The power of BRAINSTORM!
As we’ve mentioned recently, a lot of our focus over the past few months has been on creating a vertical slice; great for the short term, not so great for finishing Röki. To combat that we’ve been doing regular brainstorming sessions to thrash out the rest of the game. Now, most people have some idea of what a ‘brainstorm’ is, and there is no right way to do it, but here are some ‘rules’ we try to live by to make our meetings more productive:
1. No Idea is a Bad Idea (until it is)
This means allowing every idea to have a chance, however odd or unsuitable it may initially seem. If there are problems with it, put them to one side and see what strengths there are before shooting it down. Allow the idea to grow for a bit - it may be that it develops into something better, or even just helps you to think of another different, but completely awesome idea. The human brain is pretty good at solving problems and making connections between things. Often it’s ideas we don’t like initially that engage it more and subsequently produce the best results.
Also really important is that everyone feels comfortable sharing what they’re thinking. Anyone is capable of a eureka moment. Don’t let that idea go unspoken for fear of ridicule.
If after exploration the idea doesn’t go anywhere, then you can ditch it :)
2. Don’t Be Precious
If the amazing idea that you love doesn’t work for structural or mechanical reasons, just let it go. Equally, if someone else has a better idea, let yours go. Be rational and analytical. It doesn’t matter who has the idea. They’re all stepping stones in getting to the ultimate prize which is something ultra bad-ass, so who cares who put down which one.
3. Have a Notepad and a Pen (or a blackboard and a marker)
Go back to basics. Allow yourself and others to make rough notes, to scribble ideas, to draw really bad drawings. We make fun of what we draw constantly - with good reason, look:
Idea creation should be a liberating process. Sketches and diagrams are a great way to help others understand your thought process and to organise your own thoughts, which in turn really helps to keep the momentum going.
Equally, this is a really good way of brainstorming solo. The act of getting things out of your head onto paper is a great way of moving through ideas and allowing your brain the time and space to process everything. Even if you are just writing down questions, the clarity you’ll gain from the process will be really beneficial.
4. Know When to Stop
This applies to individual problems and the session as a whole. If you can’t find a solution to something, just move on. Getting frustrated and stuck doesn’t help anything, so just try looking at something else. Often your subconscious will solve the problem for you without you even realising!
Similarly, don’t prolong a session. Believe it or not, sitting around coming up with ideas is actually pretty tiring, and tiredness = shit ideas, so know when to call it a day.
5. Get Out of the Office
Seriously. Go to a cafe, or a different meeting room, or the park. Changing scenery will help you to put aside all your other work and focus on the brain storm. Plus you might be able to have a nice slice of cake whilst you do it, which gets extra bonus points.
6. Inspire Yourself
More of a constant warm up this one, but still very important. Feed your brain interesting and diverse brain food, whether it’s comics, travel, films, books, photography, nature, music.. (you get the idea). Be open to exploring things that might initially not seem like your cup of tea, you might be surprised! Try and get away from the mainstream or your favorite genres (if you have them) so that you can find more esoteric and original inspiration. Then, just let all of these influences simmer away until you need them. Your brain will pull them altogether into something new and awesome without you even realising it ;)
7. Surround Yourself With People who Buy Into the Above.
If someone in your group is always really negative, then ask them to stop (they may not even realise they are doing it), or just remove them from the group. Harsh, but ultimately better for the dynamic of your team.
8. Don’t Make Lists Longer Than 7 Points...
Just kidding. That last one was a 'hilarious' joke, so ignore it. The other 7 are solid GOLD though, so try them out next time you need to come up with an idea, particularly the bit about cake ;)
Until next time,
Tom & Alex