221: Why Your Game Idea Sucks

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*looks at 30+ pages of revolutionary concept that nobody would play unless they were paid to do so*

I'm well aware it'll never be, but the fun is in making the concept really. Like writing down a dream.
Excellent article, good read.

Nordstrom:
Erin has stated things in a flamboyant way that can offend, but I agree with her sentiment. As a programmer in a creative field, I often find that execution is 100 times harder (or more) than coming up with the idea in the first place. Occasionally, there are some wonderful shortcuts that are only 10 times harder, but these are rare and quickly taken for granted.

It's a tough job converting ideas into reality. It's even tougher to create something that people are willing to pay money for. I wouldn't trade this kind of work for anything, but it's not easy.

Clarifying my earlier point, I don't agree with the sentiment that "your game idea sucks", but I do think that the idea is only the start of a long road to making it real. In the process of making your idea real, you may find that it really does suck or that it needs to change.

The world is mean and it will stomp on your most cherished idea. If you can't handle some people telling you that your idea sucks along the way -- if you aren't willing to fight to make it real and get dirty in the process -- then your odds of making it real become vanishingly small. That said, your idea might be possible if you are willing to work hard and fight to make it happen. Develop some skills that can get you there.

Better yet, discard the mindset of the magic bullet idea that will magically transform your life. Most ideas don't survive translation to the real world. Cultivate many ideas, develop the best of them, prototype them, test them, and run with the ones that survive. As beautiful as your first idea looks, it's unlikely to be your best. Keep more ideas on the back burner and be ready to move on with something that looks more promising.

L-J-F:

Uncompetative:

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

This is very insulting. Not everyone is in it for the money. If you knew anything about games you would know that controls, empowerment, challenge and immersion matter far more than concept, narrative, art direction, animation, orchestral score and celebrity voice talent. Studios can keep their Millions of Dollars. They generally produce linear burn-through-it-in-a-weekend "Cinematic Experiences" rather than true games with deep replayability. Unfortunately, huge marketing budgets, movie tie-ins and consumer ignorance (with aunties buying games as presents for nephews) allow the industry to produce 'shiny' crap - I wouldn't normally use such strong language, but you brought up the sexually deviant practise otherwise known as "tea-bagging"; so it is you who started it. Furthermore, not all game designers fall into your 'comprehensively' listed categories. I for one am a programmer and I am not looking for any assistance or funding for my game. I have spent a great many years working on the development of tools (which would normally be regarded as Middleware in the Industry). This suits me far better than adopting someone else's existing engine and 'modding it' to approximate my needs. I have no plans to charge for the game once it is finished and will probably make the toolset open-source at some point in the future too.

So, you can stick to making dumb games about Toe Jam and market them as 'fun gifts for the kids' because you've blown all your credibility with this article and you should expect all of your future "advice" to be ignored.

BRAVO! [claps repeatedly]

Well said.

And yes, indie games are the future. Why? Because they generally make what they want to, not what a bunch of suits with no imagination or experience in game design - who have probably never played anything beyond the games shipped with windows - tell them to. It doesn't matter who writes your music, how much money you have, how many developers you have, how much publicity you have, etc, I've played too many of those games, games that end up being so unbearably boring I can't make myself play them. Brothers in Arms for instance, most unoriginal game I've played for a long time.

And no, nobody is going to make "your" game, but as for stealing elements? Certainly, why not? Look at the cover system used in Gears of War, stolen a thousand times already. Of course nobody wants your whole idea, not even your story, but if you came up with an interesting approach to a problem then why wouldn't they?

I think many people are forgetting what makes a good game, it's the game itself, not the shiny effects or petty 8 hours of gameplay before you trash it. Long live indie games!

Thanks.

I actually find programming videogames to be a lot more fun than playing most of them. The problem is that most of the established tools and languages are inarticulate and do nothing to support exploratory programming. You tend to get a bunch of developers working on an engine (capable of coordinating graphics, physics and sound) who tend to get separated from those working on the assets of the game (i.e. the animation keyframes, models, textures, narrative, context-triggered AI scripts, etc.). Consequently, the design of the engine constrains the number of enemies and draw distance of the game world, impacting on the level design. This is all backwards. The creatives can't come up with a new idea that affects the fabric of the gameplay as that is already "cast in stone" (often in an engine that they have bought at high cost from a third-party Middleware developer - like Epic's Unreal). This wasn't the case when graphics/physics were far more primitive and were merely 'good enough'. Paul Woakes developed Mercenary on his own. Elite was written by two people. Same goes for Cholo. The indie scene has thrown up development teams like Introversion... take a look at these two games and guess how many people work there:

I teach video game design classes as well as encounter wannabe designers in other forums, and there really are lots of people who think an idea will make them rich without any effort, who don't understand that they'll have to execute the idea themselves or pay someone to.

