Lack of originality

So I was just thinking about how The Hunger Games has been compared to other such books/films (e.g. Battle Royale, The Running Man) that deal with the same dystopian fascist themes that include people being forced to fight each other as part of a reality TV show.

But not only that, how many fantasy novels and films (e.g. Eragon) nowadays seem to heavily take inspiration from Lord of the Rings, and many in the fantasy genre never seem to deviate from the typical medieval setting of elves, princesses being kidnapped, and a fight against a great evil trying to take over the world and whatnot. I think "Yahtzee" even talked about this in an Extra Punctuation article a while ago.

Can anything truly be original anymore? Have we exhausted the pot of ideas? Not even video games appear exempt from this, as many people back in the day compared the original Crash Bandicoot PS1 trilogy to other successful platformers, like Mario and Sonic (another obvious similarity being that they're both anthropomorphic video game protagonists with special abilities, but Sonic was by no means the first to do that).

By the way, I don't necessarily agree with the above sentiment. I'm just trying to throw it out there for discussion. I think that, of course, originality exists and perseveres due to inner creativity.

Yes, things can be original.

Has anyone made a game like this?

A bipedal alligator with rockets for legs must acquire 50 planets that form a parametric curve in order to be able to take part in a chess championship with zeus to decide who gets to run for the election for the presidency of the world.

Upon defeating zeus it turns out that the alligator was really a chameleon and is currently in a mental ward. A riot takes place with an inmate tossing our hero a set of keys and a rifle. He unlocks his cell and quickly escapes, killing many guards along the way.

Once he escapes he is arrested by a group of apple pie eating sheep that can control lightening.

To be continued...

I think I have made my point.

I don't really mind the lack of originality. Something being similar to something else isn't always bad, and I've found that I quite enjoy watching other people's perspective or interpretation of a certain theme or subject.

I would like to see something entirely new and innovative, but I'm not convinced that's entirely possible. Basically everything in this world has been derived from something else; we gain inspiration from looking at others' work.

I do agree that Eragon turns rather stale and uninteresting very fast, but I'd like to point out that it's not because it uses tropes (fantasy world currently timelocked in the middle ages, dragons, evil kings, language-based magic et cetera) that have been used before by other authors. A writer making a story about... Say, a government agency battling Lovecraftian horrors in the city sewers for minimum wage, doesn't make it a "tainted" trope that may never be used or reinterpreted by someone else. Eragon becomes stale and uninteresting because Eragon never goes anywhere with these tropes, it never tries out anything new and it all turn into a story that we've all heard before. The dragons are just like dragons are, the king is just like kings are, the old mentor never does anything but what old mentors do...
But then again, I believe the author was in his early teens when he wrote that book. Impressive work for that age, but it explains why it feels rather boilerplate.

Matthew94 makes a good point. Originallity isn't just pulling random guff out of your hat that noone (at least that you know of, there has always been -someone-) have ever used before. It becomes boring and confusing, in an opposite way to how stories like Eragon is boring in their familiarity.

Everything stems from something. But that doesn't mean we don't have much to work with. At our point in time, we've amassed a titanic collection of tropes and influences we can use, and our current culture is exceptionally open to deviating interpretations and expressions.

To sum up, originallity isn't pulling something new and groundbreaking out of some creative ether. It's using old inspirations and tropes in new and interesting ways. It's not something that is given to you in a flash of divine inspiration of the stars.

I think originality still exists, with so much new stuff being invented, and so much new material to make into media of any sort, I don't think running out of originality is something we have to worry about.

nothing is orginal..not truly

with that in mind to me its less about the setting or themes..but HOW its done

you could argue that Dragona age is abotu as "tolkein" as you can get...but I love it anywaybecause of the story/charachters

This pretty much sums up my opinion on the topic. Don't click it if you don't have a few hours to waste.

Nothin's truly original, everything draws off somethin'. I know a-lot people hate that 'Hunger Games' are more popular than Battle Royale, but I know a few people lookin' into the book because of that series. (Besides, if Battle Royale was super popular, someone would find an even older book/film in that genre)

Just cos somethin' isn't the most original idea, doesn't mean it's bad.

Relish in Chaos:
dystopian fascist themes that include people being forced to fight each other as part of a reality TV show.

