Talent is overrated

Discussion in 'Indie Basics' started by manunderground, Jan 27, 2009.

  1. fog4711

    Original Member

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    Rubik

    I'd say Ernö Rubik did achieve something. I recall an article a long time ago describing him as the first Soviet bloc millionaire.

    Yes, let's be optimistic. The future is still waiting of us with new opportunities.

    fog
    --------------------------
    some of my stuff
     
  2. manunderground

    manunderground New Member

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    Wow lots of interesting stuff being said. Thanks for pointing out Make It Big in Games, I think it's an excellent resource as well.

    With that out of the way I think we're confusing two different concepts here. There's being successful which I take to mean being financially successful, especially given the examples outlined above. In this case I agree with your points that such success is really a matter of time and place as much as hard work and dedication. Or to put it another way, being talented and passionate is a necessary but insufficient condition for financial success.

    However, the original question wasn't so much about financial success as it was about talent or skill. How do you go from being a noob to a leading expert? Obviously time is required but it's equally obvious that simply putting in the time isn't sufficient. In my original post I touched on some of the things I take to be necessary to reach such a level of achievement, but I'd be really interested in hearing from the experts on this board about the routines they employed which led to their development as a game maker.
     
  3. Richard Nunes

    Richard Nunes New Member

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    I'd debate Bill Gates' rise to power. First of all, his family were already millionaires, his mother got his foot in the door at IBM. Very few teenagers at that time could get themselves a meeting with an IBM exec. That said, he was able to seize the opportunity, capitalize on it, and grow his business. There were plenty of other individuals who had the skills and opportunity to challenge Bill but didn't.
     
  4. Emmanuel

    Moderator Original Member

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    John Carmack and Romero made it big because they were the very first to target the PC as a gaming platform, with Commander Keen. That set them on their way to the rest of their remarkable achievements. At the time they decided to do so, it really wasn't the obvious choice, it was probably even 'wrong': if you wanted to make games, you'd probably have picked the C64, or the NES if you could. That's where everyone was trying to find gold. They decided to go dig somewhere else; it was a bet that paid off. They followed up with continued excellence rather than sleeping on their laurels, and made a deserved fortune instead of just being doormats in the history of the PC.

    There aren't any less opportunities this year than last year or 20 years ago. They're different opportunities. Bill Gates didn't have the Internet; Larry and Sergei did. We picked up on casual gaming in its infancy (with everyone telling us we were already too late, actually, and going against the collective wisdom that everyone should be making very small downloadable games with ponies). In all modesty, Azada wasn't an obvious success until it went to market. We just made a bet and it paid off. People look smart in hindsight, but on the moment they just bet on something and you hear about the ones that paid off. Bill Gates could have stopped at Traf-o-data like most people would have, thinking "man, I wish I had been born 20 years before I was, I could have been IBM, oh well, it's the market's fault and bad timing; I'll be a lawyer instead", but he just tried again.

    Anyway, that's what I think. All the successful people I know are just regular people who had the passion and skills to get started, the intelligence to pick a project that had a reasonable chance of succeeding (no idea is ever perfect until you confront it with the market; 'might just work' is the best you can pull off), the discipline to see what they started through completion, tolerance for some uncertainty, and of course, after making their own luck, also a little bit of actual luck, and if they didn't get it, the discipline to try again until they did. I don't know anybody who doesn't have talent in something that can't be turned into a business by applying the formula above, and all of the other things above are acquired, not innate.

    Best regards,
    Emmanuel
     
  5. Applewood

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    I agree with emmanuel, but would go further than the original article anyway.

    10,000 hours might be good for a musician, I wouldn't know, but it won't cut it in a lot of other fields. 10 hours a day for 3 years certainly won't make a random n00b into a guru games programmer - I'm still learning new ideas and techniques after 20 years.

    10,000 hours in the medical profession won't get you to junior doctor level and I don't want one of those operating on my heart, thanks.
     
  6. KNau

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    Perhaps, but in our field one's abilities with the toolset isn't the determining factor of being "good". It's perfectly possible (and not that uncommon) for a noob developer with GameMaker to create a better game than a seasoned pro with top of the line tools.

    I know, it's nit-picking. One of my frustrations in creative arts is that people think skill is the determining factor to success.

    Kurt Cobain was not a very good guitar player comparatively, however he was arguably a decent songwriter. The end product being the determining factor, not the method in which it was created.

