When creating a game, it all starts with an idea. Here is how to collect, evaluate and, finally, use your ideas to create a game.
The Value of Ideas
Let’s begin by dispelling an illusion. Although you may have fallen in love with your idea, it is less valuable than you might think. Why? Because everyone has great ideas. Don’t believe me? Just say to someone that you make apps and you’ll hear “I have a great money-making idea…” It doesn’t matter where on Earth you are, you’ll hear that phrase from someone.
Everyone has ideas, it’s what you do with them that counts. Quality games are 10% ideas, 90% execution. Just look at Angry Birds, for example. It uses the same idea, the same core gameplay, as Castle Crasher but its execution changed everything.
So why do we need to collect ideas? Simple: that 10% is still worthwhile – and it’s where every game starts.
Ideas come from every part of life. When you are out meeting friends, or playing video games, or doing anything else in life, you will amass ideas. Sometimes you need to get ideas on a specific project, however. When that’s the case, look at this excellent video for advice: http://youtu.be/VShmtsLhkQg. It explains how to put yourself in the best state of mind to collect ideas.
Now you are aware of ideas, your head will fill with them. What do you do then? Collect them all in a notebook. This helps you to make room for new, and sometimes better ideas, and it ensures you don’t forget the old ones.
I myself started writing all my game ideas in a notebook but since I was often closer to a computer than to my notebook, I now send myself emails with the subject “Idea”. Give it a try, either the notebook or the email method – or both! Whatever method you decide to use, make sure you record your ideas because otherwise you’ll run the risk of forgetting the one idea you really want to use. There’s nothing more frustrating.
Choosing the Best Idea
So now you have a notebook full of idea. What’s next? It’s time to evaluate your list of ideas, judging each one on several criteria before you start a big project around it:
- Is there a market for your idea?
- Will it be fun to play?
- Will it be fun to make? Remember you will be spending a long time with this project.
- Is the idea feasible?
Answer each question honestly, and make your decision on which idea to choose based on your goal. If you’re an indie creator, marketing is going to be less important than for a big company. You have limited resources after all, and word of mouth will be your best marketing.
If you are making your first game ever, forget marketing it for the moment – perhaps even forget making a fun game. For a first game, finishing it is the important thing. As for feasibility, forget making the next big MMORPG – it’s your first game, you’re not going to make it to the end on a project that big.
Idea to Game
Now you have chosen your idea, it’s time to create the game!
You won’t find a programmer or artist willing to work on your idea for free, and probably not even for revenue share. Like I said earlier, everyone has great ideas so if you aren’t paying, why would they work on your idea rather than their own?
So unless you’re paying contractors, you don’t get to be the Idea Guy. You’ll have to get your hands dirty by learning to program, or develop some art skills. If you show others that you’re serious and you’re willing to do your share of the work, that’s when they might join your team.
How the Duck & Roll Idea Started
Everything started with the songs by the band Saints of Silence. I think they are fantastic and I felt it a necessity to make a game with them. I searched around and played every rhythm game I found on Wikipedia (there were over 100!).
I wanted to make something more focussed on rich gameplay than just a good playlist. I found that making interactive elements that pop up from the bottom of the screen made the gameplay dynamic and offered a wide range of possibilities.
And that’s how the idea of Duck & Roll started!