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Coming up with Ideas

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SVan
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Joined: 10/02/2008

Lately I've been coming up with more ideas than my brain can handle. That made me think of how ideas for games are thought up. The last idea I had was about a board game based on farming (which may not get more than an idea, but who knows...) because I had just got done playing Harvest Moon Advance on my computer. (Great sim game, it's addictive, but unfortunely they put you on the farm and leave you to die, you have to figure out a lot of things yourself.)(BTW, it's for the Game Boy Advance, and it's not really meant for the computer...just in case someone is wondering...)

So I was wondering how everyone else came up with ideas, and why some of those ideas stick and some just float around in your heads what seems like forever before you get around to putting it on paper (or even worse: disappear forever 8O)

Torrent
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Joined: 08/03/2008
Coming up with Ideas

I write everything down, even the really stupid stuff. I have a big pile of Text Files in a folder on my computer. Every so often, I go through and read them all. Sometimes, I combine several together into a bigger file of related ideas, but I tend to leave the old ones around, just for posterity and to make sure I won't forget useful things.

Actually for ideas, I am a dreamer and ride a lot of trains. So I get a lot of time to daydream. ABout anything that I see or encounter is a seed for a game idea, if it is interesting enough to persist in my brain long enough to get to my computer, I write it down.

If I get several files on a particular theme/game, I make another folder to keep it out of the general mess. I slowly revise from there with images and such. I really like keeping everything, and just making revisions in seperate files. This helps me see the development of ideas, and take a step back as needed.

Andy

Dralius
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Joined: 07/26/2008
Coming up with Ideas

My games come to me in all fashions, some inspired by books or movies, Some are inspired by other games (variants or spin-offs) and then there are the game ideas that pop into my head as i fall asleep at night. I have started a game idea from as little as a catch phrase.
I suggest that you write down every idea you have so you'll have time to sort through them when your brain settles down. Getting an idea is not the hard part of making a game for me, it's putting it all together into a finished and polished form that i tend to come up short on. About 20% of the games i have started making have been finished to the point that they can be play tested. Many of those have died at that point due to fatal flaws. Still i have not thrown out any as i tend to go back from time to time and work on some of my old favorites.

DarkDream
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Coming up with Ideas

At least for me, ideas for games just seem to come out of no where. They are usually something that interests me, or a cool idea that I could use with some novel game mechanic.

This is just my experience. Keep in mind I am no expert, and I am still designing my very first board game -- a chariot racing game.

What really gets me in terms of ideas, is the ideas that keep coming on a game I am working on. Right now, I can't get my head away from my chariot racing game. I keep thinking about it all the time, and then I will get sporadically more ideas on it.

What I try to do is to write all my ideas down without judgement. It is only later through further reflection do I then consider whether to add them to the design. I often will label ideas (at least mentally) as "possible future rule" or "great idea but probably won't work."

I think when coming up for ideas for a game, is to record them all, take the most simplest subset that will work coherently, write down the rules, create a prototype and refine.

This is just some thoughts.

DarkDream

SVan
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Joined: 10/02/2008
Coming up with Ideas

I like everyone's replies. There is so much good in each of them. Writing down every idea and everything that comes to your mind is probably the best thing you could ever do. I don't do it much, but I wish I did. Sometimes I get in the mode of just wanting it finished that I don't brainstorm enough on a game.

I recommend that you never throw away an idea, written or not. One of my many ideas that I plan to put to life in 2004 is a card game idea I have been trying to do something with for over 10 years. Something just clicked at the right time. :idea:

nickdanger
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Re: Coming up with Ideas

SVan wrote:
So I was wondering how everyone else came up with ideas,...

Apparently I am unlike most here in that I don't jot stuff down, or just have ideas randomly hit me. I decide beforehand what kind of game I want to play and then design it. No great magical revelations or "Eureka!" moments for me.

I know what kind of games I like, and if I can't find a game that already exists that fits in that niche I make it myself. I start with a pretty clear vision of what I want the end result to be. The challenge is then to create that vision with whatever tools best fit the mold.

The thing is I end up with games I really enjoy. Sure, not everyone will as we know well enough the variety of tastes in gamers. But since I'm only designing trying to please nobody but myself I end up with a game that instantly goes on my top shelf.

I guess to actually answer the question of where my ideas come from would be to say - necessity. I decide what I want to play and if I can't find it, I design it. More boring and less interesting than watching rain run down a window and being hit by a lighting bolt of inspiration, but there you have it.

--
Nick

SVan
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Joined: 10/02/2008
Coming up with Ideas

One thing I've realized...if the game you're designing isn't making you very excited, then you're probably wasting time...and effort you could be putting into a game you do enjoy...

Also I've realized that there's a lot of games out there...on my shelves, and on everyone else's shelves too...so why do we want the newest game that is out there? Just for the same reason we're excited for new movies and new music...

Sometimes, the only way to satisfy the need of a particular game is to create it, and because I want more card games with interaction and strategy and cannot find them, I've been creating them myself...

