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Create A 2D Game - Part 1: Concept Development

Some random game concept development notes

The first step in creating a 2D game is to first settle on the idea for the game. It seems obvious but sometimes people waste a lot of time and effort by jumping into creating graphics and programming elements without knowing exactly what their game is actually about. The game idea - known as the concept - is extremely important and must itself be developed in great detail before progressing to the next stage. The concept stage can be broken down into three parts, idea generation, idea development and idea visualisation. Remember, the great thing about games is that anything you imagine is possible so set your imagination free!

Generate The Idea:

First things first then; you need to come up with an idea for your game. Idea generation is often called brainstorming but in reality brainstorming is just one type of idea generation. Brainstorming involves simply writing down as many ideas as possible as quickly as possible without considering their merit (whether they are good or bad). It is important not to think too much while doing this as logical or analytical thinking will restrict your creative mind.

Another idea generation technique is 'the random game' which involves creating headings of time, place, object and person/animal. You then give yourself a minute to write down as many things as possible under each heading. For example, under the 'time' heading you may write things like Jurassic period, iron age, 1960's, 2012, 2233, yesterday...etc. So after 4 minutes you should have 4 full categories which you can use to create a game idea, "but how?" you ask. The next part is the random part, simply take one word from each category at random and force yourself to put them into a scenario. Once again do this as quickly as possible without thinking to engage only the creative part of your brain. Remember, games are not real so anything goes!

If you still can't come up with anything, try out the following resources...

Develop the Idea:

Once you have your main idea the next step is to work out the details. For example, lets say you game idea is to play as...
A robotic turtle sent back from the future to the Jurassic period to find the first turtle and save him from assassination by your future enemies the golden kangaroos using a magic fork
Well I did say anything was possible. Despite having this brilliant idea in the bag there are still numerous questions that need to be answered. What will the game genre be, how many levels are there, what will the obstacles be, what will the game options be...? In order to help you develop your game idea we have developed some worksheets...


Visualise the Idea:


When creating a game you are often working as part of a team or working for a client or your boss. In any case you will need to create a game pitch to portray your game idea to someone else. As part of your game pitch you should also have some images to help visualise your idea. This may be through research images or photos showing the type of landscapes in which the game will be set, concept art or drawings showing what the characters will look like or internet images from existing games which are similar in style to what you are hoping to achieve. Whatever form you choose to use to represent your ideas visually does not matter the important thing is that you do represent them visually. Here are 3 options...

Create sketches and drawings to show your game concept
Find or take photographs to explain your game concept
Use Photoshop to create concept art for your game

It is not vital to have excellent drawing skills (although it wouldn't do any harm), the important thing is that you get your idea out of your head so you can show it to other people in order to get feedback or even just for yourself to see your idea in a physical form.

Career As A Concept Artist ...

Artists create the visual elements of a game, such as characters, scenery, objects, vehicles, surface textures, clothing, props, and even user interface components. Artists also create concept art and storyboards which help communicate the proposed visual elements during the pre-production phase.
Concept artists usually begin with traditional materials (eg pen and paper) and progress onto computer software.

The Concept Artist sketches ideas for the game worlds, characters, objects, vehicles, furniture, clothing and other content. They also suggest level designs, colour schemes, and the mood and feel of the game. They are usually very good at perspective drawing and architecture. Although not involved in creating the actual game art, their concept will determine the look of many aspects of the game.
For more information about concept artists click here.

Next Up...

Once you have completed these three parts of the 2D game concept development stage you should move onto the next step - Game Objectives & Structure