IndieVault.it is the main community of Italian independent video game developers. Join us for daily news and reviews about indie games: I know, I know, we only talk in Italian, but we have cookies and we are cool. And what if you don't like cookies? Well, we are in Italy, dudes. Take a slice of pizza and play our games.
The idea of this post is to guarantee that your points come, because you will be needing them for the rest of your life if you wish to continue following this career, therefore, we will help you gathering knowledge for reassuring that you will receive your daily bread. And where shall we begin? We need to separate in pieces to understand everything, like a famous philosopher thought many years ago, so that we can achieve the separation of statements and to comprehend complex ideas.
Posted by thiago.attianesi on Apr 8th, 2012
Okay, now that you have read the Personal Daemon, ah! Haven't you read that post yet? I suggest you to read it before jumping right to the easier part, which is, jumping directly into the brainstorming. But, if you don’t have time to, or just because of plain laziness, know that Personal Daemon is your subconscious and that is it!
The idea of this post is to guarantee that your points come, because you will be needing them for the rest of your life if you wish to continue following this career, therefore, we will help you gathering knowledge for reassuring that you will receive your daily bread.
And where shall we begin? We need to separate in pieces to understand everything, like a famous philosopher thought many years ago, so that we can achieve the separation of statements and to comprehend complex ideas.
1) First Tip - Formulate and answer
Soon enough i will write ( if haven’t wrote in the meantime that you are reading this) a post exclusively for this tip. For now i will give a brief explanation about it.
Create a problem to be solved based on your game’s needs, for instance: I need a game in a underwater setting, and/or this game must be for really sociable women, and/or use multi touch technology. Under this same game you can have lots of other conflicts that will need to be solved.
Right, you’ve thought about the problem, now take note of all your possible answers, yeah, take notes, the memory is fragile and you need to free more room in your head for the next concepts, so keep writing a list of answers for your problems. There you go... WRITING!
2) Second Tip - Register in your memory
In this stage you gonna write, type, risk, paint, model, build or do whatever it’s needed to express yourself, even if its only for yourself, use whichever practical and fast abilities you have. I personally like to use photoshop in unison with notepad, where i make arrows pointing to concepts, I draw ridiculously my ideas, and turn up topics on the notepad, with frequency i utilize the fundamental flower to register my idea in a coherent manner, because i tend to lose myself easily inside it.
Accordingly with which i write, new ideas are going to appear, and they will join the dots, you gonna notice that there are some other to be developed, making even unsophisticated drawings you will trigger in your brain other concepts, do not limit yourself by shyness at this point, explore what you have in the manners that you can.
It does not matter how do you register your idea, in a sketchy way, dirty, laid back or semi-organized, later you gonna have time to organize and structure, now it’s time to have ideas on paper, or anything similar.
Remember to not censor yourself, write the stupid ideas to make room for the good ones in your mind, sometimes the stupid idea can turn into an ingenious one, and if you are on a team, don’t censor your colleagues ideas, their stupid ideas are as good as yours. Register everything and see the accumulation of interesting concepts, even better if you analyze things in a interactive way, like: “The concept number 1 will work this way”, “That other one will be more viable for the Iphone”, and “This other will go well with that, and that makes us to apply mechanic x” .
“The best way to have good ideas is to have many.”
3) Third Tip - Art
Another method to be visually influenced in a resolution for your problem, is to use other creative works to relax or activate your brain. Choose a book which has a lot to do with your theme, also a movie, which has nothing to do with it, they will transit and mix many different ideas in your head.
You know when you are walking around the city and you see paintings on wall or grafitti? So, that makes you leave the pattern of common streets, and there, you have something better to comment, something else to call your attention, and makes you have that little space to think that those places are “better”, more “cool”, and “prettier” than the rest of the city.
It is even better if you utilize your other senses to explore your cognition, the painted wall is only visual, but a museum, or a trinkets store can give you the opportunity to touch, smell, feel, and see things that you did not expect for or even acknowledged the existence, amplifying your sight, and giving you strangely possible solutions for your problem. Or at least expanding your cultural repertory.
4) Fourth Tip - Change your perspective
When Walt Disney used to walk around his park he used to lean down next to each toy, after doing that on many attractions of the park, one of his projectors asked “Is there any problem with the toys? Under them, is there something that you don’t like?” Walt Disney replied that he wished to see the toys from the perspective of a child.
This little history illustrates the change of vision needed to create something, stand up and try to imitate your character walking, stay in dark, make sounds and notice how they propagate, go to the beach, sit on the sand and think about your ideas, do the same in a park or a mall, maybe in a toy store. Feel the different airs, climates, and feelings which those places propose and give more liveliness to your idea, ( Just take care to not point a gun to an police officer with the motif to “feel the adrenaline of that moment”.)
5) Fifth Tip - Focus
You have an issue to win. Now think about it and see if you can find your answer for a surfing game, for example. The best way would be going to the beach and paying attention to how surfers enter into the sea, how nearby people react, and how they leave, how much time they spend, and the kinds of boards that they use, what do they do before entering. You have to know in a intimate way what those people love and why, you must know them.
If your problem is the storyline, search for similar games, how they are described, and play them with the intention to “pull” interesting characteristics, remember that this is not copying, it is learning with the diverse similar productions, all good professional games do that. What is getting you is the mechanics then? Search for diverse games which use the same mechanics from different years, with different histories and different producers, see how each one applied its plot to the logic of this mechanic, and obviously check other games which does not necessarily use it, you can find some answers, or even the interest to change your actual line of rules as you are on this brainstorm level, which permits you the simple control of rules.
6) Sixth Tip - Smile
Another important decree on Brainstorming to be recalled is : “Who leaves the rails must replace the train on the rails.”
