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SinisterPride

Ideas are a dime a dozen...

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At one point in my life I had a naive and somewhat delusional sense of what the game industry must be like. I thought an idea (and ideas in general) were the bread and butter, the sole resource, the industry ran on. Obviously, all great developments and designs start as ideas. However, it took some harsh realizations and shifts in perspective to note that ideas are the least sought after commodity within the industry. This insight came largely in the form of articles written or suggested by Sir Tom Sloper. 

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I shed a large portion of the arrogance that followed the way I envisioned the role I wanted to play within the design and development of a video game. Part of me believed I could waltz into a publisher or design studio with what I thought was a great idea, lay out my thoughts and if I was lucky enough, gain the resources as well as control over a project to develop said idea. I never wanted to pass off an idea and just have someone make my game for me but even so my proposal was unrealistic to say the least. I now know that completed work, and in essence, "fleshing out" of a project is far more sought after than how innovative the idea behind said project may be. In fact, ideas that are too far from the norm tend to be deemed risky or too much of a gamble from a publishers perspective.

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Dispirited and at a loss of hope I started to give up on the notion of becoming a game designer. The climb necessary to be in a position where I COULD put my own ideas into play didn't seem appealing so it was realistically out of reach. After shattering the narrow goals and naive career path I had once thought existed I settled on following one of my strengths, writing. I had always found it easy to convey my ideas as well as paint vivid imagery with only written words. Deciding that I may still want to be a part of the game industry as a story or dialogue writer I was able to mentally revisit my design ideas from a different perspective. This all left me thinking "well, what CAN I do with my ideas?". I've always thought story mechanics/plots were simple to come about if you have the imagination for that sort of thing. In my opinion, the only things that set the greats apart is the creative attention to detail as well as diverse exposure/inspiration. I had always focused on game play mechanics and environmental interactions/properties due to this stand on story development. 

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Although I didn't feel like I could get much of anything worthwhile down if it only pertained to story and lore I started simmering in my ideas again. I didn't have the same goal of one day presenting it to some company or even working through the DIY method to bring it to life; As arrogant as it may sound the scope/scale of my ideas could never come about efficiently/effectively with limited resources. With my renewed interest in game design and a more humble/modest approach I reread a lot of the articles which had, in a sense, broken my spirit. This time around I realized something that had been obscure to me before with my delusional sense of things which should have also been obvious. Ideas are nothing in and of themselves, this much is true, if they are all you have. As Sir Sloper had said (paraphrasing here) an idea is nothing, it takes dozens and dozens of ideas to even get the ball rolling. In all these years of thinking up concepts and "designs" I had never once wrote anything down. I kept my ideas vivid by revisiting them constantly which kept them alive and partially let them grow. Nonetheless it was a key error because what is an idea when its just sitting in your head? Nothing but a dream. But if you can coherently write them down for someone ELSE to make sense of...


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My ideas were developing to some extent since about 2001. They took a sudden halt when I found a game that had almost all of the things I originally sought after while designing and conceptualizing. I no longer felt the need to develop a game with some concepts which weren't mainstream due to this game. That game was Fable, with its announcement my ideas seemed to have been played out closely enough. A lot of the things I had wished for were coming into the industry in one form or another so why should I keep developing them? Others would eventually think of everything I had so why not sit back and enjoy it right? I didn't feel cheated or bitter as some would think when it was released, I was glad I could enjoy the things I wanted for so long. After playing Fable (and eventually all of its successors) I realized the experience was satisfying but didn't quite quench my thirst. It added loads for me to build on and furthered many of my original concept. Yet, I still felt I had more to offer.

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With the ideas instilled by Sir Sloper and many others I finally decided to start writing. I wrote the basis of my ideas down in a coherent manner which anyone (even a non-gamer) could grasp. The more I wrote the clearer things became. I was determined to, if nothing else, write the building blocks for what I wanted. It didn't have to be technical or specific (as in for the programmers or graphic artist) but I just wanted it to be understandable across the board from designers to artist to programmers. I later realized I had started on what is known as a GDD (game design document). The skeleton on which everything is mounted on. Even though ideas were worth nothing, I now had plenty of ideas piled on one another which, in my opinion, could realistically start something meaningful. After I had written all I thought summarized what I wanted and essentially sown the seeds which could grow into a game, something resounded in a part of an article I read. I had recently read something similar, to what had resounded within me, about writing books (for a somewhat separate project; my story/my book[s]). What I had remembered was that Sir Sloper said something along the lines of "why would a company want to hire you for one idea/game?". They want someone who has the ability to develop ideas and manage projects effectively, not someone who has an idea to develop. The article on writing said that it is unwise to try and one shot a masterpiece/your life's work. Tolkiens don't write the Lord of the Rings and Rowlings don't write Harry Potter in one shot or one part. For multiple reasons this made sense. Proving your worth with lesser projects, cutting down how daunting the scope of your project must be into manageable portions, building a fan base as well as learning from trial and error in technique/approach to a project itself.

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At this point I decided to halt any further mental/written development of my concept/design. I was to partition my three main "innovative/trademark" ideas into three projects. Since then I have developed and documented those three ideas decently enough but all of my writing still feels like just that, ideas. I know I can't realistically take it any further because it would be time consuming to get any concrete progress done with "indie"/home brew methods. So I guess my reason for this post is simply for opinions. I know I will reach the same point I originally did and "sow the seeds" for what would be needed to start an actual project. But then what? If I am to believe what I've read from experienced veterans in the field, the chances of me even getting a meeting to pitch my thoughts are slim to none. So what hope do I have in actually succeeding at getting my ideas into reality? I've accepted that my work could never see the light of day but positive feedback from anyone I've shared with has lead me to think I should pursue it a bit more actively.


