I've just discovered Raph Koster's essay on game design (via Lost Garden), and while it's a classic, I can't help but think that most would-be game designers stumble long before getting to those advanced considerations. Why? Because of a few myths that endure and keep luring people into mental traps. So I decided to tackle some of them in the hope of bringing them down.
Myth #1: My ideas! My preciousss ideas!
This is the big bad wolf of myths, not just about game design but all
creativity: that ideas are somehow rare, unique and valuable. Well,
sorry to disappoint you: I have more ideas for games than I can shake
a stick at. Most of them are probably bad; the rest are likely to end
up unrecognizable when (if...) they're going to be made into something
playable. As for uniqueness, where do you think your ideas come
from? The same place as mine: everything we see, hear, play, read and
generally experience. Guess what, we live in the same world; our
experiences are likely to overlap a lot. Speaking of which.
Myth #2: No need to play all those other games, I'm making my own!
Uh... no. Just as you can't become a writer until you've read a TON of
books (and met Real Life face to face, but that's a can of worms I'd
rather not open now), you can't become a game designer until you've
played a ton of games AND learned what makes them tick. Otherwise, you
are doomed to at best reinvent the wheel all over again.
You wouldn't believe how many times I had to interrupt someone from
whispering his latest great idea to me (in big secrecy, of course) in
order to ask, "Have you played X? It's exactly what you're describing."
And they'll go, "Er... no? But surely my idea is different. Listen..."
Believe me, it's sad to see them deflate as I point out that every
single one of their concepts has already been executed, better than
they can ever hope to. Don't be that guy; know your art. Besides, it's
execution that matters. By the way.
Myth #3: If only I could find a good programmer/artist/musician...
Now you're just making excuses to avoid working on your game design.
Mind you, I understand perfectly, being lazy as a cat myself. But you
need to start somewhere. Learn a little programming; heck, learn to
use a spreadsheet. Many browser games are little more than that
anyway. With minimal knowledge of HTML you can prototype dialog trees,
and so on. As a bonus, your prototype could turn out to be the game!
But don't let the computer limit you. Tactical maps can be drawn on
paper and explored with miniatures, which you can make yourself from
card stock; playing cards can simulate inventory. Dice have been used
for randomness since antiquity. You can play dozens of different games
with a Reversi set: an 8x8 rectangular board and 64 disks
that are white on one side and black on the other. If that's not a
lesson in game design, I don't know what is.
Working with physical objects can also help put things in perspective:
if you can't design the next Risk, what makes you think you
can design the next Civilization?
On to reality
I started by trying my hand at making board games, learning from
various books on the subject, around age 13. My time on the ZX
Spectrum was divided equally between playing games from tapes, typing
them from books and trying to make my own in Basic. Not counting
those, I have as many games started and never finished as games
actually completed, and while none of them is original (then again,
what is?) they all have distinct personalities. Most importantly,
I still play them myself now and then, which I can't say about many
What's left when the myths are gone? Plain old work, of course! Seek
inspiration wherever you can, bang ideas together and bounce them off
other people (I never said ideas weren't useful). Experiment a lot,
and be ready to throw away failed experiments (but learn the lessons).
Seek help when you need it, but not earlier. Last but not least, love
what you're making, because if you don't, why should anyone else?
I wish they invent something better than mmos.They are so boring.purely pointless grindfest games.
But there are all kinds of MMOs out there. Some are strategies for example. And not all MMORPGs are from the Everquest family.
That said, I agree there should be more diversity. But MMOs are the most difficult games to make. I can understand that producers don’t want to take risks. For now, I’m looking towards smaller indie games for better-than-average experiences.