My aunt is a doctor (the medical kind).
When she comes to family gatherings for Thanksgiving or Christmas, she’s always bombarded by health-related questions. I’m as guilty as anyone in my family of asking for doctoral advice, and she always gives it good naturedly. You can tell she loves what she does.
If I were her, though, I’d go batshit-fucking-insane. I think this because there are certain questions I get in my line of work which do, in fact, drive me batshit-fucking-insane.
There are a few, of course, which aren’t so bad. One I get a lot is: “Oh, you’re a designer. Does that mean you program games? No? Oh, so you do art? No? Well what do you do?”
I’ve got a pretty good stock answer for that one now, but it used to drive me nuts. How DO you describe what a designer does? Nowadays I say “If we were constructing a building, I’d be a combination of an architect and an interior designer. We draw up the blueprints before it’s built and wired up and hang the curtains after it’s done” — but in the past that one was a toughie.
Another one I get a lot is “Dude, it must be fun to play games all day.” It’s annoying at first, but the subsequent sound of breaking bones usually makes it easier to bear.
But the one that is almost impossible to respond to is “Dude, I’ve got this great idea!” It’s a statement that results from a split in understanding between Game Designers and Non Game Designers. Really, ideas are fairly worthless. I have tons of them each day, and so does everyone else on my team — so the thought that any one idea could possibly have any value is fairly hard for me to grasp.
The idea is the 1% inspiration and the process of game development is the other 99% of the equation — the perspiration.
But, I hear the masses scream, what about the really innovative ideas? What about things that are different than anything else?
Okay, I’ll give you that those might be worth more, but not much more. Sure someone said “I think it would be a cool idea if you could roll a ball around and gather up objects on it and it got bigger and bigger” — but after that some poor team of engineers, artists, and designers had to make Katamari Damacy WORK.
However, this is all pretty cynical of me. I’m sure that many, many people will disagree with me and for those people I have a special present:
I’m going to give you (for free) ten ideas that you can feel free to do anything you want with. Steal them and make them into a game, and make millions. Prove me wrong.
1) In the middle of World War II, a giant Earthquake unearths an alien monolith. Activating this monolith gives the human race superpowers and promptly plunges the earth into total conflict.
2) You play a bug who can land on things and take control of them. If you land on a person, you can control the person. If you land on a dog, you can control it. Even potted plants and inanimate objects can be controlled.
3) A nintendo DS game. You create your character by drawing him and creating bones for the drawn piece to animate on. As you walk around in the real world, the game creates enemies for you based on the names of available wireless hotspots. If you defeat them, you get to keep them, customize them by drawing on them with the stylus, and trade them with your friends. If you connect to the wireless hotspot, you can fight against and see all the monsters that hostpot has generated.
4) An educational game that teaches kids math by having them create their own musical songs based on math equations. The children can share their songs with the world via a server.
5) Tic Tac Toe as a platformer.
6) A downloadable Xbox 360 game that allows you to put a music CD in the drive while you play. The game creates content based on your music tracks (like a racing game that makes custom tracks that flow based on your music). Every CD creates a new racetrack for every music track on it.
7) A Massively Multiplayer Online Game where you play Bacteria. You can swim around in beautiful abstract environments and add bits of destroyed enemies onto yourself to customize your appearance and to gain power. Many bacteria can combine together to form larger organisms that work as one unified whole.
8 ) A platformer in an urban environment. Like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, only without the skateboard. Run, jump, and climb your way around large city environments where you can go everywhere. Find “lines” where you can move from building to building without breaking your flow.
9) An adventure game in which you play a man who’s lost his memory. It turns out you’re the President of the United States.
10) A game that teaches you another language with simple Wario Ware-style minigames, each of which teaches you a single word. Uses a microphone and the wii-mote to encourage memory and to help pronunciation.
Have fun, fuckers!