Symbll Day 6

15 December, 2009

Today I had a little argument with a friend of mine. It boiled down to a few main points (it was really all over the place, which is how I think and consequently argue).

I told him about Symbll by telling him I was thinking of making a mall simulation game. I found out that describing a game to anyone is a difficult task. A person will judge new ideas based on old ideas. Immediately he thought that creating a mall sim was a horrible idea. He didn’t think anyone would have fun with a mall sim game, and thought that someone had already made a mall sim game (without any examples), so there was no reason to make a new one. I told him my idea about using symbols and icons to explain everything, but that didn’t seem novel to him at all. No matter how much I tried to explain the game to him he would just came back to the conclusion that I shouldn’t make a mall sim game because no one would find it interesting. I was confused because he had such a strong view that no one plays sims, even though I enjoy quite a bit. I was also mad that he was calling all sims the same. I said it was like calling Modern Warfare 2 and Killzone 2 the same thing because they are both first-person shooters. Imminently he said that wasn’t a valid argument because the two games have different game play, and are set in different times. I was baffled, he considers FPS games to be completely different from each other, while all sims are the same, especially if a mall sim was already made. I guess I should have used two World War II first-person shooters to drive the point home. This is why I hate explaining a game that is in development to a person, they will automatically inject their own vision of what a game will look and play like, even before I can explain my vision fully. I wonder how to overcome this bias, since most games already describe themselves in a particular genre, even though aspects of the game are different.

We have been bouncing ideas around about an MMO game for a while, so when I told him that I wanted to create a mall sim he didn’t really understand why. I starting telling him that this would be the first game that I ever made, and I needed to start out “smaller” to gain knowledge of how to code a game, and all the process that went into creating a game. His view was, “we have to create the best game ever made” (which is massive with all of the ideas we have had) and nothing smaller would be acceptable. He suggested I make a game where you defend a caravan, which is something we might implement in the MMO. For some reason he assumed I was shooting too low with a mall sim. He also thought I wasn’t going to try to make it the best mall sim I could. He said, “my philosophy is to be the best at what you do.” Thanks a lot for the vote of confidence. You know, for a second I was toying with the idea of skimping on quality from the beginning. Anyway, I brought up that Leonardo Da Vinci didn’t just paint the Last Supper, he had to practice before he could create such a masterpiece. He thought this was a totally outlandish statement, and remarked about how “he probably didn’t just sit around and draw poop.” I thought that was an outlandish statement. Either way, I think his point was that you should start big, and do it right without any practice. Maybe by refining as you go along, I didn’t really ask.

So the arguments were all over the place, but I think the main lessons I learned were:

  • People like different genres, some are more set in one genre while others float around. Some people will hate a game because of the genre it is placed in, like a sim.
  • Never state your opinion on a game unless you have played it, or have at least let the developer explain their vision fully.
  • Try to be constructive when telling someone about your dislike of a genre. Try to be more constructive than just saying people won’t play it because you don’t have a personal interest in the genre.
  • Understand that people have different tastes than you.
  • In developing a game make sure you consider what other people like and dislike in “similar” games.
  • Even if there is a “similar” game don’t jump to conclusions that the game being developed will have the same “mistakes” as the other game.
  • Most people don’t fully understand the complexity in creating a game, especially from scratch. Its more than just thinking up an idea. Writing the code is often complex in itself, it isn’t as simple as clicking a few buttons and saying its done. Even while using a game engine, you have to appreciate the people who created the engine which makes it slightly easier to write your game. Don’t take game engines for granted, and don’t say it was easy.
  • Arguing about subjective views will get a person nowhere. Each person has their own interests, and simply arguing about them will not change either person’s view.

Sorry about the rant, but there are some things that irk me.

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