Ideaboarding Grow Your Garden

The first step in building any game is figuring out how to take an idea and make it into something that people will want to play.  Our upcoming game, Grow Your Garden, started as a simple idea – teach basic arithmetic using differently sized buckets of water.  But that’s just a test – arithmetic puzzles by themselves aren’t fun and they certainly aren’t game-worthy.  So how did we take grow that idea into an engaging game that kids around the world will enjoy and learn from?  Ideaboarding.

Whiteboard for Grow Your Garden
Ideaboarding Grow Your Garden

Ideaboarding is a great way to work on ideas – find a whiteboard, write or draw the main concepts, and start experimenting with what the idea would actually look like.  For Grow Your Garden, ideaboarding involved a few steps:

  1. Settle on an idea.  Our original idea wasn’t the best one, but it had elements we wanted to use.  With some group brainstorming, we found a pivot (watering a garden) that worked well.
  2. Draw the idea.  It took a few tries to find objects and a game world that wouldn’t be completely boring.  Remember – if you can’t draw your idea on a whiteboard, it’s probably too complicated to work.
  3. Play the idea.  We drew arrows, waved our hands, and talked our way through a few levels of Grow Your Garden before all the kinks were worked out.
  4. Expand the idea.  Once we had the basic gameplay and setting down, we added on potential levels, characters, and an achievement system.
  5. Save the idea.  We erased everything that didn’t work and recorded what was left – the core of Grow Your Garden.

Of course this isn’t the only way to go about planning your next app or game.  For example, you could go with more traditional wireframing if you have a clear idea of what you want and plan to have multiple developers.  How to Make iPhone Apps posted a good article on how do this if you’re interested.

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