Tips for Developers: Getting an Idea for a New Game

Tips for developers

It all begins from idea. In a perfect world the moment you think you need a good idea it is born in your mind, solid and destined to be a success. In the real world even the most talented developer or game designer may sooner or later have a crisis of ideas.   

Having interviewed our team and browsed the opinions of experienced game makers on the web, we ended up with a list of basic techniques you can use to come up with the cherished idea for your next game.

#1 Learn from industry leaders
Making from scratch is ten times harder than taking someone’s game and creating a sort of cover version. Forget copying a best-selling title and masking your clone with new art or setting, that won’t work. You’d better use it as strong foundation to build a new improved gaming experience. Choose a game and examine it in the littlest details. Analyse your own impression, browse the web to find out what people think of it. The feedback will help you leave out the odd things and add everything that’s missing. That done, you can get down to implementing your brilliant idea.

#2 Mixing the unmixable
Some people think everything that can be invented has been invented. They deny novelty, because new is well-forgotten old. Are you one of them? Then you might like the method used at Sony Worldwide Studios according to Mark Green. You should try to mix two game genres. Make up a list of successful titles and pick two random games. The next thing and main challenge is about blending those two to create one unusual game. Use it as a starting point for generating more ideas and don’t be afraid of experimenting. Stereotypes are meant to be broken. Remember though that your game idea must be implementable and viable. Don’t waste time on ideas that look perfect on paper but will never work out as games actually made.

#3 Turning it upside down
This technique can also be called ‘mirror’. You need to pick an interesting game title and create the opposite of it. For example, we can innovate on escape the room type of puzzles by making a game where player needs to perform a series of actions to lure a character into a room. Certain game mechanics can be unfit for ‘mirroring’, while others can drive you to genuine discoveries.

#4 The need for limits
Looking for a good idea is quite similar to hunting for a needle in a haystack, don’t you think? There are so many options one can simply get lost. Limit the scope of your search by adding ‘filters’, because restrictions aren’t always bad. They can get you focused on solving one particular task instead of many, and help you come up with something truly original. So, pick any game genre, define its key distinctive features, then leave one out and try to imagine how that kind of game will work. Do the trick until you try out all the combinations. Another option is to invent your own restrictions. For instance, how a black-and-white tile-matching game would play like? Anything is possible, use your imagination.

#5 The complete immersion
Most experienced developers and newcomers believe in “the more the better” theory. It says you should fully devote yourself to playing games. And not only that kind of games that you’re going to make. Play as many as you can, because you never know where the idea will come from. Soak up all the information you get: talk to developers or any other specialists working in the industry, read articles, listen to podcasts, watch videos. Why? Because, again, you never know where the idea will come from.

#6 Goodbye, games
When you’ve effortlessly tried to generate ideas for hours or days, turning your attention to something completely different can be a perfect way to break the deadlock. Avoid games, that’s the advice. Do whatever you want: take long walks at the park, meet with friends, take a trip or foreign language classes, or anything you’ve always dreamed of. First, it will reload your brain clearing free space for new knowledge and ideas. Second, a lot of game makers actually find inspiration in real life. The Legend of Zelda was inspired by the childhood memories of Miyamoto, the world-famous game designer.  

#7 Randomizer
Quite an unusual solution was suggested by a developer in one of the topic discussions. He claimed that the idea for one of his games came to him while he was browsing random Wikipedia pages using Special:Random. Another developer shared the similar technique of opening a random vocabulary page, picking a word and inventing ideas for a new game on that topic. No one will judge you for trying such methods, there is a chance they might work. But don’t spend too much time on it and always keep in mind the purpose of your search.    

The development team of Puzzle Dreams that we closely work with also shared their story. Their first official game Bits of Sweets was inspired by dark tales of the Grimm Brothers. You can check out the result on Facebook or iOS.
Everyone has its own way of getting ideas, but you should remember: idea is not the main thing about making a game. Implementation is the key thing. So make prototypes, experiment with mechanics and never give up. This is the only way that will lead you to your dream game. Good luck!   

Posted by Renatus on January 29, 2016