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makuto

Is it wise to look up games similar to your idea?

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You know how almost everything is a remix and there aren't any truly original ideas? Knowing this, that means that nine times out of ten your idea has been made. It won't be an exact match but it will be similar, like sharing the same unique selling points.

 

Because of this, one can get discouraged when looking up their idea when they see something similar has been done. Sure, this shouldn't influence them like that because your game is nearly always quite different than one that is quite similar. It just always gets me depressed when there is a game I want to make and I can play the same game immediately and dump my idea right then.

 

However, it could also be a good idea to look up your game concept because you can research if it's fun or not, how well the crowd accepted it, and what is good/bad.

 

Should you search your game concept on the internet?

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Yup, bug testing is a game designers job all through production.

 

The first job of any game tester is to search the database once they find a bug and ensure another tester hasn't already found that issue.

 

This applies in game design since most games are "works of inspiration" so to speak and often the weaknesses and strengths of a game design already exist in other games. Your game design has bugs, the sooner you identify them the sooner your game can be fun.

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Hiding ones head in a sand is always a bad idea. If there are games similar to one you make you are to check them throughtly.

 

The good thing you notice if you check many game like that is all of them allso borrow things from games before them, and the games before them borrow from games before and so on and so on. An endless cycle since the dawn of time.

 

Ultimately you realize that idea is not what makes a game and that it's all about implementation. Therefore you stop worrying if your idea already was done or not. It sets you free to make games you want to make without worring what others did before.

 

Definitely, check all the games you can, it's worth it :)

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Definitely look at similar games.  If your game design is that similar to an existing one that you see no point in making yours, it's a sign you haven't done enough design work to come up with something memorable.

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Good question. There are ways to increase the originality of your game...

It all starts with you(or the project leader) where you explore what interests you and use that as a foundation. For example, the guy who came up with Zelda used to play in caves near his home when he was a child(or something like that). Mike Singleton was mad about Lord of the Rings, and made Lords of Midnight. At this stage you need forget about games altogether and go with your own influences from perhaps personal experiences and media(that is not game related).

Here was an interesting design challenge I gave myself last year(just for a laugh and without actually making the game): Design a game based on Jaws. Now, before turning to the net, I just wrote down what I liked about the film. Then, I watched the film again(luck had it that it was on at the Cinema again! Hurrah!) and wrote down just about everything that happened in the film...

From what appeared at first to be a film with little scope for a game, it turned out that there was a wealth of ideas and concepts that could be used.. To cut a long story short, I laid out the differences between the three male leads, the victims, the reactions of the locals and those from out of town, the different boats and equipment, and even the autopsy scene. I also noted my own emotions toward the film. There certainly was no lack of mechanics to make for an interesting game!

That's even before thinking about it as a computer game. The good thing about this approach is that you are not distracted by what has already been done, but exploring dreams, ideas and possibilities. Sometimes you may feel you have come up with an original design, but find another game has beaten you to the punch...well, great minds think alike! But sometimes when you play their game, you find its not quite what you were after...

Going back to the Jaws example, I found an old MS-DOS Jaws game where it was about resource management and hunting down sharks. Quite a few of the ideas I had hit upon were already implemented in that game. But then I looked at what was different and then ran with that. The DOS game felt like a shark Hunting simulator whereas the design I had come up with was a baywatch sim, C&C and Cryo adventure combo.

So my advice is not to be discouraged when finding something similar, but to see where the differences lie and focus on them and what you personally want - not what is before you.

Long winded reply, I apologise, but its an interesting question you pose and I couldn't resist! ^_^ Edited by Anri

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Also, don't rule out games that aren't so similar to yours in core mechanics. Just because your game isn't, for example, an RTS doesn't mean an RTS you are aware of can't use some kind of mechanic that you may wish to consider for use in your game.

I wrote a milestone project review for a developer a few weeks ago, and as part of it I was asked to rate their game against more than a dozen others for different topics. Audio elements from a few games, In App Purchase drive and incentive from others, art style from three games of wildly different genres, etc.

Remember to not only consider what does work, but also what isn't working.

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You should not only "research on the internet" relevant games, but actually play and analyze them.

On the overall design level, you can realize what variations and features are neglected in the existing games, and figure out what you can do differently.

For instance, hybrids of racing and combat are usually shown in overhead perspective (e.g. Death Rally, Micro Machines) and aiming controls are typically nonexistent (shooting forward, dropping mines, etc.): can they work with a more common 3D view and/or with more complex aiming?

At worst, you'll realize that doing well the kind of game you intend to do is too difficult and expensive, or that all valid design options have already been explored and you don't feel like cloning old games: changing plans before starting surely beats abandoning development later.

On a finer scale, analysis will teach you design pitfalls and good design patterns for the kind of game you chose, saving you a significant amount of rework and despair.

For example, a number of mostly simple and inexpensive graphical touches in 2D shoot'em ups need to be seen to understand how good they look compared to the respective crude alternatives: banking spaceship sprites left and right to show their direction of movement, animating rocket engine flames to show when they are turned on, drawing overlapping bullets in a consistent order to avoid popping, drawing enemy bullets on top of everything else because they are what the player most needs to see.

Apart from things that you should copy from other games because the right way to do them has already been discovered, there are some you should copy on principle: standard user interface controls, genre conventions, etc.  

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Totally agree with all the above, great question OP and great responses.  I personally research other games, not only because of the wealth of ideas to think about but even more importantly, sometimes they are fun to play themselves! smile.png

 

 

I'll add a little personal story.

 

Back in 1996-1997 for my senior software engineer project at undergrad school I wrote a game prototype.  In fact, that was the most recent game I've worked on besides my current game, I took a 15 year break but am back in this with a passion! smile.png

 

My project at the time was a 2D tile-based graphical MUD / multi-player game.  It took me a year but I successfully completed the prototype.  It wasn't a complete game, but it was playable in terms of movement, a few basic monsters and attacks, and some early sandbox features.  A talented high-school art student worked with me and did a great job with the 2D graphics.   It supported 50 players per instance or so and was UDP based.   A top-selling game publisher was impressed enough to consider hiring me as a junior game programmer but for various reasons that didn't work out. 

 

I graduated college and was planning to continue working on my game another year in my part-time and releasing it.  But, then I learned about a new game called Ultimate Online was coming out soon.  That discouraged me enough to immediately stop, as I didn't think I could compete with a professional game studio working on something similar to what I wanted to create.

 

Looking back, my game concept was actually much closer to Minecraft than UO, and there is some non-zero chance had I just kept at it another year or two it would of turned into something like Minecraft but 10 years earlier.  Now of course that is all very speculative; good games take a lot of work and my point isn't to say I would of been successful.  Rather my point is to say sometimes your games are not as close to others as you think and they are original and innovative in their own way even while sharing a lot of overlap.

Edited by starbasecitadel

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