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How do you get ideas for new games?

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Though I really like the process of creating games, I can't think of any interesting idea for a game to make. I made 2 very small games based on my own idea before, but they turns out pretty bad. The only game I made that my friends would even consider playing are tinkered clones of retro games.

 

Recently while learning phaser I read a tutorial blog article which aslo brefly mentioned how the idea came to the author. It seems surprisingly smooth to him - turning a phrase into an idea, then to a concept. Seems a lot like designing flowery interface for your own blog. I tried to do the same but, nope, nothing promising came after 2 hours.

 

So how do you normally come up with idea? Is there a brainstorming process or it's always just 'spark of the moment'?

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I love to develop 2D side-scrollers and RPG games and I only can respond from my own experience: ideas for a game come from the urgency of tell a good story, and a good story itself give me the patterns to make a reinterpretation of the genre that the game is built-in.
 
So, for me, this is the order of conceptual development:
  1. Main character
  2. Secondary characters and locations
  3. Story context
  4. Game genre
  5. Reinterpretation of the game genre trough the main story
The first is the main character, I always see how it will look and behave, and what cool features can became important to the story flow and the game mechanics. I do the same thing with the supporting characters, including foes, and then I imagine a world to put all of them. To help to build this conceptual world I imagine what circumstances of this world have molded the skills and personality of my characters.
 
I think 99% of the games released in the last decade are just reinterpretations of a stablished game genre; and I think it's fine if the originality of a fresh good story can keep a old genre alive.
 
Now if you want to create a brand new genre from scratch, well that's other thing and it involves a lot of abstract thinking.

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There are many ways to find ideas for games:

Playing other games does help.

 

Here's one way I've managed to consistently deliver original concepts (not all of them good, mind you):

 

Pick a piece of code you've done before (say, a pong or pac-man clone).

Look at the good (how it is laid out, the way things have been structured).

Figure out a way to make something totally different out of it in as little time as possible.

 

Instead on relying on your ability to design, it let's your mind wander around about the possibilities of systems that you've already created (and how flexible they are).

You'd be surprised what you could end up with when converting a pong or pac-man clone into a totally different game (retaining the assets, and only the logic you really need).

 

The code base generally becomes a mess, but it generally leads to much more than just a 'twist on' the game. 

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I can't think of any interesting idea for a game to make.


Why do you need an idea? This is not a frivolous question. Are you looking for something to practice on, so you can up your game dev skills? Or are you looking to build an indie business for yourself, so you need a moneymaking product? Or what?
Most professional designers are given an assignment, a basic concept to design from (so most pro designers don't always need to "think of interesting ideas" out of nowhere per se).

 

 

Yes I want to try making something new to improve my dev skill. Making clone game within the day might be fun but I don't think I want to spent some weeks or months making a clone game :(

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I want to try making something new to improve my dev skill. Making clone game within the day might be fun but I don't think I want to spent some weeks or months making a clone

If you can't come up with something original, don't. Your goal now is to improve - so make a clone (but one that won't take forever). Do something simple and different from what you did before. Trying to force originality is a side quest down a road that doesn't lead you to your stated goal.

 

 

complete freedom to do anything is paralyzing.

Nicely put!

 

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Yes I want to try making something new to improve my dev skill. Making clone game within the day might be fun but I don't think I want to spent some weeks or months making a clone game


But do you se how that desire can be a little schizophrenic?

What more do you expect to learn from thrashing in the dark at an original idea than you would from, say, making a really polished platformer or puzzle game?

Within genre limits there's still an incredible degree of latitude to reconstruct and innovate their tropes, and to express your design voice. But the benefit of working from that existing framework is that people understand the design language at play, and there are models that you can compare yourself to and look to for inspiration -- you can ask "How does my platformer compare to Super Mario World? How am I different? Better? Worse?" -- something your original idea, cut from whole cloth, does not. Its not that new ideas are impossible to analyze, but amateur designers usually lack the experience and perspective to do so.

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As some more raw material for the conversation, here is the section from my guide to game design where I generate three original game concepts, based on the preceding sections about game genres, main game activities, etc.

Sunandshadow wrote:
 