Chip
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Coming up with Ideas

Many years ago I began carrying a pen everywhere I go. I'm one of those people that writes (or rather jots) things down - or at the very least wants to have the option of writing something down if I think its important enough. The jottings aren't usually very elaborate just a word or two, perhaps a sentence that I use to help recall the entire idea at a later time.

There had been times when I'd have an idea/angle that warranted development, but didn't jot anything down. And then for the life of me I'd not be able to recall the specific nuance in the idea at a later time. Thus I began carrying a pen. I usually have a small pad of paper in my back pocket as well which gets occasional use. You can almost always find something to write on though, but rarely can you find something to write with.

Chip

Deviant
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Coming up with Ideas

I too keep a notebook, and write/draw every idea that comes to me. But the most important thing is just to design. When I have a halfway decent idea I cut paper/cardstock/index cards and draw everything. If I need anything to be precise, I design it on CorelDraw and print it out. Don't waste time making it pretty! Right at this point, I playtest, and if the game shows any promise, I keep working.

I've taken less than half of my games "all the way" and when I say all the way I mean everything is thoroughly playtested, the art is done, and I can make only trivial changes to perfect the design (NOTE: there is no such thing as a "complete" game, only progressively more polished ones). I don't consider the games that fell through as time wasted, because more often than not I can find some mechanic in these games that I can salvage and apply to a new design. In this way, I learn what works in game design, and what doesn't. The notebook is a springboard, but only continuous game design will separate the good ideas from the good-in-theory-maybe ones.

Anonymous
Coming up with Ideas

History! It seems to be an endless source for gameable situations.
So many games refer to history (or mythic history) that it is good to read a few books around the subject pretty soon game ideas come leaping out.

Fictional history is just as good. In fact, as a good starting point to a game; generate a history that the game will then recreate.

so basically; reading.

Anonymous
Coming up with Ideas

Put me in the "jotter" category. I'm famous amongst my friends for always having a pen or pencil handy, and I try to keep a small notebook, pad or pocket memo book on me so I can jot notes down.

The idea may not be for a game, it may be for a story, or some interesting thought or concept. It may never come to anything, but in most cases I end up recycling the idea into a storyline.

It works just as well for game concepts. I've got a few crossover ideas for several different types of projects, so certain ideas that have come up in my head are now "universal" concepts throughout several different draft/prototypes, in different media.

I say write it down, if you can, and save it for later. It doesn't matter if you don't use it right then, you'd be surprised at how well an earlier idea - modified here and there - can be a lifesaver in a later project.

Pt314
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Coming up with Ideas

When I don't have anything else to do, I design games in my head. I then spend a lot of freetime testing my game in may head, and try to fix all the problems. Then I make a prototype game and try it out with other people & take suggestions.

DavemanUK
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Random sources of game ideas

Some of my ideas have come from everyday events:

"6-Degrees": From chatting with a friend about his wide family tree while travelling on the underground train.
"Where are You?": From following directions to a London pub given by a friend for a Saturday games playing session.
"Sentinel": From staring at my bathroom tiled floor too long ;-)

Other ideas come from dreams and long, dull meetings :)

Dave W

stumps
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Coming up with Ideas

Generaly speaking, I like to look at a game that is already in publication, strip it down to it's bare functions and then re-build it over again with different content while varying the functions of the rules.

Kind of like one does when writing Screen Plays. All the stories have been done...just not your way with your style.

Anonymous
Coming up with Ideas

I work with a friend for most of my game design, and we work by the Eureka! method for the original idea, the brainstorming with crazy ideas phase, and then we reel ourselves in so we can start playtesting.

Others have mentioned it, but I can't stress it enough--playtest the daylights out of it as soon as possible. Often we'll make up card content and play a couple of seats apiece just to see if the idea is feasible, but we do play the games right after they're hatched.

As always, some move on to become games, and some flop and become nothing. But each one teaches us something, and I think we're getting better at it...

--Greg

Anonymous
Coming up with Ideas

My stuff just comes.
And my creativity comes and goes...
thus...
I carry around a little address-book-sized composition book (with the black and white speckled cover)... and I jot down EVERYTHING in there. I'm fond of poetry too, so you'll find bits and pieces of poetry and game ideas.

When I say EVERYTHING, I mean it. Even if it's just something I thought would be cool for a title... or something that is nothing more than a single mechanic... it goes in the book.

I also have a file folder for each game that makes it into the creative process. I use the outside of the folder to track dates, any platest sessions and stuff like that. Inside the folder goes rules, notes, art, proto prints, contacts, signed NDAs... everything. These all go in one of those accordian-like satchel-things made for file folders.

So, when I'm not particularly creative and nothing is popping into my head, I go back through these two resources and either work on something already in development... or brainstorm from my quick ideas.

Admittidly... not but a few minutes ago I was... um... wee-weeing and a game idea based on Stick Figures popped into my head..... go figure. :D

Tyler

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