Seven Creative Tips for video game makers

Making a video game means working with a software program that guides you toward building worlds in very specific ways. Do not fall into the trap of letting the software determine your game. Keep creative control in your hands. Here are some suggestions on how to keep the creativity flowing

Today’s video game design software makes it very easy to create worlds in ways that it was designed to make them. This guides you in preset directions which are inevitably away from the creative ideas you had in your head. But it is so easy to just design the game in the preset way and it takes effort and work to overcome this. Here are some of the things you should do to keep the creative control in your hands.

Keep Designing on Paper – Keep a notebook and a sketchbook to draw and write your ideas. A blank piece of paper will not limit your imagination. When you try to transfer this to the game you will be forced to learn new skills and get the maximum out of the game software. You should also keep this notebook with you when you play other peoples games. Not to copy, but to analyze what happens and to write down your own original ideas that come from playing.

Think about the atmosphere and mood – Games are more than just fighting creatures and discovering treasures. The most important part of a game is the overall atmosphere. Keep this in mind. Consider what the overall mood of your game will be. Use music as an inspiration to get you in different moods.

Be careful with rewards -- One hundred tiny rewards are generally better than one big one. The constant seeking of the next tiny reward keeps the player moving forward and keeps a goal ahead of him that is achievable.

Don’t design your game linear --Today’s games are designed with the individual player in mind and this means choice. Different players like to follow different routes through a game. Some like to hack and slash, others like to follow quests and others prefer the interaction with non player characters. Add all these elements in your game to give your player lots of interesting options.

Expand your horizons -- Pick up art books that don’t normally appeal to you. Look into areas and subjects that aren’t on your normal list. This is a great way to get new ideas and to add new dimensions to your existing material. What could a book about porcupines teach you about video game making? Porcupines have an amazing defense system. Could this be incorporated into your game somehow? This goes for almost anything. Any subject at all from psychology, to sociology, or zoology are great resources to add depth to your game.

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes – Mistakes sometimes pay off in big ways. This is one of the ways you can think outside the box. If you are afraid of making mistakes you will not experiment of expand your abilities. If you are designing a desert scene don’t be afraid to put a swimming pool right in the middle of it! Take chances. Sometimes really good ideas and really memorable scenes come from the mistakes.

Finally make sure you get honest feedback from friends and people who try playing your game. And take notes. When you are designing a game you get too close to it. You know everything that happens and you know where everything so you understand innately how to play. You have to remember that your player will have no idea what is around the next corner and you have to design for that.



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