How do you come up with ideas?

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VoyageViolet
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How do you come up with ideas?

#1 Post by VoyageViolet » Thu Mar 03, 2016 6:00 pm

I've been trying to come up with something to do for NaNoRenO this year, but I'm just coming up blank. Every time I try to sketch out some ideas, I just end up doodling stars and things, and every time I try to write something, I can't think of anything to put down.

I know there's the idea dump thread here, and I'll read through that and see if it helps at all. Aside from that, though, does anyone have any tips on brainstorming? What do you do to come up with ideas?

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Re: How do you come up with ideas?

#2 Post by LateWhiteRabbit » Thu Mar 03, 2016 6:28 pm

Okay, since no one else seems to want to tell you the secret ... there's a little store, just off an alley in downtown Hong Kong - The Idea Emporium. Everyone buys their ideas there. If you can't stop by in person, they'll ship internationally.

I kid, but there is really no way to answer your question. Ideas can come from anywhere. I have so many I keep a list of story and game ideas in a folder - and it's massive. For NaNoRenO I raided that folder for an idea, picked one out, discovered it still wasn't ready to "bake" and came up with a new idea.

I will say that brainstorming is more effective when you are doing something BESIDES brainstorming. Start thinking about ideas, but doing something else at the same time. Read a book, watch a movie, play a game. Go for a drive. You'll find ideas come more freely than spinning in your chair and staring at a blank canvas or page.

Also, start writing down ALL the ideas you have. It tells your subconscious that generating ideas like that are important, and it'll be easier to do so in the future.

Good luck, and welcome to Lemmasoft!

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Re: How do you come up with ideas?

#3 Post by dueceladouce » Thu Mar 03, 2016 9:35 pm

I look at what types of things I enjoy in terms of stories and art and try to extract the specific parts that I liked. Things like genres, character types, plot points, ect. Then just shave them down and simplify them, so I have a base. Also, I compile any idea I have, no matter how I feel about it. There are no bad ideas is how I see it

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Re: How do you come up with ideas?

#4 Post by inkbrush » Fri Mar 04, 2016 4:08 am

I have various techniques for coming up with ideas. But, personally, I don't struggle to come up with ideas. In fact, I actually have way too many, lol. But when I'm trying to build a new idea or even build upon an existing one, I like to go on google images and type in some sort of a keyword regarding what I'm working on (fantasy landscape, elves, boarding school, college, fairies, couples, etc.) and I'll scroll through the pictures and let my imagination roam.

I've noticed that letting my ideas boil in my head for a little while before writing them down or telling them to people really helps me to form ideas that I really fall in love with. Of course, you don't want them to sit in your head for too long. I average about an hour to three hours of letting them sit in my head--but that also tends to be while I develop the story and characters in my head.

If I still can't come up with any ideas, I have a few other ways I go about it.
1) I'll look around on the internet at other ideas. Stories, movies, anime, video games, oc's, etc. etc.
2) I'll make a list of everything that interests me in the moment and combine two or three of those elements and make a story from that.
3) I'll ask my friends if they have any ideas or suggestions.

But, ultimately, there's no special technique to getting ideas. It's different for everyone. Some people can't force new ideas upon themselves while others can crank out an idea in a few minutes. Just try some different things out and see what works for you! Going for a walk or jog seems to be a common activity that helps with most people, though! Taking a shower is a big one that helps me. c:

Good luck!!

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Re: How do you come up with ideas?

#5 Post by MorchellaGames » Fri Mar 04, 2016 9:26 am

As someone mentioned earlier, once you start writing down ideas, your brain will set put itself in "idea mode".
For a while, I was looking for ideas of gameplay mechanics, so I started looking at everything around me as a source of ideas.
After a while, I started seeing things differently. Touching a tree, looking at a piece of art, cutting vegetables, all those things gave me ideas!
Not all ideas coming form this technique are good, but if you write them down, you can re-read them later and filter out the ones that you want to develop into a more complete idea.

