Ideas are, essentially worthless.
That "Great game idea" of yours, that will "make it big", the one that will make you a millionaire. That unique concept no one has come up with yet…
Well, no one cares! Harsh, but true, and isn't the truth always this way.
The problem is this perception, of "The Game Designer". This silhouette of a lone wolf, in the smoky apartment, amidst a sea of caffeine paraphernalia, dispensing one nugget of genius after another from his zen mind.
This, of course, is pure fallacy. Your job, as a designer, is far more complex. More importantly, the truth is better than fiction. A designer's job is to listen, really listen, to the ideas all around them. To find the practical and essential fun elements at the heart of the game.
A true master, knows he is a disciple, as much as he is a teacher. He learns constantly, seeking knowledge and plucking those golden nuggets from his surroundings. They will hear, consider, and reject ideas. Always under personal and social criticism. They will indeed be their own harshest critic.
Nothing makes your ideas better than anyone else's.
Instead of being an ideas grandmaster, a good game designer is the game's greatest critic.
Designers, when first starting out, will likely make this next mistake, I know I did. They hold onto their ideas because they are "perfect", and oh jeez, won't heed anyone who criticises it.
If you really think you have a great idea. Tell one person (just start with one, ease yourself into it), explain your idea out loud. I promise that upon hearing your idea as you describe it, will corner you into re-tailoring it. Then, tell a second person, and a third, then a group. You will, from this, learn how to receive constructive criticism. (I'm not promising it will all be constructive)
Someone is going to hate your idea.
However, listening to what exactly, someone hates about your idea (which they may not explain well, you may hear, "I just don't like it") could lead you to answers you didn't know you needed.
You cannot please everyone, and that's ok, but you must find the common theme of these critiques. If you have a level that some people dislike. They say it's too fast, too slow, too hard, or too easy. Which, if any, of those critiques, should you take on board? That's where the designer works his craft, they surgically alter the "games DNA", making the appropriate changes.
That amazing game mechanism, once it's in the game, never turns out as you thought it would.
But as long as you stick to the path for the best out of your concepts, it will be evolving, and you will learn to adapt.
Your game and the ideas that form it are a living, breathing being.
You may come to find, to no surprise, the game is running behind. You aren't going to have time to finish a ton of your ideas, that's it, they're out!
So what now? Take what you have, whatever it is that's missing, and make it work. It happens all the time, in every industry, a million times a day. It happens to every game. Don't waste time, or wonder why. Get busy solving the problem. You got this. Sometimes you succeed, seamlessly. Sometimes you won't, and that's ok.
Every day your great ideas need to be thrown and redesigned and redesigned again. You'll do this so many times that your ideas never resemble what they were when you began. But it is done so you make the best possible game you can, in the time you have. If you truly care about the quality of the game, never stop evolving your ideas.
No idea is perfect.
No one is just an "ideas person" (we can't all be Elon Musk!).
Having brilliant ideas is great. The best designers I've met, have awesome ideas that blow my mind, but they have that other thing too. They never accept anything less than the best, from themselves or others. Most importantly they're fortified by other creative skills.
Grow, change, adapt, listen and learn. Or your "great idea" will be nothing more than words on your epitaph.
Thanks For Reading
About the author:
Stuart De Ville is a CEO at zappoppow.co.uk and the Co-founder here at
Game Dev London, he also hosts episodes of the GDL podcast.
He is also involved in #PitchYaGame on Twitter, an initiative to help indies showcase their games and get noticed by investors and publishers.
A self-confessed workaholic and stay at home parent to a 2yrld boy, we really don’t know where he finds the time to write blogs!