17 June, 2010

The Libary of Lost Ideas

I've always got a dozen ideas that I don't know what to do with. Sometimes these get incorporated into new game ideas, sometimes they evolve, sometimes they get forgotten, sometimes I mention one of them on a forum somewhere and the idea strikes someone else as sheer genius (or sheer stupidity).

By the time a month has past, half of the ideas might remain in their original format, the other half have evolved distinctly enough to be considered new ideas. These ideas have been filled into dozens of notebooks, hundreds of paper scraps and just as many fragmentary word processor files that have been collected over the years. Occasionally I'll be looking for some vital paperwork (an old bill, a birth certificate, novel notes, etc...) and I'll run across a cluster of pages detailing a game that never got anywhere, or a game world that I thought was amazing at the time. I'll ponder the piece of paper then decide whether to pull this old idea out of the past and incorporate it into a current project, or just leave it in the scrap paper archive (because I just don't have the time to do it justice at the moment).

In recent weeks I've found a few of these ideas, and I've wondered where they might lead. Fragments where I've combined some mechanisms from a few different games to get a specific play effect...other notes where I've pencilled out a new resolution system or structure. I probably don't have enough time in my life to fully flesh out the ideas I've already had, and I don't know if other people would be interested in them anyway.

So I've thought about compiling these ideas into a single database on my website. Searchable by a few key terms such as "Setting", "Mechanism", "Dice", "Cards", "Structure", "Story", "Powers", maybe a few more, but not too many. Also using the database to provide links between ideas that share a theme, or ideas that have evolved from each other.

With this structure, I'd type out the ideas and format them as single page PDFs that can be called up by the database. A single idea per page, it might only be a couple of sentences or it might cover the whole page. If an idea covers more than one page, it will be split down into multiple pages as linked idea fragments.

Doing this will have multiple benefits to me...it will clear away a lot of the scrap paperwork that my wife is always threatening to throw in the bin, it will probably be a good dose of catharsis to purge the ideas that really don't hold up any more, and it will give me a good starting place to look for old ideas when I need the inspiration.

I'd also like to think that a lot of my old ideas might help to provide inspiration to other game designers out there. So this database will be accessible to the public and all ideas will be released under a creative commons license.

Once I get enough of my own ideas into the database, I might open it up to submissions from the public...allowing other people to throw their idea pages into the mix.

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