221: Why Your Game Idea Sucks

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Those that find the article insulting need to reread it. It doesn't actually say that YOUR ideas suck or that they will never become good games. It just explains why no one else cares about your ideas until you've actually done something with them.

ccesarano:
Am I the only person that read this and thought "This is exactly what's wrong with the games industry, and now that we know how can we fix it?"

I don't think it's a big problem with the video game industry because it's pretty much how any creative industry works. Ideas are a dime a dozen, and with the exception of a few Cinderella stories you will never get someone else to fund your dream based solely on a paper write-up. You need to show, not tell people why your idea is the next best thing.

ccesarano:
Just telling someone to learn to make a game on their own isn't going to help. When I was getting ready to apply for College, all the big advice on Gamasutra and the other websites basically said "learn to program and you'll become a game designer maybe when you're thirty or forty". I figured "Ok, I'll give it a shot" because there wasn't any better advice at the time. A few years later I'm almost failing out of College because I don't have the skills to be a programmer, and wouldn't you know all the advice online has shifted to "You can become a game designer eventually as long as you get a position in the industry. It just takes a decade or two". By now my artistic skills had rusted so much that I didn't have the time to work on improving them to become a concept artist. At this point I've realized I would love to do creative writing, but what sort of job can I get in the games industry with that? Writing the story? I'd have more luck pitching a game idea out of a loose leaf notebook seeing as the only worthwhile resume seems to be "Terry Pratchett's daughter" or "I wrote Ender's Game", and that's assuming the studio doesn't simply have some in-house hack do it.

Have you applied to QA positions in the game industry? That's the true entry level job in the industry, not art or writing.

ccesarano:
Someone mentioned the film industry and how there are a ton of jerks that have their "winning script", and it's true. However, you don't have to go out and film a movie with a handicam and some Joes off the street to get a job in Hollywood. There are other ways to break in if you have a creative enough mind to write and generate ideas while working with someone else on the method.

Hollywood is just as (if not more) closed off to amateurs as the video game industry is, so I'm not really sure where you get this idea. Unless you have connections you are definitely going to need to go the handicam route to show you know what you're doing.

ccesarano:
The games industry desperately needs to figure out a way to go back to its roots, where a concept such as Earthworm Jim could actually be created. This whole "you must have 10+ years industry experience to get into the company at all, and another 10+ years within to make a game" is only going to hurt the industry in the long-run. You can't keep selling to the same market forever while technology and budgets grow larger and larger. Someone has to have the balls to say "Ok, let's do things differently".

*snip*

Well, maybe I can build a prototype with shitty ass graphics on GameMaker, though I'm sure people would be interested in publishing an Xbox Live title based on an ok-running prototype with ok control response and shitty ass graphics. That will surely be an accurate representation of the final product!

Funny that you say the video game industry needs to get back to its roots when creating a game like Earthworm Jim is actually easier than ever. Yes, I'm talking about GameMaker. I don't know why you are so prejudiced against it when it would be perfect for someone with your skill sets (limited programming/art skills). If the result has "ok controls and shitty ass graphics" then you only have yourself to blame because I've seen some very beautiful and smoothly controlled games come out of that software. Put enough TLC into your GameMaker prototype and it can be a much more convincing representation of the final product than a text file and some concept art.

ccesarano:
I'm not saying all this because I disagree or anything. I just think instead of focusing on getting fewer people to pitch their ideas or more people to just accept the current system, those involved within the industry need to wake up and say "Wait! This is a retarded fucking system! Why don't we change it and actually take a risk?"

Here's a concept: fund a small project that doesn't require a big budget and therefore has less risk factor!

They are already doing this. The only difference is that they are funding people with prototypes, not just any design document that seems cool. If you think this is unfair then you need to understand something critical about game design:

A design document, no matter how detailed and well thought out, says nothing about how a game will actually play. It is analogous to a plot outline of a novel. You could have the most amazingly original plot, but if the actual writing is bad it'll still make for a horrible read. Video games are the same. No matter how well you describe the mechanics of a game, until you actually program it out you will never see just how smoothly something plays.

