Your Idea Isn't Bad

• gamedev

As an indie game dev, I get a ton of feedback and ideas from the various communities who play my games. A topic that’s been on my mind for probably years now is how to deal with those community members who feel like they aren’t heard when they suggest something for a game, and either the discussion stops there or they feel slighted when it is added later. As I sat down to brainstorm the numerous reasons why, I came up with a lot more than I expected. The long and short of it, though, is that these ideas often aren’t bad, but there are a number of external factors that just make it not work out. I came up with a ton of reasons on my own, but it’s certainly non-exhaustive!

I Forgot It

Honestly, one of the biggest ones for me is that I parse through lots of ideas, including my own! Sometimes I have the intention to go forward with something and just forget, or I forget to write it down somewhere. This happens a lot, and this is why I encourage people to keep reminding me if they don’t see something about it from me in the future.

I Just Didn’t Know How To Do It

A lot of great suggestions started out as something I wanted to do, but just never knew how. Sometimes it could be a gap in my knowledge (like “I have no idea where to start approaching this problem”), and sometimes it’s a gap in trying to make the idea fit. Making the idea fit leads into my next point…

It Didn’t Fit Then

Some ideas just do not fit in the context of a game, and that’s okay! Games are amorphous and change over time. Sometimes I’ll find myself adding a feature that, a year ago, I said “I’m never doing that”, and again - that’s okay! Due to this, there is just a high potential that as a game changes, some of these features make sense when they previously didn’t.

More People Mentioning It Helps

Sometimes it’s just a matter of popularity. I can’t implement every suggestion that comes my way, that’s unrealistic. For me, I know when I get some suggestions, my instinct is “yeah, but only if more people want it” because I don’t want to spend critical time working on something that might not pay off. But, the more people that mention it, the more likely it is that I really do need that feature. Which leads into…

Lack of Time

Sometimes it just boils down to a lack of time. Features take time, and time is one of the most valuable resources I (or anyone) have. I have to take the critical path and do what I can to ensure the success of my game, which means skipping over some things now and hopefully coming back to them later.

Frame of Mind

My current frame of mind is extremely important for interpreting requests! Sometimes it could be something as simple as “hey, this UI bit could use some work” but I’m working on some core functionality and I’m not really thinking about the UI. It’s easy to get distracted by these sorts of requests and just tune them out when they don’t seem relevant to me at the time. Taking some time to reflect on requests when I’m not distracted helps a ton.

Phrasing Helps

Lastly, one thing I feel I run into a lot, is that what matters isn’t the content of a suggestion, but how it’s phrased. Sometimes a slightly-rephrased suggestion just makes a lot more sense. Everyone communicates differently, so don’t be afraid to find someone who can help “translate” requests to help them be better understood!

So, that’s it. Your idea isn’t bad, the whole process is tough.

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