Jump to content

  • Log In with Google      Sign In   
  • Create Account


What's the true worth of an initial game idea?


Old topic!
Guest, the last post of this topic is over 60 days old and at this point you may not reply in this topic. If you wish to continue this conversation start a new topic.

  • This topic is locked This topic is locked
107 replies to this topic

#41 jbadams   Senior Staff   -  Reputation: 17937

Posted 12 May 2013 - 06:29 AM

How can a game have any personality what so ever if everyone involved gets a real say as to what direction the game goes in.

Are you suggesting that the industry has never produced a game with "personality"?

 

There may be a lot of blandness out there, and a lot of games that aren't to your liking, but in the overwhelming majority of cases most if not all participants in a games creation have some impact on the direction of the final product, and I'd say there are definitely some games that have real character that have resulted from this process.

 

Compare it to music -- which is typically considered an art -- and where it's common-place for multiple people to collaborate on the writing and production of a song to produce the final product.  There's no reason you must have a single artist to produce a piece with "character" or to stick to a vision, and music provides thousands of examples of that -- even in Classical music where the composer has dictated the entire piece note-for-note and often includes additional instructions, performances can vary greatly based on nuances introduced both by the conductor and by individual musicians.  Songs are also often covered by bands with completely different styles who produce an entirely different take on the original piece, or remixed to produce an entirely new piece of music.  All of this is widely accepted as art, and all of it is the product not of a single individual's vision, but of a collaboration between many people who all contribute.

 

If music is art produced by collaborations then why can't games be the same?  Perhaps the solution is not for individual designers to establish dictatorial control as you're suggesting, but for teams to learn to work better together with a shared vision.



Sponsor:

#42 Acharis   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3545

Posted 12 May 2013 - 06:52 AM

What if that idea has been refined over the course of months, or even years, to the point where just about every detail of the game can be explained in words precisely, down to each minute aspect? What if the design document is so comprehensive that it can be followed to a T, with little need for interpretation?

But that's the whole point. It can never, ever be done (well, except if you are making an exact Tetris clone, but that's more like a reverse engineering than design). The problem with idea guys is that they believe it can be written down as some sort of blueprint to follow and then a game can be build based on it alone. It can't. It's not possible. It won't work.

 

If you disagree, please provide the name of the game you finished this way :) Because so far I have not met a single dev who managed to make a design doc that was sufficient to make a whole game without any need for interpretation (or even changes!) upon implementing.


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


#43 Ludus   Members   -  Reputation: 970

Posted 12 May 2013 - 03:36 PM

But that's the whole point. It can never, ever be done (well, except if you are making an exact Tetris clone, but that's more like a reverse engineering than design). The problem with idea guys is that they believe it can be written down as some sort of blueprint to follow and then a game can be build based on it alone. It can't. It's not possible. It won't work.



If you disagree, please provide the name of the game you finished this way smile.png Because so far I have not met a single dev who managed to make a design doc that was sufficient to make a whole game without any need for interpretation (or even changes!) upon implementing.

 

While I don't entirely disagree, this seems to only become more and more true if the game has an "open" nature to it. That is, if it's made of components that aren't very predictable and are very difficult to describe with words or simple mathematical formulas (such as complex physics engines and advanced AI). If the game is more closed and rule oriented (like Tetris, as you mentioned) then there becomes less room for interpretation or deviation. Hodgman made a very good point about my RPG idea example, that once that idea reaches the level of detail I described, it's possible to play it in a pen and paper, D&D format - and at that point it already is a game. There would be little deviation if this was turned into a digital game

 

As for an example of a GDD that is sufficient to make a whole game without any need for interpretation, there is no need to look any further than the myriad of games based on physical, tabletop games (or even a board game such as chess). The rules of these games serve as the GDD's for their digital counterparts. There is no need to interpret the rules and the mechanics of the game. Of course, there's room for interpretation with the visuals (and obviously sound), but these are for superficial aspects that have little impact on the game's core mechanics. So as for the names of the games I've finished this way: Tic-tac-toe, and also Connect Four.



