Thursday, July 12, 2012

Idea Guys

My trains of thoughts are weird. They started at door frames and somehow ended up at Idea Guys and how I hate them.

Now, what's an idea guy?

While I picked up that term in the context of game development, it extends to all kinds of creative media. An Idea Guy (gender neutral) is someone who has that super special awesome idea... and then nothing. That idea is all they have, and then they expect it to turn into something whole.

But EF, you ask, didn't XYZ do the same thing with character ZYX? Nope, probably not. What XYZ had was a concept. Big difference there.

"So there's this guy, and he dresses up as a bat, and he fights crime!" That's an idea. Some things that sound pretty nifty to you, as the idea-haver. But how do you turn an idea into a concept? That's more or less simple: You give it some thought. You think things through, expand on it, expand on the implications...

"So there's this guy. He's stinking rich, but his parents were killed. So he becomes a vigilante. He mainly wants to scare criminals, so he dresses up as a creature of the night, a bat. He doesn't have super powers, but he has money to buy cool gadgets. And he fights crime!" That's a concept. See the details? The thoughts behind things, the motivation of that character?

The problem with Idea Guys

The Idea Guy wishes for their idea to be turned into something complete. In terms of game development, I've often seen people who look for a spriter, a scripter, someone who designs the levels and, in some cases, a writer. The stock question at these people: "Then what are you going to do?" Answer: "The story. I already posted it, duh." No. Just no. Some vague synopsis is not the story. It's more like the idea for a story.

Most often, these Idea Guys won't find the support they need and wonder why the heck not, since they have this brilliant idea. Now let me make that clear: Everybody has ideas. Place me in front of a conveyor belt and let me do the same thing for ten hours almost straight and I'll have tons of them. Or I'll mentally write cracky fanfic, but that's not the point.

The point is that ideas are worth nothing if you don't expand on them. Hell, if you have a concept, if you put thought in things, maybe throw out some kind of demonstration of your concept in action, you're much more likely to get your support.

If you ask for such a demonstration, you'll often get something like "but I can't do anything, that's why I'm asking for help in the first place." Uhm... I doubt that. Everybody can make rough sketches, even if they're stick figures. And if you say that you can't draw or compose anything visual at all, give us some textual stuff. A script, a screenplay, some description of how you imagine things to play out. Otherwise you'll just be someone who stepped up and shouted "I have an idea!" while proudly holding up a lightbulb.

Bottom line: If you really think you can't be anything else, at least try to be a Concept Guy.