Writers block

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zynithra 101 Oct 14, 2012 at 17:56

How do you cope with this?

I have completed multiple smaller projects, I have the necessary tools and skills to create complete games (well, time excluded), and I find it relaxing and enjoyable.
Today, I wanted to start a new project. But I can’t really think of anything I want to do - and right now, I’d even have the time. I have some really vague ideas about what could be nice concepts, but the more I think of them, they all seem to be lacking some secret ingredient.

So, what do you do when you run out of ideas? Revisit your all-time favorite games? Write lists? Just start making something and let it evolve?

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zynithra 101 Oct 14, 2012 at 18:37

And well, general pointers about game-related creative workflow are also appreciated. ;)

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fireside 141 Oct 14, 2012 at 21:27

It depends if you are talking about story or game mechanic, but the story has to come after the mechanic. I usually stay within a traditional genre, so the mechanic isn’t that hard, and it generally evolves from a traditional one. The story is hard because it has to fit with what I am capable of as far as artwork and game length. Limitations can sometimes be a good thing as far as creativity goes, so that can sometimes help spawn ideas. Games are also more about places, so sometimes it helps to imagine a place where the story will happen and what kind of characters would be there.

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zynithra 101 Oct 14, 2012 at 22:25

I’m really talking more about mechanics. I have some clues on what kind of features I want to have, and a vague story as well, but they’re not really enough to make anything more than a prototype.

But, if I’m understanding your point right, you might well be correct - narrowing down my scope would perhaps be a good idea. I mean, Bloodbowl was a good game back in it’s day, and it didn’t have THAT much for content.

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TheNut 179 Oct 15, 2012 at 01:27

The day I run out of ideas is the day I’m pushing daisies :D

The one thing I love doing. Grab my netbook, bike out to some isolated place (usually a park, no cars or people), and brainstorm. Spend a couple hours, just relaxing, writing and drawing. By the time I get back, I have a clear goal of what needs to be done. Spend a couple more hours documenting a proper design with all the components roughly in place. After that, it’s usually smooth sailing. Works amazing for solving and handling individual components too.

Sometimes it also helps to work backwards. When I do the oddball weekend adventure, I take a list of resources I currently have and think of a way to make a game out of it. One time I had a bunch of animated fish sprites and I just whipped together a simple fish game. Stuff like this is fun because you give yourself a short, fixed schedule so you expect to see results right away.

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davidovitch 101 Oct 15, 2012 at 03:40

a lot of times to help get over an idea block, it helps to just step away for a bit and go enjoy something else. by not focusing so hard on trying to come up with something it is often easier for it to come to you. it can help to play some video games to get your ideas flowing for your own project but it can be also be detrimental if your mind gets stuck in their mechanics and not on possible new ones so do this with caution. it isn not just video games you can do this with either, you can use music, movies, tv, books really any media can help give you that spark of genius. the real key is to step away and not think about it for a while.

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Stainless 151 Oct 15, 2012 at 08:43

Get drunk.

20 pints of San Miguel and a load of laughs, a day feeling like the guy at the start of Prometheus, and a vat of coffee usually does the job.

That may not be the best for you, but the key is to stop thinking about it and let your subconscious work on the problem.

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zynithra 101 Oct 15, 2012 at 12:06

Hehe.. Yeah, I don’t mind getting drunk, but I’m afraid I usually don’t come up with very good ideas when I do (although naturally, they seem brilliant at the time..).

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tyree 102 Oct 16, 2012 at 03:18

you dont already have mapped out sources you can go to for inspiration. every movie, comic book, anime, image and song I have is solely there for inspiration. when I feel like Im coming close to hitting a block. I grab any one of a number of inspirational materials and Im good to go

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alphadog 101 Oct 16, 2012 at 18:09
  1. Play “Thus Spake Zarathustra” by Wagner. Turn knob to eleven.
  2. Feel Mighty.
  3. ???
  4. Profit!!!

Actually, get away from the problem is the first step.

Then, interacting with out-of-norm or chaotic situations can be a wellspring of idea. I actually think “relaxation” is wrong. I get my best ideas from observing crowded streets, watching a movie I’ve never seen before (and maybe wouldn’t, like some “boring” 1940 film), going to a lecture on a “fringe” topic, etc.

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Reedbeta 167 Oct 16, 2012 at 18:23

@alphadog

  1. Play “Thus Spake Zarathustra” by Wagner. Turn knob to eleven.

BTW, it’s by Richard Strauss, not Wagner. ;)

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alphadog 101 Oct 16, 2012 at 19:18

@Reedbeta

BTW, it’s by Richard Strauss, not Wagner. ;)

Dang it! I meant “Ride Of The Valkyries” by Wagner. Not sure why I said that, although it is another “awesomeness” musical piece. :)

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Stainless 151 Oct 17, 2012 at 08:17

Leather* by Frank Zappa, listen to that and expand your mind.

It was banned because he swears in one of the tracks, so he went down to his local radio station and told everybody to get their tape decks out. Then they played the whole 8 vinyls so people could record it.

It took about 20 years before they released it.

* It’s spelt with an “a” with two dot’s above it, couldn’t find it on my keyboard.

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fireside 141 Oct 17, 2012 at 08:42

Actually, get away from the problem is the first step.

That has never worked for me. Usually, if I get away from the problem, I don’t return to it, or if I do, it’s quite a few months later. If you mean get away from it for a few hours or something, that works, but that almost has to happen no matter what. Anything more and I’ve forgotten about it and I’m doing something else. That’s kind of the trouble and fun of creative endeavors. They aren’t really a requirement.
One thing I like to do is throw something in the mix that doesn’t belong there, like I don’t know, a toilet on a race track, and then see what ideas come off it. I’m kind of like TheNut, though, getting ideas isn’t a problem for me. Where I have trouble is trying to narrow them down and stick with one till it’s finished.

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zynithra 101 Oct 21, 2012 at 18:21

Thanks for all the replies!

Now, I have uh.. two or three great ideas (depending on whether I want to split things up or not) sketched out, and I even know how to implement them.

Could someone add hours to the day, remove my need to sleep, or at the very least give me a bunch of money so I don’t need to spend time at work? =D