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Ideas - worthless?!

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The common wisdom seems to be that in game design ideas are worth little if anything at all. I think that although there may be some truth to this idea, it isn't a healthy belief to have. I'll reformulate: there are great ideas and bad ideas - telling the difference between them takes a lot of work.

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People in these forums love saying that ideas are worthless.

One way to interpret such a statement is that ideas have little to no monetary value, which is very true. Nobody is looking to buy ideas, and nobody's going to make money selling them.

Another way to interpret the statement is that ideas have no value whatsoever, which is absolutely false. Ideas are behind every game ever made, and the good ideas are anything but worthless. If ideas were really worthless there wouldn't be so many developers borrowing ideas from successful games (since anything would work just as well).

[edited by - chronos on July 6, 2003 4:44:06 AM]

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I think what most people mean when they say that is this. Ideas are worthless if you cannot come up with a practical way to implement them !
The 'ideas are worthless' comments are usually in reply to "I've got an idea for a game which allows people to plug thier brains directly into the internet! Just like the matrix!! Please help me design hardware that can do this as well as compatible driver software for the human brain" posts.
Ideas are a dime a dozen, however only one in a million ideas are ever implemented becuase very few people are willing or able to work to bring thier ideas to fruition.

---------------------------------------------------
There are two things he who seeks wisdom must understand...
Love... and Wudan!

{EDIT: Formatting}


[edited by - thelurch on July 6, 2003 6:44:18 AM]

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Ideas have an economic value of $0.0083 each. They're a dime a dozen.

Most people that come up with supar leet ideaz 4 teh intarweb are either impossible, stupid, or both. See the above poster's "brain interface" gag (and I've seen that one used). Few if any of them have knowledge of programming.

EDIT: D'oh. Forgot my zeroes.

[edited by - Edward Ropple on July 7, 2003 8:22:43 AM]

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quote:

Original post by chronos

One way to interpret such a statement is that ideas have little to no monetary value, which is very true. Nobody is looking to buy ideas, and nobody''s going to make money selling them.



Yes, of course, an idea doesn''t have much value on it''s own. A single idea can have a significant impact on the commercial success of a product though.

quote:

Original post by thelurch

I think what most people mean when they say that is this. Ideas are worthless if you cannot come up with a practical way to implement them !



Yes, the first thing that makes good ideas good is that they can be easily implemented. Unrealistic ideas (even cool ones) are simply not good.

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Ideas are really the easiest part of the whole process. In fact, I keep coming up with ideas that it turns out have already been used in games I''ve never played. I content myself with knowing that most of the ideas I come up with that have already been done were used in really cool games that sold well, otherwise I might get so frustrated as to try to stop coming up with them. (Which would be flat-out impossible for me, I think too much. )

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quote:
Original post by thelurch
The ''ideas are worthless'' comments are usually in reply to "I''ve got an idea for a game which allows people to plug thier brains directly into the internet! Just like the matrix!! Please help me design hardware that can do this as well as compatible driver software for the human brain" posts.
The proper criticism in those cases is to say that the person''s idea is unrealistic and unimplementable. It does not follow at all from such posts that ideas are worthless, only that this particular idea is worthless.

When I see people here reply that ideas are worthless it''s usually in response to somebody wanting to sell a concept to game companies or to somebody wanting to be hired as a game designer on the merit of his ideas. If we limit the definition of worth to the value in trade of an idea then the criticism is probably appropriate. The problem is that people usually don''t qualify their statements about the worth of ideas, allowing for an interpretation of worth which appears to suggest that ideas are altogether worthless.

Ideas have a profound influence over every good game''s design, and anybody who thinks that "everybody has ideas" somehow implies that "everybody''s ideas are good enough" doesn''t know what he''s talking about.

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Ideas are intangible and unorganized. Its not that they''re worthless, its that they''re unusable until they get structured into a planned course of action that results in a product. Then you can figure out a price. In the business world, in addition to the product, the financiers ALWAYS want a strategy or something that''ll indicated projected costs, milestones, risk management, and whatnot.

So, if you want the ideas to be worth something, you have to turn them into something.

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Anyone can come up with ideas, that is why they are worthless. It''s supply and demand. I can come up with thousands of ideas in a day. As Inmate2993 said, the only ideas that are worth something are the ones which are turned into more than just an idea.
Usually when someone says "ideas or worthless" they add in that the implementation of ideas is what is actually important.

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I dont think there are really any bad idea''s. I think they just might be presented wrong though for the person to like it. Idea''s are what make games though. If a guy didn''t have an idea for a game system we wouldn''t have game systems. If someone didn''t come up with the idea for a calculator we wouldn''t prolly have computers.

