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A Game Designer’s Approach

IndieMonth | 574d ago
User blog

By Erik.B.Skjoldhaug, Co-Founder at Lumi Games AS.

I can only speak for myself, but for me game design and being in the game industry is about creating what you dream about. Be creative and actually shape and mold your dreams into stories and gameplay. For me it’s not worth making a game if you don’t have a personal attachment to it.

There are a lot of people or companies that blatantly copy other peoples’ dreams/games and sell them as their own. Flappy bird and all the hundreds if not thousands of copies are an extreme example of that. The same goes for all the games a certain company starting with the letter "Z" has copied, and of course all the "Match three candies, jellies or whatever to get points"-games that are out there. A few of them are copies of Bejeweled, and the rest are copies of copies of Bejeweled.
Of course if you are in the game industry for one thing, and one thing only, to make cash, you can do as "Z" and plenty of others and copy original ideas, but I guess you will only reach so far by doing that in the long run.

PAX HD, in-game

We have extreme examples like King where they have been really successful by copying other peoples game and just put it in a different setting/theme. You can earn a lot of money like that, but that’s not the real motivation for me - but I can only speak for myself.

As a designer, it's important for me to actually design a game from scratch, and of course I too look at other games for ideas and "solutions" on how they "do-it", that’s only natural and human to do, but it's important for me to stick with my idea and actually create and design my own thing. It's also important for me that people can look at a game I’ve designed and actually see that it is my game.

Many of the people who read this blog are familiar with the designer of Braid and the Witness, Jonathan Blow. If not, check him out for ideas and tips on how to approach a game idea, and how to actually stimulate your brain to get ideas for games. I found it funny that he has the same approach that we at Lumi Games have been using for two years now, and many years before we actually began making games full-time.

PAX HD, in-game

I will mention how I get my ideas, and how I stimulate my brain to be creative, if it is of any interest for anyone.

Well, first of all:
* Get away from the computer when you are not working, go out for a walk in the mountains, go fishing, go exploring or anything else that you think is fun.
Maybe you like hiking or mountain climbing?
* Take a shower in complete darkness. This really stimulates your imagination.
* MEDITATE! This if beyond amazing when it comes to getting ideas.
If you have NO experience with meditation, you should start today. This really stimulates your brain activity in a totally different way, you feel relaxed and your brain starts to wonder off. You may not get ideas while meditating (because you shouldn’t think to much), but afterwards or during the coming night they may be flowing in, you better have a pen and paper next to your bed.
I have no idea if this works for everyone, but it works for me, and it seems to be working for A LOT of other people too.
* "Pen and paper". ALWAYS have pen and paper beside your bed, or with you wherever you go, so you can take notes whenever you get ideas. They seem to  fly away as fast as they land, so you better be prepared. And if you`re like me, who wakes up 4-5 times every night, you really should have pen and paper ready. I often write down my dreams, and its much easier to remember if you retell the dreams to yourself every time you wake up.
* Surround yourself with people who actually believe in you and support you. You do not need negativity and people who bring you down while you are trying to be creative and create something. (You don’t need that at all any aspect of your life really). So choose the people you have in your life carefully.
* If you start a company, or work together with other people, be sure to be on the same page when it comes to motivation and the need to finish a project. Choose your partners carefully, they will be your friend/family for a long time, so get along.

These things helps me remember and keep track of my ideas. Things that may seem irrelevant there and then may be something you can use someday in the future. 

As I mention, choose your partners with care. If you don’t have the same motivation to get a project finished, it will most likely never be.

PAX HD, menu

Designing PAX HD!

I wanted to talk a little bit about the design and the concept of our first game on IOS/Android PAX HD!

For those who have played it, you may have noticed it's a really simple game. Not easy to get a high score, but simple to understand and play but still challenging. A game where we didn’t hold your hand through the whole game and explained every little detail to the player, but that the player actually had to find out how they wanted to play the game.

For those who haven’t played PAX HD!, it is a totally free game where you control a little spaceship with your finger, in a "Tetris-like" environment. Your job is to avoid the blocks hurling towards you in an increasing speed while collecting two kinds of Powerups, the "warp speed", which creates a shield around your ship and increase speed for a few seconds, making you invincible. And the "Healthbox" which gives you more life (max 3), but also give you a good score bonus if you already have max lives. As I said, it's really simple to understand, but it's still challenging and you have to find out for yourself what’s the ultimate way to play the game.