Erin has set herself up for criticism by the harshness of her first page. For a much milder statement of the same thing, and advice about getting and organizing ideas (you need LOTS because you cannot possibly tell which ones are "a sure thing", if any) read
http://www.gamecareerguide.com/features/614/the_idea_is_not_the_.php

Susan Arendt:

Uncompetative:

This is very insulting. Not everyone is in it for the money. If you knew anything about games you would know that controls, empowerment, challenge and immersion matter far more than concept, narrative, art direction, animation, orchestral score and celebrity voice talent. Studios can keep their Millions of Dollars. They generally produce linear burn-through-it-in-a-weekend "Cinematic Experiences" rather than true games with deep replayability. Unfortunately, huge marketing budgets, movie tie-ins and consumer ignorance (with aunties buying games as presents for nephews) allow the industry to produce 'shiny' crap - I wouldn't normally use such strong language, but you brought up the sexually deviant practise otherwise known as "tea-bagging"; so it is you who started it. Furthermore, not all game designers fall into your 'comprehensively' listed categories. I for one am a programmer and I am not looking for any assistance or funding for my game. I have spent a great many years working on the development of tools (which would normally be regarded as Middleware in the Industry). This suits me far better than adopting someone else's existing engine and 'modding it' to approximate my needs. I have no plans to charge for the game once it is finished and will probably make the toolset open-source at some point in the future too.

So, you can stick to making dumb games about Toe Jam and market them as 'fun gifts for the kids' because you've blown all your credibility with this article and you should expect all of your future "advice" to be ignored.

ToeJam & Earl is a brilliant game. You should be very pleased with yourself if you ever make a game that good.


I hope I never make a game that good...

You don't want to make a game so entertaining that people beg for its return? How very odd.

this was more about what the game industry thinks of game ideas and not that game ideas suck (though most of them are really stupid or cut/paste of other games)

TheRealCJ:
No, our game ideas don't suck.

The problem that the difference between an amazing game and a horrible one isn't in the concept, it's in the execution, it's the actual work you do, not what you thought of at the start. In that sense game ideas are worthless because they lack the main thing that distinguishes a good game from a bad one.

For example, fine tuning the mathematical formula the game uses for movement is quite a large task and can mean the difference between a fun game and a frustratingly annoying one. Yet you can't include that in the design document.

The only thing you can really include in the design document or concept is the story and the basic idea and mechanics of the game, but none of those things are worth anything if the game isn't made well. However, a game with a horrible concept and terrible story can still come out to have great gameplay and atmosphere since gameplay and atmosphere are made up almost entirely by the work involved in building them, not the concept behind them.

I think I see your point, but the introduction didn't lead me there. At first I thought you were trying to say that amateurs don't have great ideas. What it seemed to come to was that, no idea is great enough to be worth something on its own. You can't sell anything until you've turned that idea into a fully-fledged game. If that's the argument, then certainly, I agree.

However, as has been pointed out by others, this doesn't preclude amateurs from making games. The indie scene is filled with many successful games, all made from a "great idea". Sure, they didn't end up selling it to a studio for money, nor did they find somebody to invest in their idea, but they were able to turn their idea into money, it just required them doing the work themselves.

And I think that's what the point of this article is, in which case, I agree. You can't expect somebody to buy your idea and turn it into a million bucks -- there are so many ideas already out there that they don't want yours. But, if you're willing to develop it yourself, you certainly could turn your great idea into something successful.

Hopefully this is what you were thinking too. The introduction made it sound like you were against amateurs of all types. Hopefully you weren't down-playing the indie scene.

wow this article made me think of suicide.

Thanks for insulting the people who support you!

Even though my game ideas are just for fun... and my goals in life.

