hack for gardenscapes regardless of medium or success, stem from the abstract construct of thought we know fondly as the ‘idea’. It all has to start somewhere after all, be it on the proverbial drawing board, along the margins of your thesis paper, in your sister’s diary or even the back of a paper towel.
It goes without saying that simply having an idea is practically useless (this applies to most, if not all industries really). These days, you could pick anyone off the street and chances are that they probably have a couple of pitch-worthy game ideas up their sleeves, ideas that will likely never see the light of day. Simply put, game ideas are aplenty. On the other hand, game ideas that are acted upon and further developed however don’t come along quite as often.
In truth, it takes a good measure of dedication and perseverance to see one’s ideas realized. That, however, is a topic for another time. For now, let’s shift our focus to the actual birthing of a game idea.
And no, there’s not going to be any ‘thinking out of the box’ going on here. I mean, who has the say as to what or where the box is? What actually constitutes the box, and why do we even think within it to begin with?
I come to you now as a gaming enthusiast and an aspiring designer to share a number of pointers and ‘soft techniques’ that I’ve personally found useful while in the process of creating and brainstorming ideas, for games or otherwise.
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That Is Not A Game Idea
Before we delve deeper into the subject, let’s get one thing straight. An idea for a story (character, background, fluff, lore, etc., what-have-you) is NOT an idea for a game. A story may or may not influence the overall design of a game and even its mechanics, but a story is STRICTLY NOT a game idea. A premise for a story may too influence a game’s design, but DO NOT turn the premise into the core design philosophy of a game.
This is one of the most common mistakes fledgling designers make, yours truly included. I’m sure most of you out there have, at some point or another, come across a situation that goes kind of like this: “I HAVE A GREAT IDEA FOR A GAME. IT’S ABOUT ARMORED DRAGONS FROM SPACE THAT ATTACK THE EARTH AND KIDNAP OUR WOMEN!” That is an idea for a story, not a game. Get the picture?
So, let’s now take a step back and look at this simply. Ideally, a game idea (in the strictest sense of a ‘game idea’) involves an abstract collection of rules, constraints, boundaries and possibly a goal. At its bare minimum, it may even simply manifest as a general gameplay direction or premise. In essence, it’s about laying the foundations or manifesto for a set of mechanics that, upon further development, will pass off as ‘playable’.