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18 Mar 2015

Being Realistic About Your Indie Game Ideas

Everybody think their ideas are awesome. Admit it: you truly believe that you’ve had at least one amazing idea in the last year – and that’s okay. We’re all biased when it comes to our ideas (that’s human nature), and because we think they’re so great, many of us are overly protective about them. We’re afraid that if someone learns about our latest idea, they will steal it and profit from it.

But there’s a huge difference between stealing and idea and implementing it into an actual product.

The same goes for your indie game ideas – and today, we’re getting realistic about them. It’s time to view ideas as what they really are – ideas. Sure, ideas are the jumping off point for creating something great, but on their own, there’s really nothing to them. In fact…

Ideas (on their own) are worthless

I know a guy that has a new idea every time I see him. He has probably had about 20 new business ideas every year that I’ve known him; and he shares these ideas with nearly everybody that he knows. If ideas truly had some kind of monetary worth, this guy would be a millionaire by now!

Yet, he doesn’t have the vision to follow through with his ideas – and that’s what is important. We see this in science fiction all the time: someone creates an interesting, forward-thinking piece of technology, and it isn’t until years/decades later that a visionary takes the idea and turns it into something revolutionary. Authors were writing about pocket-sized computers decades before the invention of the iPhone, and the same applies to virtual reality.

If you think you have an amazing idea for a new indie game – great! That’s how great games are built, but don’t think that great ideas are half the battle of developing an indie game. As stated, they are nothing more than a jumping off point to greatness.

Balance ‘sharing’ and keeping your ideas secret

A few years ago, an indie developer wrote a comment about how they had a great idea for an indie game, but they didn’t want to get any feedback on the idea because they were afraid that someone would steal the idea. It’s worth being concerned about, yet if you don’t share your ideas and try to get some sort of feedback, you will never know if your idea is truly great.

Thus, you need to consider who you share your ideas with. Getting insight if it’s a good idea or not from reliable family and friends is a great start, as is sharing the idea with experts that you trust. I’ll give you a perfect example: there’s an indie developer from Texas that shares new ideas with me and other sources that he trusts on a regular basis. For about 30-minutes, he tells me which ideas he has for the game, shows me the art, and asks me what I think about the game, if there are things that could be improved, and so on.

Every time the two of us have done this, he always comes away with a few new ideas he never thought about and implements them into his prototyping phase. By sharing details with people he trusts, he not only learns about whether or not his ideas are good, but he’s able to expand upon his ideas even further!

Never keep your ideas completely secret – but be sure you are sharing them with people you trust!

That million dollar idea? It may be a dud

There’s an old saying among authors that goes, “never be afraid to kill your children,” meaning never be afraid to give up your ideas if they are not panning out – no matter how attached you may be to them. I understand: it’s easy to fall in love with your ideas; even when the idea doesn’t work well for your indie game. Yet, the idea may not be an absolute dud…

Your idea may be perfect – but in a different limelight

An idea that may seem like a dud today may be worth a million dollars later down the road. Ideas are a lot like puzzle pieces: they may not fit into your project today, but may fit perfectly in another project at a later date. Feel free to be disappointed if your idea doesn’t pan out today, but know that it may be worth revisiting when the right time comes about.

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