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overactor

What's the true worth of an initial game idea?

107 posts in this topic

he had already worked out just about every single detail of the painting with the use of many pencil sketches and colour studies. He would have then created a final pencil draft with all of the details in place (except, perhaps for mechanical details such as textures of cloth. But even then, he would have worked these details out in his head at this point) He would then transfer this drawing onto the large canvas, up-scaling it in the process. Then, and only then would he begin to apply the paint

 

What you described there completely qualifies as a "highly iterative process", which was my original point.  The medium of iteration is largely irrelevant.

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With music theory, it's possible to compose a piece that sounds good without ever needing to sit down at an instrument to hear it.

Possible, certainly. Common? Certainly not.

 

I challenge you to find me a notable composer who writes purely by music theory, and never listens to his composition until it is "perfect"...

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Then perhaps the reason why this approach does not work is simply due to the current state of knowledge about game design.

 

Perhaps. But then again, perhaps it doesn't work because it's a needlessly inflexible approach which offers no mechanism for dealing with uncertainty.

 

Even if someone did come along and invent a Grand Unified Theory Of Fun, that only addresses issues with the design that crop up during the development. It doesn't even begin to touch upon other aspects of uncertainty that might crop up during development. Developers get sick, or have babies or change jobs leaving you short-staffed, causing deadlines to be missed. Recessions hit, causing investors to get nervous and cut funding. Similar competitive products may beat you to market, forcing you to either differentiate yourself or risk losing market share. Technology changes, perhaps requiring you to support new hardware and features, or perhaps offering you the potential to do something you wanted to do, but ruled out as it was unfeasible at the time of design. 

 

There's a whole load of things that can change during a game's development, even if you take changes to the core design out of the equation.

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The problem with people who have ideas for videogames who don't know anything about writing code is that they generally don't actually have ideas for videogames, at least not the right kind of ideas. I think in order to even understand what game design is you have to have implemented games from scratch.

 

Say you have a design document that specifies in elaborate detail a story, genre, art style, and the game mechanics for an RPG. Nobody cares about your story, genre, or art style; people who like fiction and stories can come up with their own ideas for this kind of stuff that suits their own tastes better than what you wrote that suits your tastes. The game mechanics you specify can either be novel or not-novel. Nobody cares if they are not novel. And if you are specifying novel game mechanics, why should anyone believe that they are fun? In this world, the easiest kind of game to write is a game that is not fun to play. The hardest kind of game to write is a game that is fun to play, but fun-ness can never be captured in anything but an implementation. 

 

This is why the following is true:

The people who tend to be better "idea guys" than other people don't need to be encouranged to learn real skills, they've allready learned them.

Those people aren't called idea guys, they're called programmers, artists, game designers, etc.

Almost all of us started out as "Idea guys", i was an idea guy when i was 10, when i was 11 i started programming to turn those ideas into playable games and on the way i picked up some basic art skills and got pretty decent at proper game design. (I still struggle a bit with level design, especially for puzzle style games (Getting a fun basic mechanic is easier than getting a smooth, challenging learning curve imo, its quite difficult to judge the relative difficulty of puzzles you know the solution to)

Edited by jwezorek
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This is precisely what happened in music with the development of music theory. By learning about music theory (which is a standard part of music school) one learns about all of the guidelines about how to compose music that sounds good. One learns about all of the patterns in harmony, voice leading, chord progressions, structures, and the like. By using a set of rules which consist of patterns that have been time tested, this takes away a huge amount of guess work in the process of composing a piece. With music theory, it's possible to compose a piece that sounds good without ever needing to sit down at an instrument to hear it. When the same thing happens to game design, it will take away the need for all of that guess work, trial and error, and iteration that happens in the studio. It will be possible to put together a detailed design document of a game that works great before even needing to step foot in the production studio. This process of developing game design theory is already happening, with the help of people such as those at Extra Credits, and Errant Signal.

This is a question of preference.

 

The best musics I have ever heard are never one-composer musics.

 

 

Can we get over this music analogy by the way? Half of the bulk of the thread is about refining this analogy that is set for what reason exactly?

 

It's just lazy/coward/deferring not to try out the ideas from the beginning.

Edited by szecs
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Without an "initial idea" there wouldn't be anything to do

 

Some initial ideas are so powerful they "light up" the implementation path

 

Other ideas are knocked about by the "push and pull" of implementation and either come to nothing or possibly improve

 

An initial idea that doesn't primarily describe how to stimulate and entertain the human brain is probably worthless

 

The people I call Idea guys generally describe surface detail such as graphics or mechanics without reference to the inner workings of the human mind

 

Many of the games held up as "great games" are just a load of art and some clever mechanics ...

 

but CLEVER isn't really ENTERTAINING

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Since there's nothing much left to say, I'll make one final post in this thread:

 

 

Without an "initial idea" there wouldn't be anything to do

True. But, I wouldn't be compelled to find a specialist to do it, and I certainly wouldn't want to give them credit if they just provide one idea and are done. Ideas are useless. Hard-worked, tried, tested, proven, and revamped designs are worth their imaginary weight in gold.

 

 

Some initial ideas are so powerful they "light up" the implementation path

Sometimes, seeing an epic clash of two nations spurs the creation of a painting. We give credit to the painter, not the people in the battle.

 

 

Other ideas are knocked about by the "push and pull" of implementation and either come to nothing or possibly improve

I'd say just about all fall in this category. To say that there are no ideas that have to have something changed or removed due to complications of implementation means that you might not have tried implementing something before.

 

 

An initial idea that doesn't primarily describe how to stimulate and entertain the human brain is probably worthless

A car that goes 200mph, has wings and missiles, but costs $30 per gallon of special fuel, seats one, and is only legal to drive in Antarctica is not going to sell. If you focus all on how to please people, you'll find that the details of putting forth that design prevent it from being practical, or sometimes even possible.

 

 

The people I call Idea guys generally describe surface detail such as graphics or mechanics without reference to the inner workings of the human mind

The people I call idea guys generally describe surface detail such as graphics or mechanics without reference to the inner workings of the game's engine, or how a computer works.

 

 

Many of the games held up as "great games" are just a load of art and some clever mechanics ...

"Many of the games held up as 'great games' are just a load of game appearance, and game mechanics."

 

 

but CLEVER isn't really ENTERTAINING

Isn't it? Not being clever strikes me as being a clone of pre-existing or bog-standard things. Things that "boring" gamers would play, and wouldn't sell. One might say being clever is being innovative.

 

I'll tell you what. I will lend more credibility to what you are saying if you can prove it. Give us an example of a world-changing idea, that covers all of your bases, knows about how it will need to be carried out, and I will recognize your proposed job as an important, distinct role. If it can fit on a business card, it is no better than this: http://www.streamingcolour.com/blog/game-idea-generator/

Edited by Ectara
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