I steal from the past.
There are literally thousands of games floating around out there. Games, books, limericks, bathroom graffiti, and the stunning industrial design of cotton swabs are all created by people influenced by previous works. You could go ahead and act like a turd heap by saying that your ideas are wholly original. Somehow, among the great miasma of human output, you managed it. You did something that no one else had ever considered. Just reach back there and give yourself the old patty pat.
Never happened. Not once.
This might sound like one of those “its all been done. shut it down” screeds. It’s not. It hasn’t all been done. Not even remotely. New ways of doing things, new objects, new concepts, are generated at a rate that would stagger the Flash. Not The Flash back when Wally West couldn’t vibrate through objects and stuff. The old Barry Allen Flash where he would regularly outrun laser beams. All of this new jazz being created is built from the crust of what came before.
Games are entertainment, and since almost all entertainment is driven by novelty, it is easy to convince yourself that a game concept or mechanic is “new”. That mechanic is probably borrowed from some obscure and unsuccessful game. Even more likely, it came from some other mundane task completely unrelated to games like washing dishes or folding laundry.
Me, I like to steal. I comb through literally thousands of old games to find fun mechanics that I can appropriate. I don’t find the idea of remaking an old game interesting, so that isn’t really my aim. I try to find things that I enjoy in a game, and then see how that mechanic can be used elsewhere. Hopefully to better effect. As an example, do you remember Paperboy. Everyone loved that game, even though the control was awful, you often couldn’t tell what was a hazard and what wasn’t, and navigating the later levels had to be done in some sort of yogic trance that would allow you to see the future. There was one incredibly fun part though. Throwing the papers forced you to estimate your speed and lead your target. You could aim for the mailboxes and front porches of your customers, or you could choose to use your very limited resource of rolled projectiles to bust windows, take out villains, and break up fights. Every time you throw a paper in Paperboy, it’s fun. That is a mechanic that is in desperate need of stealing, If only so that it won’t be tied to the rest of that mess of a game.
There are at least hundreds of underused game ideas floating around, often in popular, or once popular games. Not stealing them and building better games around them would be… wasteful. Admit it, you thought I was going to write criminal there didn’t you. didn’t you. yeah you did.
Everyone steals their ideas. I just want to be honest about it.