    Micheal Bay is a brilliant technician from years in commercial shoots and music videos, yet filmmakers on first time projects with no experience and no budget have made far better films.

    *EDIT - I see what you're getting at, though. And on rereading your post I notice you said game programming guru, which is different from being a successful "developer".
     
  7. Leon

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    Actually, it seems it does cut it in most every field according to research.

    From the book Outliers:

    Neurologist Daniel Levitin:
    "The emerging picture from such studies is that ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert--in anything. In study after study, of composers, basketball players, fiction writers, ice skaters, concert pianists, chess players, master criminals, and what have you, this number comes up again and again. Of course, this doesn't address why some people get more out of their practice sessions than others do. But no one has yet found a case in which true world-class expertise was accomplished in less time. It seems that it takes the brain this long to assimilate all that it needs to know to achieve true mastery."

    10,000 hours is a HUGE amount of time. It's nothing to sneeze at.
     
  8. Viktor

    Viktor New Member

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    I don't think that a random n00b would be able to learn programming for 10 hours a day. Just as a random n00b wouldn't be able to play a music instrument for 10 hours a day. You have to really like what you do to be able to keep going.

    Going back to the original topic, I wasn't able to find many examples of deliberate practice so far. The closest things are probably "Etudes for Programmers" and code katas. Anything else?
     
  9. Executrix

    Executrix New Member

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    It's about four years of full time work/studying.
     
  10. 320x240

    320x240 New Member

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    In the mean time I'm content that while talent is overrated, genius is not...
     
  11. moose6912

    moose6912 New Member

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    I think 10,000 hours is just a ballpark figure. 10,000 hours will get you to a certain level, but to maintain or improve on that level and with new technology and stuff keep popping up every day. You just have to keep learning to keep up. If John Carmack had stopped learning after he finished Doom. He would not have improved his skills to produce Quake and subsequent iD games and would be overtaken by other more hardworking programmers. Basically, the question will be "How hungry are you"?
     
  12. nadam

    nadam New Member

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    Emmanuel:

    I agree that opportunities always exist to be reasonably successful. But being as successful as Bill Gates or Henry Ford you really have to be at the good place at the good time (and you have to be very talented and you have to work very hard.)

    Maybe it sounds pessimistic, but in fact I am not pessimistic. For me the top success is having a small game company developing the games I want, and earning more (or at least the same amount of) money than at my boring software development 'day job'. I think it is achievable, I work hard to achieve this, and I really don't need that kind of really big success that Bill Gates had.

    But I still think that game development is harder than let's say 20-25 years ago. 20-25 years ago a reasonalby good a programmer and an artist could create a top quality mainstream game. That time my 15 year old friend created a game which almost reached the quality of the mainstream games of that time. Now you need dozens of developers and artists to create a mainstream game. You need expensive motion capture hardware, you need actors (their voice and their motion), etc...
    There is much more competition now. There are much more competent developers now than 20-25 years ago. Those 3D engine and A.I. guys are doing really complicated things now.
    There are a lot of people who create games as a hobby, and give it away as freeware. You have to create better games than those guys to be paid for.
    I don't say that it is not possible to start a successful games company now. I am working hard on it, and I think I can achive this goal. But I still think it was easier 20-25 years ago.
     
    #32 nadam, Jan 29, 2009
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2009
  13. Emmanuel

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    Nadam, if you want to compete with what Ubisoft put out, absolutely, you need a motion capture studio and a few tens of millions of dollars from a publisher that will call the shots at every milestone.

    There are other areas where you can make a great living doing games without all that baggage: casual games, but also serious games (using game engines without gameplay but with realistic ballistics, etc. to train police and army forces -- the leader ScriptGames is in my hometown), iPhone games.. All these areas are much healthier businesses at the moment than core games (Ubisoft et al) are, and all those opportunities are new, enabled by the internet, the availability of cheap 3d and 2d engines, etc. By healthy, I mean personal income for you in the bank at the end of the year, and how they feel about their future. You just need to find new customers to serve.

    Best regards,
    Emmanuel
     
  14. nadam

    nadam New Member

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    Yes, I am creating a kind-of casual game for a somewhat niche market. (It will soon turn out how big the market is for a realistic 3D foosball game with clever A.I.)
     
