Ideas vs Execution


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edited in Questions and Answers
Do you think there's value in revisiting an established idea, with the intent to execute it differently? And do you think you can produce something better that way?

Maybe there are more seasoned gamers here that can provide examples, but it looks like original concepts keep winning, and it's a bit tough to come up with a unique thing every single time, especially now that indie game dev is on a runaway growth cycle. Any idea you can think of has probably been executed at least once.

Minecraft was the first of it's type, DOTA was the first of its type, so were games like Half Life and Quake. There are spinoffs, variations, mods, all of them that do quite well in the market, sure, but they can't really supplant the games that they extend. For them, being the first of their kind was probably the biggest contributor to their success.

On the other hand, if you keep trying to force "innovative" mechanics or concepts into a game, you might create something totally unplayable, or worse, add in things not because they contribute to the core idea, but just so that the game stands out. And does standing out really matter, and does it matter more than creating a narrow, well-defined, well-polished experience?

I guess I'm struggling with this one a bit. I'm designing a game that I think has a lot of potential to be fun, but nothing in the game itself is really unique, and I don't really want to invite "This game is like ______ but with _____" comparisons. How do you go about creating a fun experience, knowing that you're reusing existing mechanics, while still trying to create something unique? Does it really all come down to the person executing the idea, adding their perspective to it? Or does the idea itself have to have standalone, unique merit?

Comments


  • Notice: Undefined variable: GuestHourOffset in /home/nitrogen/public_html_mgsatest/forums/themes/mgsa/class.mgsathemehooks.php on line 281
    Aeon of Strife led to Defense of the Ancients.
    Infiniminer led to Minecraft.
    Wolfenstein led to Doom.
    Doom led to Quake.
    Quake led to Half Life
    DnD led to Adventure and Zork.

    I can go on for a while, and do it in other mediums if you really want.

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    No that's perfect, @Karuji - I was hoping there'd be some good examples of that.

    So would it be fair to say, then, that the more commercially successful games were simply better executed? I think a few people would argue that, for instance, Quake did not lead to Half Life - different studios, entirely different games. Maybe I'm wrong about this but I don't get the impression that Valve sat down and went "Hey let's build a Quake clone with better story".

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    edited
    I think the title of the thread kinda says it all.

    At the core of FPS games it's about someone with a gun shooting other things.

    There are a variety of nuances that stem from people trying to execute on that idea in manners they find interesting. So while Valve didn't sit down and go "Well lets make Quake with a different story" the existence of Quake formed part of the structure of what FPS games were, at the time, which influenced how Valve made Half Life. Well that and that they used a modified version of Quake's engine ;)

    Kinda like how you would look at how Doom defined the FPS genre for quite some time (FPS games used to be called Doom-likes or Doom-clones) Halo did a similar thing since after Halo most FPS games made the player regenerate health after not taking damage for a certain amount of time.

    This is a pretty common thing in most mediums where something will come along and define how things are done and people will iterate on that until the next thing that is really different succeeds. But often that thing that is really different is an amalgamation of things that were different and didn't succeed and things that were the same and did succeed. But you can't really put it down to some kind of formula of "You must be x different and y same in order to succeed."

    Edit: typos

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    Really? GoldSrc came from Quake? You learn something new every day!

    So what really seems to matter then, is not so much ideas or execution, but how well an audience receives it. You're right about Halo - the hide-to-heal mechanic is absolutely everywhere now.

    I suppose we're all iterating. I recently read that Blizzard cancelled a game they'd been working on for 7 years (Titan), because it didn't "feel right". And if companies of that caliber don't have all the answers, what hope do us mere mortals have?

  • Notice: Undefined variable: GuestHourOffset in /home/nitrogen/public_html_mgsatest/forums/themes/mgsa/class.mgsathemehooks.php on line 281
    Well you can look at it as some kind of mix between Survivorship Bias and the Overton Window there is an acceptable realm in which a game will be successful, and we only really remember those games. Like who remembers Aeon of Strife or Infiniminer?

    So yeah everything is iteration. We all draw from multiple pools. But even games that are not successful (and really what defines a successful game is a completely separate and lengthy debate) does not really infer the game to actually have value.

    Like I would probably argue that anything Michael Brough releases whenever Call of Duty 16 comes out will have more cultural value than CoD16.

    And actually since I brought up Brough it does bare to mention that there are sections of game dev completely devote to doing extremely weird and new things that people might not think are games. But that loops back into what makes games successful which goes back into the survivorship bias and overton window, and it will all get really cyclic really fast.

    Best thing I can really say is to post your game here and get the community to give you some feedback on it ;)

  • Notice: Undefined variable: GuestHourOffset in /home/nitrogen/public_html_mgsatest/forums/themes/mgsa/class.mgsathemehooks.php on line 281
    A simpler way of saying what has been said here is that there's a fair bit of luck in getting a game to succeed, and while execution isn't *everything*, every element that helps a game helps it.

    We're all iterating. As someone who has a small collection of prototypes that I feel are pretty damn original, I can say that being original for its own sake doesn't really work. You gotta make it work, and what usually works is a lot of familiar grounds - people need to be able to relate to your creation to be able to engage with it.

    And it comes through in what I play. I look at the games I do play and most of them are not entirely original. Yes I've tried to seek out variety and interesting things, but everything is really an iteration of something else.

    And thus make stuff, show people, repeat. If you have another take on an idea, try it by all means, but never be married to an idea. Keep making :)

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    Tuism said:
    people need to be able to relate to your creation to be able to engage with it.
    I think that sums it up brilliantly. There has to be some sort of common ground, and that means you're gonna do some stuff the same way it's been done before.

    Thanks for the feedback, guys/(girls?), it's quite motivating :)


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    So something not mentioned, your original post asks if innovation is always necessary. A common maxim is that you either need to be completely innovative or your need to differentiate. Michael Brough is on the far end of the innovation scale. But that's not the only way to make games. Appealing to a genre or niche generally means that the are lots of established conventions the players expect to have. It's why any fps has homogenized control schemes. But this is where you need to differentiate. A fps with "x".

    You seem like want to avoid this. Simple truth is its about marketing. People need a reason to play your game. Blizzard or valve can get away with making a "good" fps or rts game. You can't complete with that. People need a hook if want lots of people to play your game.

  • Notice: Undefined variable: GuestHourOffset in /home/nitrogen/public_html_mgsatest/forums/themes/mgsa/class.mgsathemehooks.php on line 281
    If there's absolutely no innovation in a game, then it's exactly the same as something else, which makes it a clone.

    I'd argue that you always need at least some innovation - be that in how you handle input within the structures of a specific genre, an entirely new mechanic, a different setting that feeds back into the game's design, whatever - there has to be innovation somewhere.

    There are so many different ways to innovate and combine ideas differently that I don't think it makes sense to ask if innovation is more important than anything else. Innovation is a given, what you need to do is test your specific innovations to see if there's any value to them: If you want to sell your games, then you need to find out if there's value to players in the market; if you want to say something with a game, then you need to find out if there's value to the audience and the message; etc.

    The important thing isn't innovation, it's testing innovations quickly to establish if they're worth something or not. Given that, I'd say that re-visiting old ideas in new ways is great, provided you've got a way to test those new implementations against each other to establish which is most valuable - or even if any of them are valuable at all for whatever type of value you're looking for.

    That's why you'll hear a lot of successful indie developers talk about playtesting and rapid prototyping so much.
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