Setting a Date

My Patreon will go live on the 1st of June. There’s lots still to sort, and I’ve been researching best practice and advice to make sure it goes as smoothly as possible. Their website is an odd mix of lots of helpful advice, and yet a strange dearth of answers to almost all the specific questions I actually have. I can’t decide whether it’s them being rubbish at answering questions, or me being weird and asking odd ones. I suspect the latter. Anyway, their customer services folk are very helpful, so I’m never puzzled for long.

I was distracted yesterday by one of the dreaded Good Ideas that won’t shut up till it’s written down. That took a surprising amount of time as it just kept unravelling and revealing more of itself. Like a tick that’s burrowed in deep, you have to get all of it out or it causes problems later, so I kept following till I got to the end. Interesting stuff though. One of those moments when it feels like you’ve hit on something that hasn’t quite been done before, but which really should be. Of course, it’s too early to have tried it on the table yet, and that sort of thing has a habit of feeling very different in reality. So, we shall see. For the moment it’s going to have to wait in line as the Patreon project and its related writing is my main focus right now.

It’s always nice to have these ideas though. I don’t think that it makes me especially clever as they are, like pretty much every idea, simply a different mix of existing ingredients, and that can be done by anyone. In fact, it almost certainly either has been (and I just don’t know it yet) or will soon be done by someone I’ve never met. I’ve had this happen a few times before. It’s not that anyone has been stealing ideas; it’s just that we are in a shared global culture and are all swimming around in the same soup of ideas and influences. There are only so many ways these things can go together and work, so it’s inevitable that more than one person will eventually hit on each magical combo. If something you watched or read or heard sparked you to think that A and B might work really nicely together if sprinkled with C, then why should it not spark the same thought in someone else? Most of the experiences that influence our thinking are shared with myriad others.

I’ve also seen this in my consultancy work when I’ve been talking to novice designers. If anyone thinks that the big game companies will steal their idea, it’s novice designers. In truth, it’s hugely unlikely (I know of zero confirmed real-world examples of this happening). Far more likely that they’ve simply come up with essentially the same combination of A, B, and C. Ideas are not in any shortage. Far from it. Why would they steal yours?

What does happen a lot is that someone will show me their amazing idea and be completely unaware that it has already been done, often more than once. Their lack of knowledge of the wider history of games is what shows here, not that they’ve stolen the idea from elsewhere as they may have no idea where to look. It’s the mirrored cultural references again, and the fact that these mechanics only go together in so many ways. Dice only land on so many different sides.

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2 Responses to Setting a Date

  1. Patreon is an evolving platform. I’ve been running mine for almost a year (well, longer than that but only actually creating and promoting it in earnest for a year) and it’s been a creative lifeline, but getting the most out of it is almost a full-time job in itself.

    The community is very helpful and the company is very responsive to suggestions for features and similar. There’s a lot of “how I quit my day job thanks to Patreon” and “how I got 1000000 YouTube followers thanks to Patreon” bullsh*t. The advice they give isn’t *wrong*, per se, but different markets have different potentials, and no one should underestimate survivor bias, a.k.a. some people just get lucky.

    I talked about the effect of inspiration particles (pace Pratchett) in my seminar at the Let’s Roll virtual con last weekend – when you’ve got an idea that just won’t leave you alone. I think it’s probably the best route into game design if what you want is a good game. Less so, if you want to make some money!

    So far, the core mechanic for Horizon Wars games seems to be unique, though, which is pleasing. Doing my best to capitalize on that! 😀

    • Quirkworthy says:

      That’s kind of what I understand. Like everything else, the headline “winners” of any given platform are a tiny fraction, and the reality will be treating it as a job of work. And that’s cool. Not afraid of work 🙂

      The question of why anyone would want to design a game is an interesting one, and the various end goals are frequently mutually exclusive. Very few single projects tick all the boxes. However, there’s no reason you must have the same goal for everything you do.

      If you think that you’ve got something special, you’re absolutely right to reinforce and exploit it. The real challenge is convincing enough of your audience that you’re onto something! Sometimes the gaming audience just can’t keep up with a designer’s brilliance 😛

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