Cultivating Creativity in Game Concepts

What is your thought process when coming up with game ideas? Do you think of the premise first? The game mechancs? The genre? All of the above?

I bounce all over the place. Creativity is the product of constant tinkering and recombining pieces. It’s about coming at things from different angles and being persistent about it. Sometimes I try to think about how FPS games can inherit certain desirable behaviors from fighting games. Sometimes I try to think up ways to counter common complaints with a genre (RTS is all about APM? How can we continue to incentivize APM, but limit its effect over more tactical play?) Sometimes I try to think of how to combine weird physics models with projectiles, or character/enemy behaviors, sometimes I see a really cool animated gif and ask if you could make a mechanic out of that. Sometimes I think about random story concepts and how to integrate those into a mechanical model (like, imagine the final boss is you from the future, and what you do now affects the final boss’s power level or form, how can you avoid the elder scrolls effect where being weaker makes the game easier?). Sometimes I see a concept that I think is overdone or lame and ask how you could do the opposite of that, or the same thing except cool. Someone says a rule, I immediately try to think of an exception where it would still work. Sometimes I see a subtle thematic element in a game that I want to bring out more clearly, like the way SMT is a franchise of totally unrelated games, that have this subtle continuity between them in the background. Sometimes I see a glitch that’s really cool and try to think about how to expand on that, giving it a bigger role and more depth with clearer feedback. One idea is a violent walking simulator. You have a viewmodel of a gun, but no control over it, and it randomly murders people as you walk around. Sometimes I think about how to shake up existing physics models, like imagine if gravity pulled you to the left or right, or if it switched regularly. Another idea is a game using typical violent platform mechanics, but fluffed to all be about pacifism even though the systems are the same. Sometimes I come up with ideas based on real life systems, like a highway simulator geared to emphasize that interesting part of weaving between other people.

It’s all a product of constantly thinking about things from different perspectives and trying to combine different things, related or not.

Would also like to cite this Raph Koster Video:

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