12/26/2012

"I have a brilliant game idea!"

A year ago I decided to get into game development. The basis of my decision was plain and simple: I had great concepts for games, so clearly I had to be destined to become a game designer! Anyone who knows at least a little bit about the industry knows how ridiculous it sounds.

Not aware of how abstract this was, I approached some game development companies - I mailed them that I have a great idea for a game and that we should meet and discuss it! Of course, I thought I will rock their socks off and they will hire me right away as a game designer while apologising they didn't discover me earlier. You can imagine what a round number of replies I got.


The sad truth is that big gamedev companies don't need new ideas. They have enough of their own. Currently, making a game lasts years and a number of people is working on them. Naturally, they keep having new concepts. Some get used in the currently developed games, some are saved for later, and many of them never see the light. Imagine a team of 30 people working on a game for 3 years... Imagine the queque of ideas they have lined up.


Another reason why the companies don't want to hear the concepts from the outside, is because in most cases you, as the idea guy, would like to sign some NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement), which would bound the company to not use whatever you present them without your permission. Now this has some consequences to the company. If someone presents them some solutions for game mechanics they are already going to use in one of their games, it might lead to uncomfortable situations - people claiming that the company stole their idea. It's just not worth it.

Ok, you will say - big companies don't want my idea, but maybe some indie developers would like to hear them? The answer here is most likely "no" as well. Indie developers mostly don't have the manpower to implement new concepts. They are struggling to deliver their own game.


Paradoxically, the easiest way to implement your game idea is to do it yourself. Even if you don't have the programming skills or graphic skills, you can try to get together a small team of game making wannabes and take on the role of the designer / producer. There are also free and advanced tools available for anyone who wants to try making a game: UDK (a free version of Unreal Engine), Unity (multi-platform development engine and toolkit). If you don't want to do a whole game, try level editors - lots of games have it included (StarCraft and Heroes III had them, I am sure lots of newer games do to). Some of really good level designers started with making some fan maps for Quake or any other popular game. The worst that could happen - you will fail, but will still gain valuable experience.

But before you decide, what to do with your concept stop and think for a moment. Why didn't anyone think of it before? Because others are dumber than you? Well, maybe... But maybe your idea just wouldn't sell? Or maybe it would be way too hard to implement and just not worth it? As a person from outside of the industry, you are often unable to assess the worth or doability of what you thought of. After six months in gamedev I have reviewed my ideas from a year ago and - yeah, no surprise there - these were all pretty unrealistic.


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