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# All possible game ideas have already been done!

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Could it be? Are there no more game ideas that have not already been done before? What made me think about this is basically the music industry. In music there are only a countable set of notes a composer can use to form a song from. If there are only a finite set of notes, this obviously implies that there are a finite number of possible songs - experts guess that all the possible songs have already been written! You hear "new" songs more and more rely on old songs to cover, because they just don''t seem to be able to come up with new tunes on their own... Can this be applied to games as well? After all, there are only a certain number of different game ideas (not counting slight variations). Take a RPG for example: What kind of missions are there? Fetch an item and bring it to some place or person, kill a monster (or all monsters). Aren''t all quest just variations of this basic tasks? Background stories for games are another example - they just sound all the same. Most of them could be exchanged easily without the players noticing... Not only that: Can not all games be cut down to a basic idea that stands behind it? And there are only a certain number of game ideas (for each genre maybe)... Brilliant new game ideas have become rare nowadays - most games that are reviewed as "revolutions" are just simple alterations of games already done, or combine elements of two game into one. But some time there will be not be anything new left to try. Do you think there is only a finite set of possible games? Do you think we are close to having explored all of them? Apart from technical improvements, will there come a time when no new games will be made any more and people lose their interest in playing? Or am I just babbling nonsense? ------------------------------ There are only 10 kinds of people: those that understand binary and those that don''t.

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By your logic, since a human lifetime is finite, and any song requires nonzero time to hear, there is a finite number of songs a person can listen to in his/her lifetime even if there could be an infinite number of songs composed.

Obviously, though, that kind of thinking is ridiculous. And just as there is effectively no limit to the number of stories that can be written, so too is there effectively no limit to the number of games that can be written.

Now, in terms of game genres or the basic gameplay mechanic, that is more finite, but still very large.

Take Knights of the Old Republic for example. A turn-based RPG. Yawn. But it was done very well and had a good story. Similarly, books can be classified as "murder mystery" for example, but that doesn''t mean all murder mysteries are the same except in terms of quality. It''s the implementation that makes it good, not the core concept.

~CGameProgrammer( );

-- Upload up to four 1600x1200 screenshots of your projects, registration optional. View all existing ones in the archives..

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Unfortunately we are currently constrained by our medium. we have set inputs and set outputs, and hence why we have specific groupings of games. The main differentiator between the types are the styles of play, feature sets, and playability.

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quote:
Original post by CGameProgrammer
Obviously, though, that kind of thinking is ridiculous.
Why? Music as well as stories and games is made up of a finite number of elements, even more so if you filter out the variations (name, settings, ...). Isn''t it logical to conclude there is a limited number of combinations?

------------------------------
There are only 10 kinds of people: those that understand binary and those that don''t.

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It depends on how you look at it. Condense every song down to its chord structure and you''ll start to think that there are very, very few possible songs out there. But then factor in things like different instruments, strum patterns, timing, lyrics, individual playing styles, etc. and the number of possible songs balloons to an unthinkably large number.

So if you condense games into base genres and start thinking of them only as fetch-quests RPG, kart racer, 3D platformer, etc. it''s easy to only see a few possible games. It''s in the implementation, the final construction of the material components, that the variety is formed.

We''re not going to run out of games any time soon. Besides, even if we somehow do, so what? Poker and chess are both over a thousand years old and you don''t see anyone getting tired of them. In a thousand years, people will still be playing Tetris.

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No... not tetris.

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I agree with CGameProgrammer: whether there''s a theoretical limit on the number of games is irrelevant, because such number would be beyond human comprehension, and in reality people don''t care even if they were playing a remake of a different game, as long it is fun.

If you want my thoughts on a more abstract level (that is, ignoring the fact that human beings only live a certain amount of time and the resources available to us are limited), I''d say it all depends how you define "variation", "new" etc.
and how abstractly you approach the question.

For instance, if you consider RPGs more abstractly, instead of swords, armors, potions etc. you have items, and instead of orcs, goblins etc. you have creatures. These two can be categorized into the class entity. By continuing this process you end up saying that every instance of the idea of a game is just a variation of a game (a game on an very abstract and platonic level), and since games have existed for a long time already, then no, there have been no new ideas, since all games are just games. That is, on this abstraction level. You referred to slight variation, but the word "slight" is a bit fuzzy, so it doesn''t really specify the level of abstraction.

Also, it would be open to debate whether the real amount of possible games is finite. I mean, even though in reality you always have a finite amount of notes in a song, you could always consider songs with infinite length. Similarly, you could have games of infinite length.

