trivial.

I am not sure why people come to this forum all the time with no technical knowledge, never made a game before and want to build grandiose sandbox revolutionary MMORPGs right from the start. I'll just be frank and tell you its the other way around: If you spend time building small projects and learning from them, you'll realize all these day dreaming was a waste of time.

It is the same in science - without the experience of proving many small theories and working on many small projects, you will not have the knowledge and experience to tackle large projects. And it is the same in architecture - without knowing how to use the tools (e.g. AutoCAD) and without any experience drafting smaller projects, you will never be able to draft the empire state building.

#10 JTippetts   Moderators   -  Reputation: 8490

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 07:05 PM

 I am not sure why people come to this forum all the time with no technical knowledge, never made a game before and want to build grandiose sandbox revolutionary MMORPGs right from the start. I'll just be frank and tell you its the other way around: If you spend time building small projects and learning from them, you'll realize all these day dreaming was a waste of time.

It is the same in science - without the experience of proving many small theories and working on many small projects, you will not have the knowledge and experience to tackle large projects. And it is the same in architecture - without knowing how to use the tools (e.g. AutoCAD) and without any experience drafting smaller projects, you will never be able to draft the empire state building.
 

This.

Even if you don't make a bunch of small completed games, making a whole bunch of small experiments and prototypes is vital. To reiterate the Empire State Building analogy, do you think that it was designed and built by a guy that had never built a building before?

I firmly believe that the technical constraints (and limitations) of a game should absolutely inform the design process; that designing a game "in a vacuum", without the benefit of real prototypes and tests, is a good way to waste money. Especially for someone who has never made a game before. The designers need to understand what is possible within the constraints given, within the experience of the team they are guiding, and within the scheduling constraints of the project timeline. Game development is so much more than just the graphics engine, or the art and sound assets, or the AI controllers, or the UI. It is all of these things (and more) all tied up together in what can be an amazingly complex network. In my opinion, the best methodology for designing such a beast is to iterate on it, and that means building lots of one-off, throwaway projects intended to test out a certain methodology or design before you try to hang the full weight of a game on it, lest you get hundreds or thousands of hours into the project only to realize that your design is fundamentally and irretrievably flawed.

There is a perception that game design is an "art", and everyone knows that real artists pull inspiration from the ether, and all that bullcrap science is just harshing your creative vibe. In truth, game design is as much science and engineering as it is art, if not more, and you just can't do science without experimentation.

#11 jbadams   Senior Staff   -  Reputation: 18575

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 08:43 PM

My stand on the extent I reach through concept has always made time spent on building lesser projects seem trivial.

This line of reasoning is holding you back, and you said it yourself in your original post; your ideas are worthless unless you are able to somehow express them to create an actual game. Unless you make the effort to proceed with the next steps of development your concepts will never be more; they will always remain a concept rather than a playable game.
 

Working in a sandbox to experiment and having a sandbox within your mind may not seem the same to some but it is exactly how I've approached things.

No offence intended, but this just proves that sticking to concepts and thought is inferior to experimentation -- if your approach was equal or superior you would have some results to show, but you're still stuck with nothing more than some ideas in a database and will never go further without taking the next step towards implementation. If you share your ideas you'll have the chance that someone else might make your ideas real, but it's just a chance -- the only way to definitely take your ideas to fruition is to make it happen yourself.

 

I don't mean this to be discouraging at all, but rather to point out that you can take your ideas to the next stage of development and perhaps even see them through to a completed product if only you're willing to put in the time and effort to do so.  Not only that, but with the wealth of information and good quality tools and engines now available cheaply or in some cases even for free it's easier than it's ever been to do so!
 

In truth, game design is as much science and engineering as it is art, if not more, and you just can't do science without experimentation.

Absolutely, and this is an area talented an successful developers have put a lot of work into, such as Daniel Cook's "Chemistry of Game Design" and other articles, many of Ernest Adams' "Designers Notebook" columns, and a great number of other works. Thinking and dreaming will always give you nothing more than thoughts and dreams unless you're willing to put in the additional work to implement your ideas.


smile.png



#12 SinisterPride   Members   -  Reputation: 210

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 09:59 PM

I have a feeling that what I've said has lead to inaccurate assumptions. I've never expected my concepts, designs and theories to fast track me into a finished product or allow me to skip parts of the development process. I'm well aware of what a design is, in reference to the many facets of developing a game. A design is simply that, the blueprint and starting point to a much greater prospect. I've known where my work stands in relation to any project that may spring from it.