Like what went on in colosseums and theatres in Greek and Roman times... and what featured heavily in Greek and Roman Mythology... Probably before those times too!

OT: If a story did everything that others didn't it would probably be the worst story in the world... that saying there is new stuff coming about all the time... more in the way of how a game is played, or with a new art style...

Everything is constructed from previous knowledge, being aware of said knowledge and being able to manipulate its commons is what breeds originality.

Example: The Witcher (or The Last Wish) contains numerous fantasy devices but the underlying theme of the story is not typical of the genre (moral grayness).

Do you want to know the truth? There hasn't been many original idea for millenia. It all goes back to the Epic of Gilgamesh, which has been the template for every adventure story/movie/show ever. Back in the days of Mesopotamia.

Matthew94:
Yes, things can be original.

Has anyone made a game like this?

A bipedal alligator with rockets for legs must acquire 50 planets that form a parametric curve in order to be able to take part in a chess championship with zeus to decide who gets to run for the election for the presidency of the world.

Upon defeating zeus it turns out that the alligator was really a chameleon and is currently in a mental ward. A riot takes place with an inmate tossing our hero a set of keys and a rifle. He unlocks his cell and quickly escapes, killing many guards along the way.

Once he escapes he is arrested by a group of apple pie eating sheep that can control lightening.

To be continued...

I think I have made my point.

well i just came from the future...we have many of those games don't worry you become the lead designer of one of them and become Emperor of the Interwebs

Relish in Chaos:
Can anything truly be original anymore? Have we exhausted the pot of ideas? Not even video games appear exempt from this, as many people back in the day compared the original "Crash Bandicoot" PS1 trilogy to other successful platformers, like "Mario" and "Sonic" (another obvious similarity being that they're both anthropomorphic video game protagonists with special abilities, but Sonic was by no means the first to do that).

By the way, I don't necessarily agree with the above sentiment. I'm just trying to throw it out there for discussion. I think that, of course, originality exists and perseveres due to inner creativity.

Originality doesn't truly exist. All artists are influenced by those who came before. It's how we learn, how we process.

Shakespeare ripped of the Greeks. Modern movies rip of Shakespeare. There's no shame in it - as noted, the greatest writer of all time was ripping off those who came before him.

The trick is to add something new - something personal - to your work. Shakespeare recycled ancient plots, but he had a (for the time) revolutionary view of women. He had competent female leads, including one who pretended to be a lawyer and outsmarted a courtroom and judge (that play had other problems - Shakespeare was less good on racial issues).

There is no shame in taking an idea you like and reworking into something new. That's how our art evolves.

I mean, look at Mass Effect 1. It rips off Ender's Game, Babylon 5, the Vorkosigan Saga, Star Trek, Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, and an obscure book the name of which I can no longer remember that pretty much describes the Quarians.

The (mostly forgotten) show Dark Angel was inspired by Battle Angel Alita.

For that matter, Firefly is ripping off Cowboy Bebop, Trigun, and Outlaw Star. River Tam in the box? The female protagonist of Outlaw Star arrives in a shipping container. It turns out that she is meant to be the ship's pilot (which River Tam becomes at the end of the Serenity movie). In fact, all three of the above series are part of a Japanese subgenre - the "Space Western". Firefly is the only Western example (that I can think of anyway).

Anyway, the point is, originality is overrated. As long as an artist adds something of their own - or combines ideas in an interesting way - there's nothing to worry about. Some of the best works of art are just creative rearrangements of existing ideas.

I'm reminded of a minor character from Planescape Torment.

He belonged to a faction called the Sensates. Sensates believe that the purpose of life is to experience everything. Their headquarters houses a massive collection of magically stored memories gleaned from their members. You can live the experience of a low-ranking demon being punished by his cruel master. Or the confusion of an insect magically given human form. You can gain the experiential knowledge of a drug addict, a mad man, a werewolf in his first transformation, or a warrior rushing in to battle. Hell, they have a magic stone that records the experience of a man having his soul stolen by a succubus mid-coitus. And still their collection is incomplete. They want to experience more.

And then you meet the aforementioned man. He has experienced more. In fact, he's experienced everything.

And man, is he ever fucking bored.