Even if we only considered games of finite length, consider a game where the point is to play two other games in succession. Since this too is a game, this would lead to infinately many new combinations of games, of arbitrary, but always finite, length.

So as for the question: I don''t think there is only a finite set of possible games, but I also think it is beside the point, since no one lives long enough to play or even remember all those games, and most of those games will never be made anyway (and indeed it would probably be impossible to make most of the games anyway). The question is philosophical at best.

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I''ve just come up with what I think could be a unique game idea.

Ok, the overall concept introduces elements of strategy and planning, but also challenges the player to make rapid decisions and to outsmart multiple opponents all at once. Mind you, this game is very high on action, despite what this is starting to sound like.

The playing field would be a maze haunted by ghosts. The ghosts cannot pass through walls or anything, though. We''re not talking about those kinds of ghosts. The maze would also contain a series of round "pellets" the player (a giant yellow mouth; yellow in homage to the Simpsons) would have to eat. In order to pass a level, the player has to eat all pellette in a given map. Touching a ghost, as may be expected, will send the yellow mouth to an untimely demise.

Three elements add further strategy to this game.

1- The maze loops around. That is, if you get to the edge, you can cross over to the other side in some places and end up at the other edge of the maze. The ghosts may or may not be able to follow.

2- Four big pellets are scattered around the maze. Picking one up gives the yellow mouth temporary invulnerability and allows it to eat the ghosts, which respawn in the center of the map after a short moment.

3- Sometimes, a random piece of fruit will appear in the middle of the map. This is merely worth extra points.

All in all, I think this game would be quite unique. I''ll give programming it a shot and will post screenshots here, if people are interested. And to the OP, quite glad to''ve proven you wrong. I came up with an original design never done before in a matter of moments.

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quote:
Original post by RuneLancer
I''ve just come up with what I think could be a unique game idea.

<Pac-Man>.
That wasn''t even funny.

@grbrg:
Here''s where your analogy breaks down - the very beginning. A song isn''t merely an arrangement of notes; it is tempo, syncopation, verve, and, above all, lyrics. Are there only a finite set of words? No, because new words are created all the time. Thus there is no finite set of expressions, even though they be of the same fundamental concepts (love, pain, angst, etc).

The relationship between music and gaming is so tenuous that your having chosen such an absurd basis for such an absurd thought is laughable. Why didn''t you try to reason that all possible stories had been written, that all possible movies had been made (God knows enough of them are either dramatizations of old books or remakes of old movies)?

More importantly, however, is the fact that number is unimportant. There are Broadway shows that have run for years - decades even. Then a few years later, they have a revival of the same damn show! Why is that? Well, other posters have already given you all the answers.

Please, stop to think before posting these alarmist threads. There is very little intrinsic value in something being "new" (consider that some of the most "precious"/expensive items on earth are by no means new - I refer to jewels), so the supposed death of the new is no cause for alarm - or anything else, either.

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I think the whole concept is ridiculous. Sure, there are limiting factors in anything humans do. But an intelligent person will always find something new and interesting to throw into their work. If you can''t find something new, you''re not trying hard enough. Things can be combined in so many different ways. Similarly to your music example, experts say that in writing, there are only 13 stories possible in this world, if you break everything down to its bare minimum. However, as you can see, there are well over 13 stories in the world. Same thing applies to almost everything.

As far as the music goes, if people are having such a hard time composing new songs, don''t you think its time for another music revolution?

Matthew Overstreet

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Let''s see.

1024x768 resolution = 786432 pixels
24 bits of color = 16777216 colors
60 frames a second
let''s say, 90 minutes = 5400 seconds

So, there are only 4274901208793088000 different 90 minute movies that can be displayed in full screen on my monitor (granted, at the above resolution and color depth, but for the purposes of argument...)

That''s a running time of 384741108791377920000 minutes, or 6412351813189632000 hours, 267181325549568000 days, 731502602462883 years (year ~365.25 days), 731502 billions of years. And, if you were to generate 1 of these a second, that''s about 135.5 billion years. A quick search of the internet gives an extremely rough upper bound on the age of the universe as 20 billion years. Even "finite" doesn''t mean there''s any practical limit.

Anyway, there are only 17 wallpaper groups. Yep, 17. Thus, from a crystallographic perspective, there are only 17 interesting tesselating patterns. Open any book containing MC Escher''s artwork or go to a Mosque to find more than 17 (many more) different (and that''s not counting "subtle" variations, for most common definitions of "subtle") tesselating patterns. Or just go to a store that sells wallpaper to find many less than subtle variations, even if many of them are probably less than aesthetically pleasing.

