How to Think of a Good Game Idea

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This tutorial is licensed under CC BY 4.0. Please refer to the license text if you wish to reuse, share or remix the content contained within this tutorial.

In order to be successful in the game developing world, you must create good quality games that people will want to play. This tutorial will teach you a great strategy to think of ideas for a game in four easy steps. Note: Not all ideas for games will work out. Keep trying and eventually you may create a best seller!

First Step: Find a Main Character

Finding a main character for your game is crucial, because most well developed games have some sort of main character. A main character can be a person, place, or thing. Anything from a taxi cab, to John Doe, to a business CEO. For our example, lets use Ben, the logger. He will be the main character of our game.The main character is the character controlled by the player. Now it's time to elaborate on our main character. In our example, Ben will chop trees for a living and sell wood to the the paper company.

Step Two: Creating Variables

OK, so far we have Ben the logger who makes paper to sell to the paper company. Now we have to create variables. These variables are not like math variables. Instead, these are things that the character encounters in the game. Variables can be objectives or goals that must be achieved in order to advance, or they can be obstacles that your character must get around. Your game should include a few of these variables. There are two types of variables. An objective variable, and a conflict variable. All games are made up of these variables. Lets take the well know game, "Ghost Shooter", by Ashley. In Ghost Shooter, the objective variable is to destroy as many ghosts as possible. The conflict variable is the ghosts killing you. Although there are only two variables in Ghost Shooter, in your game, there can be as many as you want. Now lets create a few variables for Ben. One variable in our game can be Ben's profit. Ben must make "x" dollars in "t" time in order to advance to the next level. So now we have an objective variable.

Now lets create a conflict variable. Ben has no tools to chop down the trees! So far, we have Ben, the logger who chops trees for a living and sells the wood to the paper company. He must make say $1000 in the next month to support his family. However, he has no tools to chop the trees to support his family! The more variables that you have, the more complex your game will be. For time sake, we will have a very simple game.

Step 3: Elaborating Our Idea

We now have the basic idea of our game, but a few things are missing. How is Ben going to obtain these tools, how will he get his wood to the paper company? Answering these questions is called elaborating. In our example, Ben will find materials around him during the day that he can make into tools. To elaborate further, Ben will have to buy a tool making machine and a machine to mine for materials. He will also have to set up an agreement with the Railroad Company to transport his wood to the Paper Company. Ben can buy new upgrades for his machines that will unlock features and make them more efficient. Notice that while I am elaborating, I am creating new characters along with the main character. The Railroad company, the Paper company, the tools, upgrades, and the mine are all considered characters. Now we have completed the basic idea of our game. Ben is a logger that sells his wood to the paper company. For level one, he has to make $1000 in one month to support his family. He must build tools and set up partnerships with other companies to make money. Ben will grow his company to beat levels and get achievements. If Ben fails to get the amount of money needed to complete the level, its game over.

Final Step: Game Specs

Now to add the final features to our game. We must add a name, category, target audience, and description to our game. Lets start with the title. The title of your game should be catchy and related to the game. Our game is about logging and creating a company, so a good name for our game might be "Logging Empire". Remember not to copy other people's game names as they might have a trademark and stealing intellectual property is illegal. Next we have to categorize the game. Is your game an Action, a Puzzle, a Shooter, a Strategy, Platform Game, or something else? This is important information because players usually browse games by category. Note that a game can apply to multiple categories. Logging Empire may be considered a strategy game and a survival game. Next, we have to state a target audience. The target audience is who you expect your game to be played by. This is usually classified by age. In Logging Empire, our target audience is probably between 12 years old and 15 years old. This is because our game is probably to sophisticated for a 5 year old girl and most likely would be boring to a 30 year old man (too simple). Finally, we should have a description. A description should be a short summary of the game and excite the player and make them want to play it. A description for Logging Empire could be, "You are Ben, a logger that is just starting out. Build your empire and get rich off of logging by upgrading your tools and building relations with the Railroad company.


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