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David Javelosa

Copyright © 2004-2014 David Javelosa unless otherwise stated.

Material based on Game Design Workshop
Copyright © 2004-2008
Tracy Fullerton
used by permission of author
week 06 - designing the game - the game concept


Generating Ideas - Where do they come from? How to nuture the spark before you kill it?

Why do you love a game? What is the one thing you think is cool about your ten favorite games?

Keeping your ideas-

- notepad
- journal
- index cards
- memo recorder
- cel phone
- get it down before it goes away!!

You must train yourself to brainstorm. You must be in a continual state of brainstorming. The more you do it, the easier it gets, like a physical task.

Create a system or methodology for documenting, sorting out and re-associating ideas. Ideas need to be stored and titled for retrieval. Consider a database program. Transcribe from your portable documents to a permanent ideabase.

Going back to notebook or journal always will suprise you about what you were thinking back when you wrote something down. Perhaps even create a direct link to the idea you are searching for.

Brainstorming Techniques

Finding a formalized system for brainstorming: Where do you begin?
What do you love? Where is your passion? What are your fantasies? What did you love to play as a child, that captured your imagination over and over?

There is no one solution. Find a balance between stimulation and structure.

- Making Lists
- Idea Cards - index cards
- Idea tree - white board
- Group verbalization - mad rambling
- Stream of consciousness - write everything down for 10 minutes; read the result
- Randomization - page in the dictionary; magazine; Oblique Strategies; dice; playing cards; I Ching
- Research - internet searches; random subject surfing
- Extreme change of perspective; a new sport or hobby, environment, experience, uncomfortable situations
- Computer programs - number generators, word generators, idea generators, music generators, fractal generators

Oblique Strategies

online automatic:


print your own set out:


Each new experience generates a new reaction or idea. Identify it! This is harder than it sounds!

A nurturing environment:

NO negativity!
Do not edit or censor yourself or others during the process. Promote a nonjudgmental attitude. Be messy, absurd, make mistakes.

Put it on the white board:

alternatives to the computer
- the physical sensation of pen and paper
- notepads
- cards, scraps or Post-its
butcher paper taped to the walls
- getting up and moving around
- mind mapping (like idea trees; radiating out from core ideas)
- numbering ideas for documentation later and measuring output

Manage your expectations:
Don't go on too long. Take big, regular break

Working in Teams
- brainstorming as a collaborative process
- seek like partners to brainstorm with

Rules for TeamStorming
1. state a purpose; a statement; a slogan
2. no idea is bad; don't criticize
3. encourage multiple perspectives; different views and angles
4. use a variety of techniques and methods; experiment!
5. BIG quantity of ideas; 100 ideas an hour; edit later...

Here comes the hard part: Editing and Refining
- get some time between brainstorming and editing
- brainstorming is over! edit what you have.
- rank the ideas best to worst
- identify the top 10 ideas
- don't bash; discuss relative strengths
- narrow down ideas from 10 to 3
- develop one paragraph for each idea
- expand top ideas to a page treatment
- stay fluid; don't lock down too early

Turning the IDEAS into GAMES
- don't always rely on past ideas!
- remember the role of the player
- remember the goal; the mechanics should come from the core idea

How should the ideas become:
formal elements:
- - players
- - objectives
- - procedures
- - rules
- - resources
- - conflict
- - boundaries
- - outcome

- dramatic elements
- - challenge
- - play
- - premise
- - character
- - story

Thinking Critically (the brainstorming is over!)
- taking notes as you play/run-through
- what works?
- how to improve?
- why doesn't it work?
- avoid mistakes
- create your own rules for construction
- keep practicing the technique/methodology

Focusing on the formal sturcture
- fleshing it out
- fill in the elements one at a time
- question each of the formal elements
- define each of the formal elements; players, action, procedures, rules, etc.

Practice your technique


List what inspires you most

Write down everything that you think of

Build sample ideabase; with 100 ideas in 30 categories

Build idea trees

Do your homework: prior art?

Do the brainstorm

Describe your game

Writing a treatment

Reading Assignment

- Where ideas come from
- Brainstorming Techniques
- Team Branstorming
- Editing and Refining
- Turning Ideas into a Game

  • Chapter 6 - Conceptualization

Copyright © 2004 - 2014 David Javelosa