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# A Nobody with a good idea - Why cant we have a crack at game design too?

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Original post by QuantifyFun
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 Original post by Hawkins8Fact:A genius designer is gifted and born with. Not any hard working nor any experience nor any academic qualification can make one a genius designer. A genius designer is genius because he's genius. And only a genius designer can make excellent games.\

That is most definitely not a fact, most certainly not true, and actually somewhat absurd to say...

Ah, thanks for your comment without a valid argumnet in it (you lack it?).

You want fact? The fact is, the mediocre indys today who only know how to clone from EQ caused alot of complainers saying that they have no good game to play. That's the fact, a fact due to the lack of the gifted designers in the industry.

[Edited by - Hawkins8 on October 15, 2008 2:09:50 AM]
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Original post by Hawkins8
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Original post by QuantifyFun
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 Original post by Hawkins8Fact:A genius designer is gifted and born with. Not any hard working nor any experience nor any academic qualification can make one a genius designer. A genius designer is genius because he's genius. And only a genius designer can make excellent games.\

That is most definitely not a fact, most certainly not true, and actually somewhat absurd to say...

Ah, thanks for your comment without a valid argumnet (you lack it?).

You want fact? The fact is, the mediocre indys today who only know how to clone from EQ caused alot of complainers saying that they have no good game to play. That's the fact, a fact due to the lack of the gifted designers in the industry.

If you need me to explain why you can't state that silly opinion as if it were a fact, than there are some life lessons you still need to learn and I can't help you.

I'm done with this thread. No flame war intended, just keepin' it real.
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 Original post by NozyspyWhat I feel is that the industry simply ignores people like that and rather hires people who share their philosophy of ‘money money money’ rather than ‘lets make a game people will really enjoy and keep playing for the next 10 years!’ Noz

Others have said what I'm about to say, but I'll say it again anyways.

There's a financial responsibility that every publicly shared company (which pretty much all publishers would be) to their shareholders. And that is to give them a return on their investment.

