Creating a successful game is all about drawing inspiration from successful titles and mechanics and putting your own unique spin on them. For example, our game Dungeon Souls took inspiration from Risk of Rain and Overture and went more in-depth with the character progression system.
A lot of developers I talk to find themselves struggling with figuring out how to draw inspiration from games. They spend a long time studying games that inspire them and try to just copy and refine what they see. I don’t think this is a very efficient way to take inspiration from titles, though. Here’s what I suggest:
- Find the games you are inspired by.
- Find the developers/studios behind those projects.
- Reach out to the developers:
- Fill them in on your project.
- Tell them about how they inspired you.
- Ask them for help and advice, and ask them about how they did certain things in-game. For example, ask them how they managed to make mechanic X feel so punchy, or how they balanced resource management mechanics with ongoing gameplay.
- Hit send!
What many developers don’t realize is that it’s really that easy to start making friends, learning from mentors, and being more deeply inspired. People overthink it and feel like you have to be sly and meet them at conventions or meetups, gradually working your way up to the “ask.”
Forget that. Just ask! As long as you’re polite and respectful, the worst case scenario is you get ignored and try again. No biggie.
A friend of mine managed to get the head of Xbox as a mentor. He emailed him on a whim telling him how much he loved his work and needed advice for his small space game. The Xbox guy replied and developed a good connection with my friend. His feedback was invaluable, and my friend managed to learn a lot from him.
Getting mentors and deepening your inspirations is easier than you think.
Go for it!