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How to Generate Video Game Concepts
Inspiration for the perfect video game concept can strike at any time so you need to be ready to write those ideas down. Whether you want to develop a narrative first-person shooter (FPS), or a battle royale-style massively multiplayer online (MMO) game, the following steps will help you streamline the process of creating your first game concept:
- Explore the genre. Pick a video game genre that interests you, like action-adventure or role-playing games (RPGs), and explore all the elements that go into developing the worlds and characters in those games. Write down a few video game ideas that fit within that genre to see if you have an angle that brings something new to the table.
- Pick a niche. Find a video game subgenre that piques your interest, and try to create a game concept for it. You can also try generating a concept that combines elements of different video game subgenres. While you should embrace all ideas during the brainstorming process, giving yourself a specific genre to work within can help produce new and innovative concepts.
- Ask around. Talk to your friends and fellow gamers to find out the type of game ideas that excite them. Understanding the type of gameplay others are looking for can help push you in the right direction for designing a good game concept. Though public opinion is important to an extent, remember that there is no such thing as a game concept that every player will love.
- Freewrite. Freewriting is the practice of writing without a prescribed structure, which means no outlines, cards, notes, or editorial oversight. In freewriting, the writer follows the impulses of their own mind, allowing thoughts and inspiration to appear to them without premeditation. Freewriting isn’t just for literature or scriptwriting, it can be useful for brainstorming new creative ideas as well. Allow yourself to write for a set amount of time and come up with as many game ideas as you can.
- Watch and read. In addition to gathering inspiration from other video games, watch television shows, movies, and read a variety of books. Note the most compelling or interesting parts of these storytelling mediums, and use those to inform your own concepts.
Will Wright’s 4 Tips for Generating Video Game Concepts
Successful game designer Will Wright has a few tips that can help you generate a great game concept:
- Always look for inspiration. Look for points of conflict or dynamic interaction everywhere you go. While the games that have paved the way for modern gaming evolution are ripe with inspiration, the natural and social worlds are a richer source of concepts than other games.
- Find new subjects through wide-ranging research. Don’t limit yourself to subjects that have already been explored in games. Seek out areas that are new to you and try to learn more about them, no matter how technical they might seem at first.
- Analyze your subject. Once you have a general subject for a game, analyze it from every possible perspective. If you’re interested in air travel, for example, you might wonder how a pilot lives and works. However, consider the flight attendant or the air traffic controller, the plane itself, or the birds avoiding it during takeoff and landing. What about the clouds the plane cuts through during flight, or the weather gods who determine when a plane is grounded and when it can fly? Each of these perspectives can produce any number of game designs. All should be considered in equal detail.
- Listen to your instincts. When you face difficult design decisions, trust your gut. Sometimes you’ll have to make choices without clear data. Be confident in your instincts about what is fun.
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