Now Hiring: Idea Guy

Artix Krieger | Friday, June 21, 2019

Because, every Video Game Studio needs... "an Idea Guy"

Is the inside of your skeletal brain case literally about to explode with all the amazing ideas in it? Do you love video games and think about them non-stop? Do you want to be a driving force in the creative, competitive, and magical world of video game design? Have you ever seen someone post, "Hey, are you guys hiring... an idea guy?". Either way, this post is a good read for you. Please read all of it and join us in the comment section below.

What is an "Idea Guy"?

...also, why are there exactly 0 job postings for them?

I have personally been asked a thousand times if we were hiring an "idea guy". Turns out, a lot of other video game studios get asked the same thing every day. I mean, why not? You have great ideas. You see things and instantly know what would make them better. What if every idea you had could be effortlessly transformed into a new monster, item, skill, map, or amazing new feature? If you could... you could build the biggest, best, and most amazing game the world has ever seen. Right?

An article on Reddit says, "People who ask to be Idea Guys... are out of their minds"

I am writing today's post because of an article I found on Reddit. It was written by a professional video game designer. The article was a furious rant about how stupid it was for anyone to even ask to be an "idea guy." It felt like they belittled anyone who felt they had valuable ideas without having any video game development skills or experience. This... upset me. I really felt like the article was offensive to the creative energy and enthusiasm of gamers. Enough so, that it seemed worth the time to make an in depth post about the mythical concept of "the idea guy".

So... who comes up with ideas at a Video Game Studio?

Shortest & bestest (TM) answer: Everyone!

Sure. Games typically have a designer. But, when you are a part of a game team of 2 or more everyone is part of the process. Sure, he artists make art, the writers write, and the coders code... but they have no end of ideas. They, like you, are endless fountains of creativity. The sentences starting "what if we could..." come up a hundred times a day or more.

Way back when I was just a weee lad, and AdventureQuest was just a sparkle in my eye.... (kidding, we know it was a skull or something in my eye)... I had a truly, amazingly, super 100% original idea that one one had ever done before. A game with randomly created dungeons! Then Diablo 1 came out. I swore up and down that they somehow got into my head and stole my idea! How could they possibly have come up with the exact same mechanic of random dungeon generation as me! (Pro Tip: Random Dungeon Generator code existed before I was even born.) As gamers, we are creative by nature.  Turns out, that much like me... everyone says the same "Wouldn't it be cool if..." or "Oh man, what if..." questions when playing games. In a way, we are all part of some "great conversation" which we are still continuing today.

Here is an real-life example of our personal Great Game Conversation:

  • Artix, this table top RPG you made is pretty cool... what would it be like if you made it into a video game?
  • AdventureQuest is a really cool single player game, what would it be like if you could play it with other people?
  • Woah! AdventureQuest Worlds is a 2D MMORPG... what if you remade it as a 3D game? ...and you could play it on your phone too.
  • Awesome! AdventureQuest 3D is a cross-platform MMORPG... but what if you could.... <insert the many what if's here>

The story of what we have accomplished above is just a tiny part of the all-encompassing conversation happening with video games... from idle games, to battle royale, to strange experiments. It is our "what if" ideas that actually creates evolution in the game industry.

...but, having an idea is simply not enough.

What does it take to turn ideas into something you can play?

"Execution" - noun. the carrying out or putting into effect of a plan, order, or course of action.

An idea is great, but how does it magically turn into something "real"... you know, so you can play it? You should know, I have the truest and deepest respect for those who create. Individuals who turn an invisible ideas floating in our squishy organic thinky processors idea into a thing in the real world. It is sacred.

"If it was easy, everyone would do it..."

Have you ever had an idea, tried to do it... and hit a brick wall? Most people seem to quit when they hit the wall. I am pretty darn sure the secret to success is to never give up. Not in a cheesy way. You really do have to keep going until you achieve success. I am a huge fan of the saying, "You win or you learn." Really, the only way to fail is to quit.

I think the challenge with the "idea guy" is... you need to do more than just have the idea.... you need to be a warrior on the battlefield who can fight through the resistance, problems, and find a way to take your idea all the way to the finish line. So, in addition to being an idea guy (or girl, etc), you also need to bring some skills to the table to turn your idea into something real. The ability to draw or write, or animate, or program, or manage, or test, or lead, or... well, whatever your special power is.

Why do ideas take so long to implement?

This one seems pretty obvious to me. But I am often surprised to discover a lot of people do not know how many moving parts, problems, and unexpected challenges get in the way of even the most simple seeming game dev task. I once made a post about life as a turn-based RPG. Where you only really have a certain number of turns per day. Let's say, for the sake of simplicity that 1 turn is an hour. And you work 8 turns per day (hahaha, the idea of only working 8 hours a day.) Then, you come up with tons of great ideas. And some of the best of them take 40+ turns of more to make! That means, you are tied up for 40 turns... which means that idea takes an entire work week to make just one little idea... and there is literally no time for you to do anything else. Including all of those other good ideas you had that day. Or the ones you had yesterday. And the new ones you just came up with today.

Because you can do anything, but you cannot do everything... at once.

Video game studios read great ideas every day from their players. I have a feeling I am not alone in asking Santa for a Time Machine or Hyperbolic Time Chamber* every year.

*That is a DragonBall Z thing for those of you who still need to watch it.

Why are some good ideas never made.

I would never say that coming up with a great idea is easy. But I would 100% say that turning an idea into a reality can be REALLY FREAKING HARD! ...and this is coming from me. I have made video games, cross-platform MMOs, mini-games, action figures, a card game, armor t-shirts, plush moglins (the truck just brought 27,000 Moglins here to the lab), and I do not have any memories of it being easy. Everything takes 10X more time to do than expected. Also, 99% of the time is spent figuring out how to solve problems as they pop up along the way.

Does the "Idea Guy?" job really exist?

Yes. I am sure of it. Because I am an "Idea Guy". But... simply thinking of ideas is not enough. You need to be able to make them actually happen. This takes your personal power. Do you have the skill to create something in 3D? Or to paint in Photoshop? Or to draw a dungeon on paper? Or write the dialog of an NPC in a Google Doc? Or do you have the influence and charm to lead others to get it done?

But wait... are you saying I can't be an idea guy?

Oh, you can still be an idea guy! You just need to find a game dev, or a team of game devs that will listen to you, that work hard, that always do their best to keep building the game for you... XD I dunno, maybe someone who's games you like playing and design notes you like reading.

So.... congratulations, you're hired!

You are welcome to be an official "Idea Guy" here at Artix Entertainment. Welcome aboard! I hereby give you the authority and power to think up awesome things and influence the development of the game with your ideas. The benefit of seeing things you talk about actually end up in game are pretty awesome. Actually, you have ALWAYS been able to do that here. We love idea guys. We love that you are a part of our "Great Game Conversation."  As always, you can post your ideas on our social media pages, on the comments below, and when you meet us in person at conventions or randomly at a coffee shop (which actually happened a night ago.. someone wearing a Dage Armor T-Shirt walked up and ordered a coffee from our Canadian Pixel Artist friend Clarion and gave some great feedback on the NES project.) We love and value your ideas. You are an important part of our video game community.

When I read that article on Reddit, I was not mad because the video game devs did not feel there was no job for someone who just had ideas... but because they seemed to miss out on the power that existed between all of our talking and sharing our ideas together. We're all idea guys. Everyone on the dev team, and everyone in our community who plays and loves the games. Something that has been an important part of our video game community's culture for over a decade.

QUESTION: If there was ONE idea that could actually be implemented within a few weeks that would make it 150% better... what would it be? (You are never limited to just one answer)


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