那么在游戏领域中，我们能否时常想出独特的新创意呢？在非电子游戏领域，我们有Stalingrad、Afrika Korps和Waterloo这些由Avalon Hill公司推出的桌游，TSR推出的《龙与地下城》、Wizard of the Coast推出的《万智牌游戏》。而像《Trivial Pursuit》和《卡坦岛》这种成功游戏也同样是在前人创意的基础上衍生而来。
视频游戏领域虽然有许多技术进步，但却鲜有真正的新游戏问世。《模拟人生》虽然很不错，但其前身却是被Mobygames公司称为“《模拟人生》之母”的不知名游戏《Little Computer People》。新创意并非成功产品出炉的保证，而表现出色的游戏通常并无新意。
“莫扎特不为赚钱而创作的曲子，你掰着指头都能数得过来。”（语出Robert Greenberg教授《How to Listen to and Understand Great Music》演讲内容）如果连这种天才都要把创意当成工作，其他多数“天才”及凡人就更需要为创作而努力了。
The Idea is Not the Game
“Strictly speaking, there’s no such thing as invention, you know. It’s only magnifying what already exists.”
Allie Fox (played by Harrison Ford)，The Mosquito Coast
How important are ideas?
Most novice game designers think that their main task is to come up with a great new idea. They think a great new idea will necessarily become a great game. Also, to them an idea must be new to be great.
Folks like this are forever asking in online forums for help turning their idea into a game; and they almost never find a collaborator, because ideas alone are nearly worthless.
As Allie Fox says, the reality is that there is hardly ever a new idea — “nothing new under the sun.” Rather, there are new ways to use old ideas.
Furthermore, for every person who gets an idea, there are usually dozens or hundreds of others with the same idea.
Think about novels. Almost all novels are variations of ideas used in books or plays published in the past. It’s how the writer presents the ideas that counts, plus a dollop of luck. There is nothing notably new in Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, but it has sold more than 60 million copies (according to Wikipedia as of May 2006). The same can be said about movies: Hardly anything is new.
How often do we get an extraordinary and new idea in games? In non-video gaming, we have Stalingrad, Afrika Korps, and Waterloo (all three by Avalon Hill), TSR’s Dungeons & Dragons, Wizard of the Coast’s Magic: The Gathering. A game as successful as Trivial Pursuit or Settlers of Catan is a simple variation on games that came before.
In video games, there have been many technical advances, but few really new games. The Sims comes to mind, but it was preceded by a game called Little Computer People, which Mobygames calls “the mother of The Sims”; have you ever heard of it? A new idea does not guarantee a highly successful product, and highly successful games usually have no new ideas.
It doesn’t make sense to try to come up with “a great idea.” Your chances of coming up with one are worse than one in a million. And if you did, would you recognize it as a great idea?
A Thousand Eggs, A Hundred Caterpillars, A Handful of Butterflies
Because ideas on their own count for so little, publishers want games, not ideas. Ideas are cheap, a dime a dozen. Everyone in the game industry has ideas. Recognize that your great idea is probably not that great, not that original, and not that interesting to others. Virtually everyone thinks his or her game idea is extraordinarily good, and everyone is wrong almost all the time.
This is hard for beginners to accept, partly because it’s easy to come up with a few ideas, so it’s nice to think that you only need to come up with one great one to make a lot of money.
However, a lot of work goes into making a successful game, beginning with generating hundreds of ideas. The more ideas you have, the more likely you’ll have a few really good ones that can become really good games.
There’s a “pyramid” of game design that goes like this:
Lots of people get ideas.
Fewer of those ideas successfully go from general idea to a specific game idea.
Even fewer produce a prototype.
Even fewer yet produce a decently playable prototype.
Very few produce a completely designed game.
And very, very few produce a really good complete game.
Everything I’ll be saying as we go along applies equally to video games and non-electronic games.
For more about the worth of ideas alone, see Tom Sloper’s advice.
How Many Ideas?
“Every contrivance of man, every tool, every instrument, every utensil, every article designed for use, of each and every kind, evolved from a very simple beginning.”
If you have no ideas, you’ll never have a game. How many ideas do you need? The more the better. Most of them will never become games, let alone good games. It’s another sub-pyramid as shown in the accompanying illustration (which ought to be much wider than it is tall, but is a conventional pyramid for the sake of clarity).
If all this is true, then you know you need to generate a great many ideas in order to have a few that might ultimately reach retail shelves. Remember the conventional wisdom that upwards of 90 percent of the video games that are initially funded — that is, the plans are good enough for someone to be willing to pay to have them developed — never reach the public. At some stage they’re canceled or the studio fails for other reasons.