That's why idea people with prototypes will ALWAYS be chosen over people with just design documents. Having a working model just shows that you understand a bit about how to work out the problems that arise when you start translating your game from an idea to reality.

Really I just don't understand what you think needs to change. Everything you're asking for is either already true or it's never going to happen because it'd be financially impossible.

Really interesting, thanks!

Sparrow:
Pah. My game idea is fantastic thank you very much.

I mean, who wouldn't want to punch a whale in the face in: Man vs Whale. Coming to a store near you...

Can we expect this is be released before or after whales are extinct?

The Cake Is Annoying:

Sparrow:
Pah. My game idea is fantastic thank you very much.

I mean, who wouldn't want to punch a whale in the face in: Man vs Whale. Coming to a store near you...

Can we expect this is be released before or after whales are extinct?

During their final hours.

That way we get all the good press.

...but seriously though --- your game ideas suck.

Erin Hoffman:
Why Your Game Idea Sucks

Do you have an idea for a game so original with a story so amazing that it'll make you millions while simultaneously curing cancer and saving the whales? You might not want to get your hopes up. Erin Hoffman explains why your game idea isn't all it's cracked up to be - and why that might not be such a bad thing after all.

Read Full Article

Ok here's my terrible game idea: You play as a demented old man suck in a forest somewhere scratching to stay alive while at the same time combating inner demons. Ok now let me flesh this out a bit. The object of the game is largely exploration with a fair amount of strategy mixed in. The strategy bit is collecting food or medicinal herbs to stave off inevitable death(...sounds a bit dry, perhaps a novel inventory gimmick might distract the slovenly gamer). Anyway, the genre is survival horror because the entire game you are confronted with sinister apparitions that jump out suddenly from behind, have you chase them, fight them and are a thinly veiled game-lengthening scheme. A trouser-tightening scene that reruns in my sick mind: You have finally found a lonely road cutting through the thick darkness of the forrest. You follow it with hope --- a stupid naive hope of rescue. The day fades into twilight, you trudge steadily on. Looking back you notice a shadowed figure. Not far behind, it moves steadily closer although you have quickened the pace of your shuffle to a brisk walk. You start to jog, desperately tired, but the figure looms closer and closer. Within several feet you can make out the deformed expression and those glowing eyes, eternally watching. It sais nothing it doesn't even seem move, but it is nevertheless ever-present, gliding behind you like a shadow. You can feel it's stare behind you as you are now completely exhausted. With precious strength quickly ebbing away, you turn around in anticipation of ghastly horror to find....nothing. There's nobody behind you. Only the empty road quickly engulfed by the darkness. Thoroughly shaken up, but nevertheless relieved you head on along the lonely road. Pardon the bad writing, but I did this in the spur of the moment and I don't have to impress you.

The game sells itself on atmosphere and cinematic presentation. Yes, for the aforementioned game to ever sell, it must look decidedly awesome. An eerie soundtrack and realistic lighting will go a long way, but the interactivity will have to pull it's own weight. So the game part of the game will be essentially collecting shit and some light melee combat. Fire will be a strong motif. You have no weapons apart from the sticks that litter the ground. If you can light the stick on fire you will be much better off. Lighting a fire during the pitch black nights will provide a psychological relief, making the apparitions less frequent and much easier to dispatch. You will also need to facilitate a fire to not freeze to death at night. Besides figments of your own imagination you will have to face wolves, bears, poisonous snakes and the weather.

Also having a vision follow the main character/avatar without ever communicating or directly confronting him.

cblrtopas, you kill me.