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quote:
Original post by chronos
The proper criticism in those cases is to say that the person''s idea is unrealistic and unimplementable. It does not follow at all from such posts that ideas are worthless, only that this particular idea is worthless.
You''re nit-picking and arguing semantics when the context is absolutely clear. No one''s going to say something more verbose when the meaning is apparent to a moron with three words.

Sand is worthless, but glass isn''t. Mud is worthless, but mud bricks or houses aren''t. There''s zero ambiguity in all of these statements. This thread thus lacks merit (ie, is worthlessm to coin a phrase). But even things that are worthless are often fun to play with, so sling away with your opinions!

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Also, let''s get specific here. We''re not talking about ideas for, say, building a better reclining chair, or ideas on solving a mathematical problem, or ideas on how to run the country.

We are talking about ideas for video games. Dreaming about new video games is one of the most fun things in the world. I think most of us play video games for the escapism- and imagining ideas for new games is just another form of escapism.

So ideas for games are certainly less valuable than ideas for building chairs, just because we have all spent time coming up with the former. (and we would all love to be paid to think of some more)

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The only way ideas are worth anything is if they have inspired publishers, programers, artists, etc to actually make a game.

All other ideas are worthless, but have the POTENTIAL to be worth something if they are actualy implamented.

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quote:
Original post by Oluseyi
You're nit-picking and arguing semantics when the context is absolutely clear. No one's going to say something more verbose when the meaning is apparent to a moron with three words.
When people in these forums keep insisting that "anyone can come up with ideas" or that "ideas are a dime a dozen", the "absolutely clear" context you speak of becomes rather muddled.

Maybe I'm thicker than a moron, but it isn't at all clear to me that these posters' definition of worth is limited to an idea's intrinsic marketable value. In fact, many of them appear to state, quite unambiguously, that just about anybody can come up with ideas for a game and that ideas are worthless because of it. Such an interpretation of worth requires that every idea have the same potential influence over the final product, which is absolutely false. Suddenly the meaning of these people's statements about worth becomes quite different from that which you suggest any moron could determine through context.

Comparing ideas to sand or mud is misleading. Coming up with good ideas requires a greater degree of sensibility and experience than picking up mud (so that mud may be worth very little, yet a good recipe for mud bricks may be worth a lot).

Don't attack me for arguing semantics when Diodor's post clearly invites such an argument. When meaning is ambiguous - which it is in this case, as I hope I've shown - arguing meaning does more good than it does harm. Even if I were only stating the obvious, my argument is no less valid: different ideas differ in their value.

[edited by - chronos on July 7, 2003 5:51:39 AM]

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The ''ideas are worthless'' mantra stems from the fact that no-one is interested in buying raw ideas. They want an implementation of that idea.

It''s exactly like Oluseyi''s mud example. No one is going to buy mud, they can get their own mud from their back garden. However, they might be interested in buying bricks which have been made from mud.

And then of course, some types of mud make better bricks than others. However, the raw mud is still pretty worthless.

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quote:
Original post by Sandman
The 'ideas are worthless' mantra stems from the fact that no-one is interested in buying raw ideas. They want an implementation of that idea.
I agree, but the problem is that some people here take the argument beyond this limited statement and suggest that ideas are worthless simply because everybody has ideas, as if implying that anybody can easily come up with good and useful ideas. It's better to suggest that ideas have no market value because working developers are either pretty good at coming up with their own good ideas, or at least they're free to clone existing game concepts without additional monetary investment.

quote:
It's exactly like Oluseyi's mud example. No one is going to buy mud, they can get their own mud from their back garden. However, they might be interested in buying bricks which have been made from mud.
The problem with Oluseyi's example is that ideas are less like mud and more like a recipe for mud. Mud is just mud and indeed you can find it in your back garden, but a good recipe for mud bricks is not as easy to come up with as a bunch of mud.

quote:
And then of course, some types of mud make better bricks than others. However, the raw mud is still pretty worthless.
I agree. The mud itself has no monetary value, but the knowledge about which kind of mud is better and the knowledge about turning that mud into bricks (both being abstract, as ideas, unlike the mud itself which is an object), has a great deal of value.

[edited by - chronos on July 7, 2003 6:45:29 AM]

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quote:
Original post by chronos
I agree, but the problem is that some people here take the argument beyond this limited statement and suggest that ideas are worthless simply because everybody has ideas, as if implying that anybody can easily come up with good and useful ideas.


If you rephrased that as 'anybody can come up with ideas that they think are good and useful', then I think that statement would be pretty much true. The only people that wouldn't apply to are the people who wouldn't be posting about their great new MMORPG idea in the first place.

quote:
I agree. The mud itself has no monetary value, but the knowledge about which kind of mud is better and the knowledge about turning that mud into bricks (both being abstract, as ideas, unlike the mud itself which is an object), has a great deal of value.


