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Out of ideas for games.

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I'm a hobbyist gamedev (I was proffensional for a while) at my full-time job I do things that involve developing and maintaining tools for computer graphics.


As a hobbyist I wrote myself a descent(I think) rendering framework (and few tools/libs around it that are needed for gamedev: collision, input ect.). And deep inside me I feel like, how do I say it.... that this rendering engine isn't needed. Sure there will be no fees, everything is under my control and for a good amount of cases (I still believe) that I don't needed an external engine. If this is true in the reality I really don't know...


So what the rendering framework has to do with this? One of the reasons why I wrote this engine is probably because I don't have a specific game mechanic that I want to implement. While I go to work (using the public transport services) I try to think of an idea for a game, and honestly I really can't come up with anything!? I have some minor things in my head and here they are :




- A mix between "Chips Challenge" and "The binding of Isaac". There you have to solve puzzles and fight a bit, but nothing specific.

- A 3rd person "boss fight game" like WoW PvE but for a single person. The idea is not to find the weak spot of the boss but rather to cooperate with the environment and manage cooldowns. For this I have bit more specific ideas.You might ask? Why single player? 2 reasons(that aren't enough) 1 I love single player campaigns. 2 I'm scared of networking.


Things that are "on my heart" (or I live with that thought) :

- For some reason I think I want to make a turn based strategy game. Maybe it's because I love the fantasy world, the art style and because my favorite game is HoMM3! 

- Super Meatboy or Metal Slug remake.


Trough my whole life (especially as a kid) a never actually had an idea for a game. The ideas that I had were something like a new quest/faction/area/(or rarely an enemy) in a game.


The games that I've enjoyed : Heroes of Might and Magic 3, World of Warcraft(raiding), Fable, Chips Challenge, Neighbors form Hell 1&2(well the list is longer). And additionally Super Meatboy, The impossible game (I adore games with fast iterations).



Can you give me some suggestions on what should I do to "repair" my brain, and enable the "idea" part of it?
Is this thing happening to everyone?


Oh and one last thing. Currently this is a hobby project and I spend almost all my free time on this, but at some point I want focus my time and money on some game, and try to make a living with this.

Edited by imoogiBG

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I'd remove frameworks and rendering from your train of thought for now. This is the time and place for pure game design thought.


First a word of reassurance: don't worry, your brain is not broken!


It looks like you're forming plenty of ideas! You're blending games together and imagining the interesting dynamics that creates; that's a perfectly good approach for finding inspiration. However, it looks to me as if you're approaching the majority of your ideas from the 'mechanics aspect' first. That's not a bad things whatsoever. However, you're currently stuck in a rut:


I'm of the belief you can find a game in anything and there are a lot of different angles to find them. Here are some different approaches that could help you break that rut:

  1. What's the core objective? Capture all the resources? Get from A to B? Race to the end? Pick something (randomly if you have to) and spend an hour brainstorming around that objective.
  2. How do you want to make the player feel? Tense, scared, fricking awesome while swinging a hammer etc? What mechanic(s) would achieve that?
  3. What will the player see? Colourful? Bleak and gritty?
  4. What situations in your life, books, TV would make for an interesting game?
  5. If it's multiplayer, what conflicts do you want to create between the different players? What mechanic((s) would best achieve that?
  6. Do you have a story to tell?

As an example, I am learning game design and I was given the challenge of designing a race to the end game. That's all I was given. I thought about what I know of in my own life that would make an interesting race to the end game, which will mess with the players and create entertaining conflicts. I decided I wanted it to be colourful and lighthearted. Then it hit me, there's this show called IRT Deadliest Roads where groups of truckers take on these rediculously dangerous roads in beautiful settings to deliver cargo. The shows are quite formulaic, the drivers have similar conflicts and the dangers of the road are very clear.


So I thought "wouldn't it be cool if you had to race from A to B of the road, dodging and avoiding the dangers on the road while trying to keep a lead?" etc. The mechanics could be the various dangers on the road, speed, movement etc.


My point is: Try approaching it from these different angles, it'll unlock your mind!


Beyond that, if you get stuck with a game idea: set yourself constraints. Take away a mechanic, make up some stringent rules for the day etc. Restrict yourself to hone your creativity.


