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Thinking outside the box

  • Happy
  • 09/15/2009 05:18 PM

Jeez, I had already forgot for a while, that I was supposed to keep up a blog for my game here. I just happened to notice that while visiting Ascendence's former dev blog, where I had written that I'd continue updating the blog only in RMN from since when I abandoned the former one. I must admit I had probably forgot that particular promise.

I might have posted a small update here every now and then, but nothing special - only something very insignificant, such as character design or something similar.

Therefore, now here's the first so called "proper update" to Ascendence's RMN dev blog, since my former blog.

What I mean by "a proper one", is that I try to write about the game features, plans concerning them, ideas and executing them in a more diverse manner.

So far you haven't seen many posts that would acquaint you with origins of my ideas, or process of their development, because I have kept them only to myself, and inside my head, to some degree, always untill it has been the time to execute them. Probably because I consider them complicated, partly overly detailed, and sometimes too ample. I'm too lazy to write about all of them, instead of working on them directly!

Though there lies a slight problem with the fact, that executing many of my ideas shift onto later point in time, because I am still working some of which appear earlier in the game for the player.
See, in this case I'm likely to forget details in my ideas sometimes, even though I could allege I have them largely stored into my mind. I'm still not so crazy, that I wouldn't write down any notes
at all. I write them all the time, but I'm still somewhat impractical person. I know what I want to do, but I'm lacking some sort of task management or systematic execution to carry it out.
I'm too lazy to explain my working methods or organize them, because they always change depending on my mood or inspiration.

In other hand, I'm not complaining about anything, but to achieve the best outcome regarding the subject in question I've got to think of different working methods all the time. Because of this I try to experiment different methods in every aspect while working on my product. Let's start first with the writing.

To the point:

When it comes to expressing yourself creatively in writing - and any part of it, or simply - thinking at all, is in question - I've tried to find new ways of approach. What I mean by this, is that I constantly provoke myself to think in ways that are unnatural to myself. With this I try to keep the style of expressing my product fresh, and varying. Because by absorbing more options, also my variety of choices increases.

Where I'm coming to with this, is the so called "thinking outside the box." The way I am trying to do this myself, is basically to consider all my ideas bad! Well, not entirely bad, but bad in the form they're at their first state, only because at this point they're still "basic" ideas. For many of you this sounds self-evident, but there are also a lot of people, that are satisfied with these "basic" ideas, and think they're all original and great, only just because those ideas struck their mind a moment ago, so that obviously means they created them, righ!?! No - most often these are the ideas everyone share.
Well, this is hard to avoid, and there is no great evil doing something that has been done before, as it's somewhat impossible to avoid it, but here's where we're coming to, when I was using the word "basic" idea. I'd call these "basic" ideas so called "generic cereal" - okay, generic tropes perhaps. In any case, with some effort you can shape these ideas into unique execution and composition, carrying the product in totally new direction.

Now what determines the direction I should take these ideas of mine into? Your personality. Well, that is a hard influence to define, so let's also mention the so called "thinking outside the box." How to "think outside the box" and have it affect your "basic" idea?
First, emphasize the thoughts and themes that you hold most important to the original idea in your mind. They can be pretty much anything, varying between having dinosaurs fighting alongside with the pirates to defeat the oppressive ninja empire, just for the sake of having something as fucking weird as that, or maybe you want tell about something specific. Really, there's no limitations to what these "important things" to your idea might be, because you determine them.

Though, it is always something you want tell to the audience of your product. Think about what you want them to think. Think about what you want them to feel and experience.

For me the things I want to get over to the audience don't differ much from what I just mentioned above. I want to make them feel, experience, and provoke them think things I want to tell about.
Well, now that we have some important points from the original "basic" idea I want to take into my product, let's give it a whirl and create it even more unique. Let's "think outside the box."
For that we need to take elements and influences to the idea from external sources. Not only those you're already familiar with and which exist in your mind, but fresh influences which give you new thoughts and enhance your existing ones.
To get these you just have to experience and sense new things - basically, set your thoughts subject for the outside influences. Now you gain new fresh thoughts, which will become part of your original idea and thoughts that influence the execution of your product, and hence become a part of the inspiration for it.

Why do I have to take these new "thoughts" and have them influence my original idea? What are these fresh "thoughts" anyway?
Let's mention that the origin which gives birth to all your thoughts, is the outside influences, in a way or another. It's always the interaction between you and the world.
Now let's categorize these influences into three categories that are important to the idea and execution of your product. The criterion determining the category for the influences will be the point in time the influences were in contact with you. in other words, let us categorize all the outside influences into three categories, depending on when they influenced on you. Now, we're not supposed to focus on the subjects - the influences, but the categories.

But still to make it clear: the reason we're talking about influences, in other words, external sources that affect you, and which you will react onto - in this case in your mind, with your thoughts, and why I want to familiarize you to the importance of their point in time affecting you, or in otherwords, their "freshness" is that it is related to how deep these influences have "sunk" into you.
Or should we say, how much you feel cohesion or familiarity to the thoughts these influences have given you - how big part of you these thoughts have already become. This is what we can determine by categorizing these outside influences.

Let's name the outside influences "X." The longer the time that "X" has been affecting to you, the more connected you have become with it. At the very first time in contact to X, it might appear very different to yourself, or at least something totally new to you, hence it it provokes a lot of new thoughts in, and for some people very concrete and strong thoughts, depending on what the X is.
After a while in contact with X you're already getting familiar with it. For some people the stronger, and more concrete opinions and thoughts mighn't have started to form untill now. But in most cases, now you already know X partially, but it still crosses your mind occasionally. Now let's say it's been long time since X affected you. At this point it might have already become a big part of what you are now, and you might not even remember X anymore, or be aware of its influence to you.

Now we have categorized everything influencing your thoughts in three categories by their point in time influencing you.

- The oldest thoughts, which have now already changed you in some way you might not even be aware of anymore. They've changed your mind in a way or other and made you form opinions that have already had a lot of time to develope into consequential paths, possibly making you very different kind of person these days.

- Partly familiar thoughts. A lot of which you're thinking occasionally about and still maybe forming into theories or into anything you generally might want to talk about, or to tell people about.

- And the most "fresh" influences, that still give you totally new thoughts, and aren't a part of you yet. But if you apply these newest influences to the previous two categories you multiply all your existing thoughts by possibly giving all of them a new way to develope into. This is a great way to create something unique, because your options for different routes of thoughts extend and you're more likely to end up onto a route never seen before - which we call an unique product - created by "thinking outside the box." Mind you, you box.

Now this all was just an overview into how I personally consider one may create to some degree unique product, and what I personally think "thinking outside the box" is. It's also very ideal, and doesn't focus on the techniques. And this can be applied to a lot of things that revolve around creativity and expressing the world from your point of view. Not only writing, at all.

Anyway, this was probably good enough start for my new blog updates, because it should give you the idea ... of my ideals. But how well do I follow that ideal with my presentations? It's for you up to see in my products, but at least you now do know a part of my goal, or at least what I consider when choosing my goal.

I'll get back to you with more in-depth focus on some of the features themselves later on. Oh and I've been experimenting different technique in writing recently. I do it all in finnish first, and then a long time to manually translate it. It helps me hold all my thoughts together while writing, and write about them in better variety of words and sentence structures. Though, I don't know about the sensibility of my text to you. :)

I hope it's understandable! See ya.


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Wario's-a number one!
It is understandable a great read. I can't wait for the next playable release of Ascendence aswell as another tasty post in your blog.
I haven't read this yet, but I like how the "To The Point" section is 3X longer than the rambling section.
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