Just an idea

Posted on:December 20 2010

If you are a programmer and have a blog or a company, from time to time people will come to you and tell you about their great idea for an application or a website. And they want you to implement their idea, usually for free, or if you are lucky for a percentage of the profit hopefully made when it is done. It's a revolutionary, great idea after all, and you can be lucky to be a part of it, right?

Sometimes those are very friendly people with a great vision, simply looking for a talented programmer to bring their idea to life. In other cases these are self proclaimed business people with a lot of self confidence and a suit, but nothing more. Sometimes the ideas they have are actually quite good, but in most cases it's simply a currently hyped technology like Twitter, remade with their name and logo on it. The current 'I need a programmer to build me a Facebook' is the new 'I need a programmer to build me a World of Warcraft' from several years ago.

I'm a programmer, and not a well socially trained person, so I usually have difficulties telling them that their idea is worth nothing. Personally, I have about 3 good ideas every month worth implementing. And out there are thousands of people with the same or similar ideas. The problem: You need resources to do that. You need people, time and money. You need business and marketing skills, technical know-how and even more money. Usually tons of money. Without that, an idea is worth nothing. It's just an idea.


Especially when it comes to games. Ideas are a dime a dozen. The limiting factor on how many games are made are not ideas. There is literally NO studio out there that goes "Oh we have all we need to make a good game, we only wish someone would have a good idea WHAT that game might be."

That's just not how it works. Sorry to burst your bubble.
2010-12-20 18:21:00

Had the same problem a while ago, telling a friend that ideas are the cheapest part of development. They have no cost at all. I was sorry for destroying his illusions in advance. To me it seemed not unique enough. Maybe I was wrong. Who knows.
2010-12-20 20:14:00

I have this greeeat idea for a new MMORPG, do you want to program it for me? You will get paid later when it will be sold!

2010-12-20 22:33:00

The best way to get something done is to do it yourself. A couple of people I know created a MMPORPG while they were at university - just for fun - and after finishing the university they gave it a try and went commercial. Long story short: now they live from it, but in the beginning it was just a fun project some talented programmers started.
2010-12-21 07:10:00

...and you need to JFDI.
2010-12-21 22:47:00

I never even answer these emails. Honestly, if someone has little enough business sense that they think the "you'll get paid when it's done" line holds water, I want nothing to do with them.

If I want to work on something for free that will make me money when it's done, I'll work on my *own* ideas. It's not like anyone remotely creative is short of them. To get me to work on your idea, you have to pay me, that's how it works. Unless the idea is the most amazing thing in the world ever that makes me want to drop everything to be part of it. Still waiting for that one. ;)
2010-12-22 12:05:00

If those people really think their idea will fly, they will invest properly (or seek others to invest in them). Yes idea is cheap, so if it aint cheap then prove it with your own money.
2010-12-27 10:56:00

I agree with Niko. I was one of the men in suit with an idea, asking a programmer to make it happen :(
The programmer helped a lot; but in the end I didn't work it out alone.

Now I'm in a company and brought that idea to daylight :) But I couldn't have done it alone.
2011-01-11 02:16:00

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