Coping with Thoughts of Unoriginality

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by psipumpkin, Aug 25, 2019.

  1. psipumpkin

    psipumpkin BWL! Veteran

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    So, I've been working on my game for a few months now, and I'm enjoying the process immensely. I think it's coming along well, and I WANT to be proud of what I've created. The problem is whenever I look at the game, I can't help but think "this is just an EarthBound clone". It's not like I'm intentionally stealing story beats or anything, and I'd like to think I have enough unique elements to make my game stand out. Even so, I fear that from the outside looking in it's not enough and my inner critic won't shut up. Can anyone else relate to these feelings? If so, how did you deal with them, whether that be by changing your mindset or changing your game?
     
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  2. Ms Littlefish

    Ms Littlefish Dangerously Caffeinated Global Mod

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    The thing is, nothing is completely original. In fact, trying too hard to be unique can be an absolute disaster. Think of it like cooking a classic dish. People can take the exact same, simple ingredients and make completely different dishes. Properly cooking the dish takes the correct prep work and cooking techniques. Having familiar flavors aren’t a hinderance to an enjoyable dish because they went together well and the way you cooked it up can only be replicated exactly by you. Sure, maybe certain ingredients would be a novel combination...but maybe it’s disgusting and doesn’t belong together. Focus on finding your secret ingredient rather than finding the next best thing since sliced bread. #MegIsVeryHungry
     
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  3. MushroomCake28

    MushroomCake28 KAMO Studio Veteran

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    I completely agree with the above post.

    The truth is that in the artistic world, plagiarism isn't the same as in the scientific world. It is totally normal to be inspired by other games when making your games. In fact, it's actually better. The thing is that you don't want to throw the player in totally unknown waters. You want to bring something new to the table while still offering something similar to a pre-existing framework that will help the player orient himself. Think about RPG battle systems: there are many, but they have lots of things in common like enemies vs heroes, hp, usually mp, turn base, etc.
     
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  4. Lemonrice

    Lemonrice Veteran Veteran

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    I think it was Dali who said "those who don't want to copy anything, create nothing" and it's meaning is not, that you should copy in order to create. It is more his statement of how the desperate need for originality can completely surpress creativity. So even the really big ones share our trouble.

    What we do is inspired by the things we love. It takes something we truly admire to spark the idea of doing something alike, so of course we are hugely influenced by that. Some game features became so popular, that they created an entire Genre (think of metroidvanian) yet completely new games are created.

    As we start to work, we begin to see similarities in other Projekts because we get sensitive to the topic we are working on. To give you a less abstract example: when I started to flesh out my game concept I found in this forum about three similar ideas right away. Same happened after I started to think about the story. Don't let that stop you. Like ms. Littlefish said, everyone has his own approach and most ideas change a lot during development.

    Keep also in mind, that our brains tend to search for similarities, things that seem familiar comfort us, so if someone is telling you "Hey, I know that from xy" That's not necessarily a bad thing.

    So what do I do, whenever I'm not sure whether I'm coming, inspired by or just by accident created a similarity? I talk to someone about it. Sometimes I just tell my idea and wait if someone points out a negative similarity. Or I ask straight away "is this too close to... How can I change that? Do I have to change it at all, do you have a negative feeling about that?" things like that.

    Present your idea, talk about the parts of your game that you see critucal. You'll see whether people are nostalgic or irritated about a closenes to another game. People here are always happy to help and provide feedback, especially on something probably all of us can relate to.
     
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  5. Finnuval

    Finnuval World (his)story builder and barrel of ideas Veteran

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    I can only concur with what's been said already. The example of cooking a dish is a good one : you can't re-invent spaghetti but you can make it your own by adding something or by changing the presentation... And talk to others, always talk to others. I can't stress enough how much of a help that can be.
     
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  6. ave36

    ave36 Veteran Veteran

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    I don't cope with thoughts of unoriginality: I enjoy them. I see my project as a continuation of the traditions of good old Final Fantasy which Square Enix abandoned for some lame ass experiments and action games. Yes, Legend of Terra Firma is samey same as Final Fantasy 4-6. That's the entire point.
     
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  7. Treynor

    Treynor Veteran Veteran

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    I've honestly found that originality is extremely rare. Even Earthbound is not original, it's not the first RPG, it copied RPG mechanics and expanded on them. That's what most games do, they take a mechanic that was successful in another game, put it in their game and then add something to it to make it theirs. The gaming industry is 5% innovation, 95% mutation.
     
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  8. xoferew

    xoferew Veteran Veteran

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    A game that did everything from scratch in a way that had never been done before would take so long to make the game devs would lose interest and the tech would have long since moved on. ^_^
     
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  9. TheoAllen

    TheoAllen Self-proclaimed jack of all trades Veteran

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    I'd worry about how to finish my game and make it enjoyable. I don't have time to cope with unoriginality. There were some games I made as a carbon copy of other games (not RPG), and even with that I couldn't finish it or making them fun.
     
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  10. BK-tdm

    BK-tdm Manga Maker Veteran

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    Well you can either cope with comparisons but actually make a good game so that the comparisons wont matter like Dark Souls - Bloodborne - Sekiro, nobody is poiting the other screaming copycat, they're all extremely good games with their own schtick, systems, story and even differences in gameplay that make them unique, take into account they're all contemporary.

