This is a cross post from the critically acclaimed author, developer and creator Nathan Meunier. Thanks Nathan!
Inspiration for your game dev projects can come from a lot of different places beyond playing other peoples’ games. If you’re like me, you probably spend quite a bit of time browsing the Internet for images, websites, music, and other resources to kick your creative juices into high gear. Finding a good way to keep all of this digital data organized can be a challenge, but I’ve found that Pinterest is a great solution.
Why Pinterest is a Game Designer’s Best Friend
Until recently, I’ve struggled to keep track of all the images, websites, and resources I amass during my research deep dives into Google Image Search. That’s a great way to find visual reference material, stumble upon themes to weave into your project, or uncover other helpful resources.
Bookmarking all of these links and images using the old-school browser method proved a messy, unreliable way to catalog them. I’d often lose track of things and waste precious time scrolling back and forth through the list only to be unable to find the link I was searching for. Frustrating.
Over the past few months, Pinterest has completely changed and streamlined my creative workflow, and it’s been an awesome shift. I was a reluctant adopter at first, because I don’t have time for another social media thingymawhatsits, but it’s become my go-to tool for cataloging images, ideas, and inspiration for some of my games-in-progress. Here’s why:
- It’s a visually-driven search engine for finding and organizing cool stuff – I’m always hunting for art and images that I can draw inspiration from to inform my approach to designing my games. Whether that’s UI elements, characters, settings, or just overall visual flavor and color patterns, Pinterest is jammed full of the stuff, and it makes it easy to find.
- It’s more than just images – Pinned items always have a strong visual component, but they’re also tied to websites that can lead to interesting resources or other helpful links. You can just keep the images around to look at, or pin things from sites you want to remember to visit again in the future.
- It lets you organize pins into groups called Boards – This is huge. When you pin something to your account — whether it’s from grabbing a cool pin someone else made or from creating your own – you have the option to pin it to a specific board. Boards are essentially themed groups of pins, and you can have as many boards as you want and name them whatever you like. I use boards to help separate and organize my pins — by theme, project, or specific use. You can also create secret boards, BTW. These are handy if you want to organize your pins out of the public eye (I use secret boards for super secret ninja projects – obviously).
- Creating pins is easy – You can take any image or website and create a simple pin for it in seconds using the Pinterest plugin for Chrome, which is awesome. I use it often, and it streamlines the pinning process. With the plugin engaged, I can click once on any image I stumble across anytime I’m browsing and pin the image (and the website it’s from) directly to one of my boards for safe keeping. That’s REALLY handy, because I always know where to find it. Or, if I forget about it completely, it’ll eventually pop-up again when I browse my boards for inspiration.
- It’s a social media site, too – I don’t use Pinterest for the social side of things as much, but you can follow people on Pinterest, follow their boards, and interact in other ways. When you follow a person or a board, their pins will show up in your main feed when you fire Pinterest up each time. It works much like Facebook or Twitter, and it can be a useful way to get new ideas from people you find interesting or share common interests with. If you like, you can follow me or check out my various boards here.
- Pinterest feeds you a steady drip of fresh content based on your current pins – Once you pin stuff, the site finds new pins for you that are similar to your existing pins. These pop-up in your main feed from time-to-time, and you can add them to your boards or ignore them.
Using Pinterest for Game Design
For me, Pinterest is a great centralized place to quickly dump content into neat and tidy buckets that I can go back to again and again to gain ideas and inspiration from when I’m spinning my tires on a game project. In addition to my bigger upcoming game Nuclear Golf with my studio Touchfight Games, I’m also working on several personal game projects as I have time. Pinterest has been incredibly useful throughout the creative process of designing and evolving my solo work.
Below, here’s a screen grab from a creepy board I’ve created for inspiration on a project I’m working on — a spiritual successor and re-imagining of my interactive fiction horror dungeon crawler, This Book Is a Dungeon.
I most often create boards to serve as thematic springboards for aspects of games I’m working on. The board above, for example, serves a few different purposes: I’m using it both for visual layout ideas for a card-battling aspect to the project I’m working on (no official title yet), though I also use it for atmosphere and to get into a creative mood that helps me get into the flow when I’m designing art, encounters, story bits, and even mechanics.
Take a few seconds to browse through that board, and you’ll get a pretty immediate vibe — that’s the power of Pinterest. When I need inspiration, I’ll throw on some music (Deafheaven has been on heavy rotation of late) and start browsing through my Pinterest boards. Within minutes, I’m usually able to hit the ground running and create some interesting content for my game.
It’s become a key part of my creative process — one of several elements I’ll explore in future posts. If you’re a game artist or designer who hasn’t tried out Pintest, it’s definitely worth checking out as a tool for generating and organizing ideas to weave into your work.
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