All of my ideas are taken

I sat down with my notebook and came up with 3 games. I thought up 3 stories, each with (what I thought were) unique puzzles. On coming with a name for them, I checked the Interactive Fiction Database (to make sure I wasn’t using a name already taken) and I stumbled across 3 games, each much like what I had envisioned (although better than my own) with fairly similar puzzles. How do I make a game if all of my ideas are already used?

How did Worm turn into TRON?
There was more in it.
TRON had Lightcycles, a catch or die game, chess, and the MCP boss.
Worm only had an avoid your tail game.

Just put more stuff in it and name it something else.
The only hitch is you must have consent anyway, like Arkanoid to Break Out.

That’s true under a specific subset of circumstances that doesn’t seem like it fits here.

There’s nothing wrong with rehashing a plot or puzzle. Depending on the similarities, implementation and style might be enough to set you apart. I’d make the game you feel passionate about. I’m not so big on puzzles, so you might want to take this with a grain of salt, but there tend to be certain classic puzzle types. They get dressed up in different clothing, but a truly unique puzzle is pretty rare. It’s certainly not necessary for a subset of your potential players.

On the other hand, if you really feel driven to write something unique, then you’ll need to come up with more ideas, spin the old ones in a new way, or combine/strip down ideas until you’ve got something. That process is different for different people, and that’s not one of my skills. Look into brainstorming techniques, or bounce ideas off a friend, or use Seventh Generation’s random plot generator or whatever helps get you into a creative mood, and see what emerges. (I use Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldman to practice getting my brain moving and passing that internal editor. In itself, it doesn’t help with plot, but it helps me get into the creative space and just get started.)

Just about all stories have certain plot elements in common with something that has been written before. The question of whether a particular piece is, in some sense, “too derivative” of something else is a question that has made many intellectual property lawyers rich.

Legalities aside, however, and viewed from the perspective of whether I personally would feel comfortable putting my name on something (thereby claiming it as my own work), I can say just about definitively that if I had deliberately used the approach of starting with somebody else’s work, changing some words and maybe adding some things, I would not want to claim it as my own.

The tougher cases are where you write something that does not explicitly start as a modification of somebody else’s work, but you later realize that it has a lot of common elements, some of which may have – and probably did – unconsciously influence you. Ultimately, this is a judgment call that every author has to make for himself.

I seem to recall a short story by (I believe) Orson Scott Card, about a society in which individuals who show a talent for a particular creative medium are forcibly isolated from any other work in that medium, so as to avoid any possibility of unintentional influence and thereby ensure originality. I was once told (although I have no direct knowledge of this) that, ironically, some time the story was published, the author realized that the basic plot had been used by somebody else, in a work that he had read and (at least consciously) forgotten about. In other words, it turned out that the story was the story of the story!

Robert Rothman

My ideas are not derivative of the interactive fiction I later found. In my case, I’m quite certain I’m not being influenced by the other works. First, I’m not “well read” in interactive fiction, I’ve played very few games, most of them quite old. I’ve been well isolated from the games. Second, my memory isn’t so bad that I’d forget where I’ve read something or where I’ve learned something. I’m very sure this is a matter of coincidence that my ideas are almost the same.

The thing that is derivative is the game engine, but that is simply the method of delivery.

So it sounds like you should have no problem; the ideas are your own, and if they coincidentally bear some resemblances to work that others have done, that’s almost inevitably the case no matter what you do. I wouldn’t view as the ideas having been “taken,” so much as that some ideas that you have found useful were also useful to others. I think if you’re looking for complete “originality,” in the sense of nothing like it has ever been done before, only a very few people in the world are able to achieve that in any medium, and we tend to reserve the word “genius” for those few people. Good luck.

Robert Rothman

Even if the concepts of the puzzles are analogous to ones that have been seen before, you could make them feel fresh with your choices in setting, description, tone, narrative voice, and your context. Are your puzzles in the service of a story that’s a screwball comedy? An action story? A mystery revealing long-buried family secrets?

Every year we see movies with familiar characters and familiar plots, and some of those are still excellent because they do such a good job with the characters and plots. Novelty isn’t the only virtue.

im sure not all your “ideas” are taken, and what i mean by that is that you must have a setting and/or characters in your head that must truly be your own. hoping that they arent stereotypes, that is. my WIP is fantasy, yes, and some puzzles are actual homages to older works of IF’s puzzles, but the story, the setting, and the characters are, im fairly confident, unique. just be confident in your story and characters, and allow them to marinate in your head for awhile. look at all of them from different angles, as well, not just thru your eyes, but try to look at your story elements from other perspectives. its the gift of the human brain, after all. :ugeek:

That sounds like what I’m doing, only it’s an exact replica (with permission) with completely new characters and added puzzles.

The most famous being hell, heaven, afterlife, limbo, and even possession stories such as “Zap” with Dudley Moor and the more modern “The Witches Of Eastwick” with Jack Nicholson.