Great discussion, all, and thank you sincerely for the comments.

boholikeu, you are right in every way there is to be right.

ccesarano, I began in games as a creative writer (and yes, my first full time game job was in QA, to boholikeu's point). Writing/storytelling is actually a desired and respected skillset in several branches of design today. Same advice applies: learn game design, practice game design, if you want to be a game designer. If you want to push the writing angle you'll have to sell some stories (or novels, if you're feeling spunky) to some professional venues, which is its own odyssey, but achievable. Good luck.

I finally registered for this site because of this article. I have many problems with it. Is the purpose of this article to inform or persuade? I severely question the expertise and authority of the author and I can't find any information on her credentials.

Starting out with such a negative statement is definitely a heck of an attention grabber. The target audience is definitely narrow, this is mainly directed at, supposed, "fools" who just have an idea but nothing else and seem to take it seriously. In my experience I have never met someone that single-minded. Since those people make such unsubstantiated claims about their own ideas, they obviously don't have the real knowledge about the industry in the first place. They can have their dreams because they most likely know they will never actually get to implement them. This article has read like an attack on this minority to me, to tell them that, "No! You can't believe this!" I feel that's kind of mean. Again, I'm not sure as to what this is trying to accomplish. Shutting down a whole group of people's ideas? Oh wait I went back and reread some parts. So apparently Erin wants this: "Either way, you'll stop sending me emails asking me to break your heart." So she may be disgruntled at being bothered by so many hopefuls? Hardly a decent and unbiased article to write in order to communicate a message that people need to get serious about their ideas if they even considered them serious in the first place.

The fundamental part to any argument is to back it up with examples and there are very few in this article; I'd really like to hear an example of "The best game designers, and game developers as a whole, will tell you that, with rare exception, a game is not a game in its design document form, no matter how carefully crafted that document is." Really? Who? Who says that? In all my communications with actually people in EA, Ravensoftware, Capcom and others, they have never said such a thing. Neither in my game design books that contain interviews do they mention this either.

This article is also a tad self-contradictory. "This doesn't mean that game ideas in and of themselves are worthless, but it does mean that even a brilliant idea can fail for any number of reasons..." But isn't the title "Why Your Game Idea Sucks"? Shouldn't it contain a slew of arguments explaining why a game idea you have is going to be terrible and not just that it's not thought out enough to accommodate the industry and budgets? Now you just said our idea may be good, but from outside forces, we can't create it. That doesn't say to me that my idea my suck.

Although Erin does have good knowledge about the job of designer and what the group does to make a game work.

"If a game makes it out the door and people shell out their heard-earned cash for it, it is because a symphony of effort went into navigating that precious ship through shark-infested waters for months, if not years, to get it to the market. And you? You've got a blueprint." This statement upsets me because nothing can be created without a blueprint. That's fundamentally basic. The game could never come to fruition WITHOUT it.

The article does adopt a more caring tone that I appreciate by the 3rd page. I was initially angry at the beginning because it sounded more "standoffish" and "leave me alone, you're an idiot" at first.

I will take a firm stance and say that her claim that no one will ever steal your idea is unabashedly wrong! I can't believe someone with her supposed experience would say this. This is directly contradictory to what I have learned through designers and companies. One of my books had a whole subchapter titled "The good ones borrow, the great ones steal." Concepts are based on concepts that were based on other concepts. No good idea comes from a vacuum. There is no shame in lifting a good idea from another game to use in your own as it all comes down to how well it's implemented. How do you explain all the fps's that copy Halo's regenerating health, and the countless others that have blindfire, etc or how the player interacts with cover. So many fps's rip each other off. Even Yahtzee points this stuff out.

I fail to see the significance in writing that if one newbie has an idea, professional people have more and that real designers have a whole bunch. That's what I would expect. I would anticipate new-blood wannabe designers having one idea while professionals have more. If it's point is to illustrate that the professionals won't steal new people's ideas that isn't an incredibly powerful reason for them to not steal an idea. Having a large quantity does not mean they won't take a closer look at something with better quality.

