Coming Up With Game Ideas

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  • Hey I am new here so first off let me introduce myself...

    My name is Brian. I am a graphic designer/illustrator/musician.. I got into game design because of a friend who is a programmer who i met when i was in middle school (ten years ago) and together we started making games using ansi c & 8bit graphics/256 colors.. We made a few prototypes but never finished a game. Since then I have tried and tried and tried to make a game.. Programmers seem to always flake out on me in the middle of development... and for whatever reason I just can't get myself to learn how to program... besides i have always been terrible at math related things.. After finally being completely frustrated with my experiences with trying to put teams together/keeping people interested/finding programmer to help or more importantly stay motivated enough to see a game project through to the end etc.. So i really want to make a game but what can i do without being able to program..

    Then I found Construct!

    The only problem is.... I have watched too many lectures given by Jonathan Blow and other indies recently.. like Design Reboot.. mostly about the problems of current games and where the future of games should be headed. This has gotten me obsessed with coming up with a more unique game.. hopefully a game that is both unique as far as gameplay/story but also has a message to the gamer that at least in one way or another adds to their quality of life.. or at least makes them think..

    So now the ideas I have never seem good enough for me to pursue.. since i have always been more about telling a story with a game and always then think secondly about the gameplay.. which causes all sorts of problems..

    So basically I was curious if anybody out there has any input about how to get over this brick wall i have now built around pretty much every game idea i have ever had and how to come up with a new approach to making a game. If you have never seen Jonathan Blow's design reboot lecture I suggest watching it.. but at the same time maybe you shouldn't.. since then maybe it will affect you the same as it has me.. which its really not that it is a bad thing... but it has definitely made things a bit more difficult for me. I want to make a simple game that isn't too ambitious but still doesn't suck and at least to an extent doesn't completely depend on the formula that most games use. I obviously know this is a really hard thing to do but never the less I was hoping that a discussion could be started here that kinda focuses on this issue.. Because if I am going to start working on a game i want it to be something I really feel I am excited about and as of now I am having a hard time coming up with a game I honestly feel I should pursue.

    Even if people just suggest some ideas about how they came up with their game ideas since even if it doesn't really address my obsession to make something unique that would be extremely helpful as well..

    So how do you come up with game ideas?

    How do you come up with game play ideas?

    Any advice on how I should get over my obsession of following the lecture advice from Jonathan Blow's Design Reboot so intensely?

    Will anyone even read this incredibly long post?

  • Like they say, you have to crawl before you can run.

    My advice: try to replicate an existing game.

    Want is useless without know how.

    As an artist surely you must know you just can't take a brush, and paint anything you want.

  • I also have this problem.

    Trying to make a game thats unique and not been done before. But now I don't bother and try to make something fun and something that isn't beyond my Construct experience.

  • they're wrong, make something YOU find fun and you'll have a lot less trouble finishing. it's not about what other people think, because in the end, no matter what the game is as long as people stay entertained playing its going to be a success.

  • I've been dealing with this problem for about three weeks now. I've read so many articles on The Escapist, Gamasutra and books about game design that I wasn't able to come up with a fresh idea anymore.

    My solution:

    Take a break from the articles. They're obviously cluttering your head too much. You can always read more of them when you have a basic idea for your game and reshape your concept to the things you read and find interesting.

    Try not to think about games too much. Focus on other things and make sure that you have a notebook with you at all times. A lot of people come up with their best idea's when they're doing something else. (I tend to come up with a lot of things when I'm on a train ride)

    Think about what inspired you in the past. I get inspired by movies and great storytelling. Last night I've watched Inception (which made me think of the Matrix and the Animatrix) and I came up with a few basic concepts that I might work out into a game.

    Write down every idea that pops into your head. This way you will not forget idea's and more importantly, idea's that you don't like don't pop up all the time. You've written them down, so you don't have to think about them all the time.

    Try to brainstorm with your programmer. Write everything you two come up with down on a piece of paper. And remember that not a single idea is a bad idea. When you come up with a 'bad' idea, he might get inspired and think of something awesome. (There is a lot of information about brainstorming, try to find some articles).

    You can always post some idea's on this forum. We can give you feedback and maybe send you in the right direction.

    Oh and one more thing: When you think of something that might be fun, just prototype it and show it to others. Don't think about the story, the graphics, sound etc. Just the basic mechanics. Construct is an awesome platform to do this with.

  • I'm not saying ignore the GDC talks and guys like Jon Blow, because it's always good to keep informed on the current state of gaming. But I will say don't take everything you hear as gospel.

    Quazi and Minor have it right. Make something you enjoy, even if it's been done before. Take something you like and put a twist on it. Or take something that had a lot of potential, yet failed to see it through. We've all played games that could have been a lot better than they were if only they'd done x, y, or z.

    Original ideas will come naturally, from surprising places, or they won't come at all. There's no way to force it.

    Also, there's nothing wrong with the storytelling approach to making a game. If you want to tell a story with a game, then do it. If your game is about characters and plot instead of unique game mechanics, then so be it.

    In fact, I like my games to have story elements to them. I find it hard to pay attention to a game for too long unless there is some sort of story, no matter how small and tacked on that story might be.

  • What they said

    I have something to add to what deadeye said though.

    Sometimes the gameplay idea might emerge from the story.

    Maybe the character is up against overwhelming odds and he can't hack and slash, how does he do it? He avoids enemies, and steals intelligence info from within their base. So you brainstorm on how to translate sneaking and stealing into fun gameplay.

    Maybe the story says your character is a flower creature. who needs to be pollinated every 5 minutes. Then you figure out how to space out pollination opportunities to make it challenging and fun.

    The point is. From your story, determine what your character must do, and the unique challenges they face, and then figure out which parts of it can be turned into gameplay. Make it a point to imagine your character doing what he or she does in a story or movie context, and not just automatically picture them running andjumping. Then brainstorm how it can be turned into gameplay. That way you're not just shooting in the dark for "an idea"

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  • I'm not saying ignore the GDC talks and guys like Jon Blow, because it's always good to keep informed on the current state of gaming. But I will say don't take everything you hear as gospel.

    That's true, but when these talks limit your creative process (prevent you from coming up with idea's because you think about the information from the presentations all the time) I suggest you just take a break from them for a week, maybe two.

    I took a 1 week break from reading articles and noticed that I can think a bit more clear now. It might sound crazy, but my head was filled with all the information that I've read which prevented me to think about my own projects.

  • Thanks everyone!

    Thanks for the responses they have been really helpful I have decided to not read or watch anymore game design lecture type things at least for a while.. since i think for now i have gotten what I need from them and as suggested need to just go with an idea I have and try not to get completely bogged down by worrying about design standards.. i guess i have to take what people like Blow have said and decide my own things to strive for in game design.. and I know I am a good caring person with only the best ambitions for what people would hopefully get out of playing a game I might make.. so i know whatever i end up trying to complete as a more serious project wont be completely soul sucking... hmmm.. soul sucking.. i think I just got an idea for a game! haha.. thanks! Blow although has some really great points is a bit extreme which i think he is doing just to get his point across I just have to keep things in consideration but not let it prevent me making something i can't stop thinking about making..

  • Also keep in mind that you don't have to have something be extremely complex, or technically demanding to be a unique idea.

  • i know i'm on the back end of this thread, but i thought this video might be helpful to others reading this thread.

    the subject is about making videos, but the theme he discusses translates perfectly to those of us who seek to make games.


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