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The 'Ideas' Guy

by Kimberly Unger on 03/10/09 12:54:00 pm   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


"Well, really I'm more of an idea guy."

Its a turn of phrase that makes me wince when I see it in class, or hear it drop from the lips of a new and untested game developer.  When I see it as an instructor it usually heralds trouble.  It's almost a form of foreshadowing warning me that this person is missing a skillset somewhere and they're hoping having a great idea will make up for that. 

There are a lot of ideas out there.  Many original, many rehashes of the same thing we saw last year except with bigger guns, or shinier puzzle pieces and the occasional piece of transcendental brilliance. 

I'm not bagging on people with great ideas in general, but when it comes to games, having a great idea is simply not enough to get that game made.  You need to have something else, another skillset beyond just coming up with "great ideas".  Ideas, I hate to say, are a dime a dozen, especially in an industry as creative as our inherently tends to be.

So what's your "in"?  What's your route to production going to be?  You have to step up to the plate and be a salesman.  You're going to have to stand in front of people and *ABOVE ALL* communicate

You're going to have to show someone or a group of someones exactly how cool your game is.  You're going to have to paint a picture up inside their heads that is so compelling that they have no choice to buy-in. 

This goes beyond just selling your idea to a producer, in order to get anything created, whether it be concept art or programming tech, you are going to have to convince people to help you out, to produce spec work on YOUR idea, versus the five ideas of their own that they already have cached and ready to go. 

In all cases (code, art or sales) you're going to need a design document.  It's like the pass or go question from a producer, "do you have a design document."  There are a rare few instances where something scribbled on a cocktail napkin over lunch is going to suffice, but I would advise against betting on that situation when you're first starting out.   As an "idea guy" this is where you have your chance to shine. 

A design document involves a lot a writing, a lot of thinking, a lot of what if's and why thats.  It's the first hurdle, because if you cannot put one together, then the game's over before it starts.  They are time consuming, tedious things, and noone's going to handle that bag of snakes for you. 

But if you don't have artistic skills, and you don't have programming skills, then this document is where you have to make your stand.  The prose needs to sing, the gameplay descriptions leap from the page and burrow hungrily into the mind of the reader like something out of a Steven King opus. 

The spelling needs to be right (and shame on you if you rely on spell check to save you) the grammar makes sense, the descriptions thorough, the characters well developed and consistent. 

If you can't code, and you can't draw, then you're going to have to write and write well because after the meeting or the phone call, this is what's going to be left behind to speak on your behalf.  You want it to never shut up. 

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