    Metroid and Castlevania (the 2D ones) created a genre between themselves, and they're pretty much explore and hunt monsters in space or explore and hunt monsters + dracula, nobody is pointing at each other because "muh idea", they're both excellent games even if the base concept and some mechanics (the map for example) are exactly the same.

    Or you can stay in developer hell trying to either cram so many "innovative" and "fresh" and "new" stuff that your project will be in the making for 15 years and by the time you actually release, your brand new ideas already got used and arent fresh anymore like what happened to Duke Nukem Forever (too much time developing and when released it wasnt hip anymore) or Star Citizen...

    Adding to these points you have examples in successful developers and directors:

    Koji Igarashi made a new metroidvania game about vampire hunting outside the castlevaniaverse, he's copying his own game idea, a concept thats been out for 20+ years and is still fun to play.

    Keiji Inafune copied megaman, his own creation to make Mighty no9 a concept he designed more than 30 years ago and man it still works.

    Hideo Kojima is making Death Stranding which is pretty much a new Metal Gear even if we cant say its the same idea, maybe it will be stealthy, or maybe a MGSV free approach style, its Kojima after all but still pretty based on his most famous series.

    Pokemon Sword and Shield anyone? Who's not hyped for yet another mons game.

    Super Smash Bros was invented as a joke in HAL, yet is a console seller game after appearing at least once in every nintendo console since the 64.

    How many Zelda games are there by the way?

    I can go on and on but i hope you get the point...

    There's new ideas that will make a hit and a big splash like Undertale, Crypt of the necrodancer and many others but sometimes is not about inventing the wheel, is about making your wheel fine-tuned, enjoyable, and most important fun... unless you're in for the money but then you wouldnt mind creating another candy crush or battle royale would you?
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2019
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  11. Lornsteyn

    Lornsteyn Sleepy Dragon Veteran

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    Well if someone enjoyed earthbound, he probably would enjoy your game.
    Every game is not completly unique.
    If you think about it, every Rpg Maker game with fantasy setting and frontviewbattle could be called a Dragon Quest clone. (Some people probably really think like this.)
    I often read: If you like your game, others will too. I think that is a great quote.
    Just do what you think is right, there are people who will play your "earthbound clone".
     
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  12. Larry Jones

    Larry Jones Veteran Veteran

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    Nothing is original

    except everything
     
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  13. rue669

    rue669 Veteran Veteran

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    There is no such thing as an original game.

    In fact, creating something totally original and unique can actually be detrimental to you.

    You want to create something familiar, because that means you'll have a built-in audience.

    The best advice I was given on writing stories is to "give them something they know...but different." Meaning, take an idea that's been used before and add your own unique twist to it. Take Earthbound and then add your own spin to it. Maybe instead of aliens from outer space, it's some other monster. Or mash up the ideas. Earthbound meets Persona. Or Earthbound meets Lord of the Rings.
     
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  14. Rewelle

    Rewelle Villager Member

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    I get that, I have a story I've been developing for years now. It's great as many people tell me. That being said I feel the same way sometimes about parts of it since some of it consists of commonly used tropes. The key is to not focus on those parts and instead focus on the big picture itself. Really ask yourself if what you've made as a whole is something that you yourself would like to play and I the answer is yes you shouldn't need anything else to approve it.

    After all, in this day and age nothing is completely original, everything has been done at least once before by now. What matters is how you spin it and what it becomes as the story progresses and if that story leaves a mark in those who experience it.
     
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  15. Tai_MT

    Tai_MT Veteran Veteran

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    Then be proud! Even if all you've done is recreate Chrono Trigger in RPG Maker MV... that's quite an accomplishment! That shows a level of skill and mastery over the program that would allow you to do a lot of cool things in your next game!

    The problem is that few people are ever truly original. That's not to say it's a bad thing. Tropes exist for a reason. Clichés too. It's a matter of execution.

    Now, you might read a lot of people saying, "nothing is ever truly original" and while that can be true... I find it's largely false. My own experience has taught me that if you really want to be original, you can do so. It is always possible to do something that nobody else has ever done before. To tell a story nobody else has ever told. To create a system nobody else has ever seen before.

    In my experience, it's just a matter of creativity, willpower, and studying the subjects of media.

    So, if you can't actually be original, or completely original... then embrace your tropes and clichés. Spin them in a way few people see. Execute them differently. Or, improve upon the design of what you are taking your ideas from.

    For example: Much as I absolutely adore and love Earthbound... The game has some really serious flaws in it. Flaws that could be fixed and refined to make an even better game.

    Even improving an old formula is original in a way.

    I.... cannot relate to those feelings. Much of my life has been "bucking the trend". I don't like to tread the same path everyone else has tread. I want to know why everyone treads that path and why they don't forge new ones. So, I go off the beaten trail to try to discover why there's no path there.

    Every aspect of my life has basically been tailored to this personal viewpoint of mine.

