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devO6

Original mobile game ideas & getting burnt out.

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Hello there,

 

 

I was wondering... how do developers come up with fun game ideas that are somewhat original (at least not clones or similar to that)?

 

I've been working on a few mobile games myself, but, at the end of the development process, i end up finding some games on the Google Play store that i personally find really enjoyable, thinking to myself "Wow, that's a great idea, wish i had come up with this.". Then, coming back to my own games, i don't find any of them to be truly 'fun', something i would actually play for quite a while. The thing is that i'm so ferociously committed whilst actually programming those games, and enjoying it so much that i can't tell from the very beginning if they are indeed fun.

 

So, for the past week or so, with a bunch of scrapped mobile game projects laying in my repository, I've just been gathering, from other mobile games, all the elements that really attract me, trying to come up with something that i find truly fun, something I'd be proud to have created and shared. But, quite honestly, It's being pretty difficult to come up with an original idea (or even an original mechanic) based on the characteristics of the games i found to be really fun... Maybe i'm just rushing it way too much, because most of my ideas go more or less directly to games that already exist.

 

Not wasting more time, my questions would be:

 

  • is it normal for a game developer to get burnt out of their own games?

 

  • is there any tips for telling if a game is going to be fun from the start? I know I'ts a very subjective topic, but i guess there should be something that separates fun from boring?

 

  • in a marked so overcrowded like the mobile games' market, how can one boost their creativity in order to create something fun without feeling like somewhat of a copy of other games?

 

Thanks a lot in advance.

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IMO:

1) Yes

2) Prototype the shit out of it until it is fun... so basically, No.

3) Just let your creativity run wild. Don't get attached to what exists, what SHOULD sell, what people like to play and so on. Most of the really INNOVATIVE games were one thing before anything else: a big gamble.

Because I am pretty sure the dev of that game initially had NO idea if this idea would be fun. He might even thought it sucked. It might even have sucked at the beginning. And 95% of the really innovativ games might never be fun at all... they are fresh and new, but not fun. With nothing short of a complete rehaul of the game mechanics ever making them fun.

 

As far as I understand it, you need to prototype a lot, you need to try many things (thus start many projects), yet no game is fun from the outset, so you need to stick to your projects and iterate on them until you find the fun. YOU need to make it fun. If you don't want to clone games, don't clone them. If you happen to produce games that are too similar to existing games, try to "shake up your routine" and create something completly different.

Edited by Gian-Reto

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As I've only got 2 finished games under my belt (one an abject failure, one so-so successful ) - take my opinion considering that:

 

1) burnt out developing - yes. Burnt out playing it? Hopefully no. My 1st one (crappy one) i was bored playing it, but i figured maybe it's just because i played it too much. Wrong, it sucked. My #2, it was fun to playtest all the way through the development process. #3 (in progress) is fun to play as well. Sometimes i get distracted from playtesting and find myself playing around, which is a good sign imo. 

 

2) in  my opinion: no. The simplier your idea's core gameplay, the quicker you can make it happen and find out if it's fun or not.

 

3) creativity doesn't seem to be a factor in what sells and what doesn't. There are companies that make successfull games by cloning others and spending 90% of their budget on marketing. If you don't have a huge advertising budget, about the only way to be 'seen' is to have a nice icon and screenshots,  then back it up with solid, fun gameplay.

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[...]

Thank you very much for your answer, i think you're right; prototyping a lot, tweaking and more tweaking is something that i usually don't do... I usually spend quite some time JUST thinking about an idea, and end up coming with a clear one, often not changing it much from the start... Guess I've been failing there. 

 

Once again, thank you, this has been a huge boost.  happy.png

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[...]

First of all, congratulations on your games, nice to hear some success stories happy.png.  I guess my problem is not so much the getting burnt out of developing but getting burnt out of playing them. I honestly find it somewhat hard to come up with a good, somewhat simple core mechanic without feeling like It has been done before a bunch of times. That just doesn't feel good to me. tongue.png Guess i'll have to try some more and, as  @Gian-Reto said above, prototype alot!

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burn out is normal.