I adore you, RealCJ <3

You too, Uncompetative.

I'm glad I'm not the only one =)

Silva:
I'm sorry, but to me, it seems like you wrote a huge, raging rant against a vague group of people who do not exist as an actual interlinked group (people who make such posts on your LinkedIn, who are obviously the source of some personally ignited rage within you), with the purpose of stopping a similarly vague problem (that is, people who [vaguely] believe that they are capable of teasing out funding from a random executive in a games company by talking about their idea).

Now, I can understand the anger you express at vague thinking, since I'm feeling it a bit from the aftertaste of your article, which unfortunately has the same problem as the people it is complaining about. As my emphasis might have pointed out, the article is too vague.

A sentence that said "don't bother with an idea unless you can execute it yourself" would have sufficed for all four pages of this sarcastic content. All of this information is content people who have played games for more than five years would know. In other words, the people you are trying to get across to, who have such terrible ideas and try to execute them poorly, are casual gamers.

Out of the comments (I've read to page 3) I agree with this one the most. I'd reiterate, but that's me stealing his idea ;).

Perhaps where Erin's piece failed in emphasis is not that anyone's idea is necessarily bad, but that no matter how original it may be to that person, very likely dozens of people have had the same idea, which makes that idea on its own more or less worthless. For example:

"That's kind of a common pattern in everything I do. One minute I'm completely on my own and I think, "Wow, I'm a genius, I can't believe this idea nobody else had!" And then you look at the references on it, and it turns out that a hundred other people have done the same things in the 1980s. And then you look, and you get your additional ideas from those. Between invention and stealing [borrowing!], you come up with a really good combination of ideas."

Tim Sweeney in Gamasutra Interview 2009
http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/4035/from_the_past_to_the_future_tim_.php?page=2

SirBryghtside:
You've just killed, and kicked into a flaming inferno, the only hope that we have for imaginative games - someone who actually spends time thinking about their game, instead rooting for corporate zillionares who fling out a game a second.

All great games start with a good idea, and you're saying just because someone spent some time and effort thinking about it, it is automatically rubbish.

That really made a lot of sense -.-

You've missed the point of the article. The point is, great games do not come from great ideas, but great execution. An idea without execution is worthless, yet so many people seem to think that their idea could make them millions, without really putting in any work into the execution. No one will buy an idea, which is what a lot of video game players seem to believe.

HomeGrownGames:

xavhorse:
Where's the meat?
Congratulations, you've neatly re-defined the line between them and us whilst simultaneously leaving open the big questions of how is someone supposed to break into the industry without a wealth of titles under their belt or a money tree in their back yard.

It`s simple: Start as beta tester, assistant coder, GFX helping hand, dialogue lines writer, or even as marketing assistant somewhere in a publishing house - and work your way up the ladder. This is what I did.

Or make mods & maps so awesome that the gaming world becomes aware of them. This is was most of my employees did. More than 50% of my staff comes from the modding / mapping community, and now they are making the next Painkiller game.

Straightforward yes but not exactly simple! What about my chances as an artist? I'm working as a freelance Illustrator for the tabletop roleplaying and board games market and have a professional background in design, I'm hoping at some point to be able to break into the film or game industry as a concept artist. The very nature of what I do is to put ideas to paper, so I'm kinda screwed if this isn't an acceptable format anymore!

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.

Once again, great article.

xavhorse:
I'm working as a freelance Illustrator for the tabletop roleplaying and board games market and have a professional background in design, I'm hoping at some point to be able to break into the film or game industry as a concept artist. The very nature of what I do is to put ideas to paper, so I'm kinda screwed if this isn't an acceptable format anymore!

Sorry to tell you, but especially concept artists are among the easiest staff to get. Of course it`s a difference between "concept artist" and "hellova artist" who can make Artworks which are good enough for the front page of SI print magazines.

But if you throw in additional skills, especially for texturing, the chances are getting better. And if you ad ZBrush skills, you`ll get a gaming job quite easy.

Worth pointing out that this holds true for most of the business world, not just making games. Great business ideas in general are a dime a dozen. It's the execution that usually matters.

SirBryghtside:

All great games start with a good idea, and you're saying just because someone spent some time and effort thinking about it, it is automatically rubbish.