And finally, "Because seeing your game to completion is completely outside of our control, and probably even your control. And because if it is a great idea, and you have the follow-through to make it happen, we can't stop you. The ESRB can't stop you. The business can't stop you. Only you can stop you. And you either will or you won't - without my help or anyone else's." Why would you say that seeing our game to completion is out of our hands and then three sentences later say that we get in our own way, that we are the only ones stopping our ideas from working? How does that work? A contradiction in the same paragraph.

I realize that my arguments could probably be used against me in that I did not provide names of people or books as sources of my knowledge. I could, but I'm competitive in this industry. If I had to describe this article in one word, it would be inconsistent.

EDIT: After rereading my post one more time I realize that I sound angry and that I'm attacking Erin for her writing. I apologize for that, I should have done this more objectively, but some of what I say cannot be denied. I do know that the article wasn't insulting me directly and it only means that an idea won't be created until work is actually done on it, but I did find parts inconsistent and information contradictory to my own. Maybe I should write my own article. Oh well, I'm going to leave things as is for people to make of it what they want, but I apologize for being rather rude.

I pressed the wrong thing. ignore this extra post.

Devil's advocate. What if someone *did* have 500k USD he was willing to spend on getting a game made (or at least start the process). What should he do?

This is why so many "safe" games are made these days. Nobody wants to take the risk.

Vilani: he should send me an email. :)

;)

(And also, for the curiosity of anyone who has read this far in the thread, I've gotten many off-"list" comments to this article, and 9 out of 10 devs I've talked to about the $500k figure think I'm being way too generous. So to clarify, my $500k benchmark is for a testable prototype in most cases [if we're talking AAA] -- to get the full game you're really talking a baseline of $2m these days. Again, though, AAA; it depends on your design objective.)

matrix: Slight correction/refinement: safe games are made because people like to buy them.

And then they're the people who read this who think that they're the one exception to the rule those are the worst. "Hey read your article it was cool made some good points but I just wanted to say that my ideas not like the others mines not theone you hate mines good" although thats exactly who your talking to when you say "YOUR GAME IDEA SUCKS!!!"

P.s. Just wanted to say MY game idea is awesome though *wink*

I read this a month ago, and liked it. I even linked a couple of people to it. I never responded then, but I saw some new action in the thread, so I'll respond now.

I totally get the message of the article. Devs have more ideas than they have resources to develop, so no matter how good your idea is, it will never get the emotional investment of the devs like a project they thought of themselves.

In fact, I was under the impression that developers, or publishers, didn't even accept pitches. That didn't keep me from preparing a binder of materials, ready to present, should the opportunity arise. I know it's kinda like "expecting" to win the lottery, but I even had hopes that there would be a "design a game" contest that I could win, to see my game idea brought to life.

Strangely enough, I DID get an opportunity to show my "idea" to someone from a publisher... and they liked it. They were not the one in the position to make the decision, but they put us in contact with the appropriate person, and we're signing NDA's right now.

Keep your fingers crossed for us.

Here's what we did differently. (Keep in mind, the game isn't "picked up" so whether this is valuable or not remains to be seen.) We didn't come up with a totally new gameplay concept. That would absolutely require a working prototype. Instead, we used existing projects from the company as examples of what we wanted to do with our game, and then laid out the story that fit into their mold. They don't have to see the game in motion, because they already know exactly what's involved in making this game.

When EA decided to make "Harry Potter" games, someone didn't give them a working prototype game pitch with brilliant new gameplay mechanics that convinced them it was a game that needed to be made. No, someone told them "We own a popular intellectual property, and we'd like you to make a game." EA said, "We absolutely need to be the people making these games" and they paid for the license. Ditto for "James Bond", "Lord of the Rings" and countless others.