Making a big-budget game is very risky, and requires multi-millions to make ($20,000,000 + in some cases). The longer the development cycle (and a AAA title needs a LOOOONG dev cycle for a first iteration title), the longer it takes before shareholders will see a return on their cummulative millions of dollars. Pissing away money for 4 years in hopes that you'll get a return is not a smart investment. This is why you see so many sequels, because it's a safer investment. "Oh, Halo sold 8 million copies. Halo 2 should be able to do the same and we'd only need to invest for 2 years. I'll invest in that." Games with smaller scales (say a smaller more focused game that only has 10 hours of playtime instead of a huge 40 hour masterpiece) are more appealing since the dev-cycle is shorter and ROI is faster. If it's risky to invest in something, less people will invest. If less people invest, where is a company going to find the money to make the game? Also, if a huge investment is made and that money is not recouped, huge ramifications are seen in terms of employees being let go. Why would hardworking employees want their company to hire unproven workers for top design positions? I've worked with bright eyed people, with great ideas, and a lot of times they either get frustrated with financial realities or technical limitations, and end up slacking off and being terrible employees. If these people were given more responsibility up front we'd have been screwed. This is a reality in all industries. You haven't really given any real examples of some no-name having been entrusted with millions of dollars to build their dream work. You don't hear a painter say: Man, I have such a great idea for a painting, but no one wants to give me money to paint it. Painters paint. Directors make movies (Kevin Smith spent his own money and made a movie he didn't think would go anywhere, but the key is that he MADE a movie). Musicians write and perform music (and optionally record) before they're offered a record deal. I can pretty much guarantee that a screenplay writer with no experience has to know people, or have done something before they get their story made into a movie. To be successful you need to DO somehing successful, not whine about it. You're still young, and I was probably the same way at your age (hell, at one point I wanted to write my own C++ book since other books used too many proper technical terms... WTF???) 0 #### Share this post ##### Link to post ##### Share on other sites Quote:  Original post by QuantifyFunIf you need me to explain why you can't state that silly opinion as if it were a fact, than there are some life lessons you still need to learn and I can't help you.I'm done with this thread. No flame war intended, just keepin' it real. The term 'EQ clone' itself is self-explanatory enough to state the truth. Live with that. Continue to live in denial does none helpful to the industry. I start to know why a giant such as EA has to embrace a 10-year-old UO for its its own survival in the MMORPG game sector. Its executives never think that they lack the genius to...hmm...patching such an old game. 0 #### Share this post ##### Link to post ##### Share on other sites Quote: Original post by Hawkins8 Quote:  Original post by QuantifyFunIf you need me to explain why you can't state that silly opinion as if it were a fact, than there are some life lessons you still need to learn and I can't help you.I'm done with this thread. No flame war intended, just keepin' it real. The term 'EQ clone' itself is self-explanatory enough to state the truth. Live with that. Continue to live in denial does none helpful to the industry. I start to know why a giant such as EA has to embrace a 10-year-old UO for its its own survival in the MMORPG game sector. Its executives never think that they lack the genius to...hmm...patching such an old game. wipe the rabid foam from your chin and start again. game design is a process. It has creative elements but its mainly down to experience, motivation and inspiration - the giants dont care about such things and thus make crap games, it has nothing to do with ability, its just money and time. 0 #### Share this post ##### Link to post ##### Share on other sites Quote: Original post by Hawkins8 Quote:  Original post by QuantifyFunIf you need me to explain why you can't state that silly opinion as if it were a fact, than there are some life lessons you still need to learn and I can't help you.I'm done with this thread. No flame war intended, just keepin' it real. The term 'EQ clone' itself is self-explanatory enough to state the truth. Live with that. Continue to live in denial does none helpful to the industry. I start to know why a giant such as EA has to embrace a 10-year-old UO for its its own survival in the MMORPG game sector. Its executives never think that they lack the genius to...hmm...patching such an old game. There are only two kinds of games in the world: games I like and games I don't like. Everything else is just someone else's opinion. You're certainly entitled to yours, but stamping your feet and throwing a tantrum is no way to make friends and influence people. To my eyes, almost every MMORPG seems to be the computer game equivalent of Tolkien fan-fiction crap involving elves, dwarves, trolls and all those other Germanic and Scandinavian mythological clichés (all in a medieval setting). This doesn't appear to have stopped millions of people paying good money to play them, so you won't find me shouting that all those customers are sad, mad and dumb, or that the developers are creatively bankrupt. As the late SF author Bob Shaw once asserted: All art is about communication. A good writer wants to communicate with as many people as possible. The fact that this tends to mean the writer gets paid steaming great piles of wonga for his work is proof that he's reaching lots and lots of people and therefore achieving his goal. What's the point of writing a message where nobody will read it? Making money isn't something to be sneered at with snobbish contempt. It's not a perfect system, but financial success is incontrovertible evidence that you're doing something right. EA may crank out umpteen iterations of sports sims -- American and Association Football haven't changed much in decades, so any simulation is going to struggle to stand out from the crowd -- but these are still perfectly valid, perfectly successful games. Besides, EA also took a gamble on "The Sims" when nobody else would touch it. Can you really blame a company for milking an IP if customers are clearly willing to pay? If you can, you're not living in the real world. Most of us have bills to pay, cars to keep and, often, a family to feed. Sure, there are lots of sequels out there, but so what? Every single franchise started with its first, risky, release! Nobody had even heard of "Lara Croft" before the very first "Tomb Raider"; certainly no one expected it to take off the way it did. That said, it's sad that hardly any newbies on these forums ever want to start small. Not every gamble needs to be high-risk and high-return. How much more satisfying it is when you gamble relatively little money and end up creating an entire market. 0 #### Share this post ##### Link to post ##### Share on other sites The above post deserves a +1. I'd also like to add on to your last paragraph, stimarco. I think most of us aspiring game designers look at these AAA games and think that we can do better, and some of us are actually taking a first step by, for instance, creating our own design documents. Then there are some of those, like me, who realize that it's not all that easy, and start giving the whole matter a break. You know, accept that it's hard work and not always that easy to pull off - being a designer, I mean. With that said, almost anyone can create a successful game with (nearly) unlimited resources and millions of dollars at their disposals. Creating a successful game with (very) limited resources and a low budget, to me, is at least equally rewarding and shows that you're really creative. You know, being able to make something fun out of not-so-much. Four years ago my physicist teacher told me something I'll never forget: A good writer can tell a good story in 20 pages. A great writer can do so in 2 pages. 0 #### Share this post ##### Link to post ##### Share on other sites Quote:  Original post by MetallonFour years ago my physicist teacher told me something I'll never forget: A good writer can tell a good story in 20 pages. A great writer can do so in 2 pages. Ambrose Bierce called a novel "a short story padded". In The Five Obstructions Jørgen Leth has to remake his film The Perfect Human under restrictions/obstructions. At one point, the person deciding what these obstructions are comments how Leth seemed to use the obstructions to his advantage. The third obstruction was actually to have no obstructions. In Monty Python and the Holy Grail, they used coconuts instead of horses due to budget constraints. 0 #### Share this post ##### Link to post ##### Share on other sites Interesting things you got there. I'm definitely going to try and see what I can from The Five Obstructions. Meanwhile, I'd like to point out that games that are relatively simple to develop, that do not require AAA-title fundings but can still kick major ass are awesome games. Not all games need to have the player control a human character and not all games need a story. I realized this when I started looking at simple arcade games and such. You know, games that are all about playing them hands-on. I've strayed away from trying to create story-driven games, and gone to focusing almost solely on selling factors that are gameplay related (game mechanics, rules, fun aspects, designing aspects, technical aspects, how feasible developing it would be, etc.). In short: I'm pretending to actually work on a game design for a small company. It actually works - for me, at least. You feel sort of professional and it lets you design with helpful limitations, like, "hm, I don't have access to 10+ experienced programmers or$1,000,000. How do I pull this off successfully with the restrictions I have?" and really, it is so FLOBBERING rewarding when you can solve issues like that.

