20 Recommended Indie Dev Tips for Awesome Game Design

Tip #4 – Use The Model & Improve Method

Another game design tip is to practice the ‘model and improve’ method. This technique involves studying successful games similar to the one you wish to create. Finding out what’s working and which elements of the game could be better. And then brainstorming ways to improve it to make a totally new game.

You can do this by adding and or removing different aspects until you have your own unique game. Maybe the theme would be cooler if it was set in space instead of a forest. Or the gameplay mechanics might be fun to play but not as challenging as it could be, or the graphics are ‘meh’ and need improving.

When you use the ‘model and improve’ technique, you use different aspects of popular games as inspiration for your game, taking bits and pieces and molding them to make something new is key. Most games are modeled or inspired by others. Nothing is truly original. The key is to make enough changes and tweaks, so it’s not a carbon copy. Never copy or clone, it can get you into trouble. Always add and modify for awesome game design.

Tip #5 – Keep A Game Design & Idea Journal

The ‘model and improve’ technique is just one of the many ways that you can find inspiration for your game. There’s also mind-mapping, the SCAMPER method, theme exploration, the use of constraints, and more. You can check out our complete guide, ‘19 Ways to Come Up With Game Ideas’ for a long list of idea generating techniques to help if you ever get stuck or hit with a serious case of ‘developer’s block.’

However, there’s one hack that no matter what, that you should definitely incorporate into your daily routine, and that’s keeping an idea journal. These indie must-haves can be digital via a notepad on your smartphone or paper based. Just choose the type that you feel suits you best, and use it. Write down all your game design ideas. And keep it with you for when you’re suddenly inspired. For paper-based journals, I recommend using memo or pocket-sized notebook to jot everything down. It’s much easier to carry. Plus, you never know when inspiration will strike. Having an idea journal with you when you’re out whether it’s via your phone or notepad can come in handy.

Tip # 6 – Consider The Familiarity Factor In Your Design

Awesome game design is often unique but familiar. Most successful games are designed to be both original while having a level of familiarity to it to make it easy for players to understand. You never want to make your game overly complex or so unique that it’s a difficult grasp. Players want to be able to jump right in and start playing with minimal instruction. So, when you’re designing your game, it’s important to use the same popular gameplay mechanics that gamers enjoy. And build upon those core elements to make your game different. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. You can use the ‘model and improve’ technique to help you add interesting new elements into your game to make it fresh.

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