What the "idea people" don't understand is that the hard part of Harry Potter was done before EA coughed up that money. The book was written, published, and sold by the gazillions. The marketing is done. EVERYBODY knows about the IP. If you (the "you" in "Your game idea sucks") don't have an IP that everyone knows, this will never happen to you. Ever. Unknown IP's are very, very risky. Look at the problem Tim Schafer's had getting Psychonauts and Brutal Legend published, and he's Tim f'n Schafer! You're not! He's gone as far as actually making the games! You didn't! And, well, October NPD's are out. Go look at them. Tim had these problems finding a publisher with a damn-near finished game, and you have some nice drawings and a storyline.

I have another game that I want to make myself. The logistics of it won't be difficult. I just haven't programmed anything since I used MS Basic in 1985. If I go back to school and learn enough programming to make the game I want, even if it's for my own enjoyment and never gets into the hands of the general public, I will NOT want to use my skills to make "your" game. Screw that.

I've talked to Peter Moore, Peter Molyneux, Cliff Bleszinski and numerous others, and the answer is always the same: If you want your game made, make it. Molyneux shelved B.C. to make Fable III and Milo. What can you POSSIBLY show him that would convince him to make your game and leave B.C. on the shelf again?

I should also state that I know enough about the industry to know there isn't a big, fat checking waiting at the end of this tunnel. If the publisher decides to run with it, my artist and I hope to work on the project with them.

SpaceGhost2K:

In fact, I was under the impression that developers, or publishers, didn't even accept pitches. That didn't keep me from preparing a binder of materials, ready to present, should the opportunity arise. I know it's kinda like "expecting" to win the lottery, but I even had hopes that there would be a "design a game" contest that I could win, to see my game idea brought to life.

Yeah, there really aren't any 'design a game' contests out there. But it has actually happened in the past. I've never connected the dots to see if the end product was linked to it, but I remember back in around '97 or '98 the game magazine EGM ran a contest asking people to submit game ideas, with a developer lined up to build the winners idea. And what idea was declared the winner? A game where you build your own super hero, picking your own super powers and costume, and played online in a virtual city where everyone had their own super hero.

The contest I was thinking of is the current "Doritos Unlock Xbox" contest. You submit a two minute video of your idea. The Doritos people picked ten. They were sent to Seattle to each create a pitch. Eventually, there will be one winner. Two games will actually go into production (a vote on the demos will decide the winner), but neither of them are guaranteed to be completed.

I made two videos, out of the 600 that were submitted. I was naive enough to think I stood a chance, but man, if you saw the other 598, who wouldn't have? lol!

So all the game design documents, all the work I've tried to make them as functional, unique and fun as possible has been completely useless?
Well then fuck the games industry, have fun playing Mario Bro. 15 assholes.

(And BTW, movie companies don't make you front half a million to film a script. So I think that gaming does so is not only bullshit but also false, I would like proof of that actually happening if it is true)

boholikeu:

I don't think it's a big problem with the video game industry because it's pretty much how any creative industry works. Ideas are a dime a dozen, and with the exception of a few Cinderella stories you will never get someone else to fund your dream based solely on a paper write-up. You need to show, not tell people why your idea is the next best thing.

Really? So how do you "show" people in art, literature, cinema that your idea is the "next big thing" (which btw, isn't everyone's goal, some of us just want to make a fun game). Because I'm pretty sure that the only way to sell a movie is with a script and the only way to sell a book is by sending them a copy of it.

SpaceGhost2K:

In fact, I was under the impression that developers, or publishers, didn't even accept pitches.

wrong

Hallow'sEve:
So all the game design documents, all the work I've tried to make them as functional, unique and fun as possible has been completely useless?
Well then fuck the games industry, have fun playing Mario Bro. 15 assholes.

(And BTW, movie companies don't make you front half a million to film a script. So I think that gaming does so is not only bullshit but also false, I would like proof of that actually happening if it is true)

boholikeu:

I don't think it's a big problem with the video game industry because it's pretty much how any creative industry works. Ideas are a dime a dozen, and with the exception of a few Cinderella stories you will never get someone else to fund your dream based solely on a paper write-up. You need to show, not tell people why your idea is the next best thing.