 

If you stick at the same thing until you just see dancing pixels, you'll get burned out without a doubt.

 

To work around this i have several projects on the go at one time, some of them aren't even game development (e.g. I also enjoy open source development, retro computing, photography, etc) and if i feel burn-out coming on (identified by a lack of drive to continue on the project) i simply switch projects.

 

It means that my projects take longer to get done, but eventually they do get finished which is better than abandoning them completely!

 

Good luck!

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[...]

Hey, thanks for the kind words! 

That seems to be the most intelligent approach. happy.png

Edited by devO6

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There's been some good responses so far! Here's what I feel I can contribute:
 

It's being pretty difficult to come up with an original idea (or even an original mechanic) based on the characteristics of the games i found to be really fun...
 
There's that cliché saying: "There's no such thing as an original idea". I'm not sure how heavy originality weighs in your mind, but I would focus on the kind of mechanics/themes/dynamics etc. you are enjoying at this moment in time. Perhaps you feel burnt out on a particular theme/dynamic: what are you doing instead with your time when you feel out of ideas or uninspired? Does it refresh/reset you? Is it fun? Perhaps you can spot a theme or a mechanic in that you can elaborate on. A hidden gem, which is something fun and would hold your attention!
 
What are you participating in with other people that is fun? What are other people finding fun, which could inspire you? This leads me on to my main point: get a fresh perspective from other people. Speak to some people to get some ideas, make some assumptions on what and why people are enjoying, then test and validate those assumptions before going back to said people for feedback and more inspiration. Then just keep repeating the cycle and continiously innovate ideas!
 
In the business world this is called customer development, which you do in parallel to developing a product, i.e.  a game in this case. In the business world, getting inspired from others, exploring it methodically and syetematically and creating something new out of it is also known as Lean business practices. I feel this scientific method approach can be applied to any kind of innovating (like making a game) and could save you from burnout by getting inspired off of other people to kick start your own ideas. I suggest checking out the books: The Four Steps to Epiphany by Steve Blank, The Lean Startup by Eric Ries and Lean Customer Development by Cindy Alvarez. They helped me develop the mind set to approaching stuff that way.
 
There's loads of ways to find inspiration in yourself just from looking through the eyes of others for a bit! smile.png
 
Hope this helps.
Edited by Mark Lock

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In the business world this is called customer development, which you do in parallel to developing a product, i.e.  a game in this case. In the business world, getting inspired from others, exploring it methodically and syetematically and creating something new out of it is also known as Lean business practices. 

 

Hey there! I actually haven't heard of this, sounds quite interesting happy.png . I did show some of my games to a bunch of people and their reactions would usually be pretty positive. But if, for any reason, i stop 'feeling' the game, It's really difficult to get my mindset back onto it... I'm going to try the approach of  "Speak to some people to get some ideas, make some assumptions on what and why people are enjoying, then test and validate those assumptions before going back to said people for feedback and more inspiration". Really sounds like a great way! laugh.png

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Thank you very much for your answer, i think you're right; prototyping a lot, tweaking and more tweaking is something that i usually don't do... I usually spend quite some time JUST thinking about an idea, and end up coming with a clear one, often not changing it much from the start... Guess I've been failing there. 

 

 

Once again, thank you, this has been a huge boost.  happy.png

 

 

I think we all fall victim to Analysis Paralysis and Overthinking things from time to time... on this very board you regularly see people posting for the first time that haven't finished writing the GDDs measuring 100's of pages already, Theorycrafting some systems since years, yet never even started to learn how to put together a prototype and testing their ideas in practice.

 

To be fair, Theorycrafting can be fun in itself and some people do not really want to put the theory into practice... but if they want to, they are kinda putting the cart before the horse. Spending so much time planning something that you haven't even tried yet is risky... you might waste a lot of time planning something that doesn't work in practice.

 

 

Now, doing SOME planning, and then doing a small "Preproduction" phase where you build a simple prototype sounds like a much saner decision. At least you should know after this "Preproduction" if you are unto something or if it might be a hopeless case to turn into a fun game.

Edited by Gian-Reto

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