The trouble is, "a good idea" for a game is the easy bit. I've been involved in games design and testing for board and tabletop games (with a number of ex and current Games Workshop design studio staff), and can come up with mere ideas for games all but off the cuff. Hell, I have most of my ideas for board and card games in the shower, it's not an intensive process of thought to come up with them.

What turns "a good idea" into even an average game is a hell of a lot of refinement and testing, during which you may find that your original idea doesn't work at all. (and that's a big problem, most people can never overcome the desire to keep that one true idea they had, whether it's a setting, or a game mechanic, or something else, but if you can't murder your darlings you will cripple your product every time)

I've seen a lot of well-executed games in recent years, that's what a big budget and a lot of planning do - I've still found them excruciatingly dull due to unimaginative content, predictable plots and unoriginal gameplay concepts.

The quality of the idea is of optimum importance - an great concept can be marred by a buggy or ugly game - but the finest engineering will not make another nonviolent WW2 shooter with grainy filters and light bloom on the overcast clouds remotely entertaining.

Unfortunately for those who enjoy good games and those who enjoy making them, there are a lot of people who will still buy this, simply for the sake of keeping up appearances, or because they are sickly optimistic, or because they crave anything to distract them from grey reality and aren't yet alcoholic.

Or perhaps they simply have no taste.

Does anyone remember a game named Fallout, or another some years later by the name of Vampire: Bloodlines?

Broadly speaking, they were designed and developed by the same people. This seems to imply either poor luck with investors/publishers rushing them, or an absolute lack of discipline on their part - but nonetheless, these are regarded publically and critically as two of the finest roleplaying games ever made - and they were both ripped of half their planned features for release, and so buggy a lot of people could barely get them to run until a lot of developer or community effort was put forth over time to straighten them out. Both still receive community patches - if nothing else shows it, that shows how valuable a 'good idea' is to players.

Individuals like Werner Spahl, creator of the unofficial patch series for Bloodlines, have voluntarily given years of effort to give these games the polish they need to shine, polish they couldn't receive during development because it was a case of '12 months - make the game fun, or make the game work'.

I don't think we'd see so much love if a game like Call of Duty 2 had been exceedingly buggy upon release.

Of course, it wasn't broken - games with no imagination tend not to be. There's no food for the bugs to feast upon. No variety, no depth or variability, no potential for contradictions. Run forward, shoot the Nazi, son. W+MB1.

The idea is the soul of a game. I realise I speak for a minority, but there are many of us who don't enjoy games without a good idea at the core, without a living soul that feels like someone loved the idea and worked hard on it. Many modern games feel like the result of a board meeting to analyse what a given age demographic among console owners will purchase the most of within the first week.

Not everyone is a genius of imagination, though a lot of people would like to think they are. Not every writer is Tolkien or Pratchett, able to craft a living, breathing world of different cultures with a history and a future. Just because most people who spew "a gaem with terorirsts and desart aegles!" into your inbox are borderline mentally retarded, don't forget the value of an idea.

I was already fully aware that my game ideas suck :( It makes me a sad panda....

Yes, insulting readers is NOT good indeed. After reading the brunt of "Why your game ideas suck," I was a bit disheartened but more so, I was angered. The entire premise of the article --- that everybody is bereft of original game ideas --- is a bit presumptuous if not totally pessimistic. The title should have been something along the lines of, "Why your original game idea is never going to become a reality," because some of us have original/good game ideas but are without the faculties to make them come to fruition. If "Why your game ideas suck" represents the attitudes of the video-game industry accurately, then everybody who plays video-games ought to stop playing them and invest their time in something more productive. The basis of my claim is this: assuming the tenets of whoever wrote "why your game ideas suck" hold true, the same pessimism must apply to the game-makers themselves. If regular folk are unoriginal, then game professionals are just as unoriginal as we are, because, after all the only difference between us is the technical know-how of game making. So, the natural conclusion of my thought is that having the ability to make video games does not simultaneously make ones' games original or good. Then again, originality doesn't equal quality but that's a whole new discussion. Thankfully, the universe painted by "why your game ideas suck" is a fictional one otherwise we are all doomed to replay the same game forever.

