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LemonScented
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« on: January 15, 2010, 06:21:55 PM »

I wasn't sure whether to post something here. Might seem like sour grapes. But I could do with some insight.

I was looking through the videos of the IGF finalists for this year, and a video cropped up that showed almost exactly what I'm hoping my game will look like this time next year. Same genre, same gameplay hook, a lot of the same game entities and set-pieces, an impressive visual style... Not to mention a half-dozen game ideas that aren't in my design doc, and probably won't be added, but which are pretty damn impressive to see in motion nevertheless. They're clearly better funded, better staffed, have a more impressive publicity "buzz", and are going to get their game finished before me and my cohorts get ours finished. I guess even in the indie world there are still Bigger Boys to (unintentionally, and with a kick-ass looking video) kick sand in your face.

Has this happened to anyone else before? What do you do in those situations? It's happened to me with annoying regularity over the years, and I've never come up with a sensible answer. We've invested a year into a game project already, and various circumstances conspire to making progress on the game slow, though steady. What are our options?

1 - Throw the last year away, try to come up with something new, and risk setting to work on that only to find that someone else has had the same idea and can do it better and sooner.

2 - Stick to our guns and plough on ahead, knowing that if and when the game gets released, every single games journalist, blogger and forum poster will compare it to the game that came out first.

3 - Try to change the design, turning it into some bastard child of whatever we originally intended, and whatever ISN'T the competition.

4 - Sack off games altogether, and try to pursue a career as designers and manufacturers of Zeppelins (I think this is a long shot).

Anyone else ever encountered this? What did you do, or would you do? How do you cope with the loss of motivation that comes with knowing your game will always be compared to another one, even though you didn't lift their idea?
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team_q
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« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2010, 06:36:44 PM »

I've had this happen all the time.
But you can turn disappointment into inspiration.
Make it better! If you can't make it better, make it different!
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Dirty Rectangles

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« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2010, 07:07:39 PM »

Maybe one of the Shadow Physics guys will chime into this thread to discuss Tower of Shadow or... Shadow Tower, or whatever it's called.
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moi
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« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2010, 08:12:02 PM »

I wasn't sure whether to post something here. Might seem like sour grapes. But I could do with some insight.

I was looking through the videos of the IGF finalists for this year, and a video cropped up that showed almost exactly what I'm hoping my game will look like this time next year. Same genre, same gameplay hook, a lot of the same game entities and set-pieces, an impressive visual style...
Is it more or less based upon Cave story?
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« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2010, 09:00:14 PM »

I have seen this sorta thing happen in the industry before.  
See:
Osmos 2009 I think


Orbital 2006


Gravmari 2009 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1skIw5iJqBI&feature=related
Of course the most successful game I have seen using the idea of absorb stuff to get bigger is Katamari, but that plays, at least for me, quite a bit differently than the others.


I know there are many other games that came about close to the same time that were very similar to each other.  I know that some people, even of these forums, have created interesting features in their games they thought were novel, but later find out about a previously unknown game to them had a similar feature.

I know I have had a lot of ideas, then to find out that: either a dozen years ago, a few months later, or see a half dozen years later they become reality.  So it is for sure important to act quickly if you have a great idea, and to really go for it.  It is also important to see what you envision has already been done, or is in development.  At least that is my impression.

Unfortunately I am not to sure what to say about your situation.  Quite unfortunate.  I am sure you have unique, fun and interesting ideas for your game.  It may be discouraging to see a competing product released that is very similar to the same product you have been developing and very similar to that that of which you have envisioned.  I am not sure how to deal with this.  Good luck with your decisions.
« Last Edit: January 15, 2010, 10:21:14 PM by BigLon » Logged

“We all sorely complain of the shortness of time, and yet have much more than we know what to do with. Our lives are either spent in doing nothing at all, or in doing nothing to the purpose, or in doing nothing that we ought to do..." -Seneca
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« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2010, 08:34:00 AM »

There'll always be someone who makes something bigger or better than you. Don't get discouraged.  Wink
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Hempuli‽
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« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2010, 08:49:39 AM »

I've seen one time where someone has used the exact same idea I had and made a polished game with it. Luckily that idea wasn't very ground-breaking.
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« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2010, 10:26:26 AM »

I thought pretty much every game was based off of something like it...