Here's another fill-in-the-blank for you: “The player will control/be [number and type of playable character(s)] who will be [profession] who [game's main activity such as fighting, questing, solving puzzles, or crafting] in the [description of game world] world of [world's name]. [Other important activities] will also allow the player to satisfy their urges to [explore/become wealthy and famous/play mad scientist/help someone/be clever/build something/investigate a mystery/save the world/etc.].” And some examples: “The player will be a witch or wizard who learns the craft of brewing complex potions to create unique pet monsters in the dark fantasy world of Monsturbia. Exploring the world to find ingredients provides a peaceful break between frantic potions-brewing sessions where the player must exhibit the speed and efficiency that will enable him/her to become the world's master monster-brewer, showered with wealth and fame.” Or, “The player, represented by an alpha wolf, will control him/herself and up to 7 subordinate wolves at a time in tactical combat, fighting his/her way from the humble beginning of the darkest forest of Wulfmoon to its capital city populated with the other most ambitious wolfpacks of the world. Combat alone can't get the player to the throne; only solving the puzzles in the ancient ruins of Paw's Mark, Broken Fang, and other such locations(dungeons) will allow the alpha to gain the wisdom and spiritual strength necessary to carry out the hero's true task: saving the world of Wulfmoon from itself.” Or, “The player will control the team of Wordy the Parrot and Arch the Cat as they bumble their way through a series of zany adventures, not-so-willingly helping the other animal denizens of Abcedaria solve their problems. Wordy and Arch must help each other navigate over obstacles and through mazes, as well as maze-like arguments with their stubborn neighbors. Even if this odd pair succeeds at bringing peace to their village, will they ever be able to stop arguing with each other?”

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As some more raw material for the conversation, here is the section from my guide to game design where I generate three original game concepts, based on the preceding sections about game genres, main game activities, etc.

 

 

Love the guide! Printed it off to have it a look later :) 

 

@AVAVT : I had a little conversation with the guys at the studio and the piece of advise that came up is to start with the game type. You are not a game designer so, first you have to find the kind of game you want to do. Then imagine some mechanics. Characters and art style will come later when you'll start to create a little story in your head :)  

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I will read the news, usually something in the science section and then I get inspired on what I could make into a game.  Cool new technologies always spark my interest for new game ideas.

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(and subtilted in deutch)

 

Not that it really matters, but those subtitles are Norwegian :P

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(and subtilted in deutch)

 

Not that it really matters, but those subtitles are Norwegian tongue.png

 

Arf, my mistake sorry about that, and thanks for the correction :)  

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Consider also that you may have the answer right in your post: your friends.  If your friends didn't enjoy some of the games you created, why not ask or, even better, brainstorm with them about what you would all enjoy playing?

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This website helped me open my creative mind, it also made me realize that everyone has a potential to be creative; it's a skill much like anything else. To keep it short I'd recommend you to - learn to use your mind, learn to think, imagine, associate, and question everything!

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Though I really like the process of creating games, I can't think of any interesting idea for a game to make. I made 2 very small games based on my own idea before, but they turns out pretty bad. The only game I made that my friends would even consider playing are tinkered clones of retro games.

 

 

I have been making games for about 10 years now as hobby but it wasn't in the last year that I really started to think about what makes a game fun. I always assumed that all it takes is a good idea for a game to be fun, but it turns execution of that idea is just as important.

 

I started reading this book and it has made me realize how much work goes into making a game fun. By duplicating other games, you can bring in a lot of the mechanics and balance of the existing game to make yours fun without even knowing it. When you create your own idea, you need to balance the game.

 

This involves taking a look at your ideas and evaluating what makes it fun, what ruins the experience, and what needs tweaking. Then you take that information and make changes to your game and evaluate it again. Your original ideas may not have been bad, they just needed some balancing. 

 

Take a look at the core design values for league of legends, for example. In that article are a few of the many important things to think about when making a game fun. They have a focus on multiplayer, but many of it still applies to single player games too.

Edited by HappyCoder

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I never rely on past ideas for inspiration. When I had those ideas I was engaged to make them, and now that same feeling is gone and won't be rekindled.
All new game ideas I have come from consuming artistic works: games, films, pieces of music and sound, visual arts etc.

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Seconding "limiting yourself" as a powerful creative technique.  One of my favorite stimuli: Consider a popular game or genre, and ask "What would it be like if it *didn't* have X?", where X is something that appears to be fundamental to that genre.  (How would you make a platformer without jumping?  How would you make a roguelike without any combat?  How would you make a masocore platformer where the player can't die?)

 

 

Other suggestions:

  • Play games in genres you would never think of playing.  (What's fun about them?  Is there a kind of fun that familiar games lack?  How would you add this kind of fun to a more familiar genre?)
  • Play games that aren't videogames.  Boardgames are mechanically very diverse; there are lots of ideas in boardgames that are only barely explored in videogames.
  • Do things (or watch people do things) that are fun but aren't "games" at all.  (What's the fun in not-stepping-on-cracks?  What's the fun in a coloring book?  What's the fun in making paperclip sculptures?)  Find a kind of fun that you rarely see in videogames; make a videogame that has that kind of fun.

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Seconding "limiting yourself" as a powerful creative technique.

 

Thirding and fourthing because I think it is just that important! 

 

I'm a jazz fan and musician.  The amount of mileage you can get from a few simple constraints -- a series of chords or a short melody -- is endless.  It's going on a tangent within an accepted or acknowledged framework where GREAT ideas are born.

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