  15. defanual

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    Don't forget nadam the fact is 25 years ago people had to send you checks in the post to buy your game and the internet was pretty much non-existent. Now people can buy and own your game(s) in less than 10 mins and your potential customer base is growing everyday as the numbers of people on the internet grow (now past 1 billion if the article below is to be believed!). So theoretically, it should be easier, not harder (being optimistic again). :)

    http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/88940-Internet-Population-Passes-One-Billion
     
  16. moose6912

    moose6912 New Member

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    It is getting easier and harder for game developers to make their mark now. Sounds like a paradox eh? Let me put it this way

    Then
    #1 - Easier back in the 80s when competition was much lesser and games were of a lower quality compared to now
    #2 - Easier because those type of games do not require teams of 50 or 100 people to develop
    #3 - Harder way back then since game development resources were scarce and most had to learn from trial and error or hope they can find some book or article that covered game development or hope the library has something useful
    #4 - It is also harder to sell your game globally across the globe or even cover every state in USA if you are a sole developer or even part of a small team

    Now
    #1 - It is harder now since there is a lot of competition in game development and AAA titles costs millions to make
    #2 - Harder too since big title games require an army of people to develop and market etc
    #3 - Easier now since game development resources are plentiful and with the advent of the internet. I can get almost any game development resource I want via Google.
    #4 - With the internet, it is easier for me to sell my game to anyone all over the world, be it Taiwan, UK, Paris etc etc. But since it is easier for me, it is also easier for the guy next door too and that will also add to competition.

    It is better to just take a step back and look at the entire forest instead of a few trees as with technology and consumer tastes always progressing forward, there will always be a niche or market for the little guy to come in which the big guys will ignore until that niche or market grows too big for the big guys to ignore.

    Case in point, look at mobile games and casual games. Both started out as small niche markets which enabled single developers to establish their own brands and product and make a living from it and look at how the big companies are recently looking into these 2 areas and entering it since the growth of these 2 areas have been so big that the big companies have sat up and taken notice.
     
  17. Leon

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    It's possible(I believe it was the case with Bill Joy) but most people don't sit all day and study/practice, especially at younger ages - they have plenty of other things that take up their time.

    In the study I read about with violinists, it took from around age 5 to 20 to total 10,000 hours. They started off practicing 2-3 hours a week and every few years increased their practice time.
     
  18. defanual

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    Yeah, that seems like fair overall summary to me. So in reality (depending on your perspective/strategy) things are no harder or easier overall, it's just that different elements have become harder/easier to use/exploit and gain interest from. As long as there niches there's always opportunities to be successful in any field. **Yes, I know that's not really on subject with the original talent query**
     
  19. KNau

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    Don't sell yourselves so short.

    There's a very simple rule to reach billionaire status and it's within reach of anyone in Westernized economies: build a company and sell it to the public (publicly traded).

    The argument "right place in right time" is moot because everyone will eventually be there at multiple times in their life. The key is to be ready and "doing your thing" when that point arrives.

    And furthering the talent argument - does Bill Gates' success have anything to do with him being a talented programmer?

    That a "hit" game requires a team of 100 people, a motion capture studio, the latest 3D graphics, 40 minutes of pre-rendered cutscenes, must be on consoles, etc. is a myth that the big players desperately want you to believe because it keeps people from trying to compete.

    Rollercoaster Tycoon was one guy with a couple freelance helpers. Could you produce a 2D isometric sandbox game? I hope so.

    Mystery Case Files: Ravenhearst sold 100,000 copies in 6 weeks. The 3rd best selling PC title in the US for the Black Friday shopping weekend. Could you produce a 2D hidden object game?

    No, Ravenhearst wasn't a "one man" operation and the budgets would be in the mid 6 figures by now. But it did all start with that first MCF game, which was put together by a handful of people on a shoe-string budget.

    The "talent" of the MCF developers wasn't in making a great game (which they did) it was in building a great brand where people line up and foam at the mouth to get their hands on the latest release.

    Think about all the $10+ million dollar epic 3D action shooter games with DX10 graphics that would have been beneath MCF that weekend. That's gotta suck, ya think?

    There's absolutely no reason why a 2D PC game can't outsell the latest epic 3D masterpieces by the big studios. Stop selling yourself short.
     
  20. Leon

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    Sorry! I think it's completely my fault this conversation has taken such a different twist from the original topic. I just wanted to bring up the point that "success" has a lot of different variables to consider, and I think things spiraled from there. :)
     

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