The idea for PAX HD! came out of the idea of making a retro kind of game, and we actually based the concept loosely on the game Frogger, where you jump over the street and avoid getting hit by cars. It's actually the same kind of game, only you control a spaceship, collecting Powerups and try to avoid blocks moving towards you, but in a very different setting and style, and of course other elements implemented.

The style of PAX HD! came from being a big fan of "Asteroids" and  "Geometry wars".


Future of Lumi Games

We are working on getting a patch done in 2014 after our next game is out in the App-store. There you will be able to select from a variety of ships. We also have a few ideas on how to make the gameplay a bit more interesting and challenging

As some of you may already know, we at Lumi Games have been developing a game called ParticleBOOM! for a couple of years now. Finally it looks like we are closing in on the light in the end of a 2 year long and dark tunnel.

We are also working on a puzzle game called “Tetra” (working title), where you combine two numbers of the same colors to a larger number to get more points. (Sounds like a game King would have made you say?). It’s a very different game then the regular “Match three candies to get points”-games, Tetra is a fast paced puzzle game that is very simple to understand but REALLY hard to master. Your mission is to remove objects that are hindering other blocks to merge, but you can only remove a certain colored block each time. So there is little room for mistakes.

But that’s how games should be right? Easy to understand but hard to master.


I wanted to take some time talking about what to do and what not to do when you are a freshly started Indie game developer, and I hope you will find it useful.

Some Do`s:
* Save up a lot of money or work part time
* Start a small game as your first game
* If you start a bigger game, you should maybe think about making it a early access game so that you can get paid while developing it
* Look for investors or organizations which can support you financially
* Choose your partners carefully
* Get in touch with other Indie game developers in your country or online so you can build a relationship and maybe get some tips
* Believe in yourself and what you are doing
* Have a plan on how to promote your game. There are thousands of games and apps being developed every day, so why would anyone choose your game or app over someone else`s. 

Some Don’ts:
* Don’t start a Indie game company with the intension of making the new GTA or COD if you are a one man show. (Be realistic)
* Don’t think you will be able to do everything by yourself. You most likely need a good graphical designer, programmer or a marketing guy
* Don’t believe its easy to make a game, so be prepared that its most likely going to take much more time then you think
* Don’t copy other peoples games and think of yourself as a game designer
* Don’t give up. Ever!

You are!

Lumi Games went straight into the trap of  starting a game that was to big, and we are still not done two years after. ParticleBOOM! didn’t actually start out as a huge game, but it soon escalated into one very quickly. We are actually glad it did, because it's a much more interesting and diverse game now then when we started it.

It was actually planned out to be a really small chain reaction game that would have taken about 3-4 months to develop. 

Not everyone can actually afford a game to escalate like PartcileBOOM! did, so one have to be really careful letting it get to that. It can very easily get way out of hand, and you end up never getting it done.

We are working on making small tutorials where we go through the development of a game from sketches to a playable product, both from a programmer and a game designer/graphical artist view.
If our early games will do well enough, this is something we will start doing on a regular basis. I truly hope that's an idea people will find interesting.

I hope you enjoyed my little presentation on how I think and how i get my ideas, and hopefully you find it useful.

Day 13 | Lumi Games

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BiggCMan  +   574d ago
PAX HD looks pretty fun actually, dunno about Particle BOOM.
MrxDeath  +   574d ago
i played PAX HD because the contest and i loved it
so thank you lumi games and n4g
randomass171  +   572d ago
I missed out on that one. Didn't even have a smart phone at the time. Must have been fun though. :(
oasdada  +   574d ago
Thanks for the tips... kinda figured out most of em
Derekvinyard13  +   574d ago
Reading the donts section makes me wonder how many people actually work on a game like GTA
SpeedDemon  +   574d ago
Great tips, I often think about getting into the game making scene.
Lumi_Games_AS  +   574d ago
Thanks guys.
We will post a link to a little video showing what particleboom is all about. Its hard to see just from the pictures, and its abit hard to explain the whole concept. Well, not hard maby, but its easier to show it. Hehe. Its actually pretty basic gameplay, but we focus on having many factors in the game that makes the player play it abit like "they" want to play it. And its actually very tactical, you have to think about alot of things if you want to master the game and reach all the 100 waves (levels) and unlock all the particles. :-)

We are going to the office soon, and then i will give you guys a link to where you can check it out. :-)

I think there is alot of people who think they are going to make the new GTA or COD when they start learning programming or game design. I had a great idea for a mmo in my head before i started studying, but that was waaaay to huge alltho it was a 2d game with a top down view, almost like tibia of anyone of you guys played that game. When i actually started to make games,mand not just the concept of it, i realized that making games is hard work, and it takes alot of time. And as long as we are only 2-3 people, we will make abit smaller games.

