Ideas and suggestions are a very important part of game design but sometimes an otherwise great idea is overlooked because it is not presented well.
Since the line of volunteers was surprisingly short, I figured I'd write up some tips on that.
Mind you, these are not rules
Trying to regulate creativity would be the dumbest idea ever.
All of these are merely suggestions which may improve the odds of your feature sounding cool enough to catch a developer's attention. That's why you went to the trouble of writing it up, no?
- Do not worry about topic necromancy.
If an existing but old topic deals with the area of your idea or something very close to it, do not be afraid to resurrect it.
Ideas have no Best-Before date.
- Use the Search Function. (yeah, you saw that one coming)
Many great ideas have already been submitted. If you can improve upon something or have a great alternative way of handling it, we want to know.
Having several alternative solutions all in one place makes it much easier to take the best parts of all them and design an even better game feature from there.
If the "good bits" are scattered across 5 different topics discussing a similar issue, some inevitably get lost. We do not want your ideas to get lost. Do you?
- If there is no existing topic, don't hesitate to create a new one, either.
Just make sure your topic title describes what you are talking about. This is your topic's business card!
By editing the first post you can also change the topic name at a later time.
Posting a topic like "A few suggestions" in a suggestion forum with several thousand posts... now that's not going to get a lot of attention.
Something meaningless like that doesn't make anyone curious about what you have to say because it's obvious that you didn't spend a lot of thought on it.
- Don't be shy.
Correct spelling or formatting are nice to have but they do not make a boring idea interesting.
Good idea is good.
- Be descriptive.
You have this awesome image in your head about how exactly the feature is going to work? Well, *I* don't.
Explain. Show me.
What controls or menus are you using on your imagined keyboard? How and where are these guns attached to the ship? Can they move? How fast? What's happening if an AI ship does that thing?
It also helps a lot if you do not only describe what you want to do but what you want to achieve by doing so. Very often this goal can be achieved in ways you hadn't imagined.
If you only tell someone that you want to do that, well, that's that. But if you tell him the desired outcome, you make him try to come up with a solution, too.
Such a degree of detail may be understood as insulting in a normal conversation but in feature suggestions it's the best way.
- It doesn't matter if this or that would have to be present in the game for your idea to work. That's someone else's job.
Play the game in your head. If your game feature feels right, it's all good. You don't have to worry about balance. (but it's a plus if you do =)
- Break it up.
If people see a 10+ line paragraph, many just skip it entirely. Too long, did not read.
If you change the subject even slightly, insert an empty line, then continue. (See what I did?)
That makes your post much easier to read and understand.
- Tell me what other cool things I can do with that feature!
No, it's not obvious.
Maybe your idea is a brilliantly simple concept that the AI can use to appear smarter and more "human"? Point. It. Out.
Your readers are not stupid but they are not inside your head, either. Most of 'em anyway.
- Do not be afraid to edit the first post if you think of something new or someone else has come up with something awesome on page 3.
Take it and run with it! This is a team effort. You don't get a prize for having the awesome idea. It's us who get the cool game feature!
- Familiarise yourself with how the BBCode formatting works.
It's not rocket science and a few simple clicks can help you create a good looking post. By creating a good first impression, you can more easily get people to actually read it.
On the screen where you post or edit something, there is a link to the brief summary right under the rows of smilies.
The LIST code has many uses. You can even use it without creating any actual bullet points. Then it only indents the entire enclosed text / paragraphTip: Note that you sometimes need to use two empty lines to get an empty line between bullet points. Because. *shrug*
- If you use links to reference existing suggestions or images, please use text descriptions instead of just copying some gibberish URL into your post.
It looks a lot more professional if people can see what a link is about.
- Example 1, Example 2, Don't Try This At Home, Kids
By sorting your thoughts and breaking a concept up into categories and sub-categories, you let the reader deal with one snippet at a time.
By keeping the reader engaged, you get a lot more feedback about facets of your idea that you hadn't even considered.
Just imagine for a moment how these example posts would look as one continuous paragraph! Would you read that?
If you're creating something extensive, use multiple posts. That creates more structure and you (and readers!) can directly link or bookmark individual posts.
This isn't about driving up your post count or bumping a thread. It's just a lot easier to read and understand.
- And last:
This is the real world. The chance of your suggestion being implemented is a lot better if you figure out a way to create a new feature with a tiny tweak to an existing mechanic... instead of suggesting an entirely new framework for UI, models, and gameplay.
Example 1, Example 2 (not quite as close)