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EsteemDE

Need some advice to help choose the right course of action.

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I don’t have any skill in programming, 3D design, or 2D design. My skill lays in the area of “what the game is” so to speak. Area like the story, how things execute, the direction of the game, how the game should play, what kind of features the game play and graphics should have, the artistic style. Basically I am the type of person that has the ability to come up with an idea for an amazing game that hasn’t been done before. I also have more of a Japanese style mind, where as games are amazing but complex on the design side. I have tried to learn the needed skills to create a game on my own, such as programming and graphics design, but I have failed when trying to learn such skills. I have tried nearly 6 times to learn programming, and a few attempts at 2D and 3D graphics. I have just come to accept that I may never be able to learn these skills without years of professional training, but even then I do not think I would be able to even create a small 3D demo by myself. I have no money available to spend on a project, and this is my major problem. I have a full time job, but it is very low pay and I must support myself and also pay for my own place. The very little money I have left after bills and food expenses is barely enough to hang out with friends on the weekend. There have been 2 websites I have gone to asking for people to just donate free time in helping me create a small game, but each time users always complained how I have nothing done already. My question is, what could I do to make my ideas and imagination become available to other gamers? I do not know of a way to get people to create the games I have come up with. The only way I would ever be able to pay anyone to help me is if I got a major income from some sort of sponsor, a huge set of donations, or just getting extremely lucky and winning a lottery. Sadly I wouldn’t get a sponsor when I have no portfolio containing good work, and donations wont come in because people don’t have something worth donating to. Another way to pay users would be to have them accept payment after the game was completed. For example, I would give all my workers a huge amount of the income my company would get from game sales, and keep the rest to pay people before the name game is complete (instead of after). Do any of you have a suggestion as to a good course of action to take? Thanks for reading.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
As more than one person has said here ideas, even if they are amazing and haven't been done before, are a dime a dozen. Try finding a buddy that could draw up some game images or cobble together some rudimentary gameplay in a program like GameMaker over a weekend. You need SOMETHING to show people, ideas aren't enough. There are a ton of people with what they think are amazing and original ideas looking for the few people with skills to do all the work for them. Not to mention that those people that can code, animate, draw probably have their own projects they want to work on.

At the very least you should research about design documents and write one for your game. Even if you don't think you'd ever become a decent programmer, read up on it. Try to understand some concepts, that will help you relay your idea better to prospective coders and artists.

"Genius is one percent inspiration, and ninety-nine per cent perspiration." - Thomas Alva Edison

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Hello "Est," you wrote:

>I don’t have any skill in programming, 3D design, or 2D design. My skill lays in the area of “what the game is” so to speak.

Great. Another guy whose "talent" (so to speak) is in telling the skilled craftsmen what to do. (Yawn.) Read http://www.sloperama.com/advice/idea.htm and http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson43.htm.

>Basically I am the type of person that has the ability to come up with an idea for an amazing game that hasn’t been done before.

Right. And none of the people inside the game industry has this ability. I hear you!

>I also have more of a Japanese style mind, where as games are amazing but complex on the design side.

Great. Read http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson48.htm.

>I have tried to learn the needed skills to create a game on my own, such as programming and graphics design, but I have failed when trying to learn such skills.

That's a shame. So, I hope you have an idea how to get into the industry...?

>I have no money available to spend on a project, and this is my major problem.

OK, read this one - http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson29.htm.

>There have been 2 websites I have gone to asking for people to just donate free time in helping me create a small game, but each time users always complained how I have nothing done already.

Sorry. You lost me. "Users" are sending you emails?

>what could I do to make my ideas and imagination become available to other gamers?

Get a degree, then get a job in the game industry, then work in the industry for about 10 years. Then start your own game company. Read those articles mentioned above.

>I do not know of a way to get people to create the games I have come up with.

No problem. Read http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson21.htm.

>Another way to pay users would be to have them accept payment after the game was completed.

That makes sense. After the end users give you money, then you'll have money to give the end users. Only one problem - how are you going to pay your rent, your grocery bills, your utilities?

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If you write up a design document that explains "what the game is," in detail, then you may be able to attract some programmers and artists. You will have to design a relatively simple game, in terms of art and programming required, because your team will be small. If your "amazing idea" amounts to "lots of code and/or graphics," then you may as well give up now. But if you can design good games within the limitations of a small team, then you do have a valuable skill.

You should also do some market research -- find out how people are making money from games similar to yours. I know that in the U.S., at least, it's virtually impossible for a small team to make a game for retail in stores. However, there is a thriving market for simpler "casual" games, which are distributed through online "portals."

You may also want to try using a tool like Game Maker or The Games Factory.

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Hey Tom, cut the guy some slack -- I'm guessing his English is better than your Japanese. As for "telling skilled craftsmen what to do"... err, well, aren't you a designer/producer?

