Game industry insider: "Game ideas are worthless"

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by pixeltroid, Mar 27, 2019.

  1. pixeltroid

    pixeltroid Member

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    It's a short video thats really worth watching!

    The speaker (an industry veteran) articulates what I have thought about on many occassions:

    1. A "game idea" doesn't matter.
    2. "Ideas" are cheap. Everybody has ideas.
    3. Its easy to come up with ideas. The hard part is to implement it in such a way to make it enjoyable by players. Otherwise its just a day dream.

    I also liked how he calls out the "idea guys" who just come up with concepts on paper but are completely clueless and inexperienced when it comes to making an actual game.

    I found it funny because I actually know people like that IRL in the workplace who say "I'm more of a thinker" -- like as if everyone else around them are braindead zombies. What they actually mean to say is that "I just fart out ideas and I'd like for others to materialize my ideas XD".
     
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  2. Siolfor the Jackal

    Siolfor the Jackal Member

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    About to check out the video. It blows my mind how often people think they can just be the ideas guy. I high school when my group of friends realised we could learn to make games if we wanted to, almost all of them decided they want to be the ideas guy, they had all the great ideas for great games and they would leave the easy bits such as art and coding to everyone else...
    Even now when I tell people I make games, they like to tell me about their great ideas, which often are just "It's Minecraft, but..." or "It's Other popular game, but..." etc. Like even if ideas were as important as these guys think, these ideas they generally have aren't very good or interesting.
     
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  3. pixeltroid

    pixeltroid Member

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    The best response to "idea guys" is: "hey thats a cool idea. But I have, like, 3 ideas of my own that I'd like to develop first".

    Even then, there are some who are genuinely supportive of their game designer peers and may innocuously suggest an idea, thinking they are helping. That's cool with me imo.

    Then there are those who just see their game designer peers as a resource to be exploited; to them, you are a workhorse required to materialize their "ideas". I knew a 'friend' like that. He was trying hard to get involved in my project on the grounds that he had an interesting story. When I told him I didnt think the story was too important, he started giving me suggestions on graphics and game design -- as if he believed he, and only he, was capable of doing the thinking. His ideas ranged from rubbish to generic. Eventually, it got so bad that I had to lie to him that I abandoned my project because I was too busy with other things.

    I might sound like a paranoid selfish meanie. But I really dont want a situation where he gets to go around saying that HE was the real "brains" behind the game I spent years working on -- simply for suggesting something. I dont want him to stand on MY shoulders.

    I think you meant to say the "tough" bits? Because art and coding is not exactly easy. :D
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 31, 2019
  4. Siolfor the Jackal

    Siolfor the Jackal Member

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    That's the joke because they'd sometimes see their contribution(idea and story) as the most difficult part, thinking that the art and code will just naturally fall into place afterwards...

    I try to be patient with people who don't know any better, and explain things to them, but eventually I will just shut them down because they clearly don't care enough to listen.
     
  5. woodsmoke

    woodsmoke Member

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    "Yeah but my ideas are really really good."

    "I'm not telling you yet because people will steal them."
     
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  6. Misty

    Misty Member

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    Reminds me of this movie





    Also, where can I find these "ideas guys"? Because I need me some of those cause sometimes I have writers block.
     
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  7. TheouAegis

    TheouAegis Member

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    A: "I have an idea!"
    B: "Yeah, Ed Wood had ideas, too."
    A: "Who's Ed Wood?"
    B: "Exactly."

    A: "I have an idea!"
    B: "John Carpenter had lots of ideas. Most of them never even made it into his films."
    A: "Why not?"
    B: "Because his ideas didn't work."

    A: "I have an idea!"
    B: "John Romero had lots of ideas too."
    A: "You mean the guy who made Doom?!"
    B: "Yeah, and Daikatana."
    A: "Oh...."

    Ideas don't work. lol
     
  8. sitebender

    sitebender Member

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    I can give you a hundred different ideas in 30 minutes. Programming them or doing the art for them is the time consuming thing. Forums are full of ideas and in this case, even full of games, but getting people to play the game or give you money for the game is a different story.
     
  9. Bluetail7

    Bluetail7 Member

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    I'd like to point out at this image from tweeter.
     
  10. GM029

    GM029 Member

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    Yep this is true outside of gaming too. Ideas are cheap, execution is hard.
     
  11. Jabbers

    Jabbers Member

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    The statement "ideas are worthless" is open to misinterpretation.

    He is not saying that ideas are worthless in that they serve no purpose or have no value to the game development process. He is saying that you cannot expect to profit from a game idea alone, because coming up with ideas is not a unique skill, and companies are unlikely to seek out someone for their idea (or even look at their idea) because it is uninvestable and a potential legal liability.