To put it in metaphorical terms, I've only created the seeds, I know this much. Planting, growing, maintaining and eventually harvesting the fruits of my labor are all different facets which I am conscious of. The role I'd play as well as what else I'd contribute during the other development phases are also within my realm of thought. I haven't spent my time ideologically fantasizing. I have, to some extent, consciously kept things at a design phase. This does not mean I am ignorant to what Game Design & Development is all about.

@JTippettes: I understand the technical aspects within the development process and am in fact quite fond of delving into them. You can't build a rocket if you have no concept of aerodynamics. However, you don't need to retrace ALL the fundamentals of rocket science (and experiment with EVERYTHING that has been done before to reach some where close to current practice) to gain some concrete understanding and advance in the field.

I'm glad you brought up the topics of "Game Design: Art or a Science?". I'm strongly against the common, somewhat naive/misguided, notion that the technical aspects of development are a hindrance and of no consequence to the artistic and creative aspects of the design process. If you don't know what can and can't realistically be achieved with the tools and technology available, you can't effectively design anything. This applies to every form of design, not just games.

@ Legendre: Although I strongly agree with the point you were making as far as the difference between dreamers and doers, I wholeheartedly disagree with your differentiation/definition of what is and isn't Game Design.

 

Game Design = Taking an idea (existing or brand new) and making it work in an actual product under resource/time constraints.

 


What you defined is functional game development. Game design is in fact more about daydreaming and spewing ideas. Where they meet, tying into what you're saying, lies within the balance of ideology and functionality/feasibility.


Edited by SinisterPride, 26 January 2013 - 06:44 AM.


#13 jbadams   Senior Staff   -  Reputation: 18575

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 11:22 PM

Game design is in fact more about daydreaming and spewing ideas.

 

"Daydreaming and spewing ideas" is the activity of arm-chair designers and the dreaded "idea guy", but it's only a small part of what real designers (that is, professional game designers or those who successfully design for indie or hobbyist games) do, and I would tend to agree with Legendre's suggestion that a lot of the difference is in making your ideas really work -- and work well -- within a set of constraints.  See:

 

If you're happy to be and remain an arm-chair designer that's fine, but the job done by those who professionally work in the role is more about implementation and less about day-dreaming and thinking about ideas.  Anyone can daydream and think of ideas -- a designer must be able to take those ideas and make them work within a given set of limitations.

 

 

Do you want to be a real designer, or just someone who thinks of (and writes down) ideas?  Either is a fine goal if you're happy with where you're at, but don't think more highly of your role than the reality -- if you want to take the step from idea guy to designer you have more work to do. smile.png

 

 

 

 

However, you don't need to retrace all the fundamentals of rocket science (and experiment with what has been done before) to advance in the field.

 

Actually, that's exactly the material that some of the introductory courses in an aero-space degree (or related courses) cover, and it's common in many fields to cover at least briefly the work that has been done before.  In any technically complex field you simply cannot -- savantism aside -- advance to the bleeding edge current research without first having a sound practical understanding of the fundamentals.  

 

Architecture students begin by studying existing structures and designing smaller, less complex buildings -- they don't go straight to a sky-scraper.

Physics students begin by studying classical mechanics, dropping balls and rolling things down inclines to learn about gravity, friction, etc. -- they don't skip to solving the mysteries of the universe.

Game developers begin by making small, functional games or prototypes -- they don't jump straight into complete large AAA -- or even good indie-quality -- titles.

 

smile.png



#14 SinisterPride   Members   -  Reputation: 210

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 12:56 AM

if you want to take the step from idea guy to designer you have more work to do.

 

Ofcourse smile.png

 

I haven't once claimed to be a designer nor do I think that conceptualizing is the majority of what a designer does. I know the vast difference between the "idea guy" and a professional Game Designer/Developer.

 

the difference is in making your ideas really work -- and work well -- within a set of constraints.

a designer must be able to take those ideas and make them work within a given set of limitations.

 

Which I truly understand. This is best proven by my comments "..the balance of ideology and functionality/feasibility." and "I've only created the seeds, I know this much".

 

I'll be posting my first share in a bit (just got home). Thank you all for taking your time to read as well as all your feedback biggrin.png


Edited by SinisterPride, 26 January 2013 - 06:45 AM.