You should just release the game the way you'd like.  There are tons of areas where you could make a game "different":

different graphics
different story

I mean cloning (whether intentional or not) happens all the time.
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LemonScented
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« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2010, 03:47:00 PM »

Is it more or less based upon Cave story?

Had to go and look up some videos on YouTube (I know, I know, I should hand in my Indie Developer card for never having played it), but no. Nothing like Cave Story, although it is a platformer.

I guess right now I'm torn between going ahead with the game regardless, and quitting to design Zeppelins (but then I'm torn between most things and designing Zeppelins - isn't everyone?). It's just going to feel really sore when the game gets released and the press either ignore it because they feel like they've seen it before, or review it by directly comparing it to the game that comes out first. But as others have said here, complete originality is basically impossible - even when you come up with something completely off-the-wall and new, there's no guarantee that someone else hasn't had (or will have, soon after you) the exact same idea as well, someone who will get it into the public consciousness first and make you look like a fool.
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« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2010, 05:29:36 PM »

Make a game about Zeppelins! Get the best of both worlds. (This has always been something I want to do Smiley)
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LemonScented
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« Reply #10 on: January 17, 2010, 06:39:42 PM »

Make a game about Zeppelins! Get the best of both worlds. (This has always been something I want to do Smiley)

Yeah, but if I started making a game about Zeppelins, you'd make one too, and get it finished before me, and release it to widespread critical acclaim  Roll Eyes
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« Reply #11 on: January 17, 2010, 06:46:05 PM »

Haha in that case please make a Zeppelin game. I wish to have this motivation and skill you speak so highly of.
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« Reply #12 on: January 18, 2010, 04:14:23 AM »

Make a game about Zeppelins! Get the best of both worlds. (This has always been something I want to do Smiley)

Yeah, but if I started making a game about Zeppelins, you'd make one too, and get it finished before me, and release it to widespread critical acclaim  Roll Eyes
Too late. Airship 2600 is considered by everyone who matters as the greatest independent game of all time.
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LemonScented
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« Reply #13 on: January 18, 2010, 03:32:10 PM »

Damnit!  Curse you, Airship 2600! Hand Shake Left Apoplectic Hand Shake Right
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« Reply #14 on: January 18, 2010, 06:08:39 PM »

I know nothing about your game, so don't take it as an insult, it's just a general observation.

Often, these situations happen when the product is very inspired by other products in its category, and offers some innovations that are the result of naturally following the progression of ideas that were new when those products came out.

For instance, the portable music player. First it had a clock-style LCD display. Then, dot matrix LCD displays. Then, color displays. Video playback support. When this is what happens, it's no wonder that several people come up with the same idea at roughly the same time.

The way to avoid these situations is to take inspiration from anything but games to design your game.
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« Reply #15 on: January 19, 2010, 11:47:45 PM »

I'm curious, what have you done in the past regarding this situation?  Did you finish your games, or did you end up scrapping them?  If you haven't finished a game yet, then I think your best bet would be to plough on ahead and complete your game.  I know it will suck to hear journalists compare your game to the one that's already been released, but I think it's not uncommon... I'm pretty sure a lot of developers have to take it with a grain of salt.  If it's a good game, people will probably give it the benefit of the doubt...