A relatively well-known and successful board game designer has estimated that 60 percent of his completed games will not be published. For every idea that is good enough to warrant someone trying to turn it into a game, there are many, many ideas that don’t make it much farther than that mark.
You want to get to a point where you have far more fruitful ideas than you can possibly turn into games even if you live to be a hundred. Ideas beget ideas, so the more you come up with, the more you get. As novelist John Steinbeck said, “Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.” But this means you need a great many ideas.
There are creators who write just one novel, have just one hit song, publish just one game. In a few cases, they may have had just a few ideas, though more likely, they had oodles of ideas but only one that panned out. If you want to be a professional video game designer who publishes game after game and makes a career out of it, you need to be working on many games at once, and that means a very high volume of ideas.
Source of Inspiration
How do you get ideas?
When novelists are asked, “Where do you get your ideas?” the answer is usually, “Everywhere.” But what they don’t think to say is that they come up with ideas because they work at getting them.
This is exactly the opposite of the common notion of creativity as “it just happens” or “it’s art” or “it’s inspiration.” Creativity is partly inside a person, but most of it comes from working at it. For every genius like Mozart, who wrote music without thinking about it (“I write music like cows piss”) there are dozens of outstanding and great composers who work hard at getting ideas and revising them. Beethoven filled notebooks with musical ideas. He wrote four different versions of the overture to his only opera, Fidelio. Yet both of these composers wrote music to make a living, not because of “art” or a highfalutin notion of creativity.
“You can, for example, count on the fingers of both hands the number of musical compositions Mozart didn’t write for money, and negotiating with Beethoven was like
trying to take a steak away from a hyena.” (Prof. Robert Greenberg in the recorded lecture, “How to Listen to and Understand Great Music,” 3rd Edition, Teaching Company.) If even the extraordinary genius treated his creativity as work, most other “geniuses” as well as ordinary mortals must work at creativity.
In my own experience, I used to come up with many ideas for games and game articles, and much was published. Then for 20 years, I decided there were more important things to do (learning computing and networking, and making a living), and those ideas stopped coming. Several years ago I decided to get back into game design rather than write computer textbooks, and now I have a vast collection of ideas — many more than I have time for. That’s because now I work at getting ideas and developing them.
In other words, there’s a way to push forward with ideas, rather than wait for them to come to you. Don’t waste your time! Like many other things in life, getting ideas is 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration.
Hence, the number two lesson in ideas (the first lesson being “You need a lot of ideas”) is you have to work at getting them.
You have to keep part of your mind aware of your search for ideas at all times, so that everything you see and hear and smell and touch is examined as a stimulus for game ideas. You may even sit down and say, “I’m going to come up with more ideas,” or “I’m going to think up a new game.” It won’t always happen, but often it will, and the more often you do it, the more often the ideas will come.
Game ideas are often generated by association with something that isn’t obviously about games. This is why game designers benefit from a broad education, diverse reading, and having multiple interests: They have more to associate with than the narrowly-defined “gamer” (or “fanboy/girl”).
Game ideas come from asking questions. They come from reading all kinds of history, fiction, science, and so forth. They come from looking at pictures and maps. They come from talking with other people, even from using everyday things. They come from reading game rules, from playing games, from reading game reviews, from reading postmortems by game designers, from reading books about game design. Yes, there’s a lot of reading there, because when you read, you’re often exposed to a lot of ideas in a short time, and the association may generate game ideas in your mind.
Finally, ideas come from thinking about the ideas you’ve already had. Often a designer will have an idea for a game, get stuck on some problem for which there’s no evident solution, and years later associate that idea with another one generated at another time. These will combine to solve the problem and push the game forward.
Almost anything can give you ideas. I’ve designed board games by starting with nothing more than a particular kind of game piece in mind.
“Every composer knows the anguish and despair occasioned by forgetting ideas which one had no time to write down.”
Hector Berlioz, composer of Symphony Fantastique
“Don’t worry about people stealing an idea. If it’s original, you will have to ram it down their throats.”
I firmly believe that some ideas will come to me only once, and if I don’t record them, I’ll never get them again. Even if you don’t believe something similar, you’ll admit the inconvenience of having an idea, forgetting it, and having to wait until it comes to you again, perhaps years later.
Trying to keep all your ideas in your head is a fool’s errand. The only way you can do it is if you have so few ideas that you’re unlikely to be productive.