#15 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4915

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 03:57 AM

I always get puzzled, why there are so many people that want to "be game designers" and so few that "want to make games"? I mean, there are like hordes, huge hordes, of people that scream "we hate making games but we love inventing them". I don't really get it smile.png Where is the fun of designing a game without making it? Isn't designing merely a tool to make a game the reality? Isn't the process, the sweat during coding/making graphics, the fun part in all this?

 

To me is like being a gardener who is planning and putting on paper where each single plant shall grow but later not wanting to go and dirty his hands to plant them? Isn't all the point of gardening the manual labour with soil and seeds and plants the fun part?

 

You said you were thinking about your game for more than 10 years, yet you never got an urge to actually make it? If you instead used 1 year for thinking about the idea and 9 years for coding/drawing/etc you should have it finished by now. I don't understand...

Design is really not the same kind of activity as development.  There are many people who enjoy one activity and not the other, in both directions.  And that applies to gardening as well as game development, since you mention it, lol.  At one point I was all kinds of excited over the idea of experimentally breeding tulips, but that crashed and burned in the face of the reality of the kinds of time and resources necessary to breed them.  It turns out, tulips grown indoors tend to get eaten alive by fungus gnats.  Also it's a fact that many existing types of tulips are sterile or mostly-sterile and can't be bred.  On top of that I randomly turn out to be allergic to tulip seed pods.


Phone game idea available free to someone who will develop it (Alphadoku game - the only existing phone game of this type is both for windows phone only and awful. PM for details.)


I want to help design a "sandpark" MMO. Optional interactive story with quests and deeply characterized NPCs, plus sandbox elements like player-craftable housing and lots of other crafting. If you are starting a design of this type, please PM me. I also love pet-breeding games.


#16 SinisterPride   Members   -  Reputation: 210

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 06:15 AM

Design is really not the same kind of activity as development.  There are many people who enjoy one activity and not the other, in both directions. 

 

That was my stand all along. I felt I was being berated when the topics as well as my words were being taken out of context or jarbled to benefit a point. Alls well though, I think I took away quite a bit from this post as well as shared/showed where I'm coming from without letting tension get out of hand. tongue.png 


Edited by SinisterPride, 26 January 2013 - 06:46 AM.


#17 Kylotan   Moderators   -  Reputation: 3338

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 08:13 AM

I am not sure why people come to this forum all the time with no technical knowledge, never made a game before and want to build grandiose sandbox revolutionary MMORPGs right from the start.
'Twas always so.

Back when I started on these forums, MMORPGs were still a niche hobby, mostly the preserve of people who used to play MUDs. So everyone on here wanted to make RPGs, which were the most complex popular game of the time. We tried to discourage them but with limited success.

But it's like that famous Ira Glass quote. "All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit." They come into game development seeing the top games and that's what inspires them. Why would they want to make Pacman? But very quickly they get discouraged by the gulf between the kind of thing they want to make and the kind of thing they are currently capable of making.

The answer is going to be different for everyone, because not everyone has the same degree of patience. Some will be more discouraged by having to make 5 prototype games first, while others will thrive on that experience.
Design is really not the same kind of activity as development.
It's a bit of a false dichotomy really. You have a whole spectrum of tasks which range from high level to low level:
  • Coming up with an idea for a game
  • Deciding on the features that will contribute towards that idea
  • Drawing up precise specifications for a feature's gameplay and presentation
  • Deciding how to organise the feature's gameplay in terms of tokens and values within the game
  • Deciding how to implement the gameplay behaviour to change those tokens and values
  • Using the relevant programming language to instruct the computer on how to run the planned implementation
These are all development. Designers do more at the top. Programmers do more at the bottom. Both tend to pretend that the bit in the middle are the other discipline's problem, and both are wrong. The people I respect most are the ones who are willing to take on all of these, and I've been lucky to meet quite a few of them.

Architects may not construct the final building, but they don't just have ideas of what they want - they have to create detailed and precise plans and probably a scale model as well.
Web designers don't merely come up with ideas for what they want to see; they break out the tools and make the HTML and CSS for the site.
Fashion designers don't just draw a picture of the clothing; they have to learn pattern making, draping, cutting, and make wearable prototypes.
Sound designers don't imagine the noises they wish to hear and write them down; they open up their audio software and start manipulating samples.
Graphic designers don't just decide on what they want to see; they open up Photoshop and they create it themselves.

