Wednesday 8 September 2021

Where to get original ideas

Lots of games and game concepts are very similar, very derivative. Partially that's because people make more of what's successful, which is sound business. But partially it's also because of a lack of inspiration, or taking inspiration from the wrong sources.

This is because most game creators get their inspiration from the same sources: other games, action comics, action movies and sci-fi/fantasy books. Thus many creators get the same ideas. To get truly original ideas, you shouldn't look at the same things as everyone else.  

What other things inspire you? Please share in the comments below!

For me, modern art museums are the biggest source of inspiration, especially early 20th century stuff. I don't like it all, but it often triggers my creativity. For example, this painting by Kandinsky was the main source of inspiration for Proun at the time.  

So let's play a little game. Look at the painting below, and try to imagine a game that looks like this. What would that play like?

(This beautiful painting is by Ludek Tikovsky and was exhibited in castle Groeneveld.)

Oh by the way, I'm trying a new format for my blogposts: super short and focussed on Twitter. I'll repost them here as well, as I'm doing now. Any thoughts on this new format, or tips?


  1. In a way I find it funny that your way of creating original works is to simply look at less mainstream (in games) sources to derive from. I'm not trying to say there is something wrong about requiring inspiration and creating derivative works of course. Who can work from a void?

    That begs the question: what did Kandinsky derive their very abstract work from? ... it's a rhetorical question. You can probably find some art critique out there that analyses this thoroughly.

    To get back to your question, what inspires me? I like game theory and economic concepts such as the prisoners dilemma which can be applied to (large sclae) cooperative games, something I don't think has been explored a lot yet.

    On a more visual level I think ancient architecture studies and large structures such as cathedrals can make great inspiration! Depending on how much effort was put into the detailing of course. As you already pointed out, museums can be a great source of inspiration as well.

    While in Innsbruck, Austria I visited the Tiroler Landsmuseum. They collection contained a lot of woodwork with interesting shapes and patterns:

    By the way, the shorter format is fine! It gives me some time to think about the subject instead of just passively reading :)

    1. Yeah, I agree that on the surface it might seem contradicting to ask for more originality and then say to take ideas from somewhere. But indeed, no one works in a void and I don't think any innovative artists (or scientists or engineers) did their work without being inspired by something or learning from something.

      Thanks for sharing! That woodwork you linked is amazing. :)