#44 Jimakoma   Members   -  Reputation: 123

Posted 12 May 2013 - 05:14 PM

   Hello everyone, please excuse my poor English & naive character

 

   I must say I was intrigued by this conversation. You see people consider me an artist, as I'm part of a rock band that's started back in 1995 and I happen to write both the music and the lyrics of our songs. I just felt like sharing with you my thoughts on that. If we seek to answer the question "can a game be considered art?", we must first answer the question "what is art?". As I perceive it through my years of observation to all forms of art but mainly music, art started out as the initial wish of man towards self awareness. The tendency to reveal and embrace universal or fundamental truths of once existence. Now, unfortunately or fortunately art in our days is more of entertainment than of a quest towards revelation. Some people perceive art only as craft, like the fact that someone painted a painting with those specific brush strokes or someone played the guitar by doing awesome "tapping" for X seconds and say: "what an artist". Bottom line is that since we people think subjectively, we won't agree unanimously to what art is. As for me I choose to believe that art should be an expression of once strive for self awareness and redemption because I want to place art as a sacred expression for the person who performs it. Craft is just the practical part of it and something you need to do at least pretty well in order to have a beautiful outcome.

 

   Now, the video gaming industry, from day one was all about entertainment. So, no matter how many years I've spent playing video games, I must say that I had to deal with the conclusion that in the end, video games tented to act as drag in my life.

 

Now, if art is a craft then video games are art

If art is entertainment then video games are also art

If art is a journey to self awareness then video games are not art

 

   As for the "idea guy", I believe that the fact that most of the people have ideas that they think are great but actually isn't or have a general idea and nothing more, gave the "idea guy" the bad reputation he/she bares today. I consider myself to be an "idea guy hybrid" if you allow me to invent the title, because at least I've written down every single detail of my game (points, awards, rounds and penalties algorithms) starting small for an expansion on a title that had some hardcore fans and tested it for two years in order to see the flaws and fix it till it's viable. I say this in order to try and save me being "word punched" to death after I press "post"! ph34r.png        


Once there was a reason for doing anything. Now it seems we have forgotten it...


#45 tharealjohn   Members   -  Reputation: 451

Posted 12 May 2013 - 05:21 PM

The problem I have with the "idea guy" is that the people I have met that take that role, usually have tons of "good ideas" but they lack any real skill/talent/motivation to actually MAKE a game. Because they have never tried or been involved they don't know what it takes, or how hard it is do even the "simple" things sometimes. So its really hard to listen to someone talk about all their great ideas for games, when they have not even tried to make one. 

 

Its like that for any part of life though, its hard to respect someones ideas/opinions when they are not educated, or founded on experience on the subject. Its no different with game design/ implementation. 

 

 

Thats my $0.02. 


Edited by tharealjohn, 12 May 2013 - 06:06 PM.

jmillerdev.com

Follow me @jmillerdev


#46 Promit   Moderators   -  Reputation: 6610

Posted 12 May 2013 - 06:17 PM

Call me when somebody finds an 'idea' guy has skills outside his ideas and has produced a completed game that has gone to market. The "idea" of the "idea guy" is nothing more than children trying to justify their lack of real work on real products. Learn to code, to create artwork, and see a game through to the end. Only THEN are you allowed to tell anyone else what value ideas have.

 

If you've never made a game, either individually or as part of a team, then you're not an idea guy. You're audience.


Edited by Promit, 12 May 2013 - 06:18 PM.


#47 Hodgman   Moderators   -  Reputation: 29383

Posted 12 May 2013 - 09:21 PM

Now, if art is a craft then video games are art
If art is entertainment then video games are also art
If art is a journey to self awareness then video games are not art

When using the last definition, there is a big difference between "no game that I've yet played is art" and "games cannot be art".

 

Just as how most popular music is not at all art when using this definition while there is a smaller amount of music that does fit the definition, games are the same. Most popular games may just be entertainment in this definition (just like pop music is), but there are also a small collection of games out there that are capable of and designed with the express intention imparting a large emotional impact impact on the viewer that changes their way of thinking about themselves.


Edited by Hodgman, 12 May 2013 - 09:22 PM.


#48 swiftcoder   Senior Moderators   -  Reputation: 9851

Posted 12 May 2013 - 09:30 PM

As for an example of a GDD that is sufficient to make a whole game without any need for interpretation, there is no need to look any further than the myriad of games based on physical, tabletop games (or even a board game such as chess). The rules of these games serve as the GDD's for their digital counterparts. There is no need to interpret the rules and the mechanics of the game.

This demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the field of design. The rules of chess are not a GDD, they are (in and of themselves) a complete implementation of the game of chess.

 

The GDD for a digital version of chess would require significantly more content than the mere rules. Where in the rules of chess does it specify if the user interface is 2D or 3D? Where does it specify whether input is via mouse or keyboard? Where does it specify the AI necessary to provide a computer opponent?


Tristam MacDonald - Software Engineer @Amazon - [swiftcoding]


#49 Cornstalks   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 6974

Posted 12 May 2013 - 09:59 PM

To answer the title's question of "What's the true worth of an initial game idea?": nothing.

 

The initial idea in and of itself is not worth anything. Initial ideas are incomplete, flawed, and vague.

 

Refined ideas that are complete, specific, etc. might be worth something though. But it's not the initial idea that gives them worth. It's the refining process that gives them worth. That refining process takes time and involves feedback from those doing the actual implementation. It takes good communication skills, and requires a smart and creative mind to work around legal and physical constraints and limitations that might come up when implementing the actual game. It requires the ability to look at the initial idea from different perspectives and fill in holes and missing details.

 

In short, you don't pay the idea man for his initial idea. You pay the idea man for his ability to refine his initial idea into a full fledged game (at which point he's no longer an "idea man" but a proper game designer).


[ I was ninja'd 71 times before I stopped counting a long time ago ] [ f.k.a. MikeTacular ] [ My Blog ] [ SWFer: Gaplessly looped MP3s in your Flash games ]

#50 Ludus   Members   -  Reputation: 970

Posted 12 May 2013 - 10:09 PM

This demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the field of design. The rules of chess are not a GDD, they are (in and of themselves) a complete implementation of the game of chess.

 

Yes, you're right. I suppose this was a poor choice of wording on my part. I should have said the rules of chess would be a fundamental part of the GDD, not the GDD by them selves. Still, my point stands - the programmers would be required to implement these rules exactly as stated. It would be these rules that guide the programming process of the game mechanics. There is little room for interpretation. Am I wrong? Is the GDD in fact only meant to be a guideline that is up for interpretation and deviation by the rest of the development team? Can it not include any hard rules about how the core mechanics work?



#51 All Names Taken   Members   -  Reputation: 416

Posted 12 May 2013 - 10:48 PM

Unfortunately I'm just an 'idea guy' but do hope to work to being something more in the future (Understand the trouble getting the motivation for it)



#52 SimonForsman   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 6036

Posted 12 May 2013 - 11:18 PM


This demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the field of design. The rules of chess are not a GDD, they are (in and of themselves) a complete implementation of the game of chess.

 
Yes, you're right. I suppose this was a poor choice of wording on my part. I should have said the rules of chess would be a fundamental part of the GDD, not the GDD by them selves. Still, my point stands - the programmers would be required to implement these rules exactly as stated. It would be these rules that guide the programming process of the game mechanics. There is little room for interpretation. Am I wrong? Is the GDD in fact only meant to be a guideline that is up for interpretation and deviation by the rest of the development team? Can it not include any hard rules about how the core mechanics work?


GDDs are not blueprints, they're a communication and documentation tool.

If you're cloning an existing game then yes, you do have to stick to the rules(it wouldn't be a clone if you didn't), If you are making something new(Which really is what game design is about) you would have to be extremely arrogant to reject any possible improvements before you've had several people play the game and give feedback on it.

Edited by SimonForsman, 12 May 2013 - 11:19 PM.

I don't suffer from insanity, I'm enjoying every minute of it.
The voices in my head may not be real, but they have some good ideas!

#53 SuperG   Members   -  Reputation: 499

Posted 12 May 2013 - 11:58 PM

Call me when somebody finds an 'idea' guy has skills outside his ideas and has produced a completed game that has gone to market. The "idea" of the "idea guy" is nothing more than children trying to justify their lack of real work on real products. Learn to code, to create artwork, and see a game through to the end. Only THEN are you allowed to tell anyone else what value ideas have.
 
If you've never made a game, either individually or as part of a team, then you're not an idea guy. You're audience.