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the word new is relative to the viewer of the work anyway. that is as people die, and the next generation comes along, all the so called works that have already been consumed will become "new" to them, since they havnt not yet consumed it. this idea assumes also that game geres are disposable and cannot be resused after their first consumption...which is totally absurd untrue.

i conclude this post with a quote from an old must see tv summer rerun advertisement "if you havnt seen it, its new to you"

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quote:
Original post by Way Walker
Let''s see.

1024x768 resolution = 786432 pixels
24 bits of color = 16777216 colors
60 frames a second
let''s say, 90 minutes = 5400 seconds

So, there are only 4274901208793088000 different 90 minute movies that can be displayed in full screen on my monitor (granted, at the above resolution and color depth, but for the purposes of argument...)

Careful! You want to elevate 786432 to the 16777216th power, not multiply them. If you had 2 pixels, you''d have 16777216x16777216 possibly "images". With 3, 16777216x16777216x16777216. So forth. That''s quite a bit more than 4274901208793088000 (For the record, 16777216 x 1677216 is 281474976710656. That''s on a two pixel monitor. And that''s not even factoring in the 5400 seconds). Your point stands, though, and is further reinforced even: by the time we see all we can see within a 90 minute timeframe, we won''t even be dust anymore.

Though it''s a little bit naïve to think that way because wether Bob''s hat is blue or red, it''s still the same movie. And some of the variations in color will be so slight as to be nearly imperceptible. In the end, there''s probably only 4 different possibilities. *Nods very, very slowly.*

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France science academy said, they have researched everything IIRC. Then Ion engine come.
I remmember few time ago, I listened proclamation like that. The I made three new concepts in one day. One of them is my current game. NONE of them apeared in current game industry. So we might say there is some space for new games.
Problem called copyright and paralel development is biger one. You might write a sentence. What is chance that one sentence from first writer would be the same as sentence from second? None of them know work of the other one.
Don''t say it size of the sentence ^24 it''s MUCH lower. In fact there was SHORT STORY so highly simillar, it has been reworked to avoid copyright isues. Of course problems like that would be more common.
There are just a few ways how create book or game. However problems aren''t with ideas, problems are with art that is necessary to add to the game.

Raghar

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lol what do you think a game designer that invented RPG's thought? Its hard coming up with a totally original idea because if it were original, no ones ever heard of it and if it were it wouldn't be totally original. Think of the first game creators and how hard it must have been for them to come up with mechanics for an RPG or FPS.

Think of Sim City, whoever thought making a city and playing god could be so d*mn fun?

Same way goes with the Sims as well, no one ever really completely thought of a life emulator lol.

Only way to think of something original is to think "out of the box".

[edited by - SumDude on March 5, 2004 3:54:25 PM]

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quote:
Original post by RuneLancer
Careful! You want to elevate 786432 to the 16777216th power, not multiply them. If you had 2 pixels, you''d have 16777216x16777216 possibly "images". With 3, 16777216x16777216x16777216. So forth. That''s quite a bit more than 4274901208793088000 (For the record, 16777216 x 1677216 is 281474976710656. That''s on a two pixel monitor. And that''s not even factoring in the 5400 seconds). Your point stands, though, and is further reinforced even: by the time we see all we can see within a 90 minute timeframe, we won''t even be dust anymore.

Though it''s a little bit naïve to think that way because wether Bob''s hat is blue or red, it''s still the same movie. And some of the variations in color will be so slight as to be nearly imperceptible. In the end, there''s probably only 4 different possibilities. *Nods very, very slowly.*

CRAP! Yeah, I shouldn''t try to be smart on so little sleep. Hmm... but what you said and what you did were different. You did 16777216786432 but said it with them switched. However, what you did is right. But there ought to be an approximation of this with the subtle difference (blue or red hat) removed. How about 4x3 pixels, 15 frames (1 frame/6 minutes, 90 minute movie), in 2 color black and white. That''s 2180=1.5e54. That''s still a lot of popcorn!

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quote:
Original post by SumDude
lol what do you think a game designer that invented RPG's thought? Its hard coming up with a totally original idea because if it were original, no ones ever heard of it and if it were it wouldn't be totally original. Think of the first game creators and how hard it must have been for them to come up with mechanics for an RPG or FPS.

Think of Sim City, whoever thought making a city and playing god could be so d*mn fun?

Same way goes with the Sims as well, no one ever really completely thought of a life emulator lol.

Only way to think of something original is to think "out of the box".

