How do you come up with next hit game idea? This is obviously a million dollar question and unfortunately there isn’t a straightforward answer to this nor there is a secret success formula. In this article we have tried to develop a framework to structure thoughts and shared activities that can help you select and short list game ideas. This article talks about various strategies for coming up with game ideas, predominantly looking at data, trends and taking inspiration from the surroundings and then, refining, shortlisting and rejecting ideas. If you are looking to develop games, hopefully you will find the article useful.
Game idea creation
We come across various ideas almost everyday that we think can work. However, a proper research and strategies can help us identify great game ideas. We have listed few strategies that have helped our customers gain 800 million plus downloads on apple and Google store collectively.
Look what’s trending
For a successful game, you need to delve into research regarding the market trends of the time. Revisiting top charts and trying to reverse-engineer user preferences to see what kind of games are working can be a good place to start. This will help you in brainstorming ideas and identify users preferences.
To do this, visit AppAnnie: observe the top charts to see what game categories and genres are trending. For Google, you can look at the top new free games and their chart positions. Moreover, you can also narrow down your searches at regional level by applying country-based filters. This may give you some ideas to start with, however if you keep observing for longer duration this will enable you to figure out a pattern. We think, it’s possible to predict the next hit if you can figure out the pattern and it’s evolution, and game charts give a very close idea of consumer preferences.
Generate game ideas by observing
The story of the visibly simple game ‘goat simulator’ is all about observation. One of the game developers, Ibrisagic, describes the goat in a ‘Purgatory’ state. He talks about a tunnel in the game with one end bearing a sign ‘Himlen’ meaning heaven and the other end says ‘Helvete’ which means hell. This is why the game has both a devil goat and an angel goat. Interesting right?
To create successful gameplay, you should be able to connect things that come with keen observation. Notice everything around you – trivial things that we often overlook, like the birds chirping, the clouds rolling by, basically anything can help become biggest of the inspirations.
Pay attention to detail and ask yourself how it can help your game. You will be amazed by the way things will begin clicking, developing your sense of analyzing intricate details.
A good recent example is the game I Peel Good, a simple idea which makes use of the fact that peeling a larger chunk is always fun. Hence, this straightforward game idea has hit the charts and doing very well.
Follow the top, highly data-driven publishers. Most game publishers like Voodoo, Ketchapp and Lion Studio publish games by other indie developers, but invest significantly on user acquisitions. Their spending is backed by stronger analytics data and hence you can reliably assume that these games have a good ROI. This makes it a good starting point. One can think that hyper-casual is growing in the market. They can attempt to build hyper-casual games taking inspirations from games published by Voodoo, Ketchapp and Lion Studio.
At times, you come up with an original idea and feel that it could work well. Even when such game mechanics have not been worked with before: This was the case with Z&K when they created a video game “Scary Teacher” after seeing her kid watch Matilda, the movie repeatedly. This also happened with the guy who created the famous Flappy Bird game. His attempt on this unique idea maybe associated with being the first hint on hyper-casual games and its model.
How to hone your game idea?
Whether you decide on adopting the data-driven approach or rely on your intuition, ensure that you make use of the aforementioned approaches to come up with an addictive gameplay mechanics. Heavily indulging in extensively playing games can aid in getting you the right idea but, consider the below-mentioned techniques to further enhance or downright reject the game ideas that you come up with. You can end up with a myriad of ideas but eventually, you will be working with one or two of them.
Play lot of games
Games can transport players to an entirely new world. The various challenges that gamers are exposed to, making it an enjoyable gameplay experience. When you are looking for a unique idea of your own, indulging in a diverse set of games can help you get the needed inspiration.It is a good plan, to begin with, the classic games like Mario or Tetris, and then gradually working your way up to the indie games like limbo, ultimately engaging in some of the recent games.
As surprising as it may sound, most of the classical games have generally been developed by small development companies or even individuals. These games have a lot of replay value and going into the intricacies of such games that enhance user experience can help you gain significant insight regarding effective game mechanics. When playing, it is a good idea to jot down your observations on a small notebook so that you may revisit them later.
Discuss and get feedback
It’s a good approach to discuss your ideas with others. When brainstorming designs, talk to your co-workers, friends, and family. Even strangers on the street might help you narrow down your list. This step will help you in understanding what ideas attract people and which ones will eventually fail.
Log your ideas
The essence of the entire game design process is your idea. So, you must keep track of them. A small notepad or in this tech-rich world, a phone application might be more comfortable, jot down your ideas and go through them frequently to re-evaluate.
Engage gaming community
The gaming community within itself has a lot to teach. But, playing games isn’t enough. To get a true insight into the gaming community, join a set of dispersed gaming forums. Observe the questions posted and see the related responses. You should indulge in a question/answer session yourself to get accurate responses. It is an untapped source of information for the developers. You can find inspirations, get helpful tips along with in-depth user and developer input from the gaming community.
Brainstorm your idea
Sitting for long hours, trying to come up with ideas will make you more frustrated. Scheduling your brainstorming sessions, on the other hand, might be helpful. Set a 20-25min long brainstorming session at a time and stop once the timer goes off. Choosing a time of the day which makes you more relaxed is a good idea. Moreover, choose a quiet place for this activity. Also, depending on your daily plans, you can set more than one brainstorming session to help you meditate ideas.
Explore various themes
At times, exploring different themes and genres can help refine your game idea. A few trivial details or changes can enhance the overall feel manifold. For example, placing candies and targeting women in the game Match 3 played vital parts in the success of the game Candy Crush. As you begin indulging further in your design, you will come up with elaborate ways to polish it.
Watch your constraints
Setting limitations for your work can help in boosting your creative thinking ability. Restricting yourself within some boundaries will help discourage the concept of delving into the world of unlimited possibilities. Instead, it will aid in focusing on the task at hand and more achievable goals.
Some of the limitations to consider before embarking on a game development journey is to calculate the current resources at your disposal – like marketing budget, developmental costs. Furthermore, you should decide a timeframe for this task so that you can understand what is doable within the limited window of time that you have. Additionally, keep in mind your skill level and the tools required for the game design. It is difficult to achieve targets that go beyond your skillset so be mindful of these boundaries.
Follow other mediums
Now, games are not the only medium to look for inspiration. Explore other areas like TV, music, books or art. Search for elements that can help in getting better ideas. This will help you in understanding if your concept is still relevant. For example, endless runners were the talk of the town 6 years ago. Not anymore.
Follow latest tech news
Staying embedded in the gaming world can help deliver better outcomes. Online publication sites like Polygon and Touch Arcade can help you stay up to date. Having a good idea of what players like or don’t like will help establish effective game mechanics. Moreover, this will aid in discovering new opportunities like Apple Arcade and Google Pass. You will know when a new Nintendo console arrives. The more involved you are, the more efficient games you will be able to develop. In the game development process, when you reach a mind-block, try exploring the aforementioned ideas to help you with the flow. If, you are getting nowhere which is frustrating you, relax and take a time-out to freshen up. Explore the universe with a heightened sense of observation, play a set of diverse games and don’t forget to brainstorm your ideas. You will eventually get there.