For writing, this could be anything.
Look at the people around you when you walk, on the bus/subway, sitting in a cafe.
Who are they, where are they going, why do they look that way?

Hope this helps!

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Re: How do you come up with ideas?

#6 Post by Kkoro » Fri Mar 04, 2016 12:17 pm

Go outside. Look around you. Listen to music. Eat somewhere. Do stuff. Go to work. Talk to people. Go back home.

Make notes along the way.
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Re: How do you come up with ideas?

#7 Post by Ghost of Crux » Fri Mar 04, 2016 4:39 pm

Along with the things people have posted here already, sometimes I get inspired by my compilation of words or titles. Sometimes I spend a day grabbing titles from NaNoWriMo's Adopt a Title thread(s)-- there are quite a lot of them, and sometimes the exact right combination of words spark an idea that never leaves...
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Re: How do you come up with ideas?

#8 Post by VoyageViolet » Mon Mar 07, 2016 5:29 pm

Sorry it took me so long to respond. You guys have given a lot of good advice, and I've been thinking it over and I'll see where it takes me. I'm not sure if I'll be able to finish anything for NaNoRenO, but I appreciate the help!

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Re: How do you come up with ideas?

#9 Post by SundownKid » Mon Mar 07, 2016 6:36 pm

In my opinion the best way to come up with ideas is to consume more media. Then eventually you start saying "you know, it would be cool if XXX existed, but it doesn't." Then you start feeling the desire to create said game or other idea and that leads to you having ideas.

For example let's say you were watching a period drama, and then an idea popped up, "it would be cool if there was a story in this setting where the maid was the main character". Or maybe you're watching a giant robot anime and you had an idea, "it would be cool if there was a game where you played as the mech instead of the pilot". And the ideas keep coming.

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Re: How do you come up with ideas?

#10 Post by Katy133 » Mon Mar 07, 2016 8:27 pm

Usually my ideas spring from asking myself, "What if?"

"What if Jaws was remade like a cutesy Free Willy story, instead of a horror story?"

"What if you set a sci-fi adventure in Suburbia?"


I'll be outside doing things, or daydreaming whilst doing a chore, or reading/watching a really good film/series/book (I've found a lot of ideas spring from bad entertainment rather than good entertainment--because bad films/etc. often emerge from concepts with good potential that just weren't used), and a "what if" idea will come to my mind. I'll try my very best to ignore this idea, but--if it's an idea that sounds too interesting and too much fun for me to resist--the idea will continually come back to me repeatedly, until I do something with it.

It can take time, but you can also do things to help "invite" this process into happening: Go out, watch a film/movie, read a book, listen to music, do something that lets your mind wander. While you do this, actively keep asking yourself "what if" questions, until you find an idea you want to run with. :)
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Re: How do you come up with ideas?

#11 Post by Tyrantauranox » Thu Mar 10, 2016 2:52 am

The most effective method for me is bouncing ideas off another person. Failing that, I like to go for a walk and brainstorm away from the computer

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Re: How do you come up with ideas?

#12 Post by Kia » Thu Mar 10, 2016 5:37 am

I sleep...
since my dreams are full scale movies, I keep a pen and some paper by my bed and often write whatever I remember from my dream right away. some of them turn into great stories when I add details to their plot.

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Re: How do you come up with ideas?

#13 Post by MimirollCookie » Thu Mar 10, 2016 6:34 am

I use my inner brain...
But I just make everything a visual novel that pops in my head!
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Re: How do you come up with ideas?

#14 Post by TrickWithAKnife » Sat Apr 02, 2016 4:49 am

Start with a goal. Brainstorm settings that would be functionally suitable and then that's when inspiration is most likely to strike.
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The #renpy IRC channel is a great place to chat with other devs. Due to the nature of IRC and timezone differences, people probably won't reply right away.

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Re: How do you come up with ideas?