    Game studios typically have game designers and narrative writers who have the technical knowledge and experience to create and work with ideas and move them to the next step in a development process. That is a different beast from simply sending a company an idea in a game design document and hoping they'll take it seriously.
     
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  12. mamacato

    mamacato Member

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    It's almost as if you watched the video and chose to understand what suited your previously formed opinion. Haha but I guess we all do that at times. Interesting and insightful video nonetheless.
     
  13. Posho

    Posho Member

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    Ever had to work with people whose game ideas are not the mechanics, not even the plot but the setting? And then have to work around the concept, mechanics, plot around the setting? My god I was so pissed.

    This one hurts like a [​IMG] .
     
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  14. pixeltroid

    pixeltroid Member

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    Yes. I know. I dont think I interpreted it otherwise. But it is a fact that there are some people who call themselves "designers" solely on the basis of being able to come up with ideas. That's the context of the statement "ideas are worthless".


    My opinion was formed over a 10 year period of working with people who think that them coming up with ideas is enough to call themselves "designers", and that their inability to implement their ideas and putting it into production somehow doesnt matter.[/QUOTE]
     
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  15. Misty

    Misty Member

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    I think the problem is, inability to use ideas from randoms. It seems like a circle of self-referential ideas. Games nowadays just feel "samey", even the ones that try to be unique.

    It would be more interesting, to ask a person who's been living in cave for 4000 years, what kind of game they would want. No self-referential reference to already existing notions. They fact they have zero idea of how games are made means their ideas will not be trying to contort into an already pre-made framework.
     
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  16. Taddio

    Taddio Member

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    They did that already, it's called Deer Hunter. :D
     
  17. Misty

    Misty Member

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    Deer Hunter Reloaded?

    That game looks positively awful. I especially hate the lifeless graphics masquerading as "HD".

    Also I can only imagine how it went in the CEO boardroom.

    "I'm looking for fun ideas for a new game"

    "I have one, Boss. Picture this: Imagine there's a stationary target, right, it can't move. And you sit, in cover, and can take as long as you want to shoot it. It can't do any damage to you so you can take as much time as you want. Basically, it will be like this, but I'll throw in some easy boss battles here and there so it doesn't get totally boring"

    "YEAH LETS DO IT"
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2019
  18. Taddio

    Taddio Member

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    This is a very good-selling franchise since the 90's, are you living under a rock?!? Not saying the game is awesome, but it's quite a feat to make a game franchise survive 20+ years
     
  19. Misty

    Misty Member

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    I only saw Deer Hunter Reloaded. Because that is the only thing in the youtube results. this is what i saw



    Please watch on youtube for a larger window size in order to experience the fully mediocre glory.
     
  20. mamacato

    mamacato Member

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    Lol.

    You guys still use the onomatopoeia El oh El?
     
  21. Pfap

    Pfap Member

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    Every starry-eyed new dev... until they learn that there is a set way to do things that has been built on top of society. To clarify I mean that people that don't know what making a game involves often have a new and exciting ideas that are not in the realm of possible. Almost, more along the lines of developing massive life like simulations which are far different from games. You know we will be screwed when our "games" need game developers.
     
  22. Jabbers

    Jabbers Member

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    To avoid further confusion: I wasn't directing my post to anyone in particular.
     
  23. Bearman_18

    Bearman_18 Member

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    The only time I've received genuinely helpful "ideas" were actually insightful suggestions about deeper mechanics. A rare find. Lol. And they only come after lots of discussion about what the game already plans to be.

    Kids be like "Here's an idea. Make my game for me." Or "here's some hindsight. This game should've had this."
     
  24. HeWhoShallNotBeNamed

    HeWhoShallNotBeNamed Member

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    I'd first like to say that I do understand this argument to a point. There are people that I haven't told about the fact that I'm working on a game for this precise reason. I've heard their game ideas, and someone who can say "Wouldn't it be awesome if the next Elder Scrolls was set in the present day?" with a straight face doesn't necessarily need to know that they have direct access to a game developer, especially one so early in the process that any contribution to the project might make them think "we're working on a game." So I get it. But I would argue that its wrong to paint the majority of "idea guys" as lazy people that are just sitting around waiting for people to do the work for them. I would consider myself an "idea guy." I came up with the concept for the game I'm working on long before I learned enough about coding to do it justice. And yeah, sometimes the disconnect between what's in my head and the amount of time to its taking to execute can be discouraging. But I think your real "idea people, " not the ones that spit hundreds of useless suggestions at people but the ones that have a vision that they're passionate about and willing to work towards, will do what its willing to take to see it through, even if it takes (gasp) actual work.

