One of the keys to developing quicker is to act on your inspiration! When you are struck by a great idea, don’t ignore it! If you do, your excitement will start to pass and that emotional fuel will evaporate. Inspiration can make developing a game seem almost effortless. I’m running on it right now writing this article!
But what if you actually need inspiration first? Here’s a few things that have helped me in the past when I needed to spark an idea.
Play other games
Obviously the more games you play, the more sources you have to pull ideas from. But don’t just play the game. Think about how you might be able to incorporate part of it into your project. When you see something you think you can use, write it down!
Don’t just limit yourself to games that are similar to yours either. You want to think laterally. Sometimes that’s where the best ideas come from. It doesn’t even have to be a computer game. For my last project, Labyrinthine Dreams, I picked up a book on mazes at a local book store (those still exist?) that helped inspire a lot of the puzzles I actually used in the game.
Game ideas don’t just come from games. You can get inspired while listening to music, watching a movie or reading a book. Just yesterday I was reading a self-help book and suddenly the theme of one of the games I’m working on finally materialized.
This is more of that lateral thinking. If you’re just getting your ideas from one source or subject, you might start to develop tunnel vision, and this can limit your creativity. Exploring other mediums and fields can give you a different perspective on things and lead to more ideas.
Sometimes we get stuck in a rut. Our ideas start to become old and stale. When this happens, it can help to change things up. Get out of your comfort zone and experience new things. Travel somewhere new. Try a new activity.
It doesn’t even have to be something major. Maybe you just change something slightly that you do all the time. On your way to work, maybe you take a different route. If you always type, maybe you write on paper instead. If you’re feeling crazy, you can even try writing with your non-dominant hand!
The goal is to experience things differently. It can open up your mind to new ideas.
Exercise increases blood flow to the brain and reduces stress. It clears the mind so that you can think clearly. This might just be what you need to get that lightning bolt of inspiration. You don’t have to hit the gym or run a marathon. Just a 15-minute walk every day can help.
You won’t be able to develop efficiently if you’re always tired. Lack of sleep will affect your productivity, as well as your creativity. Make sure you’re well rested.
Exercise: Write down 10 ideas
Reading about inspiration can be… inspiring. But sometimes you need to actually do something to get the creative muscle pumping.
Here’s something I started doing that’s helped immensely. If I’m working on something and I’m drawing a blank, such as coming up with puzzles for a dungeon, I try to list at least 10 ideas for the task at hand.
Why 10? Why not just 1 real good idea? I find there’s less pressure to come up with 10 ideas rather than 1. The ideas don’t have to be good. That’s why there’s 10 of them. But it will get things onto paper and out of your mind, so that you can have even more ideas!
I find it best to do this regularly. Like exercise, if you keep doing it you’ll become an idea machine.
One last thing: make the games you want to make. I know it sounds like a no-brainer, but I’ve seen a lot of amateur developers violate this rule. If you’re just making a game to appease someone else, then it’s going to be a struggle to develop it. When you’re actually making something you’re passionate about, it will be a lot easier.
In the next article, we’ll work on building good game developing habits to help increase your productivity. In the meantime, I’d like to hear what inspires you guys. Please share in the comments what activities you do to get inspiration for your projects.