In the latest feature for Gamasutra sister educational site Game Career Guide
, interactive and game designer, writer, producer, and director Deborah Todd presents Chapter 3 from her book, Game Design: From Blue Sky to Green Light, which discusses brainstorming techniques and steps for good game design.
In this excerpt, Todd looks at the specific ways brainstorming applies to common tasks in game design, and suggests that, in most cases, the best way to approach the session is with the outcome in mind, and then work backward:
“In game design, you're going to constantly be presented with the need to brainstorm your way into solutions. Whether it's at the beginning and choosing that one best game you hope to turn into a AAA title, or further along when you're designing the best characters for the game, the best story, the best environments, the best mechanics, and the best way to tie it all up so you can actually get the game made. While this kind of deletion of all of those other great ideas you came up with in blue sky might sound at the outset like the opposite of brainstorming, it really is the brainstorming process that helps you codify your ideas and get the work under way.
The key, then, is to know what outcome you want when you begin the brainstorming process. Some examples:
* We need to figure out how to get the character through this encounter with the villain without the character or the villain dying.
* We need to figure out how to put this (insert product placement) in the game in a way that doesn't disrupt the flow, that meets the needs of the marketing group, and that helps the player further his or her way through the game.
* We need to figure out how to change the characteristics of this character because legal came back to us and said we had to.
* We need to figure out how to add this mechanic because marketing said we have to have it in.
The point is this: begin with the end in mind, and then get creative in coming up with solutions by going beyond the easy answer and brainstorming possibilities that are focused and purposeful.
You'll find that when you start working within constructs and limitations, something really amazing happens-it frees you up to go in directions you never would have gone before.”
You can now read the full Game Career Guide feature
with on the brainstorming process from industry veterans and studios like Noah Falstein, Nihilistic, and Telltale Games (no registration required, please feel free to link to this column from external websites).