Ignorantia Neminem Excusa
Years ago, an acquaintance I’d met on a Discord server expressed interest in working with me [in game development]. He went on to tell me about a negative experience he had when trying to recruit a team to work on his ‘game idea’ for him…
That should have been a red flag, but I kept quiet and let him continue… His approach was to create an account on a (now defunct) forum and showcase his ‘ideas’ in the form of a bulleted list of features/characteristics from other games he wanted to incorporate into his own. He posted a single storyboarded scene and spent about a paragraph explaining it, followed by screenshots posted from other games, comics, and pictures of scribblings from pages of his notebook.
At the end of the post was another list labeled ‘MAIN GOALS,’ which was just a list of vague, arbitrary tasks (e.g., form a small team with enough members, sign a contract between members, develop enough concepts needed with the overall project).
Predictably, the responses ranged from practical advice (e.g., here are some books on beginner programming) to outright hostility (i.e., you expect me to work for free?). He was obliged to dismiss the practical advice given to him, arguing that he didn’t have the time to learn how to use development tools nor the money to pay for them.
One of the forum members pointed out that his Steam profile showed 100 hours of playtime over the last two weeks since his initial post, challenging his assertion that he didn’t have time to learn new skills. After some feeble excuses and rebuttals, he relented and asked which tools to look at (remember, these had already been suggested to him). After the previously made suggestions were quoted back to him, he persisted in asking for additional information (i.e., what are the differences between the X tool and Y tool? etc.).
By now, those who responded to the thread had written him off as a lazy troll, and whatever questions he had were dismissed as further evidence of his unwillingness to work for the answers he sought for himself.
I’ve come to refer to this young man as a “Wouldn’t It Be Cool If… Guy” or Whibsy for short. Derek Yu refers to them as “…a dreaded Idea Person, stalking the internet for unwitting artists and programmers to make their dreams come true.”
Wibsy didn’t understand that there is no shortage of ideas (or Idea People, for that matter). There is always a shortage of time, money, and talent.
Armchair Game Developers
Recently, I’ve encountered Wibsy under a different guise, the armchair game developer. You know, the one who hangs out on forums, calling for nerfs and radical redesigns of game mechanics while explaining to the rest of us how easy these would be to implement and that any “competent” programmer would be able to do it in an afternoon. All this tells me about this person is that they’re neither a programmer nor competent.
Those who can’t, criticize…
“Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach. Those who can’t do or teach, criticize.” – Marsha Hinds
It didn’t take long for Whibsy and me to grow tired of each other. Although it was his decision to break off the acquaintance by putting me on ignore, I obliged him by reciprocating. Although he attempted to re-establish contact a couple of times since then, I decided it was best just not to engage.
How can I help anyone who can’t help themselves?