I am pretty shocked by some of the foolishness I am reading here. This article was about nothing more than expecting someone else to pay for an idea you are too lazy/naive to make for yourself. That is it. Perhaps the title was mis-leading, but I know some of you (stated by yourselves) didn't actually finish the article before you came trolling into comments section to make yourself look good by posting how cool you are for playing indie games and that "the industry" is full of hacks who don't know half of the awesomeness that you have picked up even though it is their life's work.

She wasn't talking about a fleshed-out game design document with demo or a game that you have been working on for 10 years with your best friend. We are talking about that thing that happens when a thought pops into your head about a great game that you would want to play and you think you can sell that to a studio.

I certainly hope that people keep making games, keep pushing big studios to make better ones by not buying 'Halo212039821: The Master Chief Farts' and go buy something you want to play. I had the opportunity to learn what it takes to work in this field and chose a different route, but I hope that folks keep working on the execution of those great ideas and stop expecting that people will let you buy into a pipe-dream rather than tell you what the professionals are thinking.

Final thought: Before you criticize someone for not knowing what they are talking about, perhaps you should check their credentials against your own and listen to what they are saying instead of rejecting it because you don't want to hear it.

Nalroth, if you look into game publishers and the larger developers, you will - forgive me - but you will find a lot of..

.. Morons =\

The same is true in politics, in science, medicine, the military, in media.

If you're inclined to take credentials over the impression you personally gather from someone's words (and we're talking about a published article, not casual chatter), your respect for implied authority may be a little disconnected.

My potential respect for Erin Hoffman is based solely upon the impression she gives me, personally. She expresses herself in an arrogant and offensive, dispassionate fashion - and while doing so makes a post that will have no positive effect upon a large fraction of this community who consider themselves aspiring developers. Rather, it could massively discourage them.

Sure, their fault if they're that fragile, that impressionable - but we are all impressionable to start with, and harden with time. To publish something that harsh is just.. not something I'd expect from The Escapist - and I'm clearly not the only one to think it ill-considered.

The net effect for them is that I'm less likely to pay attention to any subsequent weekly emails from the site, and that broadly, less people are likely to hit the website.

I sympathise if Erin gets a lot of spam from self-absorbed 'artistes' who are too lazy to do any work for themselves, but if that's -all- she's saying - wouldn't a forum post or personal blog be sufficient? Do we all need Erin Hoffman's angry rants in our inbox? I don't read The Escapist for that.. Do you? O.o

Jakkar, while you might be correct that the industries are all full of morons, I certainly do not have the knowledge to properly critique anyone other that those who work in fields closely related to mine own. I certainly understand your dissatisfaction at the article and you are entitled to it. I was merely arguing that before one can properly judge someone or something they need at least read the whole article.

For example: A number of people who commented negatively on this article never made it to the last page of it. I would never begin to argue about anything unless I finished it. That's like reading half or three-fourths of a book and then declaring it to suck. How do you know for sure? It almost declares the whole argument void to begin a comment with, "I only read to page 3"

Certainly there is a blunt tone and I am sure (based on many of the comments) that the tone is what is making people lose sight of the point of the article. The point that I got was that you need to get out and do, or to state otherwise "Talk is cheap". Not wait for people to recognize your genius, but to get out there and do something about making your idea known. That ideas alone won't sell games.

As for why it ended up published, it is possible that The Escapist felt that this might be a good article because it is something that needs to be said to the nascent games developers. I wouldn't know. I am not in deep enough in the Games Development community or even the publishing industry to know what needs to be said and doesn't.

As for my respect for implied authority, I respect knowledge and demonstrated skill. I don't respect this article because it was written by some random human being. I respect this article for two main reasons and two minor ones:

1) The person who wrote it has far more actual games development experience than I ever will and seem to know what they are talking about. Perhaps the bluntness of the article is what offends, but the meat of what I got out of it had nothing to do with the tone.

2) Those people who work in this industry seem to be agreeing with the root/heart of this article. Which builds in my mind the idea that perhaps this person has knowledge that I lack and perhaps I should respect.

3) That she commented that her own ideas suck at the start, I am assume she is part of everyone, makes me think this was a targeted article for the true stubbornly naive dreamers.

4) She has been responding the whole time with positive feedback and encouragement to those people who have seemed disheartened. Even going so far as to post resources for the one kid applying to colleges. This tells me she isn't trolling, but trying to impart something that maybe I don't get entirely, but by holding onto some of what she has said here I might be better off in the future if I was trying to make a game or get that game published.