    I don't like watching anime that is "mainstream" and popular. I tend to find "unique" ideas of anime to be things I prefer watching. Or, niche things. Not necessarily because they're better, but because it's something "new" that I haven't seen before. Don't get me wrong, I love my "Full Metal Alchemist" as much as the next person, but I also love "H20: Footprints in the Sand".

    I just naturally seek out "new experiences" and "doing things nobody else does".

    I'll give you an example from my personal life:

    About a year and a half ago, I was made "Supervisor" where I work. Now, I had actually been doing the "Supervisor" job for quite a while before they ever made it official and created the position for me. But, I had very little control over it. I spent the first 6 months as Supervisor basically learning a lot of the "ins and outs" of the job. Basically, the standard policies, procedures, responsibilities, and legal nonsense.

    But, what else did I do? I also spent that time getting all 14 of my employees on the same page, getting them all trained to do every single job, putting my own policies in place, and experimenting with the job to find the best way to do it.

    So, as a result, I am a boss you probably won't see very often. I know how to do absolutely every aspect of my employee's jobs. If they don't come in to work, I can do their job. In many cases, I can do it better than they can. I have created every training manual and material we use in our job, complete with shortcuts and ways to make the job more efficient for the employee. I have created half a dozen documents that give my employees accountability for the jobs they do. I ask advice of my employees whenever I want to make a new change, and they are invited to shoot it down or tell me if they have problems with it (I do not always take the advice, but it is beneficial to know where employees stand as well as potential issues down the road). I allow employees to stop into my office at any time and just complain about anything they like. If they want to stop in and complain about other employees, they can. If they want to stop in and complain about a task they're doing, they can. If they just want to stop in and complain about something happening to them outside of work, I sit and listen. I do not allow them to monopolize my time, or use this policy to get out of work, but I allow them to take the time to decompress so that they can go back to working with higher morale. I actually solve the issues my employees bring to my attention, or tell them why I can't solve the issues, and provide them with "follow up" on what I've done so that they have trust in bringing me issues. I provide a large jar of candy/sweets to my entire staff that they're welcome to take from at any time, provided with expense of my own paycheck (I rarely do chocolate anymore as it goes VERY fast, and is VERY expensive).

    Basically, I do all the things as a boss that I've never seen another boss do. Including care about their employees. I actively encourage my own employees to keep their resumes updated. Especially as I have them learn something new. I actively encourage my employees to apply for jobs above their current job so they can be paid more. I also actively train my staff so that they can do a lot more than what their job title says they should know how to do.

    All of that exists, because that's who I am. I like to do everything differently than everyone else. I like to be that trailblazer. It's a fun and exciting experience. I get to make all the mistakes first. I get to crash and burn first. I get to take risks. I get to potentially be the person who sets the new standard for something. Or, the new expectation.

    Yep, that even translates into my game making. My game itself is filled with about a dozen things I've never seen in another game before. Things nobody tries. Things nobody would ever consider because they're so far outside the "normal" way of designing games. But, that's what I want to do. I want to do all the things everyone says are bad ideas. I want to try all the things everyone else was too afraid to try or had never crossed their minds. I want to learn all new information that nobody yet knows.

    So... you know... I try to.

    I'm telling a story I've never seen told before (or remotely close to its subject matter before). I'm telling that story in a way I've never seen told before (it's unique for a video game). I'm using systems I invented from scratch (whether or not they're any good remains to be seen). I'm reinventing old systems to work and synergize in new ways. I'm shoving other genres into the RPG that have never been included before. I'm reinventing a combat system to try to do things that I've never seen done before (RPG Maker combat systems allow for a LOT of creativity if you tinker with it just a little and have an imagination).

    So... I can't relate all that well. I try to do "unique" things all the time. You'll probably see that in a lot of threads I've replied to. Things like, "How do you make a crafting system?" and I've got like 8 things I'd do to make one, and it's stuff you probably haven't seen in another game before. Whether it's good or not is another story, but it'll usually be unique.

    But...

    If you can't be that unique all on your own. That's okay. If you don't naturally seek to be as crazy as I am, that's okay. You just have to take things that exist and make them yours. A new spin on an old concept. Or, a refinement of existing systems.

    There's quite a lot to be said for the person who fixes all the issues with a system that have plagued it for over a decade. Maybe they can't write an original story. But, you know what? They can still set the standard for that system because they fixed all the issues inherent in it.
     
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  16. 8bitBartabas

    8bitBartabas Villager Member

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    I think the thoughts of unoriginality stem from people comparing their works to others, or maybe taking inspiration from other games or stories.

    Do what you want to do and make the story/game you want to make. If it turns out very similar to something else and you don't want to release it then that's fine, you gained experience, used your mind and broadened your spectrum. From that I can guarantee that as you continue to do that, more and more of your stuff will become unique and more original.

    Practice makes perfect, so don't expect to come up with something original in something you've never done before. But if you end up doing so in your first go around kudos to you.
     
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  17. CuddleFox

    CuddleFox Furry Veteran

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    The best way not to feel guilty for copying something is to explode the original material in terms of quality.
    If you want to copy earthbound, do better than earthound on all points.

    And you need to take elements of art you love to do things you love, that's the basis of art.
     
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