Also a good stratergy for flexing your 'idea muscle' is, when you wake up, write down 10 ideas of absolutely anything every day. You'll never know when one might accidently become an awesome game idea (or anything else!).


I hope this helps smile.png.

Edited by Mark Lock

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I'd go read several books (not text books), watch a movie or two, go for a walk, take a shower, and see if ideas start forming in my head.


Ideas (even scientific ideas) funnily enough don't come from a step-by-step process that guarantees a result - at least, I haven't discovered one yet.

The worst way to get ideas is to try and get ideas. laugh.png


Often times, ideas originate in my subconscious before my conscious line of thought can take them over and develop them. The trick seems to be to relax and not focus on what you are trying to figure out, letting your subconscious do the work, and then at unexpected times they just kinda pop into your head. It's important to seed your subconscious with alot of material to work with, though, and to occasionally focus consciously on the subject you are trying to get ideas for.


Important: If you ever find yourself getting forced into a bathtub by your servants, and an idea suddenly pops into your head, don't forget to shout 'Eureka!' before running through the streets naked back to your house.

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If you are out of ideas, open a dictionary to a random page and randomly pick a word.


 Now slap the words "Simulator 2015" to the end of that word.

Edited by Code Fox

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Not everyone needs to be a designer.  There are so many people who have big ideas already, have you tried looking through the classified section?  Maybe you will find a project to fall in love with.  Or, if you are interested in doing opensource work, there are some established opensource game projects that could use more developers.

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I agree with what was said before - you may not have ideas today, but they'll come to you soon enough. But if you're impatient, I recommend Roger Von Oech's books on creativity. Start with A Whack on the Side of the Head.

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"what do you want to play that hasn't been built yet?" -  this is one of the best ways to come up with cool unique ideas for new types of games. 


"what games do you really like, and whats wrong with them that you could do better?" this is another approach, innovative as opposed to novel.


and sometimes you just get a vision: "wow! wouldn't it be cool if there was a game were you could __________ !" (fill in the blank).   unfortunately, visions are often large scope games. <g>.


these are three good ways to come up with ideas for games.


it seems that game design can come from two directions: top down, starting with a core aesthetic, or vision, or idea for a cool game, and then fleshing it out with the necessary mechanics to create the desired game world / gameplay effect. i keep wanting to say this might be mostly for big games like RPGs and MMORPGs, but it could really apply to anything with a core theme - even a platformer.  i suspect this method works well for "virtual world" type games. but even platformers and farmville etc can be considered "virtual worlds" (perhaps a bit simplistic, but a little virtual world nonetheless).


the second approach is coming up with a set of mechanics that's fun to play with. sort of bottom up design, starting with the game mechanics.   this method probably works well for creating arcade type games.   tetris comes to mind, although it may have been a "wouldn't it be cool..." type design idea that just popped into the guy's head, which in turn defined the mechanics. 


a couple games i'd like to play that haven't been made yet:

1. a pirate rpg for the PC. not disney BS like sid meyer's. Caribbean (on steam, using the mount and blade warband engine) is still in semi-terminal alpha.  : (

2. a wild west rpg for the PC. red dead 1 skipped the PC altogether, and red dead 2 is still  just a strong rumor. perhaps with a higher level of realism. i seem to recall my buddy doing a mission where he threw dynamite at a guy wearing plate iron - struck me as pretty hokey and a far cry from playing a clint eastwood or john wayne or garry cooper or gergory peck western. more like the remake of the wild wild west - not that that wasn't an entertaining movie.



a third approach just came to mind: design evolution.


you start with some core design that you like, say space fighter sim. then you add in what would be the next logical step to take it to the next level - say vehicle design based on prestige points earned during missions.  and then the next step, say being able to command a flight group (IE multiple wingmen). and then maybe some scavenge and trade gameplay as well. IE let "creeping featuritis" dictate how the game design "evolves". this method can also lead to some very cool games.

Edited by Norman Barrows

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I found that the best way to get better at any craft is to just try.

Try to make games, repeatedly, and you'll develop an acumen for what 'fun' is, and have new ideas on what to do next.

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