Something struck me as I sat down at my computer today, in between checking out the latest fabulous artwork from Fiona and running the new numbers for a minimum funding goal for this summer’s Kickstarter:
I have a lot of stuff taped up to the wall in my office.
Now, this is nothing new to me. It’s just something I recently noticed. See, in a past life as a novelist and screenwriter, my M.O. during the research phase of my creative process was to devour as much knowledge as I could… and then tape that knowledge up immediately. This allowed me to look up and–in an instant–remember the knowledge that I previously devoured… and which later gave me intellectual indegestion and I subsequently forgot.
This same M.O. can be applied to game design as well; and I think it’s best summed up with the three simple words:
Write. It. Down.
If you’re like me, and your brain tends to forget things as soon as it comes up with them, then you’ll know how hard it can be to remember to 1) pick up milk, 2) call the insurance company during lunch, 3) buy a birthday gift for your cousin, 4) get your car’s oil changed this weekend, 4) water the plants, 5) walk the dog, 6) etc. etc. etc. So it really shouldn’t come as a surprise that you forgot about that cool idea you came up with for a game about scuba-diving chimpanzees.
Therefore, when it comes to concocting ideas for games, I follow a similar methodology as I do with novel and screenwriting: I write all my ideas down and then tape them up. There’s something to be said for a room full of Beautiful Mind-eque sketches and formulae… and it’s not just, “Whoa.” Writing things down gives your ideas a physical presence. That is, it’s a literal manifestation of the things going on in your head. So, that game about scuba-diving chimpanzees that you got an idea for while you were in-between picking up milk and calling the insurance company during lunch? If you wrote it down… then, you can actually see it, point to it, and recall it. Maybe when you have a bit more time, you can do something about it too.
Sketches, mood boards, flowcharts, index card idea trees. These are all things creative people do to find order amidst their own creative chaos. It’s no different for game design. If you’re not already in the habit of writing things down, I suggest you try it. You never know what kind of new ideas you’ll come up with when you are able to actually remember the old ones, point to them, and say, “What if…?”
Until next time, gang. Keep it plucky (and write it down!),