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If you don't like the concept, can anything change your mind?


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#1 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4819

Posted 05 December 2013 - 06:56 PM

A general problem with any kind of creative development community is that people don't usually agree about what they want to make.  Not everybody has a specific idea of what they do want to make; some people "know it when they see it", some people have multiple specific ideas, some people just want to make something in a particular genre or using their favorite trope.  If you took 30 random non-pro game developers and let them all pitch their ideas to each other, then vote as a group about which one idea to make, the voting would very likely be all over the place, with the most popular idea receiving 10 or few votes, far less than a majority.  If you tried to combine the two or three most popular ideas to get one super-popular idea it probably wouldn't work, because those few most popular ideas would likely represent completely different kinds of taste in games.

 

This is natural human behavior - why is it a problem?  Because those 30 people will end up making nothing even though they undeniable have the skills and time between them to make a game.

 

So what I was wondering about today is, the way we encounter game concepts and form our first impressions of them.  Sometimes I can read only a paragraph of description and be strongly put-off by a concept, usually because it reminds me of a previous negative experience.  Other times I can read 5 paragraphs and still have no real idea what the game concept is, so I have no reason to like it.  Maybe the most common scenario is when I am reading along thinking "okay, kind of interesting ok, EW!!!"  That's basically the same as the first scenario, just that the part that triggers my disagreement isn't right at the beginning.  I imagine this concept-evaluation process is similar for you all?

 

Finally the actual question - if you read enough about a game concept to decide you dislike it, can anything change your mind and make you like it instead?  Is there any style of presentation or choice of what info to include in the presentation that makes you more likely to become enthusiastic about a game concept?  Or conversely, anything people should avoid in their presentations if they are trying to get you enthused about their concept?  And more abstractly, do you think this issue is a political, advertisment, or artistic ideals/taste issue?


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.


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#2 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 20251

Posted 05 December 2013 - 10:31 PM

I have read quite a few things that I didn't really care for in the first pass, but then when someone explained their vision with more details, I changed my opinion.

In the concept reviews I've sat through --- probably 75-100 of them --- I've learned to keep an open mind about whatever I have read, and understand that the mechanics are just one tiny piece; art and music can completely change how core mechanics are interpreted.

In one specific case after reading the design it seemed like a building game designed for small kids using construction equipment as dump trucks, loaders, cranes, and so on. It seemed like a "bob the builder" game for young kids. Then I heard the two guys describing the creative vision as a game that inspired a bunch of machismo and also father/son bonding. After hearing the presentation I could totally see the game in a different light. I would have to say it was the style of presentation. When I read it, I thought "This is a 5 year old playing a toon-shaded plastic dump truck while a xylophone tinkles away in the background". When I saw the presentation I was thinking "This is motorcycle dad playing with his kid in a gritty sandbox, ripping up the landscape with dynamite, and building an epic city with blood and sweat and rock music. I don't have a son and I still want to rip into the dynamite box." The presentation totally changed my interpretation of the game mechanics.

I understand this kind of thinking is common in many industries. I remember reading years ago that the movie script for "Pretty Woman" was rejected by a bunch of people because on first reading those people thought it a gritty drama rather than a romantic comedy; after the movie was announced and clips were shown, many of those people said "I made a big mistake."
Check out my personal indie blog at bryanwagstaff.com.

#3 ambershee   Members   -  Reputation: 524

Posted 06 December 2013 - 05:18 AM

I think the issues being described are less an issue with your interpretation of the concepts, and more an issue with the presentation of it. If you're getting an impression that turns out to be completely wrong, I'd assume that the information isn't being presented in a manner that makes it understandable.

 

Personally, I feel the single most important thing in a presentation is something small and demonstrable. My preference is a mock-up video of simple game mechanics that present the core features, look and feel of the title. It can be entirely pre-rendered and fairly rough, but it's the quickest and easiest way to get the concept across to someone who has never seen your concept before.



#4 creatures-of-gaia.com   Members   -  Reputation: 377

Posted 06 December 2013 - 09:29 AM

I think people often overrate the "idea/concept". If I say, I'd like to make a platformer with a flying pig, well, it could turn out great or totally suck. It's not a bout the idea/concept, it's about what you make out of it. It's about how the individual levels look like, how responsive the gameplay is, if the flying pig has a funny gimmik or not, etc.

