Are Ideas Useless?

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hogiewan 102 Aug 27, 2013 at 00:15

Hi, my first post here so please be kind!!

Basically, I’ve been playing MMOs for a long time. One thing I’ve always done is taken notes on design features I liked and thought of ways to improve them. I have pages of ideas I’ve refined over the years which I’m 100% certain would make an absolutely stellar MMO.

My feeling though, is that what I could accomplish personally would be so poor an attempt that it wouldn’t be a fair reflection on the kind of game I’d like to create.

I’m not looking to make tens of millions (though it would be nice!!) I just really want to get the game I have in my head made as its something I’d very much like to play/make!

It’s not that what I want to do is so groundbreaking, its quite the opposite, its just the compendium of stuff I’ve seen working/almost working in other games put together thoughtfully.

To be frank, the game I’d like to make is beyond the scope of the Indie dev. What are my options realistically speaking?

To qualify my own position, I’m a recent CS graduate, fluent in Java,C#, PHP and with a fairly decent uptake on almost anything that’s put in front of me language wise. I’d work for poisonous money if I could get a job in the ideas room of a games company!

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fireside 141 Aug 27, 2013 at 01:06

You have to prove yourself in order for anyone to take interest in you. There’s no way anyone would take you on for a major development project. A compendium of ideas is really no idea. With your experience, your very best chance to get noticed is to develop an indie game. If you can’t do that, there’s no way you can develop a large team project. You’re a programmer so that’s a good start.

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Reedbeta 167 Aug 27, 2013 at 02:14

Ideas are not useless, but ideas are just a multiplier on execution. Alternatively, an idea is like picking a mountain to climb, which might or might not have a pot of gold at the top, but to find out you have to actually climb it. :)

See also So You Want To Be A Game Designer from Penny Arcade. What it comes down to is: there is no such position as the “ideas guy” at a game studio. Game designers need more skills than just playing games and critiquing them (although that is certainly important). They have to actually be able to execute, i.e. get stuff done, and they need experience in actually designing games, not just thinking about designing games.

Since you have programming skills already, you’re in a good place. You can start making games today. No, you can’t make an MMO by yourself, but if you can show a game company that you’ve designed and built a few small games on your own and have an understanding of how to prototype new gameplay mechanics, playtest, cull what isn’t working, and tune your game to its best possible, then you’ll be well on your way to getting a job as a gameplay programmer or junior designer at a company that makes MMOs.

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Vilem_Otte 117 Aug 27, 2013 at 02:56

On the other hand, if you’re programmer and you’re good, you can find some buddy to help you with development (graphics guy, or such).

Don’t say MMOs are impossible as one man projects, they’re possible, but it won’t be next WoW. Smaller MMO are possible (especially Flash ones), where there is most likely just a single programmer.

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TheNut 179 Aug 27, 2013 at 03:52

Option A
Get a bank loan, hire/contract workers, develop said game before your budget runs out. High risk, high reward.

Option B
Get any job to pay the bills and slowly work on your project as a hobby. In time, you’ll learn more about developing the subsystems of a video game and become a more experienced developer.

Option C
Get a job in the game industry by whatever means necessary and you’ll be to busy working on that game to care about anything personal.

9/10 devs take option C. The other guy takes Option B, often with a greater salary, work-life balance, pension, and all those other comfortable amenities :) The hardest part for you is putting down that controller and stepping away from playing games. If you spend your free time playing games rather than making them, well, those actions speak for themselves. Same goes for contemplating designs. You need to get your hands dirty and start producing something. It doesn’t even have to be a game. Make a highly scalable server for instance. That’s the key component in any MMO and in a lot of other industries, so the skills you gain will not go wasted. Plus you won’t need to waste time learning about rendering graphics, streaming audio, presentation, etc.

Making a full game from start to finish however can be ambitious. It’s not just the features you have to think about, it’s the whole package. Graphics, sounds, presentation, cameras, file formats, client/server, network prediction, load balancing, clustering, databases, user accounts, security/encryption, forgotten passwords, AI, animations, dialog/story, etc. I haven’t even scratched the surface. Take every noun in your game and that equates to work. Even if you knew everything about all those fields, the amount of effort involved to incorporate them is tedious. It’s not hard, just tedious.

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tyree 102 Aug 28, 2013 at 02:24

keep in mind once you have made a game. you will have learned a great deal. if the quality is too poor, it wont matter. you will know the game inside out. improving it will be a simple matter. as everything else game making is a step by step process. but making it is the most important step. making it pretty and exactly the game you want. comes after you make a game or games

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Vilem_Otte 117 Aug 30, 2013 at 00:05

Nutty, you missed Option D:
Start a company (or being a freelancer) and earn money that way, along with that work on your game. But you will definitely finish other games before you can even get to finish yours. Basically this is the option I’m doing right now.

But I bet Option A (sorry for saying this here - but the wysiwyg text editor is bugged :( ***) has never been successfully done. Or has it?

***- when you press CTRL+B or switch bold (to turn it OFF) (or also italic, underline, just tried it) at the end of post, sometimes the cursor jumps to beginning of the post.

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Stainless 151 Aug 30, 2013 at 08:34

Option E

Write up your idea on kickstarter, get idiots to give you loads of money. Move to the far east and post a picture of yourself on a beach with a cocktail in your hand.

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fireside 141 Aug 30, 2013 at 10:36

Joking aside, kickstarter and the others are one of the best options now days for getting an indie title financed. A lot of the games coming out are pretty exciting and legitimate.