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Fan ideas: What seperates them from the professionals
Posted on Wednesday, June 10 2009 @ 09:31:04 PST

            Ideas. Everyone has them, but only a few can execute them properly. In the video game fandom, ideas thrive and grow and they mature into the games that we all love to play now. Of course, once a game is done being made and is shipped out to the public, sometimes the developers wish they had used an idea they had earlier. Thanks to the ability to patch games, they can do that now, but not everyone can do this or they choose not to do it. Because of this, video game fans are always spewing ideas that they think can make a current game better or think of a new game entirely.

            And this is where the problems arise. Fans have ideas for games, but do not think about the possible problems their ideas can have. One example is when fans try to add things to current games, such as new characters, items, etc. When it comes to just cosmetic stuff like new maps or new skins, that won’t have any impact on the game and are fine, but when you want to add totally new things, it will change the balance of the game.  When you add new things to the game that will change strategies or make new ones, you have to ask yourself “How will this affect the current set up?” If it makes other items or characters obsolete, then the game is already broken. Not only that, but the developers may even need to nerf other things in the game to accommodate for the new content and gamers already complain enough about anything getting nerfed. For one example, I recently had seen several people wanting a flamethrower weapon for Left 4 Dead. While a cool idea, there are already problems with it. One, it could make the game beyond easy since you could burn anything from a distance. Two, it could make VS mode completely one sided since the infected players can’t risk putting themselves on fire to attack the survivors.  Three, there is already a flame weapon called the Molotov Cocktail and it’s effective enough on its own.  To have duplicate weapons that do the same thing is asking for trouble for this game.  With the announcement of incendiary bullets in the sequel for Left 4 Dead, you may think everything I said before about a new weapon is moot, but the sequel will obviously have a different game balance compared to the first game.

            Another problem is when fans start to spew ideas for new games. Usually, it’s never something original like No More Heroes or Parasite Eve. It’s usually a spin off or something similar to an existing franchise.  One thing I saw a few times from some Nintendo fans was them wanting a mix of Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart so they could get stuff like Link racing on Epona against Sonic racing on foot or Captain Falcon speeding in his F-Zero car. The believability of people out running Sonic in Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games was stretched far, but to have stuff like Mario in his go kart out racing Samus’ ship would make too many people shout “How could this be possible!?” Games don’t have to be totally realistic, but with some things, you have to keep it in its limits.

          Another idea that gets spewed around more than Yahtzee’s hate on JRPGs, is a “Mushroom Kingdom Hearts” or a real time strategy Mario or Zelda game. The ideas could work, but again, the way the fans present the ideas makes it fall flat. For the mushroom kingdom hearts thing, more than half of the Mario characters don’t speak or have only one liners, compared to Final Fantasy characters who are not socially awkward mutes or spouting wise cracking one liners, so how can you have a story where one half of the characters talk and the other half just say nothing or repeat their names like silly Pokemon? And as for the Mario strategy game, most who gave the ideas said something like having an army of Toads go against Bowser’s forces (which is just plain silly considering that the Toads are always classified as cowards or physically weak) or having all the races of Hyrule fight against Ganon’s evil army. These are just silly because if you got an army of minor characters who can take on the forces of evil, then why do we even need Mario or Link anymore?

            Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes a random gamer comes up with a great idea and I’m all for it, but at other times, it’s too hard to take people seriously when they spew some random idea they thought that was “cool” and build their case on nothing but that. An idea requires creative imagination, but it also heavily relies on logic and common sense. We all heard the phrase “sounds good on paper” and that is what separates fan ideas from professional ideas. If something just sounds cool, then it won’t really be all that cool unless you can flesh it out and make the experience believable and fun to play.

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