One of the reasons I'm trying to get into game design.

EDIT: I forgot to mention one thing. You know how I mentioned earlier that almost anyone can, with unlimited resources, create a fantastic game? We had a while ago someone who had written this ghastly extensive game design document of what he considered to be a ground-breaking, revolutionary MMO. Not going to mention names, but suffice to say, that was a case of "I have the PERFECT GAME!! ...but I need a few mills to develop it". And... I wouldn't want to be in that position. May just be me, but if I get a job as a game designer, I want to be creative and be challenged and do a good job. I'm not interested in making AAA-titles, I'm interested in making fun games, period.
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A professional designer can strip back the essence of a game to what it must be, whether that's consciously or subconciously, and build from there. For example, an RPG contains many preconceptions or prior experiences involving RPGs just by the word alone.

The job of a designer is to strip back these preconceptions to what an RPG is. I only realised this today - before I had a similar opinion to the OP in the irrationality of employment. If I keep my preconceptions in my subconscious I will undoubtably unknowingly hurt my game design by not making a conscious effort to be conscious of them. On the other hand, if I think of these preconceptions in my mind and strip them down to stereotypes and essential facts - eliminating the chances of negative thin-slicing - I will see a vast improvement in the originality of my designs.

Without pressure to use so many different elements (most of which are not needed), I can focus on making a fun game, and be assured that it will be original without worrying about it. The professional designer includes commonly-used elements only when he is sure it will aid his game design - or at least he should.

Some designers may be sloppy or unimaginative, as you believe, but I think the real reason behind so many cookie-cutter game is that they use the elements they believe will make their design more familiar or popular without looking it the merits and problems of each system.

Write a list of elements needed in an RPG.

Write an original concept for a RPG's battle system.

Explain what an ideal setting for an RPG would be.
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I'd also like to point out that the job and tasks of the game designer are often vague and/or broad, and that most hobbyists don't need a dedicated game designer to work on their own ideas because their projects aren't large enough to justify one. Also, most supposed designers are just people with some semi-coherent ideas and stuff. For larger projects, actually good, dedicated game designers is a good thing because it's their job to see to it that the game's *design* is good. It's not just about writing a design document.
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After reading your posts, I might have to pretend that the market (of MMORPG in specific) is truly healthy. Complaints from all those players lacking a good game to play are not legitimate. If you believe so, I can't help.

The fact to me is, their complaints of lacking games to play besides those lame EQ clones are legitimate, I thus reason that it's due to the lack of genius designers who can fill up the needs of those players who are getting sick of the clone games.

It is similar to years back that I pointed out that forced grouping in EQ clones can't meet with the demands for a large group of players who prefer soloing along with grouping. Then I saw people popped up saying that MMOs should be all for grouping and not soloing. They have to shut their mouths up after WoW came out.