Have you ever looked at something and wondered, "Wow, that Author/Writer ripped off this Author/Writer by doing this." NOW, have you ever wondered what if the Author you thought ripped off the original author, but actually had no idea he had a similer idea as him/her. By pure coincidence they had wrote that same/similer thing, but one just happened to be wrote before the other.

That fucking boggles my mind because people would still think he/her had copied the original even if he/her had never seen or heard of that original. We as readers would never know that, because we would only think him/her as a liar. Well I wouldn't but you know.

Nothing is entirely original, but people - especially critics like Yahtzee - blow the negative or unoriginal aspects far out of proportion while ignoring the rest.

No matter what, someone is going to be able to pinpoint one detail that is shared with something else and they are going to call you out for ripping off.

But either way, I feel that we need some originality, but not at a sacrifice of quality.

Totally off topic but imagine how many garage bands were named Megadeth/megadeath before one made it big. Sometimes originality is just being first to be known.

I agree that everything draws from past experiences.
I also think that some people that may have the more original ideas water down their original vision to make it more popular so that it will sell more units.

ChaplainOrion:
Do you want to know the truth? There hasn't been many original idea for millenia. It all goes back to the Epic of Gilgamesh, which has been the template for every adventure story/movie/show ever. Back in the days of Mesopotamia.

And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I think unoriginality gets too much flak these days. Something being derivative doesn't make it bad, it makes it art. All art comes from something else, and most art comes from other art.

there are only a limited number of basic stories that can be told.

depending on how they are defined and whether or not you are talking about complete plot or dramatic situations within a plot that number is supposedly either 1, 3, 7, 20 or 36 http://www.ipl.org/div/farq/plotFARQ.html

here for example is wikipedias page on "the 36 dramatic situations" :
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Thirty-Six_Dramatic_Situations

setting can be freely changed but repetition in storytelling is as old as storytelling itself because a satisfying narrative must have structure.

BTW the "1" plot is Exposition/Rising Action/Climax/Falling Action/Denouement
you may now rage at every story ever presented to you :P

Matthew94:
Yes, things can be original.

Has anyone made a game like this?

A bipedal alligator with rockets for legs must acquire 50 planets that form a parametric curve in order to be able to take part in a chess championship with zeus to decide who gets to run for the election for the presidency of the world.

Upon defeating zeus it turns out that the alligator was really a chameleon and is currently in a mental ward. A riot takes place with an inmate tossing our hero a set of keys and a rifle. He unlocks his cell and quickly escapes, killing many guards along the way.

Once he escapes he is arrested by a group of apple pie eating sheep that can control lightening.

To be continued...

I think I have made my point.

I think this kind of exercise is an example of a common misunderstanding about creativity. Randomness is not creative, in fact it's the easiest way to generate fiction with the least amount of thought. Randomly combining several ideas with no consideration to design is so easy that a simple computer program, or a group of mantatees living in a tank filled with idea balls, can do it.

Matthew94:
Yes, things can be original.

Has anyone made a game like this?

A bipedal alligator with rockets for legs must acquire 50 planets that form a parametric curve in order to be able to take part in a chess championship with zeus to decide who gets to run for the election for the presidency of the world.

Upon defeating zeus it turns out that the alligator was really a chameleon and is currently in a mental ward. A riot takes place with an inmate tossing our hero a set of keys and a rifle. He unlocks his cell and quickly escapes, killing many guards along the way.

Once he escapes he is arrested by a group of apple pie eating sheep that can control lightening.

To be continued...

I think I have made my point.

Rip-off of Croc, Katamari, Chess, God of War, Destroy All Humans, Rango the Video Game, Manhunt, Eating Contests, as well as Black & White.

I see no originality here. Just a bunch of random ideas that in no way fit together.

You

FAIL!!!

Matthew94:
Yes, things can be original.

Has anyone made a game like this?

A bipedal alligator with rockets for legs must acquire 50 planets that form a parametric curve in order to be able to take part in a chess championship with zeus to decide who gets to run for the election for the presidency of the world.

Upon defeating zeus it turns out that the alligator was really a chameleon and is currently in a mental ward. A riot takes place with an inmate tossing our hero a set of keys and a rifle. He unlocks his cell and quickly escapes, killing many guards along the way.