But then again, as you said, some read these 'zines for different reason. Personally, I think I partially agree with the one poster who said that a different tone and focus might have been a slightly better article. But I am also not a professional writer/games developer. So who knows why Ms. Hoffman wrote what she did in the way she did.

As for indie games, I am happy people posted the links. I have started to scan through and look for good ones to play. Hopefully, those people who are doing will be able to leverage the successes they are having into finally getting the big budgets so they can make the next-level games they want to make.

Just like everyone else, I have an idea for a game I'd like to play. However, it's a fairly obvious idea, I don't know exactly how it would be done even at the level of a design document, and, in fact, someone basically beat me to it. I think they called "The Bard's Tale" and released it for PS2 and Xbox back in 2004.

So, yeah, "a Mel Brooks-ish parody of console RPGs" is, indeed, a good idea, but it's also an idea that, just as this article says, is worth absolutely nothing.

It's interesting to see everyone's response either be "I fully agree!" or "I whole-heartedly disagree though I lack personal experience to back it up". 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?"

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.

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.

This is where the games industry fails. It's relying on experienced, yes, but older designers that may not even be running on fresh ideas anymore. Look at how generic video games are becoming. Brutal Legend is one of the most highly anticipated titles because of how different it is. How many game developers have been bringing ideas like that to the front? Most game designers are programmers and, as such, mathematically minded. Creativity isn't about logic and math, it's about intuition and understanding emotion and expression.

Fortunately, this COULD all work together. A designer could be similar to a director with an idea's man similar to a script writer. More fresh ideas could be produced with someone that knows how to make a game work well, and that idea's man could potentially take what the game designer has wanted to do for years and help him make it into something better.

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".

I know my idea is naive, but apparently even going to a bunch of College students at a game development club with a small yet unique idea wasn't enough to compete against Breakout Clone 234234 or Mario clone 94724942.

Then again, if I don't have the mathematical and logic-based talent of programming or the necessary art skills to make my own graphics, or the money to sink into an expensive ass machine for the latest level-building tools or even the money it costs to buy the Torque game engine I'm pretty much screwed.

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!

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!

Susan Arendt:
You don't want to make a game so entertaining that people beg for its return? How very odd.

Well, on the basis of the ridiculously monotonous gameplay excerpt I posted, my answer is still no.

Are you sure you don't mean another version/platform/sequel?

I get the impression that the real reason why "your ideas" are worthless to the mainstream games industry is that for the most part the people in industry are only interested in outdoing their peers, not going out on their own. In that case any different idea is worthless unless it is some specific tweak that can be applied to their game that makes it just like the market leader only better.

If your "big idea" is Gears but with a better story or better graphics then they will instantly recognise that your idea is not anything special. You have to sell your own personal skill to do better graphics than Gears or write a meathead action adventure story better than Gears.

In other markets, like flash games or iPhone development, you will find people trawling the internet for ideas to shamelessly copy because they can't or don't want to think of any on their own.

Thoroughly unhelpful, while stating the obvious and being condescending (With a nice portion of pessimism).

Well done.

ccesarano:
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!

Not the point of a prototype. The point is to demonstrate and test a concept for the first time. Shitty ass graphics or no, it says much more than the concept alone about whether a project will be worth the commitment and investment.

Didn't everyone steal ideas from each other in the '90s? (except Shiny, of course)

Kollega:

SilentScope001:
Yes, but you have to actually design and make the game on the Indie scene.

And why wouldn't you do it? Just find a programmer,an artist,and run with it! Look at World of Goo - it was a triumph. Huge sucsess. And it was made by two guys.

In a Coffee Shop.

Who answered my "This game is amazing" Email the same day I sent it.

They each deserve an Orgy...seriously.

Nalroth:
Final thought: Before you criticize someone for not knowing what they are talking about, perhaps you should check their credentials against your own and listen to what they are saying instead of rejecting it because you don't want to hear it.

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.

Don't give up your ideas! If you want to make a game about a space marine and press X, fine do it, but you have to work hard to get your game! If you cant or don't know any one who know how to make a game you can learn with your friends and make the game together but you have to work hard and don't give up! Cause if you give up your game wont be played by anyone...EVER!

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.

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