So you want to make a hyper casual game, but you can’t come up with an idea. We’ve all been there. Luckily, there are some strategies that you can use to make coming up with hyper-casual game ideas as easy as 1-2-3.
Today, we’ll talk about the best ways to come up with game ideas as an indie developer. We’ll also show you how to apply these strategies to help you overcome the dreaded game dev block that many new game creators encounter and how to jumpstart your creativity in the process.
All of these tips can be applied to help you come with killer hyper casual game ideas and any idea in general. They’re that good!
Ready to learn how?
The Basics of Model & Improve
The ‘Model & Improve’ technique is our secret system for coming up with incredible hyper casual game ideas. It’s also the same proven strategy that many other devs and entrepreneurs use to brainstorm winning ideas. As Trey discusses in the video, modeling and improving is getting inspiration from other sources and finding ways to improve upon them. You’re not cloning or stealing the concept; you’re just using it as the base for your idea. Then you add, remove, and find various ways to make the game better until you have a completely new game concept.
All the uber-successful games are based on a proven game mechanic. Similar to the tapping action in Flappy Bird that’s now in many of the top avoidance style games. When you apply the model and improve technique, you’re automatically building your game around a gameplay concept that works and players enjoy. Adding a level of familiarity to your game that you might not have had if you were trying to come up with an idea from scratch.
Familiarity makes it easy for players to pick-up on how to play. Making your game familiar but unique is also one of the important features publishers want in your game if you decide not to work them. The model and improve method is a quick way to create a game that’s familiar to players but still unique.
Choosing the Right Reference
Now that you know the best approach for coming up with creative game ideas we’ll dive a little deeper into how you can use it. As Trey pointed out in the video, choosing the right reference is key. For success, you need to build your game concept around a current trend. Trending games are good references to use because these are the games that people are actively searching for in the App Store.
Trying just to wing it is one of the top things you should never do when making games. It’s important to do your research by analyzing hyper casual games that are currently trending. Every indie developer should know how to do this. If you have a specific theme in mind, you can narrow down your App Store search further to only the titles within that particular genre.
For those with no clue what type of game you want to create, look through all the top trending games (i.e., Top Charts, Now Trending, Top Games This Week). Think about what’s working now.
When you’re checking out the games, really examine them. Look at the ratings and read the reviews. Google online to see if you can find more information. Dig deep. Ask yourself, “does this popular game inspire me?” If it does, consider it as a potential reference.
Once you have a general concept that you’re leaning towards, select one or two games that you want to use as a reference. Choose the games that stand out to you but also feature the gameplay mechanics that you’d like to base your hyper casual game ideas around.
Playing with Purpose
To come up with awesome hyper casual game ideas you have to learn how to play with purpose. This technique is used whenever you’re trying to analyze or reverse engineer an app. Your primary goal is to figure out what is working well in the game and why. You need this information to help you in the brainstorming process. Playing with purpose will guide you in the right direction to find the answers that you need.
Play the game twice. The first time you begin to play, pay close attention to the gameplay and level design. Quickly jot down anything that stands out to you. During the second playthrough, look for those little details in their game design that add to the player’s experience. As you play, continue to take notes.
How to Make it Uniquely Yours
When you’re applying the ‘Model and Improve’ technique, you should never copy or steal. Always aim to improve and build out the game to make it uniquely yours. You’ll have a game that players will enjoy playing plus you’ll be safe from any legal trouble.
When you’re trying to come up with hyper casual game ideas using the ‘Model and Improve’ method, there are a few questions you must always ask. The first is ‘How can I improve upon this?’ Try to think hard. What can you do to not only make a specific part of the game better but also different? Consider what hasn’t been done yet. Then think about ways you can implement it that players would like.
Color Switch creator, David Reichelt, made his hit game in one week using this type of technique. It’s easier to do than you think. Try to break down the gameplay aspects, design, UI, and theme of your reference game. Then try to sit down and brainstorm ways you can make it better and add your own flair to it. Ask yourself, ‘What can I do to make this cooler?’ It might be adding crazy characters, better game art, or adding polish to give it that extra edge.
Also, if you’re ever unsure if you’ve modeled a game too closely, play both of them and compare. You can also ask a friend or find some beta testers to give you their honest opinion and feedback on the game.
More Tips for Brainstorming Hyper Casual Game Ideas
You can find inspiration sources from more than just indie games. Being aware of your surroundings can also get those creative juices flowing. You can literally draw inspiration from anything, especially the core mediums like movies, TV, artwork, books, and music. All it takes is one sound or image to click and bring about a new idea. For example, 80’s music or an album cover could spark a retro arcade idea that could be a huge success. You could be inspired by an artist’s masterpiece like the devs at USTwo, who created Monument Valley to look and feel like a piece of interactive art. Hyper casual game ideas can come from anything.
Another tip that you can follow to help come up with hyper casual game ideas is creating an idea journal. Keeping a game idea journal will not only prevent you from losing your great ideas, but it’ll also enable you to finish your game faster. If you’re making games as a solo indie dev, having this type of journal around can be a life-saver. During the brainstorming process, you’ll often have to cut and change things until you come up with a concept that works. Trey mentions this in the video when he relates his demo to pruning the things that aren’t working.
In game development, it’s common to hit the reset button. The secret is to have a strategy to help you stay motivated and organized to ‘demo’ and continue building. A game idea journal is a perfect tool for this. You can use any note-taking app on your phone or go old school and keep a pocket-sized notebook handy for whenever a killer idea strikes.