You know what s the number one dumbest question I get asked when I m out at some great university lecturing? I m always asked ˜Where do you get your ideas? For about forty years I ve been yanking their chain when I answer ˜Schenectady. They stare at me, and I say, ˜Yeah, Schenectady, in New York. There s this idea service, see, and every week I send em twenty-five bucks, and every week they send me a freshly picked six-pack of ideas.
” Harlan Ellison
Harlan Ellison might scoff at the idea of trying to explain where ideas come from. Certainly, if you are a novelist having trouble coming up with ideas, it may be time to wonder if you have chosen the right profession. Similarly, a good game designer, at any given moment, will be able to come up with no less than five solid ideas she would like to try to make into a computer game. There is no shortage of ideas in the gaming world. Aspiring game designers often think they can sell their idea to a development company. They seem to be under the impression that game developers are just sitting around waiting for a hot idea to come around so they can spend several million dollars to make it a reality. On the contrary, selling a game idea to a company is so rare that one should consider it an impossibility . Almost all of the challenge in game development is not coming up with a good idea, but in following through and being able to craft a compelling game around that idea. That s what the rest of this book endeavors to explore.
In the arena of computer game design, the process of coming up with a game idea that will work is complicated by a number of factors fiction authors do not need to worry about. In part this is because computer game ideas can come from three distinct, unrelated areas of the form: gameplay, technology, and story. These different origins are interconnected in interesting ways, with the origin of the game s idea limiting what one will be able to accomplish in the other two areas. So when a game designer starts thinking about the game she is hoping to make ” thinking about it in terms of gameplay, technology, or story ” it is important that she consider how that initial idea will impact all aspects of the final game.