They Say Ideas Are a Dime a Dozen

Typically, when a young developer/student comes up and says s/he has a great idea for a game, the conventional wisdom is to respond by saying it’s all about execution, not the idea itself. Great game ideas are supposedly a dime a dozen, and it’s all about building a great team or learning how to iterate on feedback or having the commitment to finish a project. However, I think this response always sells short the value of pure ideas. Here is a good example of what I mean:

The Unfinished Swan – Tech Demo 9/2008 from Ian Dallas on Vimeo.

Now, the team may or may not make build a good game around this concept, but I think it is nonetheless clear that the idea of exploration-via-paintball is a great one. Wish I had thought of it!

Here’s the link to their game page. Apparently, the project is being prototyped in XNA, so it’s nice to see that initiative bearing more fruit. Are they planning on releasing it as an Xbox Live Community Game? I hope so! At any rate, good luck to the team…

10 thoughts on “They Say Ideas Are a Dime a Dozen

  1. I think the root of the issue is that good execution is hard, but coming up with truly good ideas is even harder. As a fallback for having “actually good” ideas it’s possible to execute well and still end up with an overall fun experience.

    Blizzard does this with most of their games, and their level of polish is SO high that any complaints of lacking “originality” are usually stifled by how much everyone tends to enjoy Blizzard titles anyways.


  2. I can’t imagine building a good game around that idea. Seems to me the mechanic is very limited, which is why this is still a tech demo. It’s one thing to have an idea that has a wow factor and generates a lot of buzz (like this one), but another to have an idea that actually makes a good game. If the team does manage to make a good game out of this, then I’ll be impressed. Right now, this idea is still rather cheap to me, however pure it might be.

  3. I would imagine that the core mechanic behind Portal seemed a little limited at first, too. However, it ended up being an absolute riot of a puzzle game.

    With the right amount of creativity surrounding how they can use this paintball mechanic, this could be done up very nicely into an intruiging–and novel–game.

  4. I think Portal was quite open to the combination of fun mechanics. Right from the start you have teleportation, interaction with other objects, switches, change of direction… then Momentum effects, which probably came up from playtesting.

    If you think this could be transformed into a real game, give me a couple of interesting ways to do so. It seems once one gets past the idea of having to shoot something to see it, the game just becomes a regular FPS.

  5. Very neat! I think there’s a lot of ways to extend this idea. For example, maybe one type of paint disappears as it dries. Visually different environments, like a totally transparent world, would be interesting too. And what about enemies? Invisible enemies you can’t see until you shoot them… would require the player to really listen to where the enemy is coming from. How about water? Maybe that can be your second ‘weapon’. Or maybe you have paints of different colors that show alternate paths. etc….

  6. I’m with Hyun on this one. The ‘concept’ shown in the tech demo, indeed is pretty bare. But you can really expand upon the concept, taking it in some of the directions Hyun lays out.

  7. Yes it’s better. I still think it feels a little gimmicky though. Anyway that’s besides the point.
    One issue here is what do we mean by pure idea? I think Soren means an idea that instantly seems good, because we can imagine a potentially good game in our head just from that simple idea. I found that people who say good ideas are a dime a dozen generally can’t see that far, so pure ideas are not as worth as much to them.

  8. I think that the graphics are very interesting because you have the interacters awaiting to see what is next! It definetly has potiential. Maybe creat an obsticle that has to be avoided once it has been exposed. Not sure… but I like it! Keep up the progress, I’m sure your on the right track though 🙂 Darnisha

  9. the fact that there’s a demo means it’s no longer just an idea. that is, they already figured out how to paint the walls with splotches and implemented it in code.

    try pitching this paintball idea without the demo. can you convince the publishers that this idea will turn into a viable game without them seeing this video?

    i think soren as a developer himself should know many good ideas have been discarded because of many reasons, such as, turns out to be not fun or not feasible, not cohesive with rest of game, etc.

    we all have our own crazy ideas. but what we need more is somebody to make it happen. and that means following through with the execution. because no product means nothing to sell.

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