Similarly and from my speculation, there's a similar demand out there, there are hypes and hopes for a good game to play out there. The game designs are lagging behind those demands. There are large amount of players hopping amongst games one after one, or rather waiting between the 'good game designs'.

I believe in such a fact while you deny it. That's our difference. You deny it because you might be part of indies who fail to or rather unwilling to face such a reality, a reality which requires the genius to fill the gap, and you are not one of them. Live with that, hehe...

[Edited by - Hawkins8 on October 20, 2008 10:45:51 PM]
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 Original post by DelphinusSome designers may be sloppy or unimaginative, as you believe, but I think the real reason behind so many cookie-cutter game is that...

Very good insight, sir.

The problem is that, the mediocre designers deny that they are actually making cookie-cutter games.

There are many reasons making lame games, lacking in genius designer is one of them.
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Original post by Hawkins8
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 Original post by DelphinusSome designers may be sloppy or unimaginative, as you believe, but I think the real reason behind so many cookie-cutter game is that...

Very good insight, sir.

The problem is that, the mediocre designers deny that they are actually making cookie-cutter games.

There are many reasons making lame games, lacking in genius designer is one of them.

No, its exactly what stimarco said.

From a business perspective it makes sense to make a un-revolutionary sequel if the production cost is low and some sales are guaranteed. It might suck from a artistic perspective but if you think you can make games with multi-million production budgets and ignore business concerns your either rich or living in fantasy land.
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 Original post by Kazeit makes sense to make a un-revolutionary sequel if the production cost is low and some sales are guaranteed.

Just another denial the cookie-cutter games made that players are getting sick of them. However, it is noted that you start to refrain from the denial of cookie-cutter games are made at all. You change your side's stance on that cookie-cutter games are made, but 'it is necessary' as another denial on that 'players are actually getting sick of them'.

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 if you think you can make games with multi-million production budgets and ignore business concerns your either rich or living in fantasy land.

That's not what I said. You have to impose this upon me for the lack of argument on your side. This is not even the argument. The argument is that,

players are getting sick of such a kind of EQ clones, or not. (you still deny this)
players' desires are not met due to the lack of genius designers, or not. (and this)

You are such a group of pathetic indies(?I start to doubt that you are truly legitimately representing the indies) who can't even live with the reality.

[Edited by - Hawkins8 on October 20, 2008 11:07:19 PM]
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 Original post by Hawkins8players are getting sick of such a kind of EQ clones, or not.

OK, let me correct this. YOU are sick of EQ clones. Since people are buying EQ clones and playing them vigorously, I suppose it's not THAT bad.

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 Original post by Hawkins8players' desires are not met due to the lack of genius designers, or not.

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Hawkins8 - are you working on a game at the moment?
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 Original post by MetallonOK, let me correct this. YOU are sick of EQ clones. Since people are buying EQ clones and playing them vigorously, I suppose it's not THAT bad.

They are hopping one after one. I already said that. It won't make your statement more regitimate. Continue to live in denial all you want.

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Hmm..what make you think that you are more legitmate to represent more?

Just another pointless one trying to justify how legitimate it is to live in denial.
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 Original post by Hawkins8They hopping one after one. I already said that. It won't make your statement more regitimate. Continue to live in denial all you want.

I'm not denying anything, am I? And not everyone is hopping between games. Maybe you are, but that doesn't mean everyone else is. Every friend of mine that plays MMO's stick with one MMO. Though there are other games they play. And really, it's not a bad thing if you hop even bewteen MMO's, as long as you regularly play them, right?

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 Original post by Hawkins8Hmm..what make you think that you are more legitmate to represent more?Just another pointless one trying to justify how legitimate it is to live in denial.

I never said that. I just stated that just because you think one thing doesn't necessarily mean everyone else agrees.
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 Original post by MetallonI never said that. I just stated that just because you think one thing doesn't necessarily mean everyone else agrees.

Good. I never intended to ask everyone to agree with me. All I said here is that, the below arguments are legitimate points for a discussion. No?

players are getting sick of such a kind of EQ clones, or not.
players' desires are not met due to the lack of genius designers, or not.

The 'or not' choice is always available for anyone to choose. Yet it seems to me that those proclaimed indies are offended whenever the legitimate discussion points are voiced out.
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So as a fellow nobody and someone beginning to attempt to break in to the industry, I figured I'd pass on some general observations. It may amount to some encouragement to fellow nobodies, and be little more than a point of contention for all the so-called somebodies, but I'm more concerned with the former than the latter.