[edited by - SumDude on March 5, 2004 3:54:25 PM]

Actually, RPGs were pretty much a given. No one had to think long and hard to make it. A lot of the first RPG's were pretty crude, but as time goes on, they started merging ideas. A genre usually emerges, it isn't created by sheer will. Anyway, to find the true stem of RPG's, you have to look even farther back, before videogames. Pen and paper RPG's have been around for a LONG time, and even those didn't just appear out of nowhere. They got their inspiration from old wargames and such. So as you can see, things typically emerge as time goes on.

As for the Sims. Nope, ain't the first life emulator. There was a little game called "Little People" or "Computer people", I can't remember the title exactly. It was around in the 80s, but never caught on. They had the mechanics wrong and it wasn't as interesting to play as the Sims. No doubt Will Wright got some of his ideas from this game. Then again, any game idea that has 10 years to develop before actually getting made better be pretty damn good. If I remember correctly, Will Wright came up with his idea for the Sims even before Simcity. Just goes to show how much faith his publishers had in the idea. The Sims is now the most popular game ever made.

Also, about Simcity. That emerged from the level editor in another one of Will Wrights earlier games. The game involved going around a city in a helicopter and blowing stuff up. I think this early game inspired the Desert Strike and Jungle Strike games as well. Anyway, after the game was finished, Wright thought making the cities in the level editor was much more fun than playing the actual game itself. That is when he decided to develop a full blown city simulator.

Matthew Overstreet

[edited by - Matto154 on March 5, 2004 4:58:58 PM]

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Lets say the movies are on a black and white screen (to simplify things, we will not allow shades of gray). A monitor can support fairly high resolutions (1600x1200), but lets artifically reduce the resolution since objects are made of groups of pixels. Lets pretend the resolution is 320x200 (or 64000 pixels). If we're watching a cartoon, it doesn't need many frames per second, so lets say it has 5 frames per second. That means per second, there would be 320000 pixels. Since each pixel can have 2 different values, we get 2^320000 possible images per second of video (which has so many digits, the base-10 log comes out to #.EXT:DOUBLE-FLOAT-POSITIVE-INFINITY in corman lisp). Now, some of those will obviously be the same movie with slightly different video representation (or complete garbage), so lets pretend that only 0.006%(which is 14 halvings or /2^14) of them will be understandable and unique. That means there are still 2^319986 possible combinations each second of video.

If you reduce the artificial resolution even further, to 32*20, you get 2^640 pixels per frame, or 3200 pixels per second. Each second, there are 2^3200 possible combinations, and that number has 964 digits. Apply the 0.006% again and you still get 960 digits.

Of course, maye the 0.006% should be smaller, but you'd have to reduce it a LOT to get numbers small enough to indicate we've done everything possible already.

If you abstract it more, obviously there is less to do, but the final implementation is infinitely more important than the idea (since, in general, people pay $0 for ideas and$\$ for final products)

[edited by - Extrarius on March 5, 2004 5:27:40 PM]

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quote:

Of course, maye the 0.006% should be higher, but you''d have to

For some reason I tend to think this number should be a LOT smaller...

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By higher, I meant the power used to get to it (since it is ~1/2^14). Edited for clarity

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you are just seeing music as diverse by harmony, there is rhythm and tone to consider. tone is the quality of sound such as the way a guitar sounds different from a flute. also some classical composers came up with micro tonal harmony, although this is mostly dissonant its something to consider.

on the subject of rhythm humans do have a limit as to what they can play. computers on the other hand can play any rhythm, though currrently they play it to perfect and we can notice that a computer is playing it. just need to add a very small amount of time noise here to make it sound more human.

to come up with a new idea for a game is an act of genious. genious is a matter of perspective. so you have to come up with a new way of seeing it. i think currently we are waiting for technology to catch up with ideas. we are trying to make games more real right now.

in any field though i think that there is an exponential decay in the originality of new ideas as the field gets older.

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You''re on crack. My game ideas have never been done before.

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Yeah, whatever.

If you want to believe the flawed logic that everything has been done before, and if you think you should give up, then that''s great, go ahead and give up.

The rest of us will keep on trying to make new & innovative games.

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Songs can have (theoretically) infinite length, making an infinite number of possibilities...

<- Cow Soft, free software I''ve made
"Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall." - Grizwald

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"Everything that can be invented, has been invented." - 1899.

What your saying reminds me of this quote. New types of games do come out occasionaly, and there are usually plenty of games copying it in a short period of time, but they are still there none the less. Some recent games that pretty much created a new genre that i can think of are GTA 3, and tony hawk pro skater. And I''m sure soon enough a new creative game will come out and be quickly duplicated by all the major companies.