When to widely display a project?

I’ve struggled to decide when to discuss the latest project publicly. There are a few main concerns. The biggest being:

Will the idea be stolen?

This is the loudest concern. I don’t want someone who is capable of executing on the idea to see it and make it before me and make it better. This perhaps is from a place of jealousy and selfishness. Ideally, having a well executed version of the idea playable sooner is better for the players, but worse for me as I’d miss out on any of the rewards that come with being the creator. They say ideas are a dime a dozen, and it’s true. It’s all about execution and I want first dibs at it.

Not that this idea is entirely novel. I’ve certainly taking inspiration from other games and even… harvested ideas from others (a cheeky way of saying ripped-off). But I have yet to see this gameplay concept be done in a digital medium and I’m afraid that once people see it it’ll be so obvious that many will take a stab at iterating on it. Again, I just want my chance to do so before the field becomes flooded.

Once the project is further along and the finish line is in sight I’m sure I’d feel comfortable broadcasting the project and it’s concepts to a larger audience. For now though, I feel that an established team or a more productive and experienced creator could finish a version of this concept faster than I could.

So much of what I do is experimental either in terms of game play or programming execution, not to mention the large amounts of time just learning the aspects of game development which I haven’t encountered before. This is to say that the time spent working on the project is intense yet not consistently productive. Certainly all the time is productive in a personal growth sense, the time is not being wasted. I just mean to say that, if I knew exactly what the game was to be (mechanically) and exactly how to achieve all aspects of its development (programmatically , visually, audibly and so on) then the process would run much smoother and the project would be finished faster.

I suppose this is obvious, if no experimenting or learning was needed then it can just get banged out effortlessly. Their would probably already be templated version of the game where you just plug in some art and slap it onto the AppStore. It would be another clone of a clone and go unnoticed.

But to add to the concern about the pace of development I have to be honest and admit I do not put many hours per day dedicated to the project. This can be a introspection for another time but to defend myself from myself I should also point out that even though the raw hours dedicated to the project are limited hours are intensely focused and productive (in the larger sense). This time can be quite draining so I am attempting to find ways to get more done while not burning out.

It feels cheesy to speak about the project is such a coveted way, as if it’s so amazing that people would flock to make it their own. I’m proud of it and while I want to say it’s humility that keeps this pride in check, the voice of it seems more demoralizing. It says “How vain of you to think your little idea is so valuable”.

Anyway, point is, there are plenty of daily victories in the project that I’m proud of and what to share. While at the same time being afraid that sharing too much, to too large an audience will result in the idea “being stolen”. The obvious answer then is to not share these victories widely and instead wait until the finish line is in sight before unveiling it to the world.