Story ideas and where to find them

Nov 20, 2021 at 07:45 am by nemirc

This time, I would like to step away from the “technical” side of game development, and share some ideas about the creative process. I will be exploring a little bit about how I come up with ideas for the games. In my case, I come up with an idea and then, after some process, I have the entire “package” so to speak.

But first of all, what I do is decide the type of game I want to make. What I mean is, the “genre” of game, how it plays and all that. Of course, I always take into consideration if it’s a game I would like to work on (I am not a big fan of sport games, so I wouldn’t make a sports game), if the game can have some sort of commercial success, and if I have tools that might make the work easier (like specific middleware like Adventure Creator).

Also, sometimes, my process goes in the opposite direction. I already have an idea for a story, and I decide what kind of game would work better. One thing to keep in mind is the same idea could work for different types of games, with some minor adjustments. For example, “someone trapped in a basement” could work as a horror game, an escape the room game, or even some sort of combat game.

But how do I come up with the ideas? I usually don’t come up with ideas for specific games. It’s more like I just think of ideas after reading something, playing something or watching something, and then I keep them stored around until I can use them. They are not really fully developed concept, just basic ideas like “a game where a group of friends must avoid zombies in a forest”.

Then, when it is time to develop an idea further, I just start thinking about any possibility, even if it sounds crazy. I keep track of all that stuff on either a document or Trello, so I can have a wider view. One thing I think you must keep in mind is to keep your ideas open to modification, because sometimes you may come up with stuff that will modify the original concept a little or a lot. For example, what began as a group of friends avoiding zombies in a forest may end up becoming a group of friends that discover a legend of a witch or something, and they end up raising a bunch of zombies they must avoid. Or maybe it turns out one of them ate something and that something turned him/her into a zombie.

This has happened to me a few times. For example, when I was working on Enola, the game began as some sort of “Silence of the Lambs” game but ended up something very different. Another example is a puzzle game I have on paper, that began as one of those “Youtuber urban explorer goes to abandoned house” kinds of things, but then it evolved into something a little bit more interesting.

Unfortunately, no matter how much you work, or how easy it is at some point, sooner or later you may end up with a “writer’s block.” In my case, there’s no easy way to deal with that. Sometimes, what I do is to take some time away from that project and work on something else, or distract myself somehow. Then, when I come back to it, I have a fresh set of eyes. Sometimes, it also helps me to ask specific questions about the project to someone else.

I don’t know if it is correct to say creativity is something you are born with, or if you can develop. I know some people have an easier time to deal with creative stuff than others, but maybe that’s also thanks to practice. In the end, the only way to know how much creative juices you have is to put them to the test.

Sections: Tips + Tutorials

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