#15 Post by MoonByte » Sat Apr 02, 2016 1:20 pm

What often helps me is music.
Soundtracks to be specific. Doesn't matter, if movies, games, TV series. When I listen to it, I usually sooner or later just start imagining my own things over it (if I have a remix or listen to a soundtrack of something I've never seen/played, it also often works very well).
My current game got inspired when I listened to "Hopes and Dreams" from Undertale and "Sanctuary" from Hunchback of Notre Dame, for example.

Writing down ideas (ANY idea) is also a great way, because you may find combinations of ideas that suddenly sound interesting.

For me it sometimes also helps browsing TV Tropes. If I feel like wanting to make a horror game, then I just stroll around the NightmareFuel page until something catches my eye. And when looking at examples (or even just the description text on top), I may just as well get an idea of what to do with the trope (or even go AGAINST that trope).

Of course, consuming media is also great.
Unless you are a caveman from loooooooooong ago, chances are that your idea will not be "build on nothing". But in media sciences, they say that a idea is "original", if it is inspired by other media, BUT those inspirations make up 2%. It can even go as far as that you have 50 inspirational sources where each is 2%. The thing is, with only 2% influence, people will not exactly notice what it is build upon.
If you take Sherlock Holmes, Phantom of the Opera, Girl Genius and Grand Theft Auto 5 and mix that into something, then each makes up about 25%, meaning people will see where you're coming from and probably recognize some elements (just look at movie revues with titles such as "Lord of the Rings meets The Matrix" or "What if Sherlock Holmes would have lived in the 21st century?", those are even blatantly obvious about where they got their ideas from).
It also helps that, if you like a certain piece of media and it is avaible in different medias, that you spread your wings. I loved the "Phantom of the Opera" musical, so I bought the movie from 2004. Then I got the (more brutal and sexual) movie from 1998, I watched the 1915 silent movie and I did read the original novel as well as The Phantom from Susan Kay. Each of these more or less tells the same story, but in VERY different ways.
The musical and 2004 movie are musical adaptions, the 1998 is a horror movie, the 1915 silent movie is a drama, the original novel is something of a horror novel with dramatic elements, The Phantom is even a BIOGRAPHY of the phantom. There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with any of these, and they quote each other obviously very directly.
But if you take one of these and mix them with 10 other ideas, people would lose that connection and your quotes (unless looking for them like people on TV Tropes) and - in the best case - feel like they are watching something new.

Mind you, "new" doesn't equal "good". There is a reason why Hollywood and AAA game titles rehash the same stories again and again and AGAIN. "Don't change a running system", if the only VN with financial success would be Professor Layton, then it would not be shameful to jump on the train and make one like that. If you make something extraordinary and special, you can win big (Amnesia had managed to do that for the horror genre), but you can also fail miserably by alienating potential players (the most famous case may be the E.T. game which took way too complicated gameplay with little developing time and then put it out as a CHILDRENS game).
It is a difficult choice, but chances are, if you REALLY enjoy your idea, if you love talking about it (and - in the best case - if others enjoy LISTENING, then chances are, someone will enjoy playing it. May be a minority, but some fanbases are tiny, yet very passionate. "MUD" was one of the first MMORPGs made in the 80s and even today people love it (it is also what made Richard Bartle research video games, leading to him becoming a VERY famous person regarding online social gaming behaviour, so that game is even from a historical point relevant). And yet chances are nobody here has heard of that game. Not that Trubshaw or the players of MUD care, mind you ;)

Sometimes it already makes a difference to change the genre or gameplay. A Super Mario VN? A Resident Evil Comedy? A Super Meat Boy racing game?
WHY NOT?

So if you have a idea, ANY idea, get it out. Even if you think it is a blatant distasteful copy.
A lot of Skyrim modders got hired to big game companies. Toby Fox (Undertale) had started making Earthbound Fangames and Mods. There is no such thing as a bad idea, there are only ideas that will not result in success (depending on how you define success). I mean, we have nowadays games like "Muddy Heights" where you poop from a roof or "Unicorn Senpai Slap" where you punch a rainbow unicorn that are incredibly popular, so the worst that could happen is that nobody plays it - and the best that can happen is that it makes you lift off ^_^

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