"Ideas" are a dime a dozen, yes. A solid design, in writing... well, I'm not going to say it's invaluable, but it's certainly worth something. I think I've see one in my entire time on GameDev, and it wasn't even attached to a "Help Wanted" post. I'm going the "lone wolf" route right now (don't tell me, I know; they're the mangy half-starved ones ;), but even so, if I saw a good design doc for a cool-but-feasible game, combined with a basic business plan, I'd be tempted to jump on it.

There may be an oversupply of "idea guys," but judging from the unoriginal and wildly unfeasible projects on the Help Wanted board, I think there's actually a shortage of talented amateur "designer/producers." And who knows, maybe some of the former could evolve into the latter, if they worked at it.

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Logodae - I already got a lot of my idea written as a detailed document (but not all of it). Thing is I don’t have any experience with deploying the document into the public community. How would you approach this without giving way too much information? What I was always worried about, when talking about showing people my idea, is that a person skilled in a major game creation field such as programming or graphics design would read what I had, also think it’s a good idea, but instead of saying “ok I will help”, he would go get some other people who trusted him to help him make it, and leave me out of it.

tsloper - "And none of the people inside the game industry has this ability. I hear you!"

First off, I never said that. But each team needs a person like that. So your point is irrelevant to any part of my post or my situation.

"Great. Another guy whose "talent" (so to speak) is in telling the skilled craftsmen what to do. (Yawn.)"

2ndly, don’t even think about talking to some one like that again. Because first off, THAT’S THE JOB OF A LOT OF PEOPLE. Take Miyamoto for example (and before you try and take a hit at that, I’m not saying I’m as good as him when it comes to this job) his job is to give people his idea and have THEM CREATE A GAME BASED ON HIS INFORMATION. And people in this field DO NOT NEED TO KNOW GAME CREATION ASPECTS SUCH AS PROGRAMMING OR GAME ART. They simply DIRECT the team so the game comes out right. It isn’t the job of the programmer or artists to come up with the game, unless that’s how the company works in the first place. Most companies have a project director.

As for the rest of your post... I might as well not even comment. I said enough already.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Quote:
Original post by EsteemDETHAT’S THE JOB OF A LOT OF PEOPLE. Take Miyamoto for example


A job of a lot of people that EARNED it. Like Miyamoto for example, or Tom Slope.

Quote:
And people in this field DO NOT NEED TO KNOW GAME CREATION ASPECTS SUCH AS PROGRAMMING OR GAME ART. They simply DIRECT the team so the game comes out right


You couldn't be more wrong, you could try, but you would not succeed.

Want to protect your idea? Write a design document, get a lawyer, draft a NDA. Make people anyone who wants to hear your idea sign the NDA. Get a pile of cash ready to pay the lawyers to protect your idea from anyone that tries to steal it. Otherwise don't worry about it. Again, ideas are a dime a dozen. It's the implementation of ideas that are of value.

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Quote:
Original post by EsteemDE
Logodae - I already got a lot of my idea written as a detailed document (but not all of it).


Glad to hear it. Sounds like you've got a start. How many pages is it, at this point?


Quote:
Thing is I don’t have any experience with deploying the document into the public community. How would you approach this without giving way too much information? What I was always worried about, when talking about showing people my idea, is that a person skilled in a major game creation field such as programming or graphics design would read what I had, also think it’s a good idea, but instead of saying “ok I will help”, he would go get some other people who trusted him to help him make it, and leave me out of it.


This is probably less likely than you think. Most people have their own ideas -- and if they think your ideas are cool enough to work on instead, then they'll probably want to work with you, because they'll respect you. But you should also do as much as you can to be a valuable team member. Managing the team, obviously -- you've got to keep people on track, and you've got to do it without being overbearing, since you're not paying them anything up front. (Something like Basecamp might come in handy.) You've got to deal with the legal aspects of contracts and such -- I know almost nothing about this, but I'm guessing there's some kind of standard template you can use, without needing to hire a lawyer. You need to set up a website and maintain it. And if you finish the game, you'll need to do the marketing.

Doing all that is as important as the design, but of course it's hard to advertise. Anyone can say "I'll manage the team," but not everyone can do it well -- especially if you don't have much knowledge of programming and art. Anyone can promise royalties, and most of them do.

I would say that the best thing you can do, besides posting an enticing summary of your design (and an offer to show the whole design document to anyone who's interested) is to find at least one artist first. Not here. Find someone who's doing webcomics or Flash animations, or just posting stuff on Elfwood or DeviantArt, or wherever the cool kids are posting art these days. See if they want to work on your game -- and design around their limitations and interests. This may mean no animation, or animation but no human characters, or lots of big-breasted women but no men. ;P

Whatever you do, keep it small. Think of each piece of art as having a cost -- because it does, in hours. You'll want to ask your artist(s) how long each piece of art will take, and how much time they're willing to commit to the project. But don't ask "how many hours total," because people don't think that way. Ask "how many hours a week" and "how long are you willing to work on the project." That's your budget -- if you're lucky and they don't lose interest.