 

However, like the saying goes "too many cooks spoil the broth" ...because to some extend making a game is like cooking, and if everyone wants to contribute slightly different ideas, it'll tear the development it many directions instead of one ...because, let's not forget it, making a game is a lot of work. And even if they share the same direction, there's no guarantee 30 individuals can make a decent game.

 

As for the actual question, I think the "package" is more important for me than the concept. There are two key questions for: can these people actually pull it of? does the game look fun? If it's well presented, it way well convince me, even if I'm not an adept of the genre.



#5 Icebone1000   Members   -  Reputation: 1051

Posted 06 December 2013 - 01:13 PM

The closer to the final idea you can show, the best.. I think reading/writing is the worst for presenting an idea (personal opinion), specially a game idea. Read/write the documentation only, to give out the idea, Id rely on mockups..Its problematic if the one with the idea dont have any skill to build up mockups, but even so, making an step by step graphic slide show would be already better than giving ppl stuff to read.

 

Concept artists are a great tool for helping out giving the idea a look and a more concrete concept. From a speech describing a game idea many different sketches can show up from a concept artist. Sometimes the sketches make the "speecher" even more amused with his own idea. ( "vision" is the quality highlighted here)



#6 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4819

Posted 06 December 2013 - 09:33 PM

I think people often overrate the "idea/concept". If I say, I'd like to make a platformer with a flying pig, well, it could turn out great or totally suck. It's not a bout the idea/concept, it's about what you make out of it. It's about how the individual levels look like, how responsive the gameplay is, if the flying pig has a funny gimmik or not, etc.

 

However, like the saying goes "too many cooks spoil the broth" ...because to some extend making a game is like cooking, and if everyone wants to contribute slightly different ideas, it'll tear the development it many directions instead of one ...because, let's not forget it, making a game is a lot of work. And even if they share the same direction, there's no guarantee 30 individuals can make a decent game.

 

As for the actual question, I think the "package" is more important for me than the concept. There are two key questions for: can these people actually pull it of? does the game look fun? If it's well presented, it way well convince me, even if I'm not an adept of the genre.

I was mainly thinking about an indie designer who is trying to recruit other team members with a concept, so that the team can then "make something out of" the concept.  As far as too many cooks spoiling the broth, that's why many teams have a hierarchy, with a coordinator being responsible for keeping each type of content consistent.  But ok, I'm seeing the overall opinion that mock-ups and concept art are better than verbal presentation.  That's interesting to me, because I always pick a written description over day, a video, if I want to learn about a new piece of software or a new theory or whatever.  I do like visual aids though.


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.


#7 Aspirer   Members   -  Reputation: 544

Posted 07 December 2013 - 06:17 PM


if you read enough about a game concept to decide you dislike it, can anything change your mind and make you like it instead? Is there any style of presentation or choice of what info to include in the presentation that makes you more likely to become enthusiastic about a game concept? Or conversely, anything people should avoid in their presentations if they are trying to get you enthused about their concept? And more abstractly, do you think this issue is a political, advertisment, or artistic ideals/taste issue?

 

If I don't like an idea, I will tell you.  Generally, I'll automatically tell you why.  (If not, then ASK me)....

 

It's then your job to explain to me how I'm wrong, or why my thoughts/worries/dislikes do not apply to your situation or can/will be avoided.  If I don't like your idea because it reminds me of Halo and I hate Halo (true story), explain to me why your game isn't like Halo.  If I think your idea is a re-hashing of a failed idea or one that's been done N-teen times in the past, explain to me how your idea is original.

 

In other words, it's not MY job to convince me I'm wrong--that's all presentation is good for, making me change my mind.  It's the substance of your argument/sales-pitch that will waver me.  WHAT you say, rather than HOW you say it.

 

My stances are generally from an artistic point of view, including my ability to relate with your idea, if applicable.  In other words, if I think your RPG idea is a plainer-than-vanilla game, but the characters/story is relatable or intriguing, I would want to be a part of "a game with an amazing story."  If I think your game is a re-hash of Tetris, but it's well themed, and the pieces fit without forcing them, I'll want to be a part of "a cleverly thematic game."

 

 

So, your GAME'S presentation can sell me as quick as content, usually quicker.  A DESIGNER'S presentation will never sell me as well as the content...



#8 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4819

Posted 08 December 2013 - 01:00 AM

@Aspirer I wish everyone who had ever looked at one of my concepts had told me what they didn't like about it, I'd know waaay more than I do about how to pitch a popular concept.  Though, years ago I probably wouldn't have been emotionally-mature enough to react politely to some of it, lol.  A lot of people just look and silently go away, sometimes for good reasons: because they don't want to give offense, or don't want to derail a discussion about a project where a decision has already been made to go a direction they think is a bad choice.  But I hate the feeling that I'm talking to an empty room or a sea of apathetic anonymity.