So accually it seams that a ideaguy can nothing other be then audience outside game industry. And be that anyone can have idea's even outside the industry. And because that is so accesable part of game making. The very first fase where it starts. It so abundant as water in the ocean. So the value of ideaguy and there idea's is like nothing. The only backdoor entrance I see if the idea guy could fund a full team where he/ she can be only the idea guy or gall. Also my definition of a idea is the spark of a game vision. At most a concept on paper. So still far of of a GDD wich lead to TDD or even prototyping.
In the game industry it also very difficult to pitch your own idea. Even if you are profesional game designer or lead programmer. But then your arent a pure ideaguy, but a game designer making his own games.
And there is that independant branch of the industry. Well the problem there is. No room for idea guy. Teams are so small you need to bring in one but even more skills to fulfill small team needs to make your game idea.

They say making games is aiming at a moving target so you iterate playtest to get it right. But cloning is different espacialy if you on the same thing often. That it more a routine job. So a TDD might be closer to a final blueprint.
The idea of chess is a clone idea.

Discusion of art is not relevant to idea guy problem. Games and a rockband are very different forms.

There are buildings wich have a monumental artistic value. So that a merge of art and architectual knowlege.
Games are huge part just software enginering.

#54 Anthony Serrano   Members   -  Reputation: 1160

Posted 13 May 2013 - 12:09 AM

Call me when somebody finds an 'idea' guy has skills outside his ideas and has produced a completed game that has gone to market. The "idea" of the "idea guy" is nothing more than children trying to justify their lack of real work on real products. Learn to code, to create artwork, and see a game through to the end. Only THEN are you allowed to tell anyone else what value ideas have.

I think the fundamental problem with "idea guys" is that they assume that, since a game can't really be made without an idea, ideas themselves must be inherently valuable.

Unfortunately, ideas are like air. Air is vital to us; in order to survive, we need a pretty much constant supply of it. But air is everywhere, all around us, and all we need to do to get some is inhale - and because of this, air is utterly worthless.

Professional game designers typically have dozens, if not hundreds, of ideas, most of which will never get made. Most other people who work in the industry have ideas of their own. I myself have a stack of notebooks 2 1/2 feet (76 cm) high filled with game ideas (many of which are not worth making, and soveral of which are way beyond my capacity to make).

Furthermore, "idea guys" often overestimate how much the core idea influences the quality of the resulting product, not realizing that a poor execution can ruin a great idea, and conversely great execution can even make a good game out of a bad idea. For example, "fighting game parody using only two buttons" I would say is a bad idea, and in most people's hands would probably make a terrible game, but because the people responsible for Divekick are experienced competitive fighting game players, they are able to make a surprisingly deep game out of what was initially meant to be just a joke.

Sadly, every field of creative endeavour is positively swarmed with people who believe they have great ideas and assume that they can sell their ideas to other other people to implement, completely unaware that the hard part of creation is not coming up with ideas in the first place, it's making them into reality.

#55 Buster2000   Members   -  Reputation: 1588

Posted 13 May 2013 - 01:54 AM

. I should have said the rules of chess would be a fundamental part of the GDD, not the GDD by them selves. Still, my point stands - the programmers would be required to implement these rules exactly as stated. It would be these rules that guide the programming process of the game mechanics. There is little room for interpretation. Am I wrong?

 

If you were making a clone then yes you would be correct.  But then you wouldn't be an ideas guy or have a new idea if you implementing an existing game.

 

Also your example is flawed because chess is hundreds (thousands?) of years old and there are several variants with different pieces, boards and rule sets throughout history and still played around the world.  It would probably be a good guess that chess was actually an iterative process and the rules were not created first but evolved over several years and in several different directions in different countries.



#56 Ludus   Members   -  Reputation: 970

Posted 13 May 2013 - 02:12 AM

GDDs are not blueprints, they're a communication and documentation tool.

 

I see. I was under the impression that a GDD should contain as much information as possible so it could essentially be used as a blueprint to create a game. I was unaware of just how much revamping and interpretation the original ideas undergo during the development process when everyone else on the team is involved. In that case, does it really have to be this way? Wouldn't the ideal scenario be for the game designer to work on his idea alone for months, figure out as many details as possible, weed out the flaws, refine it, create a working prototype, test play it (with other people of course) and get feedback - all of this before even starting the actual production of the final game with the entire development team?

 

Coming from an artistic background, the process of refining and revamping ideas during the production process seems a little like putting the cart before the horse. Since the painter analogy has been made several times on this thread, I'll use it again as an example. A painter does not begin the process of making a painting by applying the paint to a blank canvas. He begins it by thinking of an idea, then by creating pencil sketches of it and even a few colour studies. After much refining, he will then create a final, pencil draft that he will copy onto the blank canvas to paint over.

