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Resources: Stickies for your notebook

sticker_iconsI’m a very big fan of capturing ideas and thoughts using pen and paper (I’m absolutely addicted to Moleskine journals – I’ll show you a picture sometime). It’s great to have something with you that you can quickly scribble or draw ideas in when a thought strikes you.

The one think that I don’t like about paper notebooks so much, is that it can easily become difficult to organise ideas in cohesive sections. On computer, you can cut and paste all your scattered pieces into different categories. Not so easy in a notebook…

I’m faced with that exact problem in my development notebook at the moment – new ideas that aren’t necessarily directly related to the ones that came right before them, show up whenever they feel like it. And if I don’t write them down immediately, I lose them. So I thought – if I had little “icons” that I could stick next to these unrelated ideas, it would be much easier to come back later and see which ones belonged together, even if they were scattered throughout the notebook.

I decided on a couple of categories that I figured I’d need a lot, made some icons for them and then bought two sheets of sticker paper to print them all on.

I’ve also decided to share this document. I’m not sure how useful these would be to anyone else, but feel free to do with them whatever you want to. (The “RPG” category in my stickers might not be applicable to all that many people, for instance, but I’m sure most of the others would have a use, regardless of what kind of game you’re working on.)

As an overview, the category icons I’ve included in the PDF (and what I intended them for) are:

  • icon_set_settings_gear  Settings – Actual game settings. This could include rendering options, display settings, sound & music volume or any ideas that you have and think should be included in your game/project’s global settings.
  • icon_set_mechanics_spanner  Mechanics – The way the game actually works. The bits under the bonnet. This could be anything from physics ideas, how things should move, if it’s a puzzle game (as in my case) – how exactly do the puzzles work? Should tiles just match colours, should things slide or rotate, what happens in empty spaces on your game board, etc.
  • icon_set_rpg_helmet  RPG – Role Playing elements, since their will be a fair bit of RPG-based ideas in my game. For me, this would include things like – what base skills are available, what sub-skills do they affect, what exactly do these skills do and how do they affect gameplay and game mechanics, which skills can be trained, which can be “bought”, etc.
  • icon_set_difficulty_mountains  Difficulty – Is your game going to have more than one difficulty level? If so, what are the differences going to be and how are you going to implement them? This ties in with Game Mechanics, but specifically when related to changing the ease of playing.
  • icon_set_interface_mouse  Interface – This isn’t just the menu and points/skills display. More importantly – how will you interact with your game and your game pieces/characters/sprites? Mouse? Keyboard? Click and drag? Single-click only… Scrolling wheel… Touch-screen… I think you get the picture.
  • icon_set_music_note  Music – I’m extremely optimistic about this and hope to compose the music for my game myself o_O. But – I’m not exactly sure what kind of music to go with yet. For me, this icon will probably be used more for references to artists and music that I hear that sounds like the kind of thing that could work.
  • icon_set_sound_waves  Sound – Basically everything that’s not music. Clicks. Drags. Slashes. Pops. Bangs. Slides. Opens. Power-ups. Are you going to get someone to do these for you, or will you create them yourself? What could closely resemble the sound of a heavy stone door being opened down in a dungeon…?
  • icon_set_other_star  Other – I don’t really know… I just wanted to fill up the sticker sheet (and was having a lot of fun creating the icons), so I figured whatever other category I haven’t thought of yet, could probably be covered by this. Notice how it’s actually a chaos star…? But it also sort of resembles an asterisk, commonly used for footnotes…? Clever, no? ;P

So there you go! Stick away! Of course, there’s an uncomfortable amount of time cutting out little circles and legends ahead of you before you get to that though…

If you can use these – awesome! I’m happy! Use them for whatever you want to (and tell me about it – sharing is caring). It would just be kind of nice of you if you didn’t sell these to anyone else and pretend you made them… Church? Okay 😉

Oh, and don’t steal my logo! It took me like a whole ten minutes to come up with that!

(If you went “TL;DR” and missed the link up there – you can get the PDF here)


PS – If anyone wants the original featuring my sloppy SVG work, drop me a line or shout in the comments below. Peace!

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Forests vs Trees (also: Hot-Air Balloons)

Hexagon forest with one dead treeI wonder what the first guy to come up with the idea for a passenger-occupied hot-air balloon did when he finally sat down to start working on this bizarre idea of his. I wonder if there was a moment of thinking, “This is crazy. What was I thinking? It can never be done.” Actually, I’m pretty sure there might have been. Someone eventually did make one though, thus proving all those fears irrelevant.

I suppose it’s almost always scary to do something new – whether it is just new to you, or whether it is entirely unique to the world. That’s most likely because new things provide us with no internal frame of reference. There’s nothing we can compare it to in our past. And so it is with ideas. Even great ideas can suddenly seem impossible to execute when you start looking at the “how” of it.

But I think that’s precisely where we need to believe in a little “magic”; a little “suspension of reality” and just go with it. I’ve seen so many times how people kill great ideas prematurely because immediately after having the idea, and before giving it a chance to settle down and ruffle its feathers a little, people start questioning the “how”. And so often, because they can’t find an immediate answer to the “how”, the illusion gets shattered and all faith in that big idea is lost (it’s a bit like the Buddha’s parable of the poisoned arrow – worrying about who shot the arrow, what it’s made of, what kind of bow was used – before focusing on the fact that there’s a damn poisoned arrow stuck in your leg).

While doing a stint in design school, we were faced with some or other project one day and almost all my classmates (who had infinitely more experience with Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, etc. than I had) seemed to just calmly sit down and start working on their ideas. I must have looked somewhat panicky and the lecturer came up to me. I told him I didn’t have enough confidence with any of the software packages yet – I had no idea how I would execute this idea. Then, he gave me some of the best creative advice ever – really simple, but absolutely brimming with wisdom: “Worry about the idea, not the tools. The tools are merely there to help you execute the idea and it doesn’t matter what tools you use.” Basically – worrying about the how is entirely the wrong way around to start working on anything creative. It will most likely depress you if you start worrying about the how before worrying about the what. It will most likely kill the what. It will most likely get you right back to where you started from in the first place… Continue reading Forests vs Trees (also: Hot-Air Balloons)