    Also, I think your really good developers have to be idea people, to an extent. They don't need to come into the process with that being their priority, but they should have something, be it a unique character, setting, or gameplay mechanic that makes their title original. Yeah, the guy with a bunch of terrible ideas he's never going to execute on is bad, but so is the guy who's a really gifted coder that can expertly craft a game that's exactly like everything else out there. What's cool and intimidating about game design is you need both the creative vision and the technical expertise.

    Also, I have this idea for a battle royale game, but set in the middle ages. Who wants to make it for me? I'll mention you in the credits.
     
  25. deem93

    deem93 Member

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    With that attitude no wonder 90% of indie endeavors are "remakes" of old games.


     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2019
  26. sitebender

    sitebender Member

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    This is why Suggary Miyamoto doesn't want to hire gamers at Nintendo. You won't get anything creative out of gamers, just the same art styles and games adnauseam.

    Quinton is correct though, directors steer the ship to their vision, but that's work and falls into the management category or "the money man" rather than an ideas guy category. Money men and managers have people carry out orders that can do them better than they can, but get swayed by that vision.

    I've worked for quite a few money men with ideas, but since they're paying me, suddenly they're valuable. I've also heard pitches from idea guys that brought nothing else to the table beyond promotion rather than pay, but that turns into a struggle to stay invested. I have my own ideas that I'm more passionate about than theirs.
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2019
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  27. pixeltroid

    pixeltroid Member

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    True. But a good game can be made with technical expertise but no creative vision.

    But never with creative vision and no technical expertise.
     
  28. HeWhoShallNotBeNamed

    HeWhoShallNotBeNamed Member

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    Sure, creative vision alone isn't going to make a game. But I think I may be defining "creative vision" more broadly than you are. I'm not just talking about some elaborate plot or unusual characters. You can make a good game without those (it kinda hurt to write that). But I would extend the definition of "creative vision" to include everything from how you implement game mechanics in a way that makes your game stand out from the pack to how you design your menus. Without any of these things working to create a unified experience, you can make a game that's good on a technical level, but one that players will lose interest in, perhaps without even consciously realizing why. Players, for the most part, don't look back fondly on games because they're coded well. They remember the feelings that the game evoked, and the technical aspects, for better or worse, tend to hide in the background. If they're not coded so well, though... we all remember those games, too.
     
  29. Taddio

    Taddio Member

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    Agree, but that's not what Yoyo would say...making games is for everyone, isn't it? :p
     
  30. Lonewolff

    Lonewolff Member

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    I have an idea for an MMO. It will have a billion players, the biggest skill trees ever, and the largest world that anyone has ever seen.

    I just need someone to code it for me, now that I have done the hard part.
     
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  31. RichHopefulComposer

    RichHopefulComposer Member

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    And 99% of AAA games, heheh. ;)
     
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  32. TheouAegis

    TheouAegis Member

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    I'm okay with remaking old games with new twists. I mean, god, how many Tetris clones have there been? But back in my teens I used to play Tetris 2 with one of my friends every time I went over to his house; it was a lot of fun for us because it was so colorful and had bombs. Then along came Tetris Blast, adding unique characters with their own special abilities to add a whole new (albeit rehashed) depth to the Tetris franchise. Granted, then games regressed back to being simple clones of the originals, which is why they're all so forgettable. Famicom Wars was pretty dull in the old days, but each remake got better and better. Same with Fire Emblem. And now we have games paying tribute to those franchises, like Wargroove. I like watching YouTube reviews of various games and then just letting my mind wander about what aspects from the current game I'm viewing could be enhanced with aspects from another game I've seen or played, both of which are obviously doable because they've been done before, but not done together. I don't think, "This is a great combination!" Rather, I just think, "If I took this element and replaced that element or just added it to the game, that might make for some interesting gameplay; I wonder if it's been done yet." Somebody looked at igo/weiqi video games and thought, "What if we made an igo game and added some sort of trophy collection?" And thus the Hikaru No Go games were born; I think they're the only igo games that even go above and beyond just being simple igo games. Unfortunately, they're also some of the weakest AI; so while it was a fun idea, it was ultimately flawed in execution -- but still lots of fun. Rare took the pinball game Pin-Bot and added increasing levels of difficulty to it, turning a fun but repetitive pinball table into something exciting and challenging. So yeah, a remake for the sake of a remake is pointless, but a "remake" with new gameplay elements added to it is totally acceptable as long as it doesn't detract from the core enjoyable elements of the original game.
     
  33. sitebender

    sitebender Member

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    Here's Ed Boon from the 90s explaining anyone can come up with ideas and the challenge is to put the work in and come up with a sellable product:



    It's at the 1 minute (I tried putting the time code in but it was removed). You also see that it's everyone's idea. The interesting twist here is despite being John Tobias's idea and art, combine with Ed Boon's programming, the game has lived far beyond John Tobias leaving.
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2019
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