GameDev Thoughts: The Flaws Of Brainstorming Game Design Ideas

When you are looking to start a new game, what do you do? Obviously the first objective is to brainstorm a bunch of ideas for said game. You need to come up with the base gameplay style, a few unique features here and there, even if they might need to be removed later if they end up being too out of place, and a storyline if the gameplay supports one. Once you’ve done that, you’ll look to start your development, and more ideas will flood into your mind constantly: don’t let that divert your attention too much. A developer needs to clearly define their process for creating a game so that they know when to go forth with an idea and when to leave it behind. Before trying to do anything out of place with the rest of your plan, try getting everything else straightened out first; create an iterative schedule, know exactly what you’re trying to do with your game’s core mechanics and features, and be open to outside feedback so that you don’t get sidelined too much to the point of blurring your game’s focus.

When you’re just starting out, it’s fine to be incredibly innovative and creative, but if you only have weird ideas and haven’t effectively developed your core gameplay, you aren’t designing effectively. A good developer knows that they need to cut out their innovations if they’re overly distracting to the core gameplay, since a game that’s just a bundle of strange ideas is more of a tech demo than anything else. Just because you’ve deemed some weird mechanic unnecessary doesn’t mean that you have to completely scrap the idea, though; save your ideas in some document so that they can be recycled when they’re an appropriate fit for your project. These ideas might not necessarily be bad, but when you try to innovate in areas that don’t need innovation, as problems will be created further down the line.

Every developer wants to make their game the best that it can be, but it isn’t always appropriate to do something fancy; know when to pull the plug on ideas that are getting out of hand. At first, this may seem a bit tough since it always feels bad to completely scrap a mechanic that you’ve already allocated development time to, but over time you’ll become better at seeing these problematic mechanics before they get out of hand. Until you’ve become adept at seeing these, outside feedback from testers can provide you a crutch to stand on so that you don’t fall over from the burden of the unappropriate game mechanics.

Important Takeaways: Brainstorming too much can be a bad thing if you aren’t focusing on the development of your game. Implementing poor mechanics that were previously brainstormed is an even worse thing. A good developer needs to maintain a clear vision of their core mechanics and features, and not get distract too heavily by these strange ideas. These ideas can be recycled later on, so they shouldn’t be completely discarded, but don’t try to force the cube into the cylindrical space. As with most things, practice makes perfect, and in this context experience will lead to better decision making in the future.