The principle rule I've learned thus far is no matter how profound, world-changing, or stellar I think my new idea is, it's worth just about nothing. I've come to associate these profound, world-changing, stellar ideas of my own with American Idol contestants, of all things. If every musician and vocalist in Hollywood suddenly croaked and we had a severe entertainment shortage, I may be able to justify a show like American Idol. Fact is the industry is saturated with talent, and another outlet for the same old thing is just a drop in the bucket that is already full to begin with. My ideas and stories alone aren't enough, and there are already 109140109241442 of them, times infinity.

That's not to say there isn't the rare circumstance, where the planets align and some lucky bastard trips into a career in the industry at a fraction of the effort his or her peers put forth, but it's one in a million and much safer to assume you'll have to claw and dig for every damned inch you get. That's not to say we all wouldn't like to be that one, but while everyone else is dreaming those big dreams I'd just assume be in the foxhole, doing things the hard way and earning my inches.

How do you get five minutes with the shot callers at a game studio? Nobody on these forums, industry pro or otherwise can answer that. If there was a three step method, we'd all do it. I resolve daily that I won't just get five minutes with the boss, but I'll be the boss. But I'll do it with degrees, hard work on a portfolio, experience from the very bottom end of the ladder whether it's with a studio or not, and constant application and zombie-like persistence on what I demand of myself. Plus, in the games industry "the boss" is more like numerous people all of whom get pitched something daily, and are damned certain their ideas of what the shelves need is better than yours.

If it's a career in games you want and you're anything like me, you'll find a way in. But it won't be a walk in the park, and you're ready to go to Hell and back if necessary to make your mark. Things like that don't fall out of the sky, or come from internet forums or even a good story idea.
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You aren't paying attention. No-one is denying that commercial games tend to follow a broadly similar pattern to each other. They're just explaining to you WHY. Game designers' genius or lack thereof seldom has anything to do with it. The key factor is MONEY.

To reiterate on what people have already told you several times, commercial games cost money to make. That money has to come from somewhere, so whether the studio has enough money of its own, or it's provided by a publisher or other investor, that money effectively has to be borrowed against the potential future earnings of the game. Since no-one knows how well a game will sell until you actually sell it, there's an element of risk involved.

A completely original game has no precedent to gauge it's likely sales performance, and is therefore extremely high risk. Worse still, it's hard to establish exactly how high that risk is. A game that is broadly similar to an existing game already has a market audience from which statistics can be gathered and an estimate of likely sales performance can be made. This means not only is the risk much lower, but you can actually quantify it much more easily.

You could be the most amazing godlike game designer in the world, with the most awesome and unique game design imaginable, but unless you can get it made - which for a commercial developer, means convincing someone with a crapload of money that it's a viable risk - it's never going anywhere.

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 players are getting sick of such a kind of EQ clones, or not. (you still deny this)

I'm sure some players are sick of 'EQ clones', but clearly there are still enough players who AREN'T sick of them to keep the market very healthy, otherwise they would become unprofitable to run.

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 players' desires are not met due to the lack of genius designers, or not. (and this)

Lack of genius designers has very little to do with it, as very few designers are in a position where they can call the shots. That position belongs to the guy holding the purse strings.

Indie designers can afford to be a bit more original, but you're still not completely free unless you're a one man team. Everyone else on your team will have their own ideas, and you're more dependent on their contribution than they're dependent on yours.
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I have absolutely zero experience in the *field* of game design on a professional level, but I can say that this thread had some great information, even if it isn't stuff you *want* to hear as a budding game designer, it is stuff you *need* to hear.

I annoyed a lot of my computer programmer friends for years wanting them to create my ideas. One of them finally started asking me these same questions that the other posters are asking you. I didn't have all the answers right at hand, I wasn't experienced. I hadn't made more complicated computer games before. My experience was limited to board games made while I was a kid, and GW BASIC programming from the same time period, but I had a feeling that I shouldn't need to learn everything about making a computer game to have good enough ideas to get one made.

