Time to start your first game! Let’s go! What? Don’t you know where to start? Hmm…
Trying to design your first game can be very daunting. There’s no doubt about that. But, it’s also one of the best ways to get better at your craft. We support you. That’s why we’ve put together a list of ten approaches you can take to help generate great video game ideas.
10. Pick a Genre and Run with It
There are a bunch of genres out there. Some have been around for a long time, and for good reason. Think about some of your favorites. Whether it’s RTS, FPS, or a racing genre, you have options!
Try honing in on a particular genre and running with it. See what you can come up with when you restrict yourself to one game type.
9. Pick a Niche and Make a Hit
If you tried the genre exercise and it wasn’t enough, this option will take the exercise to the next level. Instead of just picking a game genre, pick a niche too.
Instead of just RTS, maybe it’s a fantasy-driven RTS. Instead of a racing game, maybe it’s a sci-fi racing game. What happens when you limit yourself even more?
8. Observe the Entire Earth
The world is an incredible, amazing place. And there are a lot of really bizarre people in it. And sometimes these people do really weird things, and it turns out great! Try watching what’s going on around you.
Start spending time each day really paying attention to people’s interactions. And not just the interactions they have with each other, but the interactions they have with the world. Does anything stand out? Would any of it make a good game?
7. Ask other people what they’d like to play
Sometimes you gotta’ ask for help, man. It’s true. Don’t be so scared that someone will steal your idea, or not give you credit, if you come up with something all on your own.
Ask people what they’d want to play! They might have some good ideas, and if you could deliver it for them, you’d be a hero.
6. Ask other people what they wouldn’t like to play
It’s said that Henry Ford once said: “If I asked people what they wanted, they would have told me faster horses.” And that’s poignant.
People don’t know what they want until they have it. It’s a weird human thing. But sometimes it’s easier for people to tell you what they don’t want.
Food is a good example. When you’re meeting a friend for lunch, and they say “what do you want?” You don’t always know. But you could probably tell them you don’t want Mexican, or Chinese, or pasta. Use the process of elimination and see what turns up!
Tune everything out and close everything down. Now take 15 minutes and write down every single idea that pops into your head. Don’t censor it at all. If you think it, write it. Don’t judge it. Don’t consider it. Just put it down on paper.
Every single word, every single idea, every inkling of a thought must find its way onto that page. Then review it when you are done. It might be some of those words on those pages are golden ideas. At the very least, you’ll have cleared some space in your brain to do some real thinking.
4. Book Time
Think about your all-time favorite book (or series). Dang, that was a good read, huh? Was it Malazan Book of the Fallen? Kingkiller Chronicles? Wheel of Time? All very good. My, you truly have exquisite taste.
What are some elements in your favorite book that you find appealing? Was it the characters? The action? The setting? Their goals? Any of those elements could serve as potent brainstorming tools or great starting points for a game idea.
3. TVs, Movies, All Things Screens
Just like with books, think about your favorite television show or movie. What makes it great? What draws you to it? Could it be the narrative? The dialogue? The acting?
Does it elicit some feeling or emotion in you that is really appealing? Consider those elements as jumping-off points for coming up with a game.
2. Monkey See, Monkey Do
Maybe you saw this one coming: Think about video games! What’s your favorite game? What are games you’ve played that you loved while you played them?
Existing games can be an excellent idea-generating resource. Of course, you cannot copy them outright. But using them for inspiration is a perfectly viable option!
1. Game Time
This last one is straightforward and action-oriented. Make Games. With game creation, even if you aren’t in love with an idea behind it, you’ll see what works and what doesn’t.
You’ll be inspired, challenged, pushed, and irritated through various points. But you’ll be creating. And when you create, you gain insight into the process that you can’t pick up or learn from the sidelines.