What does that exactly mean? It means that it’s good to laugh, tell a joke, play with your art, mechanic, technology or aesthetic, its healthy, relaxes the brain and gives opportunities to see things from a new perspective.
Important to remember that some people are not accustomed with smiling and playing
when it you are treating with serious works, and that can make them nervous, in a manner that they could think that you are a playful fool with no seriousness. Leave them make this part little by little and they will feel more at ease with the production focused on entertainment, turning the experience more fun.
7) Seventh Tip - Do not worry about costs
You are trying to win great quantities of money, you want valuable projects and market successes, so now is not the time to worry with costs. It’s natural to save on pen, paper, and glue because we were influenced to always save everything in our society. But do not be selfish, do dignity to your work, write with your best pen, play with Ipads, utilize the computer a lot, whatever makes your work better and makes you feel better.
Of course, if you want a multi touch screen around your wall and that can not be possible, be content with what you have, even being a pencil and a piece of paper. There is too much to be done, it's not the time to lament for what you wished to have.
8) Eight Tip - Spatial Notes
You have already seen in the beginning that you can write on a white board, computer, papers, or whatever you want. For a team ambient a whiteboard can be really interesting, but it is kinda hard to store, make a good habit taking pictures before erasing it.
I like to mention how Jesse Schell does, he buy giant adhesive notes (70cm x 75cm - yep, expensive, but not cost saving) and then pastes one to the other on the wall, when there is no more space, it turns to be easier to move or even to put your ideas on the floor, roll them all and save. For the future, when someone search for your ideas about space monkeys from last year, there will be a written document like your ideas have never been stopped, after that you can just continue from there.
Important to mention too Tom Kelley’s vision about spatial memory, our brain has better where things were than the way things were organized in a list. So the Jesse’s practice up there can be really useful if they are put in different places on the wall, so next week the team will record the trail that they followed for the plot, aesthetic, technology, or mechanic of the game.
9) Ninth Tip - Make List
Many brainstorms will be linked directly to numbered lists. Be it the best idea, the most interesting technology, the most fun pieces for tetris, the most beautiful color for the heart, and so goes on. Why this can be useful? For two things :
A - Lists make easier to reference an object (“The first idea is good, but only if we mix it with the second idea, the number 3 and 4 have really pretty colors, number 5 looks kinda dirty, dunno.”)
B - Dignity(yes, again) because of psychological motifs which I will not lift here, you give more attention to objects separated by numbers.
The items in the numbered list seem more important, if you take one of them it is more probable that you miss it, which makes part of our mental programming. Separating topics like this can make you and even your team take more seriously the explored points.
10) Tenth Tip - Mix and combine
Right, you learned about making lists and numbering them, convinced or not, here are some good uses for them using them with the fundamental flower.
Let’s say that we have to create a game from scratch about ninja turtles ( Not the one that already exist):
-Ideas about technology-
3. Ios + Android
-Ideas about the mechanic-
1. 2D platformer
2. 3D fighting game
3. Create little turtles a tamagotchi pets
4. To train ninja skills
5. Tetris themed game
6. A game with dice and character sheets
-Ideas about aesthetic
-1. Black and White game
2. Anime Themed
3. All the characters are animals
4. 8bit Songs
-1. Interaction about the 4 ninja turtles brothers
2. The teenage years of ninjas who transformed into turtles because of an accident
3. Master teaching ninja skills
A. You are the master
B. You are the student
4. Theme about the fights on the city streets after a post-apocalyptic accident which turned everyone into animals5. An isolated world of peace where people fight to turn faster into more efficient ninjas.
Now make yourself some combinations with those numbered lists or the ones that you created, like those examples:
-A 2D platform web game anime themed with 8bits songs about fighting on the streets after a post apocalyptic accident.
- A tetris esque game all in black and white which each completed line, the player, as a ninja student, learns a new ninja technique, making a piece for the game (Turning the difficulty up)
11) Eleventh tip - Talk with something
Yep, exactly this, talk with something. Be that a mirror, a friend, your girlfriend, your dog, your study group, your enterprise, even yourself, anyone! (Each one with their respective kind of “feedback”, obviously).
If you choose to do that by yourself, i suggest you to do it in a place where the people won’t think that you are weird, or where you gonna attract too much attention, you can lose focus, in case that you need to do that on the streets, on haste, use your cellphone and pretend to be talking with someone, it can sound really sick, but it is useful and simple.
Obviously, making a brainstorm with other people can be a really different experience. To find a partner who completes your ideas can help a lot, and will help you to receive some answers swiftly than you would find by yourself, even if that partner is more to the silent side, it can be a interesting help. If you decide to work with more people, try to hold 4 people at the most(including you), when you pass that mark, for big ideas it can be a problem. Big groups have to discuss more strict ideas, maybe in a more objective, following, brainstorm.
Another tip for when you go talk with something, take care with people that will try not to motivate you, they will search all gaps on a idea which will still need to win structure, this is not the moment for searching for fails, but ideas. Search more qualities than defects.
THE END.. so, how are your ideas going?
After brainstorming for many times, in those different manners proposed on this text. You probably had few ideas, what is necessary for a game designer, in case that you had not managed to achieve that, train more, with more themes, other people, in other manners and with time to upgrade that, creating more and better ideas in less time.In the end, we will have a walk to structure those bunch of ideas, to learn to separate the good ones from the bad ones, or even better, to separate the possible ideas from the future dreams, you can see more in the topic.
The Art of Game Design - Jesse Schell
Images - Scirra, weheartit, google images
By Thiago Attianesi (designludico.com)
Revision and Translation - Thiago Caldas
Written by Thiago Attianesi