Not really: unless you can prove that your mud is better than someone elses mud, or your recipe is better than someone elses recipe, then still no-one is going to be interested in buying either of them. And the only way to prove it is to bake some bricks yourself.

[edited by - Sandman on July 7, 2003 7:40:06 AM]

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quote:

We''re not talking about ideas for, say, building a better reclining chair, or ideas on solving a mathematical problem, or ideas on how to run the country.



Actually, I have a few interesting ideas like these as well

In all honesty, quickly pronounced, undeveloped and unresearched ideas are indeed quite worthless and are alot of the times the indication of such a raw idea. It''s true many people come up with ideas all day long, what isn''t true is that even half of them are realisticly feasible and then they''re either not fun or even implementable in many ways. In short, good, really original, creative, and constructible ideas are very hard to find and should be worth their weight in rarity and implementation possibilities.

My 0.0083 cents

- Christopher Dapo ~ Ronixus

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I''ve heard and have probably said or written that an idea is worthless... but I think the proper way to say/write this would be:

"Your idea is worthless to everyone but you."

This implies that an idea has worth to you but not to anyone else.

In a group setting this may or may not be true. A time when this is untrue would be during a brainstorming session in which every idea is written down or recorded for further analysis or discussion at an appropriate time.

Although I have been in brainstorming that left me feeling that my ideals had no worth – but that is another subject



Just my $0.0083333333333333333333333333333333 worth.


Dave "Dak Lozar" Loeser

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quote:
Original post by chronos
The problem with Oluseyi''s example is that ideas are less like mud and more like a recipe for mud. Mud is just mud and indeed you can find it in your back garden, but a good recipe for mud bricks is not as easy to come up with as a bunch of mud.

i''d think that ideas are like the mud, and the extremely detailed design document would be the recipe for the bricks... then making the bricks themselves, using the mud and recipe, would be the implementation, no?

this is an easy one to settle. find someone who had a great idea and sold it to get rich. it doesn''t count if they developed the idea into a professional-quality design, or programmed it themselves, either; that would be more than just an idea.

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Ideas carry little weight by themselves. To become useful, they have to have the backing and skill support of human beings. Celebrity-status game designers reached their status because of a track record of successfully sorting out the best ideas and then having the skills to communicate these best ideas to the rest of the team(or doing it all yourself, but that''s still a toughie since a lot of potential games need the work of a larger team than one - the designer must then work harder on the ideas so as to start a project he can complete).

People can get lucky now and then in choosing game ideas, but only those who have real talent can do it consistently over multiple projects while working with different teams and development constraints. If you look at older games of the lone-wolf developer era especially, you can see this pretty clearly - some hotshot coder/designers made one great game and a bunch of lousy, uninspired ones, while others were successful almost every time.

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quote:
Original post by Sandman
If you rephrased that as 'anybody can come up with ideas that they think are good and useful', then I think that statement would be pretty much true. The only people that wouldn't apply to are the people who wouldn't be posting about their great new MMORPG idea in the first place.
Yeah, I agree it's pretty easy to fool onself into thinking one's ideas are better than anybody else's. This is why, ultimately, the best judge of what is good or bad is your player, who can only play implementations of ideas. Judging the value of ideas can be pretty difficult indeed, but they do have a certain value.

quote:
Not really: unless you can prove that your mud is better than someone elses mud, or your recipe is better than someone elses recipe, then still no-one is going to be interested in buying either of them. And the only way to prove it is to bake some bricks yourself.
It turns out that I, like others, can make ambiguous statements from time to time. What I meant to say is that a recipe for mud bricks can be very valuable in a non-monetary sense. Perhaps the problem with my argument about mud is that recipes for mud brick are perhaps nothing new these days, but you can bet there was a time when somebody's ability to make better mud bricks depended on their unique insight into the craft.

[edited by - chronos on July 8, 2003 2:24:40 AM]

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I agree with everyone about finding an idea''s worth only in it''s implementation. Where I disagree, however, is that just anyone can come up with an idea. I wouldn''t say that ideas are completely worthless, as it is obvious that some people are more disposed to coming up with creative and interesting than others'' ideas. As is seen quite plainly on these very boards (the "Matrix brain plugin" is a very good example), not just anyone can come up with a great idea. But yes, ideas are pretty worthless in a business/monetary sense without effective presentation or implementation.

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quote:
Original post by SolidHavoc
I agree with everyone about finding an idea''s worth only in it''s implementation. Where I disagree, however, is that just anyone can come up with an idea.
Anyone can come up with an idea. Not everyone can come up with good ideas. However...

quote:
I wouldn''t say that ideas are completely worthless, as it is obvious that some people are more disposed to coming up with creative and interesting than others'' ideas.
Which doesn''t matter, since it''s the implementation that counts. Furthermore, given enough iterations even an idiot is likely to come up with a good idea. Not necessarily an original one, but a good one.

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