Once he escapes he is arrested by a group of apple pie eating sheep that can control lightening.

To be continued...

I think I have made my point.

I want to play this game.

While it has been established that nothing original can exist, I feel as though I should explain why nothing original can exist.

Going by the definition of Original, "not dependent on other people's ideas; inventive and unusual," we run into the problem of everything literally being defined by the context of preexisting things. While interpretations can be far enough removed from the inspiration that an observer can't immediately recognize the source of origin, we are literally incapable of describing things without relating them to things we are already aware of. Sure, we might make it higher, bigger, smaller, rounder, what have you, but we're still ultimately restricted by prior experience. A vocabulary. The reason that you likely have very few, if any, memories from before you could speak is because you had no collection of ideas with which to define your experiences.

However, while the same general ideas are around, the context of communication changes. This is what allows something to remain fresh and aware of it's audience.

I think it depends on how broad or narrow a view you take of the concepts of anything. the more you reduce something to its basics, the more likely it will seem similar to other things. That said, I believe that a lot of the time there is a lack of originality in many plot lines for movies, games and books, but it isn't due to plagiarism, it is due to the fact that so many things have been created already, and audiences like the familiar.

You can pretty much say that every thing modern is taking something from an old game/movie/book/etc. it is just the nature of development. Take Halo for instance. Halo has been one of the biggest game series of all time, single handedly giving Xbox a strong leg to stand on, and making shooters the dominant force that they have become. Games like Call of Duty and Gears of War have seen how successful Halo's regenerating health system is, and applied it to their games as well. CoD and GoW have also taken elements from Halo and applied them to themselves in order to bolster their own strength. Are they taking ideas from Halo and being unoriginal? If you want to be blunt about it, yes they are, but they are not downright copying Halo. Halo has shields and a health bar, while CoD has a slowly regenerating health that blots out your screen with redness. Halo has jumping and utilizes player control over cover, while GoW has wall bouncing and chest high walls. So while CoD and GoW have borrowed concepts from Halo, they have changed them so it isn't blatant copying. Halo itself took ideas from predecessors like Doom and Quake. Like CoD and GoW borrowing from Halo, Halo can borrow ideas from Doom and Quake and modify them to make them better or change them to make them more "Halo-y".
This kind of "lack of originality" is the kind that I love; good games build on the shoulders of good games, so they become great games.

Starcraft also borrows from other games. If you look at the races alone, you can see that they have a shocking similarity to Warhammer 40k races. Even how the races look and behave are close to the races in Warhammer 40k. Are fans of either mad from this? Some are, but most are able to say "you know what, I know that Blizzard got the idea for the Zerg and Protoss from the Tyranids and Eldar, but they have subtleties that make them unique" or they are just not whiny fanboy QQers.
Starcraft is a fucking great game, and it borrows ideas from Warhammer 40k, Command and Conquer, Warcraft, and probably many many other games. But they have not simply plundered ideas and passed them as their own (I'm not going to talk about WoW), they have learned from them and made them better. That is why Starcraft 2 is so fucking win, and why games between super awesome players are so much fun to watch.

TL;DR version: Originality is cool, but most people like to experience things that they are used to or familiar with. A new idea is always great, but they are so god damned hard to come by, and even harder to get people interested in it. It is much easier and much safer, to see what someone else has made, learn from it, and make a better one.

Revnak:

ChaplainOrion:
Do you want to know the truth? There hasn't been many original idea for millenia. It all goes back to the Epic of Gilgamesh, which has been the template for every adventure story/movie/show ever. Back in the days of Mesopotamia.

And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I think unoriginality gets too much flak these days. Something being derivative doesn't make it bad, it makes it art. All art comes from something else, and most art comes from other art.

Exactly, and people that come up with stuff, are actually stealing it from real life. In all reality nothing is original except for what's happening right now. And even then they say "History repeats itself."

The Crotch:
I'm reminded of a minor character from Planescape Torment.

