a person thinking surrounded by light bulbs

We all have ideas. More often than not, the best ones strike at the most inopportune times like in the shower or on the commute to work. Why is this? Research suggests that it’s because we’re more relaxed and less distracted during these times.

It doesn’t matter when your ideas appear, though if you forget about them immediately after. Luckily, we have some tips that can help you.

It might sound simple enough, but if you don’t have anything to write on, you’ll definitely forget whatever awesome game ideas pop into your head. A notebook is great, but if you don’t want to lug it around you can always use your phone or tablet. There are dozens of note-taking apps like Evernote where you can jot down, store and organize your ideas. Besides taking notes, you can also store doodles, receipts and more so you can stay organized all in one place. Plus you can also share these files with others to get feedback!

Aside from saving your ideas, having a notebook handy can help improve your concentration as you can write down an idea and then forget it. Though you don’t want to forget it entirely since you’ll want to revisit it at a later date.

Who hasn’t hatched an idea an immediately fallen in love with it? However, when you view your ideas as too precious, you’re less likely to follow through and actually create them. Not only that, but you’ll be less likely to get feedback from others to gauge whether the idea is actually good or not. So while you should believe in your idea and like it, you shouldn’t view it as the most amazing thing ever. This can easily cloud your judgement.

At the same time, if you’re anything like most people, you’ll be super critical of your ideas and toss them out as stupid. That’s just as bad. Both extremes usually mean you’ll never get beyond the idea phase. Try to view your ideas as objectively as possible. Make note of all the positives and negatives and then try to prototype as quickly as possible to see if it actually is a good idea or not.

“I’m worried that if I tell someone my game ideas, they’ll steal them.” Have you ever heard someone say that? Or have you been the guilty party uttering those words? If so, chuck that thought out the window. While there might be a chance that people might steal your ideas, it’s still better to share them with others. This way you can get feedback from multiple sources on whether it’s any good or not. And if you take the advice from above, you’ll be able to see whether the advice and critiques are justified or not. The best way to get feedback? Share your prototype at an event that targets your audience. For game developers this would be game conventions like PAX South and MAGFest. Regardless of what you create, there’s like some kind of conference for it so go show it off and see what others have to say.

Keep your eye on the prize. For game developers (and probably software developers as well) it’s easy to experience the dreaded feature creep. You start off with a simple idea and as the development process goes on you keep adding onto that because – Wouldn’t it make the game/software that much cooler? Before you add a million things, STOP! Don’t lose sight of your main idea. Whenever you add a new feature ask yourself if it is compatible with the overarching picture. If the answer is no, scrap it. Or keep it for another project. Maybe you could create a quick, fun game based on that single feature.

When you start to add more and more ideas to your game, you may start to  lose your focus. Try to structure a main idea, and check it every time you want to add something new. Is this idea compatible with your main idea? Will it change the core of your game? If that the case, don’t throw your idea. Just because it didn’t work this time doesn’t means that it’s a bad idea. Save it for another game and work it in the future.