Thats great. If you need any help or someone to talk to about making games, you can always contact us. :-)

Thank you :-)
We are going to make a huge update for PAX when particleboom is released. It will make the gameplay more interesting, and you can controll different ships etc.
LukeFair  +   574d ago
I agree with the part where you are talking about companies that copies others. There are too many clones of famous games out there, especially for mobile, and some of them are so similar to the original one that makes me question on how they get those ones published without copyrights infrangements. This makes me sad.. Thank god that there are developers like you Lumi Games out there. Thank you for the tips to stimulate creativity by the way!
shadowvisa  +   574d ago
RexDD  +   574d ago
PAX HD look like my kind of game.
beepbopadoobop  +   573d ago
A lot of good tips in there! Cheers guys!
Lumi_Games_AS  +   573d ago
Here is a link to a little 8 min playthrough of ParticleBOOM!.
Its still wip so it has a few "bugs". And it doesnt lagg like this video show, its just the camera that sucks! Hehe

And i have to say "Sorry" for my english. I hope its bareable ;)
Monster_Tard  +   573d ago
Your English is fine.
Lumi_Games_AS  +   573d ago
Why thank you :)
Monster_Tard  +   573d ago
It's nice of you guys to take the time out to respond to people.
XtraTrstrL  +   573d ago
"Be creative and actually shape and mold your dreams into stories and gameplay. For me it’s not worth making a game if you don’t have a personal attachment to it."

Someone tell that to Infinity Ward and Treyarch. It's ok guys, you don't have to sign with hAcktivision if you don't want for the next run. Oh, it's just about the money now? Alright then, go ahead and make the next unoriginal, non next-gen, unoptimized, force advertisement and p2w filled COD then.
dictionary  +   573d ago
This is how to make good games with simple elements on the screen.
rambi80  +   573d ago
I like the dos and don'ts....can be applied to many other business ventures

Choose your partners carefully - easier said than done
#15 (Edited 573d ago ) | Agree(0) | Disagree(0) | Report | Reply
Disagree  +   573d ago
thanks for the tips, can apply these to just life in general
#16 (Edited 573d ago ) | Agree(0) | Disagree(0) | Report | Reply
Fullmetalevolust  +   573d ago
They are the guys behind PAX HD!?! That's too awesome.
I've invested endless hours into it!
Thanks for making such an engrossing and fun game.
N4G, you are truly introducing us to stellar developers and it's just the middle of the month!!
coolbeans  +   573d ago
Thanks for your effort and being involved in IndieMonth, Lumi.

The do's and don'ts list certainly resonates with practically every kind of business venture.
Darklurkr23  +   573d ago
Geometry Wars crazness w/ Blast factor and other stuff.

till 2morrow
gobluesamg  +   573d ago
I respect these guys for wanting to only create games from original ideas.
Lumi_Games_AS  +   573d ago
Thank you. I believe that thats what exciting about creating somethig. Create something from the ground up and be proud to put your name on it. I would not be proud to scoop in money on lther peoples ideas.
MisterAV  +   573d ago
The second paragraph of this article made me laugh XD
MYDEATH21  +   573d ago
Good luck to you guys! I wish you the best, Keep the great games coming!
Virtua_Awesome  +   573d ago
Thank you for such a detailed article! It's really cool how you get some of your ideas. Meditation must really do wonders for creativity and inspiration for game design. Also, that's a great list of some Do's and Don'ts! I think a lot of devs could stand to listen to that part! :)
yoshiroaka  +   573d ago
Man, again. I really enjoy the advice given and the insight. Definitely gonna try the meditation and dark showers. Very interesting read.
ichizon  +   573d ago
I liked reading about the creative process. Taking a shower in complete darkness sounds a bit scary to me.

Sorry to be such a downer on the other Lumi post, but I'm just being honest with the community. I hope my comments aren't taken too badly by the dev team. I just don't think that these games were feature-worthy. This one was a great article overall, though. Stay strong!
MasterofMagnetism  +   573d ago
PAX HD was pretty fun even though I wasn't very good at it.
longcat  +   573d ago
Not really my kind of game but still interesting.
grashopper  +   573d ago
"Take a shower in complete darkness. This really stimulates your imagination."
And I'll have plenty of time to "meditate" in the hospital after. ;)
mydyingparadiselost  +   573d ago
It's a pretty addictive game.
Mokastro  +   573d ago
interesting read. Might check out PAX.
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