He belonged to a faction called the Sensates. Sensates believe that the purpose of life is to experience everything. Their headquarters houses a massive collection of magically stored memories gleaned from their members. You can live the experience of a low-ranking demon being punished by his cruel master. Or the confusion of an insect magically given human form. You can gain the experiential knowledge of a drug addict, a mad man, a werewolf in his first transformation, or a warrior rushing in to battle. Hell, they have a magic stone that records the experience of a man having his soul stolen by a succubus mid-coitus. And still their collection is incomplete. They want to experience more.

And then you meet the aforementioned man. He has experienced more. In fact, he's experienced everything.

And man, is he ever fucking bored.

Planescape Torment is so fucking God tier its not even funny. Will any video game reach that level again? I doubt it.

Relish in Chaos:
So I was just thinking about how "The Hunger Games" has been compared to other such books/films (e.g. "Battle Royale", "The Running Man") that deal with the same dystopian fascist themes that include people being forced to fight each other as part of a reality TV show.

But not only that, how many fantasy novels and films (e.g. "Eragon") nowadays seem to heavily take inspiration from "Lord of the Rings", and many in the fantasy genre never seem to deviate from the typical medieval setting of elves, princesses being kidnapped, and a fight against a great evil trying to take over the world and whatnot. I think "Yahtzee" even talked about this in an "Extra Punctuation" article a while ago.

Can anything truly be original anymore? Have we exhausted the pot of ideas? Not even video games appear exempt from this, as many people back in the day compared the original "Crash Bandicoot" PS1 trilogy to other successful platformers, like "Mario" and "Sonic" (another obvious similarity being that they're both anthropomorphic video game protagonists with special abilities, but Sonic was by no means the first to do that).

By the way, I don't necessarily agree with the above sentiment. I'm just trying to throw it out there for discussion. I think that, of course, originality exists and perseveres due to inner creativity.

While we're talking about originality, let me share something I noticed a while back.
A lot of people say that Eragon is exactly like the Lord of the Rings, but is it? Let me explain, and please bear with me.

The story in its bases concerns a young boy, living with his uncle, in a world previously ruled by superpowered knight of justice who controlled a type of magic, but by now has been taken over by an evil Empire. The Empire is being run by a betrayer of said knights, who is opposed only by a small faction of rebels in hiding.
One day, the boy discovers a secret he wasn't supposed to, causing his uncle's death by said Empire. He is forced to go on the run by the starnge old man from the village, who instructs him in becomeing a superpowered mage-knight. On their way to the rebels, they meet a badass lone fighter, and the old man dies, but not before reveling himself to be one of the Superman-people of old, living in hiding.
The badass figther now teaming up with our ever so lonesome protagonist, goes on to rescue a princess who also happens to be a leading figure in the rebellion. It is with her help they find the rebels, and, with a huge helping from the newly powered hero, defeat the experimental superweapon of the Empire
Now, tell me the truth, but doesn't it sound like Paolini was trying to write a fantasy Star Wars? :D

As others have said, most things are bult from past things. They say that there's only 6 basic storylines and that everything is variations of those 6. I don't know if that's true, but only in the last 30 years has it been noticiable and deemed annoying. We look at Eragon as a fantasy Star Wars easially because we can access the original Star Wars with little effort whereas in the time it was made, even if we fully connected to the old Flash Gordon serials that inspired it, we couldn't go back to them as home video really wasn't viable yet. Today in our 100 channels and everything on DVD society, it's all too easy to find yourself overexposed to far more fiction than you can find truely unique because it's all there and we have the time to take it all in.

It's little wonder we're getting bored.

Yes originality can still be made, it's just harder to make it (it's pretty much my motto).

ChaplainOrion:

Revnak:

ChaplainOrion:
Do you want to know the truth? There hasn't been many original idea for millenia. It all goes back to the Epic of Gilgamesh, which has been the template for every adventure story/movie/show ever. Back in the days of Mesopotamia.

And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I think unoriginality gets too much flak these days. Something being derivative doesn't make it bad, it makes it art. All art comes from something else, and most art comes from other art.

Exactly, and people that come up with stuff, are actually stealing it from real life. In all reality nothing is original except for what's happening right now. And even then they say "History repeats itself."

I think it depends on what you mean by "original". If you mean " have never, ever been done before in any kind of similar fashion", then no. If you mean "haven't been done to death, and puts an interesting spin on the classic variation of the theme", then yes.

 

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