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26 Mar 2015

Indie Developer Tips: Best Practices For Generating New Ideas For Your Next Indie Game

Ideas: they are the starting point for literally everything we create. From the chair you are sitting in to the clothes you are currently wearing, ideas are the nucleus of every invention. Ideas are a unique beast, too: they are worthless on their own, but when combined with vision, work ethic, and a plan, ideas can be transformed into something truly amazing.

This applies to developing indie games too. If you are trying to come up with new ideas for your next indie game, being realistic about your indie game ideas is the first step. But from there? You need to know the best practices for generating new ideas so you can discover for yourself which ideas stick. Below are the best indie developer tips for generating new ideas for your next indie game.

See what other indie developers are doing

There’s no shame in copying the success of others. Browse the top games on the App Store, Google Play, Steam, Amazon, etc. and see what types of games are hot at the moment. Play around with the top games and see what they have in common with one another. For example, endless runners were all the rage a few years ago; and the most popular game in the genre is by far the Temple Run.

Yet, it didn’t invent the genre. Games such as Canabalt came a few years before it, and Temple Run developer Imangi Studios recognized what these games were doing well, figured out a way to make their game unique, and the rest is history. Along those same lines…

Play some games

In other words, start thinking like a gamer. You are bound to find inspiration when you spend some time to play some games – and by games, we mean any games. Jump into different genres, play board games, revisit old favorites, and so on. You will find that you will begin to think to yourself, “oh, I wish the developer would have added this or taken that out,” and eventually, the thought will dawn on you: hey, I have an idea for a game!

Sometimes, visiting the very thing you develop is the best way to get the wheels of your brain turning and churn out new ideas. It’s one of the reasons why you should be playing video games often, so set aside time at least a few times a week to play for fun. At the very least, you will be reminded of how strong the passion for developing indie games actually is for you (thus exciting you to return to work the next day).

Speak with your team

Whether you have an in-house team or you outsource your work, it doesn’t matter: sometimes, the best way to generate new ideas for your indie studio is to simply speak with your team members. Often, we put blinders on ourselves when trying to generate new ideas, and we get in a funk where it’s hard to come up with a great idea.

Thus, you need a different perspective.

Speaking with your team (or others whose opinions you trust) will give you the perspective that you need. Ask them about certain ideas you have and how they believe they can be improved or tweaked, and from there new ideas are bound to form! You will be amazed as to how many great ideas can be formed simply by talking!

Step out of your comfort zone

When we find ourselves in the same routine day in and day out: waking up, working, etc., it can be difficult to think outside the box. You need to jumpstart creativity, and this involves getting out of your comfort zone and making your brain to think differently. Travel, take a walk, visit a museum – just do something that you normally would never do.

Because it’s Spring here in North America, this is the perfect time to generate new ideas with the weather so nice. Get out there, go to a place you’ve never been, do something you’ve never done, and you will find that new ideas will be able to come quite easily.

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