Really? So how do you "show" people in art, literature, cinema that your idea is the "next big thing" (which btw, isn't everyone's goal, some of us just want to make a fun game). Because I'm pretty sure that the only way to sell a movie is with a script and the only way to sell a book is by sending them a copy of it.

SpaceGhost2K:

In fact, I was under the impression that developers, or publishers, didn't even accept pitches.

wrong

Sigh. So much anger.

First: Movie companies work differently than game companies. You're wrong in your conclusion that they work the same way. Movie companies go through stacks upon stacks of screenplays looking for that one that will make a profit for their company. They do fifty days of filming and hand it to the post production people while they move on to another movie. They can make a steady stream of movies this way where game studios could never work like that.

In some cases, they don't buy a screenplay. They just land upon an idea, and have someone write a screenplay just for the idea. That was Disney's way of doing things for a LONG time. They would produce two animated features per year. One would be a classic story retold. The other would be a new movie that more often than not came off the top of the head of the head of the studio. Even if they saw pitches, it was a waste of their time and yours.

Oh, and you think they don't make YOU front a half a million to film a script? The hell they don't. Why do you think they go to these film festivals ready to buy finished films? Because they can see an immediate response to the films, and they can see if that "good" idea on paper actually translates to a "good" film without having to spend the money to find out. Someone already did.

Movie companies also take films from other countries and re-film them. They consider this a safer risk of their money than filming a previously unfilmed screenplay.

There's an old phrase... Experience is the best teacher, but sometimes it's better to let the other guy get the snakebite. Their theory: If YOU believe in your project enough to risk the snakebite, you'll either live or die. If you live, we'll consider your idea (still not a guaranteed sale). If you die, well, thank God it was YOU and not US. (And it looks like you were wrong about the idea. Oh, well.)

Second: You "show" people in art by doing it. You don't pitch an idea for a sculpture to someone else. You scuplt it. You don't pitch an idea for a painting to someone else, you paint it. You don't pitch an idea for a story to someone else, you write it. Even with movies, every person in LA has written a screenplay and HOPES that it'll get made someday. Truth is, if most of them want their movies made, they will take however long it takes and make it themselves. Napoleon Dynamite cost $400K to make and made $45 million dollars. Paranormal Activity cost $15K. Blair Witch cost $60K. District 9 cost $30 million, and made $115M - and looked as good as some $200 million movies.

You: "Because I'm pretty sure that the only way to sell a movie is with a script and the only way to sell a book is by sending them a copy of it." That's half right. The way to sell a book is to write the book, not to tell someone you have an idea and convince them to pay you for the idea so they can write it. The way to sell a movie THESE DAYS is to make the movie, and either sell it, or sell the idea based on the movie so that it can be re-filmed.

Third: Your "proof" that I an wrong was a teaser clip from PAX. I participated in the PAX pitch party because of that very clip and it was a joke. I mean literally, it was meant to be an "all in good fun" pitch, and not something that anyone would actually USE to sell a game. I talked to one of the judges who used to (read that again... USED to) listen to pitches, and he absolutely would not seriously consider a pitch that didn't come with a playable demo. If you weren't serious enough to invest the time and money to get it to that point, then he was not going to seriously consider throwing millions of dollars into its development.

Like it or not, that's how it is.

Skarvey:
Liked the article, a bit blunt, a bit elitist for my tastes, but I'm sure that if I were able to call myself a "professional" game designer, I'd have earned the right to look down on normal folk too, haha.

Not that it would make it right, though.

I do agree with you, I actually think this article was far too blunt and of a very unconstructive tone. The author's posts on the commments were far better than the article itself, as far as teaching something goes.

This whole style of games journalism were the piece bluntly puts down the reader is getting very, very old.