When Plants vs. Zombies was first in development there were really no other casual tower defense games out there, so it felt very fresh.  But towards the end of development, not only were there tower defense games all over the place, but zombie-games and "blank vs. blank" titles were plentiful as well.  I know George was pretty annoyed with this, but in the end the game came out and did really well and people seemed to like it a lot.  So I think you just gotta do a good job and if anyone asks you, just tell them that you came up with the idea independently and have been working on it for a while.
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« Reply #16 on: January 20, 2010, 01:15:06 AM »

Oh man crap. I've seen your blog and have a pretty good idea which game you are talking about. It must be hard on you, especially since this is such a novel gaming concept (not another usual platformer or shooter).

We often think that new ideas just float around and pop up randomly, but its not so. Not always at least. Often there is a background process to it. In my view, the reason why similar concepts pop up at the same time is cos now we have tools (both software and hardware) available to enough people for ideas such as these to really crystallize.

But hey, what if these really were platformers, of usual variety. Mario is arguably the king of platformers, but what if everyone else after decided its not worthy bothering with concept that was already established... we'd miss out on so many great games.

Its time to take a good look at what you have. The concept in both games is novel yes, but its still a bit direct extrapolation of basic premise. Surely there are more aspect to explore here.

If its a liquid simulation particle based engine that you have developed, then you probably can develop more gameplay concepts around it.

Hell, I hope you haven't given up. World needs zeppelins, but I'd like to see more splashing games.

Cheers.
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LemonScented
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« Reply #17 on: January 20, 2010, 12:07:03 PM »

I'm curious, what have you done in the past regarding this situation?  Did you finish your games, or did you end up scrapping them?  If you haven't finished a game yet, then I think your best bet would be to plough on ahead and complete your game.  I know it will suck to hear journalists compare your game to the one that's already been released, but I think it's not uncommon... I'm pretty sure a lot of developers have to take it with a grain of salt.  If it's a good game, people will probably give it the benefit of the doubt...

I made a demo for a game which had a concept that about a year later turned up in a major Hollywood film (with the accompanying sub-par movie tie-in game). I still want to make that game, but it was quite ambitious so it's on the back burner for now. We continued working on the design for a good while after the film though, and I suppose by now enough time might have passed that if I went back to it then people might not be so inclined to make a direct comparison.

Worked on a commercial game which took far too long to get finished, and several games like it came out first. Our game was probably the most polished and well-rounded out of all of them, but it sank without trace in terms of sales.

My Assemblee entry turned out to be a combination of Paper Moon (which I knew about beforehand), Time Fcuk (which I didn't) and Depth (which only got announced during the contest). I finished it anyway  Smiley

We often think that new ideas just float around and pop up randomly, but its not so. Not always at least. Often there is a background process to it. In my view, the reason why similar concepts pop up at the same time is cos now we have tools (both software and hardware) available to enough people for ideas such as these to really crystallize.

This is pretty much it - ideas often come to different people at similar times, particularly ones based on technological advances. The reason that I started making my game is basically the reason they started making theirs: Because it's only just become possible to use this new technology in any kind of meaningful (meaningful to games, I mean - it's been a big part of physics for decades) way.
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« Reply #18 on: January 25, 2010, 10:20:29 AM »

I think you should finish it. If the similar game is worse than yours, you get the credit for making the game right. If the similar game isn't worse than yours and gets the media attention, there will still be people who loved it and want more. That's when you step in and say, "If you liked IDEATHEIFGAME, you'll love MYGAMEDIDITFIRST." Win-win-win.
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« Reply #19 on: January 25, 2010, 10:50:33 AM »

i think you're thinking of games too competitively. games are not trying to kill each other. imagine if the people who mde final fantasy tactics, vanguard bandits, vandal hearts, front mission, and so on were like 'wow, shining force! that is the same idea i had for a game! now i can't make my game!'

what that's missing is that two games which are similar to each other in basic idea, even if one is better than the other, are both worth playing. it's not like people pick only one strategy rpg ever to play, and ignore all the others.

i know genre isn't exactly the same thing as a similar idea, but the point remains: two games which are similar can both be worth playing (and by extension, both be worth making), and the other one existing doesn't make either of them worse.
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