Ideas > Design ?

Just a quick follow-up to my last post. Seems my response stirred up some attention, and in the meantime I’ve done some more thinking and discussing and learned a bit more about what Squidi‘s been up to.

Part of why I wrote up my thoughts was that I’m trying to sort them out. There’s a good chance I’ll be teaching some game design workshops in the fall (not because I’ve mastered it but because teaching is one of the best ways to learn more about something). I want to go into this with a decent perspective of what matters and what doesn’t, and be able to convey that to people who are new at this. I don’t want to stifle creative energy, but I also don’t want people setting themselves up to fail because of unrealistic expectations. Having already seen people come to me with a Great Idea which falls short of reality in horrible ways, I want to know how to help people get off of that train-wreck track as quickly as possible and get to making some awesome.

But this time I let myself get sucked into interweb drama, which is never a good idea. I was wrong in some ways, and more importantly I set myself up as The Voice Of Sanity when I’m still floundering through this process myself. Plus I started off with a wrong idea of where Squidi was coming from when he’s probably got more game industry experience than I do. Oops.

So, minus ten points to me for perpetuating internet angsts and misjudging people. Plus a few points for learning something in the process.

Squidi has posted some follow-up thoughts on the value of ideas, and I think he’s onto something:

The idea sets the boundaries. A bad idea with a good implementation may actually be worse than a great idea with a bad implementation. Everything that you can do, every implementation, every possibility, and every potential is embodied by the idea. In other words, the idea defines the range of quality that is possible.

I think I can agree with that, or at least move in that direction. Personally I would add that real-world experience in testing and building on ideas gives you a greater ability to sort out the good ideas from the bad. But that doesn’t change the fact that starting with a crap idea will probably never give you an awesome game. (Unless it’s B-Game Comp awesome, I guess, but now we’re trapped in an infinite loop of semantics.) I’m pretty sure you could also take an amazing idea and completely trash it with shoddy implementation, so maybe ideas are more like an upper bound, or a mean value of a set of possibilities with a long tail downwards into potential craptasticness. But now I’m drawing too many little graphs in my head and no good can come of that.

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