So I don't know why game designers often feel that their type of design often just means coming up with ideas, maybe writing them down, and eventually letting other people work out all the details and create the implementation. That's not what a designer does. Design is development, just the more abstract aspects of it.

Edited by Kylotan, 20 January 2013 - 08:14 AM.


#18 SinisterPride   Members   -  Reputation: 210

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 08:55 AM

Designers do more at the top. Programmers do more at the bottom.

Design is development, just the more abstract aspects of it

 

Well said, totally agreed. biggrin.png 

 

I said something earlier along the lines of "The point where Game Design and Development meet is where the balance of ideology and functionality/feasibility is struck". Like you said, Design encompasses a whole lot and is no more or less than any of the other disciplines involved in development.

 

The people I respect most are the ones who are willing to take on all of these, and I've been lucky to meet quite a few of them

 

I also strongly agree that if I am to become a designer of sorts I would be more than willing to contribute to other, if not all, the aspects of development.

 

Thank you for your feedback sir smile.png 


Edited by SinisterPride, 26 January 2013 - 06:48 AM.


#19 starbasecitadel   Members   -  Reputation: 699

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 12:51 PM

Part of this is just the relative amounts of labor as well as supply/demand of contributors.

 

For example, it might take a designer 20 hours to come up with the ideas for 2 new races, each with 3 main solider classes with personalities that really fit well together in the game and most of the stats / weapons involved "the archer has a bow that does 10-20 damage with a range of 5" etc.

 

Now the programmer has to take 100 hours to implement this, and the artist needs 100 hours for creating concept art, polished images, frames of animation, package them correctly etc.  

 

So if your team has 1 game designer, 1 artist, and 1 programmer and you are working on weekends, the game designer might just need to meet with the team once a month, while the programmers and artists are working each weekend.  

 

Your bottlenecks will be waiting for programers and artists 95% of the time.  A game designer conceivably could work on 5-10 different hobbyist games at the same time on weekends as 1 artist and 1 programmer are dedicated to a single game.  You couple that with the fact that many artists and programmers (at least who aren't getting paid) will want to also contribute to game design, not just implement from a fixed blueprint, and the ratios skew even further.

 

How many games have failed because they couldn't find enough game designers?  Sure, some have bad game design and that dooms a game.  But in terms of hours of work of game design needed?  Very few, in fact I've never heard of such a case.  How many games have failed because they don't have enough hours of artists or programmers?  99.9%.  

 

Many of the game proposals here have requirements like 5 man-years of programming and 2-man years of art.  Their teams often include 1-2 part-time programmers and artists who come and go, working in their part time (thus spending half their time just learning the existing code/game/processes before they can get productive).    Projects are understaffed compared to their goals by an order of magnitude.  They eventually get abandoned when being only 10-30% complete.

 

Any plan that fails to solve for this very simple labor equation is doomed to failure and this is by far the reason most hobbyist games fail.

 

Of course, even completing a game is no guarantee it will be successful.. that is where quality, community outreach, innovation, (dare I say it "good ideas") smile.png, come into play.  But, none of that even matters if you don't end up with a product on iTunes store, Steam etc.  You might have the best idea in the world, with incredibly high quality artists and programmers, and it is still going to be a failed project if your staffing levels are inappropriate.    If you release a game, even if is sloppy, it is something you can iterate on and you are ahead of so many teams because you successfully delivered something.   One sloppy, buggy game that is 100% complete even with bad reviews is still "better" than some product written by god-level coders and artists that doesn't get finished, just by virtue of one of these is playable, and the other is not.  A Yugo that breaks down every 3 months and looks like crap is still orders of magnitude more useful than a Porsche engine without the rest of the car in terms of getting you to work.



#20 SinisterPride   Members   -  Reputation: 210

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 01:53 PM

@starbasecitadel: Definitely and entirely agree with your statement cool.png 

This is why my current phase/work is so important to me and crucial to anything that may develop from it. In my eyes, the quality of my projects potential is equal to how well and detailed I have laid out my plans (coherent enough for others to grasp my perspective as well as combine with their own) or envisioned the foundation. My goal is to be able to clarify any misunderstandings/miscommunications and have a solid base within my work. This way I can assist and contribute to the eventual hang ups/bottlenecks/deterrents that will undoubtedly come up in any aspects/department/discipline within the development phase.

Thank you for your input smile.png 


Edited by SinisterPride, 26 January 2013 - 06:49 AM.





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