Friday, September 7, 2012

A Deficiency of Ideas

"Need some help mining that?"
To start, yes, I know there's nothing new under the sun and that every new concept is build on the inventions of others.  I'm not arguing the semantics of  "originality" here.  Rather, I want to point out the lack of vision that periodically troubles the game industry.  Now for the record there's nothing wrong with a new IP that's a combination of two or more pre-existing games.  That's called hybridization in botany and it's important to the evolution of...well...pretty much anything including video games.  The issue that's bothering me is cloning.  No, not of sheep although it might be the case that the people perpetuating the production of game clones are metaphorically sheep.

I've heard it often said that developers have no shortage of ideas.  I find that hard to believe.  I suppose if your definition of "ideas" is the extremes of vague pie-in-the-sky concepts or nitty-gritty set piece action bits then, yes, I'll agree.  Developers have no shortage of those in-house workshop, design by committee, throw a bunch of stuff at the wall and see what sticks "ideas."  What I mean though when I say "idea" is a much more expansive middle of the road concept.  Whether or not your a fan of Tim Schafer, Peter Molyneux or Markus "Notch" Persson it's very clear that these guys had an idea that was only the tip of iceberg for something much much more.  So, I guess what I'm saying here is there are ideas and then there are ideas.  I'm sure we can all agree that the video game industry has a lot of the former and not much of the latter.

I know this sounds like a bunch of ranting from an armchair game designer.  And, no, I don't think I am or ever could be of the same caliber as guys like Hidetaka "SWERY" Suehiro or The Two Guys from Andromeda.  But that's not really the point I'm trying to make.  An idea, as I think of it, is a seed you plant in the mind of yourself or others.  Once it takes root the concept can come to fruition through synergy.  I understand that inspiration is a fickle thing and sometimes an artist's well of creativity runs dry.  The important thing is when it has become a punch your card, by the numbers, rest on your laurels situation time to step down otherwise you risk becoming deadwood..  No shame in doing so either.  After all trying to come up with a new IP when your in a torpor is like digging for diamonds with a wooden pick, even if you find them you won't be able to capitalize them.  That is unless you have the help of someone with an explosive imagination.

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