Mr Wednesday:
Why is it when someone points out, be it in film, writing or games, that really this fantasy you've been working on probably isn't that good and certainly wont just get you a one way ticket to creative empowerment, there is always a legion of whiny people with said ideas willing to go on reccord about how "stupid", or "insulting" this person is?

Because usually that person is being insulting.

The concepts of educating someone in humbleness and actually humiliating them have quite a bit of distance between one another.

I didn't think this article was stupid though. Just sounded to me like venting from someone who indeed had to hear quite a few over-excited students over time.

Jakkar:
(...)but there are a lot of aspiring developers in this community who would benefit from encouragement. I don't like seeing this trend of cynically gunning down everyone who wants to make a game continued.

This shows to me that the industry as a whole is not encouraging at all, even to those who dwelt in it for long. Hence the same old games repeated ad infinitum: "Let's just stick to what sells."

KingKamor:
Great article. Before I decided that I wanted to make games (eventually), I wanted to write books. I went on a few forums and asked around, and people told me much of what you just said: "Stop telling us about your idea. Just write it, you douchebag!"

It's somewhat comforting to know that my two favorite mediums of entertainment are alike in this regard. Hell, I'll bet that most artistic mediums are the same.

Most artistic mediums do have people who insult over-excited creative people. And those mediums also have people who come up to them and politely ask them: "Ok, this a idea. Have you try doing it?"

I had teachers of both types in painting and theater. Guess who made a positive difference in my life?

KingKamor:
Never let someones credentials be a free ride to acceptance. However I do agree that they deserve a slightly longer listen since they've at least proven they read a book. I've discussed topics with folks who have worked in related fields for years and been on level playing fields. Likewise I've discussed things with folks who only deal with the topic as a hobby who floored me.

Either way a few sheets of paper on the wall does not a genius make.

The article wasn't bad, but generally coming off as an ass just leads to folks responding in kind. That is why most healthcare, religion, and political debates devolve so fast. Both groups meet, the first person to speak calls the other side a dumb cunt and everyone starts punching.

I should just have quoted this post and be done with it.

Too true Ericb, but I think she was sort of using the article to vent. I mean, there's only so long anyone can deal with "I have a great idea...can you make this game so I can take the credit?" before cynicism takes over and anyone with an "idea" becomes that person. It's very easy to generalize, I don't blame her for that. But really, anyone who could say the aformentioned statement with a straight face would have to either be a primary school child, or a very illinformed person. Saying that to an industry professional would be like saying to an economist "I know how to fix the world economy...Print more money!" Anyone who would be reduced to sputtering rage or sheer disbelief hearing that statement has to have the patience and kindness of Mother Theresa. Gamers, educate thyselves, and we'll never have to hear from Ms. Hoffman again.

I'm not going to waste time explaining my reasoning since it probably "sucks" to you, but this article is almost entirely wrong. I am offended by your ignorance, and will no longer read articles posted by you in the future.

As discouraging as this is, and believe me, I'm all about discouraging the creative efforts of people I don't even know, I wouldn't mind reading an article titled, "What I would do if I had nothing, and nowhere to start." That might be a little more productive and useful than a 4 page, "You suck and here's why." No need to take out daily frustrations on the creativity and potential of society at large. I sincerely hope you're not selling this to students. I can't imagine a less positive message to send. As a professional photographer, I would never tell someone their photos suck. I would however tell them what will sell, what art buyers like to see, where they can find cheap rentals, and where their work may be lacking. But then again, if people want to take photos, I want them to take photos. It's obvious from this article that you don't want anyone other than you making video games. Also, readers: Remember that when you thank this chick for this article, you're thanking someone for telling you how much you suck and how much no one cares about what you have to offer. Mull that over.

Given this article, I don't know who the hell can say 'yes' to an idea, but given how it seems there are 1,000's of designs sitting in publishers filing cabinets, it's funny, that after 25 years of gaming, we have yet to have a cRPG based in the Wild West!

