Game Creation Guidelines/Design

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Part of Board Game Design>Game Creation Guidelines

See also Spiral Model of Game Development

The Idea[edit | edit source]

Many of us have had an idea for a game. Very few of us have completed one. Is it that having ideas is easy, and finishing games is hard? Actually, you'd be surprised sometimes at how hard having that initial inspiration is. This segment is about how to get your idea, and if you already have an idea, what you should do with it.

Inspiration[edit | edit source]

Inspiration can come from anywhere. Some find that they are inspired when in a certain emotional state, or perhaps when they just wake up. Some meditate, some just watch TV. One thing is certain about inspiration, however: it seems to go together with interest.

The things that interest us also inspire us. For example, perhaps you're head over heels about the Burgess Shale, or you totally dig Military Strategy, or you desperately love cookies. You can bet dollars to doughnuts you've got a treasure trove of game ideas right there. Not only will your interest provide you with the energy to do research and keep interested, but it is the fuel you need to complete the first step of developing your idea: writing it down.

Journal[edit | edit source]

Like a writer, a game developer is someone who survives from their inspiration and creative ability. Let's face it, even the most creative of us have our droughts and blocks. So, why not create a repository of the ideas you had when you were really inspired for those periods when inspiration is lacking? A journal is an efficient way to solve this problem.

It need not even be a book or pad of paper, you can keep your ideas anywhere you'll remember them. The key is that you write out the idea as completely as you can while it is still fresh in your mind. Use words that are evocative to you, so that when you read it again you can try to capture the same feeling you had when you wrote it. You don't necessarily have to be gramatically correct or even write full sentences... the important thing is that you write down words or phrases that will jog your own memory when read a second or third or fifteenth time. An entry can be as simple as "theme, fish, coral, shrimp, polyps" and evoke an old idea that could turn into something like Reef Encounter.

Perspiration[edit | edit source]

Any idea can be worked and reworked many times. If you leave adequate space in your journal, or transfer the idea over to its own page, you will still have the opportunity for inspiration to strike and allow you to expand the idea. Remember though that inspiration is only a small part of the process. Writing about your idea, expanding your idea, explaining your idea, all these things get the juices flowing again. So, even if you have no inspiration whatsoever, go back to your idea and look it over, then try to explain it in a more lucid manner. You'd be surprised at how effectively a little grunt work can put you back on track to developing your killer idea.

Developing the Idea[edit | edit source]

Development of an idea can take many forms. You may be able to put hours and hours into developing new mechanics for your great theme, or you may want to try combining other ideas you've got stored in your journal to create a more interesting whole.