The best advice I ever got from that friend was to google "Game Design Document" and make one for my 'billion dollar game idea'. Eight years later I have 300 pages (17 of which is just a table of contents) of a design document that isn't finished (by about 200 pages). In that time I've gained some very important things: a much more humbling approach to the realization of completing a game, a good friend who is writing a game engine, and a plethora of smaller -completable- game designs that we will finish up first.

The biggest thing is to get it all down on paper. As easy as it is to explain your project to people who are asking you questions, most people don't want to have to ask you questions. Why should they do all of the work to learn about your idea? Even if you got the meeting, it wouldn't mean anything without that document. As my mom used to say, live gives you the things you need when you're ready for them. Don't be too upset about not being able to get the meeting with the gaming execs until you're ready to meet with them.

Do I think that if I had a couple of hours with the head of a big game company that this whole process could have gone a lot faster? Maybe. But after learning so much more about the design process, I don't feel as strongly about it. When I did the research about the feasibility of completing *my* game, on *my* terms I realized how much capital and time it would take to develop. Then I thought about whether I would, if I had the money, trust it on someone untried - and I couldn't honestly say that I would. If my design document in hand, I know my odds would be better, but even then I'm not sure it would be enough.

The design document is the only chance you have at getting your game made, without actually making your game yourself, or working your way up, or proving yourself on other games. They are a lot of work (not necessarily as much as I've put in, since you're not talking about a full-on MMORPG). If you have the desire - and write one - make sure you spend as much time as your are technically capable of (and learn as much as you can) on the implementation sections of this document. Writing those sections is a crash course in back-end game design on its own and will illuminate a lot of what is not technically possible. If you can get a programmer involved as much as possible in these parts. In the (extremely likely) chance you can't get a meeting with someone, you can send a well written design document out the same way authors can send out manuscripts. If its well written, and the company is receptive, you might get your meeting.

With regards to story, it is important to many games. However, you do need to understand that in most cases (in fact since reading this entire thread I have been unsuccessful in coming up with an example of a case where it wouldn't be - though I allow for the possibility of its existence) the story is not as important as the game play - because take the same game, alter the story (which includes characters and settings, though not necessarily mechanics) and it can be, in its essence, the same game. This doesn't mean that a good story isn't important; it just means that a good story won't make a good game. A few of people will trudge through a bad game for a good story, but not enough to be profitable.

And I understand about the importance of a good story, and the desire for yours to be told - I started writing the novels of my game story as an alternate route to getting the game made. If the books become popular enough - then you suddenly have a marketable IP and that can definitely get you meetings with the right people in the game industry because a marketable IP means (to some extent) less risk. So take that route if it seems more appealing to you.

I don't know if my advice will help you at all, I'm not sure if I would have listened myself eight years ago. But while the road is long, it no longer seems as impossible as when I wasn't taking what steps I *could* do, because of what I hoped others would do. The key to removing frustration in any project is to eliminate the need to rely on the actions of people other than yourself...

...then realize you can't do it all yourself and be extremely grateful for any help you can get. :-D
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 Original post by SandmanYou could be the most amazing godlike game designer in the world, with the most awesome and unique game design imaginable, but unless you can get it made - which for a commercial developer, means convincing someone with a crapload of money that it's a viable risk - it's never going anywhere.

I agree with everything you said, I just wanted to add something. There is no metric by which to judge "the most awesome and unique game design imaginable", so as far as commercial gaming goes, the only truly useful metric by which to judge how 'good' a game is how well it does at retail. As you say, clones of Call of Duty, various MMOS, etc.. games effectively end up copying the popular and fun aspects of other similar games. End result is 'cookie cutter' games that are known to sell well. It's all a risk vs rewards game.

Genius game designers have nothing to do with it. The makeup of the entire team has much more to do with the end product than the design team alone. You have to have strong people in every area of a game. Call of Duty and Halo weren't great(at retail at least, arguing their artistic merits is pointless) because they were new and original, they were great because they had great AI, visuals, flow, etc. Great games are made up of the sum of their parts, many of which depends on the strength of non designer teammates. This is why the execution of a game idea is everything, and ideas are useless.
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Just an aside, guys : Hawkins8 isn't here to discuss the topic, rather he's here to insult and flame those that disagree with him in whatever manner he can. He started that over on our boards as well recently:
http://vnboards.ign.com/mmorpg_concepts_and_design_discussion_forum/b22584/108970515/p1/?17

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