Developing from Idea to Concept

Ideas are fleeting… or was it fleeing? Whichever it is for you–ideas are hard to keep a hold of. For me I get so many random ideas it becomes hard to keep them all. I want to make so many things that sometimes I feel like I’m trying to save the Titanic from sinking one coffee cup full of water at a time. So I’ve developed a system to remember my ideas (good and otherwise).

Writing things down gets more complicated than it just literally writing down what comes to mind however. Just recording the data for an idea is no good if you don’t have a way to access that data. To this end you need a system of idea documentation. I suggest buying or making a note book that you can carry around with you. For example, I keep several moleskin notebooks near or on my person at all times. If I get an idea late at night I record the idea on my phone and transfer it later. Pretty simple so far.

After I’ve written an idea down, I store it away. If an idea is strong enough for me to keep thinking about I’ll create a folder for it in my file cabinet. If I get enough filed for that idea I’ll create a Pinterest board, open a Google Doc folder, and begin collecting any related data that could be related or used to make my idea. I usually scan the handwritten notes into my computer and use a naming convention for the file that includes a code word for searching it out later. Then I transfer the notes to a digital document and upload it to the Google folder.

Once I’ve collected a lot of data for an idea I “write out” my idea. When I make my first note it is just the basic form or vague intention of what I thought of. Writing it out happens when I fully think through my idea and draw out all the facets of what I had in mind. In effect, I write out a guide to how my idea would work as if someone else was going to make it for me. For reference this would be like a Game Design Document or GDD in game development projects.

Typically an idea would be something like: 06/04/15 – FPS Moon Game – Gorillas with lasers

Then my note would be something like:

APES FROM SPACE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Then my written out idea would be something like:

“In a space truck stop on Earth’s moon, a lone ship captain must fight a terrorist cell of Friends of Animals Retaliation Taskforce*. They release a lab of super intelligent gorillas and give them laser cannons to slow you down. Using a first person shooter interface, defeat the apes with low gravity explosions.

Plays like: Borderlands

Sounds like: Punk Goes Pop

Looks like: Splatoon

*Have terrorists discuss in cutscenes how they should change the name from FART to something more menacing.”

With the idea in my Google Drive I can search for it later either by looking through the proper project idea folder or by searching for the specific code I have assigned the project. This project for example might be “FPMS” for First Person Moon Shooter.

Just like my Blender art, I start small and add to the idea till I build it up into a concept that could become a project. I’m a little more comfortable when it comes to working with ideas. My writing background really comes into play here and I’ve written on the topic before (however rereading that post I think I would revise some of my language now).

Any way, thanks for reading and be sure to check back for more blogs.


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