Aspiring game designers should carry a notebook or other recording device with them almost everywhere. When an idea comes, you want to be able to write it down or record it by voice no matter where you are. I carry an HP PDA that has one-button voice recording function (not all PDAs do). I can record while driving because all I need is that single button on the side of the device. I press the button, talk, and when I release the button, it stops recording — a reasonably safe way to record thoughts while driving. My cell phone can record, but using it requires several steps, and I won’t divert my attention like that while driving. Moreover, my PDA goes into a cradle that automatically transfers my voice notes to my desktops at home and work, so soon I have three copies. It’s easy to type the idea into my main idea database as I listen to my voice notes.
Students think I’m strange to occasionally talk into my PDA in the middle of class, but they soon realize the purpose. I call it “my memory.”
Don’t leave an idea as a voice file. Writing down ideas forces you to actually figure out and understand what you mean. Novice designers are prone to having “ideas” that are only in their heads, and when asked to articulate them, they find out that there’s a lot they haven’t figured out (or have forgotten).
Aside from the PDA, I have a paper notebook in my “game box,” a box where I keep games that I’m play testing. When I’m at game sessions, I can write more extensively in the notebook than I would record on the PDA. (Plus, if I forget one recording device, I’m likely to have on hand the other).
Finally, I have a light laptop/tablet computer, and an even lighter, 700-hours on three AA batteries, solid-state storage, specialized word processor (an Alphasmart Neo) for note-taking when at game meetings. (You can’t type on a PDA, not with speed.) I for one don’t intend to lose any ideas.
I could keep a voice recorder (such as my Olympus voice recorder) by my bedside for middle-of-the-night ideas, but I don’t want to wake my wife with my talking; so I have a clipboard. And I’ve been known to get up in the middle of the night to write idea details into my computer.
In the 1970s and 80s the “data store” for ideas was notebooks and pieces of paper, sometimes typed (with carbon copies, if you were smart, as a backup). In the 21st century, the data store may still be notebooks, but preferably it is electronic, whether word processing, or a specialist note program such as Info Select or OneNote, or voice messages to yourself. But it’s got to be something that can easily be searched electronically and copied (backed up).
Computers are cheap and plentiful. I highly recommend using some kind of free text database. A free text database has no fields such as you define in Microsoft Access or Oracle or (in older days) dBase. You type data in however you like, and the search facility of the free text database does the rest. Any word processor can be used this way, but specialized programs will be faster. Some designers prefer to use a spreadsheet program extensively, but I prefer the superior organization and search-ability of a specialized program.
I have used one of the first free text database programs, called Info Select (www.miclog.com), since the 1980s. It is my “desert isle” program, the one I’d use if I could only have one piece of software. It is fast, easily allows subcategories, and offers many ways to search. (It can also be a word processor, email program, Web browser, etc.) It allows me to not only organize information, but do a full text search in the blink of an eye (because all the stored information is loaded into memory). Unfortunately, it is pretty expensive.
Microsoft One-Note is another program of this type, and it’s somewhat expensive unless you’re properly associated with a school that subscribes to Microsoft Developers
Network Academic Alliance (which makes it free). A very simple free program is Memento, the equivalent of Post-It notes, and there are many other freeware programs.
Or you can use a word processor or spreadsheet and organize your ideas by file. Most computer operating systems allow you to search through files for particular keywords, or the word processor itself may do this. The trick in any of these programs is to have those keywords in the notes you’ve typed. If you have an idea for a first person shooter, be sure “FPS” is there with the details of your idea. If you have an idea for a card game, be sure “card game” is in the file. Otherwise, when you try to find ideas, you won’t find all that you should.
You might think this would take a lot of memory, but it doesn’t. An entire novel is roughly one megabyte of text, so as long as you don’t store a lot of graphics, it won’t put much of a dent in your RAM, let alone your disk space.
If you don’t work well from a computer screen, you can print out your ideas and put them in a binder using sheet protectors. Or just have them in a pile. Just be sure
to periodically look through your old ideas, as this is one of the best ways to get new ideas.
Another word on images: Storing drawings and pictures results in slower searches because graphics take so much more space than words. Often a program will only search
the name of the file, so you need to use long descriptive names. You can use a photo-organizing program such as Picasa (free from Google), or use a database program that handles graphics well.
If you speak to groups, as a teacher or as a proponent of games, be sure to record yourself. An MP3 player with voice recording, such as the Sansa e250, makes this easy to do, and with free software such as Audacity you can turn your talk into a podcast.
In any case, back it up.
All your work will do you no good if your hard drive crashes or you lose a notebook that is your only copy. If ideas are worth generating, they’re worth backing up.（source:gamecareerguide）