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.


#9 Mussi   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1762

Posted 08 December 2013 - 06:03 AM


That's interesting to me, because I always pick a written description over day, a video, if I want to learn about a new piece of software or a new theory or whatever. I do like visual aids though.

Me too, but that's when I want to learn about new things, changing my mind is something else.

 

It's interesting that one party can get way excited over a concept while another party dislikes it and doesn't see it happening. Can there truly be such disparity between taste? There could be, but I don't think that's the case most of the time. Getting excited over a concept is a process inside our head that can be very hard to communicate, because often it's based on past experiences, nostalgia, visualization and more. In order to get others, that did not have a similar experience, excited about your concept and change their minds, you need to nurture their imagination. To do this you need to analyse why you think it's such a great concept and find out what it is that you think you're communicating, and make sure that you actually communicate it.



#10 ActiveUnique   Members   -  Reputation: 824

Posted 08 December 2013 - 06:14 AM


Sometimes I can read only a paragraph of description and be strongly put-off by a concept, usually because it reminds me of a previous negative experience.

Admitting or even recognizing this is the first step. The person in question would have to battle their own instincts to accept a game and not everyone is mature or willing enough while regarding games to take the first step.

 


I wish everyone who had ever looked at one of my concepts had told me what they didn't like about it

The more conditions you have to meet to get the desired response, the less likely it'll happen, and there are at least two that I can think of.

 

There are fewer people who can articulate their opinions than there are that are willing to share them. That's always been my experience anyway.

 

I've heard something along the lines of "people prefer to be consumers and work less" [for the majority]. This means any attempt to see themselves in the shoes of a salesman is not fun, to be avoided.  You can look forward to someone saying "yuk" or shaking their head who doesn't want to elaborate at all.

 

If someone says "It is bad," or silently walks away then they didn't meet both conditions. It may be possible to alleviate either condition given enough time or by rewarding someone well enough. I haven't thought about this last part much, but I'm sure paid surveys (check-boxes, no articulation, plenty of time) and beta testing (play game, if enjoying and find bug, say "this bug is bad" repeat) both qualify.


I've read about the idea guy. It's a serious misnomer. You really want to avoid the lazy team.


#11 Krohm   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3049

Posted 09 December 2013 - 02:29 AM

 

If you don't like the concept, can anything change your mind?

Discussion is very effective on me. Proper elaborations make me appreciate the differences. Ensuring adeguate in-depth understanding is also part of my process: if I find out the other vision is more complete, I might change my mind.

Truth to be told, this happens very rarely. People around here is far from open to discussion, much less to doubt. Being them not really interested in communication, but rather in overstating themselves, I rarely find a common point for evaluation.

 

I had a discussion with a high-school professor some days ago. His argumentation was:

  1. This is correct because it is stated so;
  2. this is correct because I say so

Dogmas don't quite work on me. It's not like I'm 5 years old or something.



#12 alnite   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2069

Posted 09 December 2013 - 10:12 PM

A playable demo can change my mind (and I am sure a lot of other people too).

 

When you present your concept to other people, people would usually form completely different things in their head.  An easy example is to tell a group of people to draw a tree.  The trees will be different.  Some draw a palm tree, other might draw a spruce tree, etc.  Now this is just a word.  Imagine doing this with a whole stack of papers that you call design document.  The images that form in their head are completely different than yours.

 

You can provide images, screenshots, but the "feel" of the play can't be shared unless you have a playable demo.



#13 Icebone1000   Members   -  Reputation: 1051

Posted 10 December 2013 - 05:00 AM

Theres also the problem that ppl might not like a supposed good game, some ppl dont like final fantasy games, for example. If that situation happens, the args will never help, and ppl will never realize the problem isnt the idea, but ppl tastes.

 

Theres this snes game, Troddlers, its one hell of a good game, takes lot of time to beat, the puzzles are really good, the controls are really good, I love that game (much better than lemmings). But Im the only person in the world who likes that game.

 Imagine if I have invented the game, how terrible would be to me present the idea, I would be like "so my ideas suck? Im lying to myself?". I always have that perspective in my mind, but its also easy to fall in the trap of using it as excuse for all shit ideas you might have.






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