The first thing you ask your artist to do is a nice-looking mock-up. Then you bring that and your design doc back to GameDev's Help Wanted board, and use that to attract a programmer.

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First off, I never said that. But each team needs a person like that. So your point is irrelevant to any part of my post or my situation.


Each team needs a leader, true. But often that leader does more than just direct the minions; they can usually contribute on more that just the "idea" front.

Quote:

2ndly, don’t even think about talking to some one like that again. Because first off, THAT’S THE JOB OF A LOT OF PEOPLE. Take Miyamoto for example


Miyamoto did not start his career doing that. He was originally an artist, and wrote some games, such as Donkey Kong. Similarly prestigeous people, such as Will Wright also began their career as programmers, et cetera. Brian Reynolds, who was the lead designer for Civilation II and is now the lead designer for games developed by Big Huge Games (Rise of Nations, Rise of Legends) still writes code, even though he is a "designer."

Quote:

his job is to give people his idea and have THEM CREATE A GAME BASED ON HIS INFORMATION.


Actually, he does quite a bit more than that now as well. He's also probably less involved in the day-to-day design and development of most games he is the "producer" for nowadays, as well.

Quote:

And people in this field DO NOT NEED TO KNOW GAME CREATION ASPECTS SUCH AS PROGRAMMING OR GAME ART. They simply DIRECT the team so the game comes out right.


Yes they do, on at least some level. Otherwise they tend to come up with designs that are completely technically infeasible. You don't have any professional experience within this industry, so you be very careful what you assert to be true about it.


Quote:

It isn’t the job of the programmer or artists to come up with the game, unless that’s how the company works in the first place. Most companies have a project director.


The programmers and the artists have a signifigant say about the game, actually, since they are the ones actually constructing it. There are situations where the programmers and artists have more control over the game than the designer, especially in situations where the designer's design has left the realm of reality or practicality. Remember, as a designer, you're delegating the implementation of your vision to others, and you have to be able to accept the consequences of that. If you can't accept that, you need to learn to do the implementation yourself, or find a new field.

Incidentally, as hinted at before, "project directors" or "design leads" often fill more than one role, which can include doing a signifigant bit of implementation work. Somebody who just sits in a chair and pitches out an idea is redundant the moment somebody else in the company has heard the idea.

Additionally, take the advices of others here to heart with respect to creating design documents, et cetera. But also realize that what you write in that document will change during the course of development and it is impossible for any non-trivial project to be completely designed to spec at the outset and for that design to never waver.

Quote:

As for the rest of your post... I might as well not even comment. I said enough already.


Yes, you have. You've given a very negative impression of yourself, actually. You need to step back, take a deep breath, and look at the advice given -- especially Tom's -- from a rational point of view. Tom has signifigant experience in the industry, and you'd be an idiot to disregard his advice and imply he's wrong just because you disagree with him. Furthermore, you will recieve similar information from others with professional experience in the industry, including myself.

If you don't want advice, don't ask for it, or at least don't react so immaturely when presented with it. What you want to do is very difficult, if not impossible, do to from the get-go. Getting to be a "designer" professionally takes a lot of time, and a lot of work -- usually in "unrelated" disciplines such as programming.

That's just the way it is, and as much as you may want it to be different, it won't be. Don't react with such hostility (which actually suggests you wouldn't be too fun to work with!), and instead try and turn an unexpected negative into a positive somehow.

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Basically I am the type of person that has the ability to come up with an idea for an amazing game that hasn’t been done before.

My question is, what could I do to make my ideas and imagination become available to other gamers?

Do any of you have a suggestion as to a good course of action to take? Thanks for reading.


A good game designer needs to have an understanding of 3D and 2D design, the abilities and limits of programming, the fundamentals of graphic design, and a fair bit of psychology. They need to be able to not just know what is fun, but know why it is fun, and why the non-fun things are that way, and how to improve on ideas in a consistant way. Getting lucky and focusing on one game design is not the way to be a good game designer.

Based on the post, you currently lack the skills needed to get in to the game industry. Sorry.


But there is hope!

I suggest you take your amazing creativity, unique imagination, and novel ideas, and use them to write. Take some inexpensive evening classes at the local community college to meet with other writers and hone your skills. I don't know what is offered in your area, but community lead group classes are available in my area for around $20 for 10 weeks. Effective affective writing is a great transferrable skill that may help you reach your goals.

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