 

So when does he begin creating the final painting? After every detail about the painting has been finalized. The painter does not decide halfway through the painting process to add something. All of that has been decided upon in the drafting phase.

 

This is why it doesn't make much sense to me why a concept for a game goes through so much change and is up for so much interpretation during the production process. What are the artists doing while the concept is still in the process of development? Are they creating the graphical assets for a level that might - or might not be in the final game? Are the composers creating music for a certain cutscene that may or may not exist? Are the programmers implementing the core mechanics that could possibly undergo many changes? All of those scenarios are very wasteful, and could have been avoided if the design process had been more thorough.



#57 Ludus   Members   -  Reputation: 970

Posted 13 May 2013 - 02:29 AM

If you were making a clone then yes you would be correct. But then you wouldn't be an ideas guy or have a new idea if you implementing an existing game.

 

In my original post where I used chess as an example, I said a game "such as chess". I did not mean to clone chess, but rather to create an original game with mechanics as rigid as chess - sorry for any confusion.

 

My original point was that the mechanics of a game such as this could be worked out and refined on paper rather than creating a digital prototype to get feedback. In other words - it's something the game designer could do alone (with some feedback by play testers, of course) before even presenting the idea to a game studio.



#58 jbadams   Senior Staff   -  Reputation: 17937

Posted 13 May 2013 - 02:44 AM

See Daniel Cook's thoughts in his article "Why you should share your game designs":

A game starts out with 1% game design and end up 100% production and polish. During the production and polish stages of the title, the game design is likely to change dramatically. For example, there was once a genre busting game design by a famous designer that involved a magic hammer and was described as an epic fantasy action RPG. Something very interesting happened along the way to creating the title. First, they did what every good team does in the early stages. They prototyped the concept and evolved what worked. The grand initial design ended up turning into an intense FPS shooter. What was this fantasy RPG? It was a little title called Quake.
 
When a team gets a hold of a game design, they change it in ways unique to that team. Give 5 teams the same game design document and I guarantee that you will get 5 distinctly different games. A game design ends up being closer to a movie script than it is to a blue print. The director who executes your design has a major impact on the ultimate results.

 
 
...and a column by Ernest Adams on "Why Design Documents Matter":
 

[...]
Another common objection is that, as most games are prototyped first
[...]
In practice, milestone schedules always change, and the feature list almost always changes too.
[...]
The vast majority of design consists of figuring out the details. Although you'll always change those details later in testing and tuning, you have to start with something.
[...]

Obviously I picked out a few relevant points, but the rest of the article is also a great read and goes into some detail on what a design document is used for in practice.

Edited by jbadams, 13 May 2013 - 02:45 AM.


#59 Acharis   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3545

Posted 13 May 2013 - 02:58 AM

Unfortunately I'm just an 'idea guy' but do hope to work to being something more in the future (Understand the trouble getting the motivation for it)

 

I have seen some your posts and you are not an idea guy.

An idea guy would be someone who has an idea and wants someone else to make it without dirtying his own hands (here are the perfect blueprints I made, now you make it reality). What you do is reply to topics with ideas of other people and try to give feedback/ideas based on the constraints provided. You are more like taking part in the refining proces Cornstalks mentiones.

 

To me it does not count as an idea guy at all :)


 


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


#60 PosthasteGames   Members   -  Reputation: 123

Posted 13 May 2013 - 04:29 AM

i didnt bother reading the whole stuff until i raged down to write a reply and here it is:

 

I personaly think that what makes any film, book or game-idea be "worhty", have "dignity" and a right to be made is if the idea/story is original and anti-cliche. I think for amateurs today, the key to breaking into the industry isnt to make superb visuals (movies) and good gameplay (games), but good STORY!

Thats your way in. Because THAT, the STORY, is what critics today are so unhappy about today:

bad stories

 

my opinions are mine alone


"Woud you rather make a game with a preliminary originality, or a game that shocks the people and maybe even politicians?" - Posthaste Games





Old topic!
Guest, the last post of this topic is over 60 days old and at this point you may not reply in this topic. If you wish to continue this conversation start a new topic.



PARTNERS