I refuse to believe that if a publisher did an 'Fallout 3 in the Wild West', it would have a giant hit on it's hands. As there are many more people into cowboy films than fantasy or sci-fi films!

You mean I can't make a game without cash, talent or talented friends and dedication? Darn!

/sarcasm

Yeah I knew most of that already but it was still cool to hear it from someone who is actually in the industry.

But my ideas definitely do not suck. What they lack is the knowledge, skill, friends (or associates) and cash to become real. So they'll always be good theoretical games but I figure they'll never be found on the shelves. I never thought about troubling the guys in the industry with my own ideas while they already have a huge amount of work to do. Looks like I had the right attitude.

Well, when I get rich...

This whole article had a negative vibe that I don't appreciate. It was blunt, realistic and it needed to be but it didn't need to tell the reader that they suck and shouldn't even try.

Straight up, thankyou for this article Erin.
I like to think of myself as an 'ideas man' and although I have every intention to follow through and turn my ideas into reality, this article really humbled me and strengthened my resolve to actually add some substance to what would otherwise just be an idea.

I think perhaps you may have worded stuff a bit wrong in your article. The main purpose of it is to say that just an idea won't get you anywhere and an idea alone is worth nothing. It doesn't mean the idea a person has is bad or that it 'sucks' so you may want to reword that instead of pretty much insulting your readers. After all, a person could have a brilliant idea for a game, but no means to fund it etc. That doesn't suddenly mean the game idea is bad, just that all it is is an idea, which is worthless.
The content of this article was covered much better in an episode of 'extra credits' where they got all the facts across without insulting anyone.

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/extra-credits/2443-So-You-Want-to-be-a-Game-Designer

Pretty harsh article, but rather true. In our days, everyone and their mum have game ideas. Not sure if discouraging them is good or bad, though, since it's one thing to say "either get it done or shut up about it" and another to go "stop using your imagination".

It's indeed a good point that it's extremely hard to sell an idea that exists solely on paper. This may be obvious, but publishers still have to listen to a lot of paper-only game idea pitches.

With PreviewLabs - a company specialized in rapid prototyping - we often work for startup companies and notice that it helps them a lot when they can actually let them play their game concept. One of them, Nicolas Marinus of Thumbs Up Games, shared some insight in his pitching experiences on our blog: http://www.previewlabs.com/customer-testimonial-pitching-video-game-ideas/

Reading the comments - many people seem to be giving knee jerk reactions to what is really common sense, and a few seem to believe you are attacking indie games or (heavens forbid) the creative process of game making itself.

Your article has merit and I thoroughly enjoyed it, albeit your repetition of that "won't steal your game" rhetoric was so commonplace I began to think you were trying to cover up some huge conspiracy. :P

Maybe if publishers were a bit more open-minded about ideas, they would get some ideas that didn't suck.

Of course there are a lot more to making a game, than getting a good idea. But at the moment there seems to be a distinct lack of ideas in finished games. How can that be if everyone has ideas floating out of their ears?

My theory is that the majority of ideas suck, but it is really hard to identify the good ones until they result in a working game/prototype. But for that to happen some open-mindedness might be required.

Kollega:
And by the way,would you like me to write an article about how much you suck? Insulting your readers is not good.

Relax. It's a tongue-in-cheek article. There's no need to get personally offended.

GO FUCK OFF BITCH MY GAME IDEAS ROCK.

Hello. I was curious as to exactly how any veteran video game writers actually got their start in the industry? I am thankful for the honesty in this article and I understand I may never be able to get any of my ideas developed and that they may not be good. But if that is the case I would like to better understand the industry in the attempt to diverge from this path.

Good article, except I have a small nitpick. The title, specifically the last word 'Sucks'. The problem with this word it implies that everyone's game idea is; bad, horrible. Putting me in the mindset for the first page that every idea you'd have ever is bad. The more correct wording would be worthless, something that has no value. Which is the overall point of the article.

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