Open to opinions/suggestions,
Alfred
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My Threads

 

Project: Alter Ego - An introduction

Project: Alter Ego - Growth, Stat gain mechanic

Edited by SinisterPride

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Thank you for taking the time to read and reply to my post (especially so promptly :p).

 

For a long time I was very protective of my ideas and would never share in detail out of some odd form of paranoia. The more often I shared though, I started realizing that it was unrealistic to think someone would steal my ideas so THEY could do all the work lol... Your post might have just helped me shed the last few reservations I had towards sharing in a public/open setting. I think I might start posting some of the things I have written out for others to criticize and offer feedback. Who knows, maybe even possibly network with some people who might be interested in contributing just out of sheer interest. Don't want to get too far ahead of myself lol... But ya, thank you jbadams.

 

Question:

 

Should I just put everything in my Evernote Database up in one shot? I'd do it in an neat/orderly/compact way. 

 

or

 

Should I post up bits and pieces? As in concepts and mechanics but not so much at once about a design

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[quote name='SinisterPride' timestamp='1358583140' post='5023122']
Your post might have just helped me shed the last few reservations I had towards sharing in a public/open setting.
[/quote]

Even for an idea you're planning to develop yourself there can be great value in sharing your designs and ideas.  See "why you should share your game designs". smile.png  

 

 

As to your question, I think either way would be a valid choice, so it really depends on your own personal preference.  If you're interested in the possibility of using it for networking with others you might be better off steadily releasing things over time, as this would allow you to essentially build a following of sorts and you could get feedback and have discussions as you go.  A large, complete release of the information might be more intimidating and less likely to spawn discussions, but could be more attractive to the odd developer who is simply looking for a complete concept that's ready for them to develop. 

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Thanks again, I'll start planning on where to start posting and how I can share in pieces from my Evernote. Expect something soon smile.png

Edited by SinisterPride

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I always get puzzled, why there are so many people that want to "be game designers" and so few that "want to make games"? I mean, there are like hordes, huge hordes, of people that scream "we hate making games but we love inventing them". I don't really get it :) Where is the fun of designing a game without making it? Isn't designing merely a tool to make a game the reality? Isn't the process, the sweat during coding/making graphics, the fun part in all this?

 

To me is like being a gardener who is planning and putting on paper where each single plant shall grow but later not wanting to go and dirty his hands to plant them? Isn't all the point of gardening the manual labour with soil and seeds and plants the fun part?

 

You said you were thinking about your game for more than 10 years, yet you never got an urge to actually make it? If you instead used 1 year for thinking about the idea and 9 years for coding/drawing/etc you should have it finished by now. I don't understand...

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1) Start by making a small project (flash game, simple browser game, game maker etc) using just 1-2 of your most brilliant ideas.
2) Learn new skills from this project.
3) Keep repeating step 1 and 2

Over the last 10 years, I have seen so many indie game developers start by putting out small, simple games and then slowly growing into an actual, profitable, game development studio. There is a difference between "day dreaming" and "game design/development":

Day Dreaming = Spewing ideas without regard for feasibility or taking resource constraints into account.
Game Design = Taking an idea (existing or brand new) and making it work in an actual product under resource/time constraints.

I have some experience working as a web designer. A lot of my clients engage in Day Dreaming - they are able to sketch/design all sorts of fanciful websites and special effects without regard of whether it is actually feasible or it is realistic given their budget (and think that they are brilliant web designers *roll eyes*). On the other hand, I pluck just 1-2 of their ideas, work within the constraints of our budget, and turn them into a functional and beautiful website. That is why I am the web designer/developer and they are the clients.

TL;DR version - Don't talk, deliver. Edited by Legendre

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@Acharis: I said I never wanted to pass off an idea and just have someone make my game for me.

 

The prospect of working on bringing my ideas to life has always been exciting. Using your gardening analogy what I had done would be closer to studying Botany, having an understanding of every plant as well as how each could realistically grow, generally knowing what would be required, then realizing I'd be setting to plant the botanical gardens.

 

@Legendre: I understand what is being said in regards to spending less time thinking and more time doing.

 

To a certain extent a large part of the doing is thinking and planning in my opinion. I wouldn't build scale models of increasing size if I were planning on building the empire state building. The models in between would be a waste when I could have been developing floor plans and different architectural facets.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

If you can prove a theory without physical experimentation why spend the time on experiments that could be used towards building your proposal? We all have our ways of developing in which we flourish and expand. Some are more physical and gain insight through construction. Others are more cerebral and approach things through foresight and planning. Like it was said, you could day dream all you want but if the resource/time constraints aren't feasible, it is unrealistic to start a project. Yes, I could have started small, building light version of things which weren't exactly what I envisioned but had the concepts behind them. I would undoubtedly have something to show other than plans by now. I'm human though so of course not all my decisions are based solely on logic. My stand on the extent I reach through concept has always made time spent on building lesser projects seem trivial. Working in a sandbox to experiment and having a sandbox within your mind may not seem the same to some but it is exactly how I've approached things. The time I mentioned was the furthest I could remember contributing anything towards what would later become concrete. I obviously spent time within that where things were nebulous at best and had hardly considered realistically developing any of it.
 
I'll start posting some of my concepts and such soon, it'll atleast be something to share.
Edited by SinisterPride

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