I think inspiration works differently for everyone. What works for me might not work for you. I know a lot of creatives talk about having a muse - It's sort of an outdated idea now, but back in the day, you used to hear about it all the time. I think I remember hearing the term most often on TV, when an artist would tell a woman she was his muse, that source of inspiration that helped him finish his work.
There are a lot of things I don't understand. Runner's high, for example. That feeling you get when you've been running for a long time, and eventually the pain goes away and you're left with raw energy and a feeling of euphoria. I've never gotten that. Maybe I just don't run enough.
But having a muse is actually one of those weird abstract concepts that I actually understand. I have a muse, and it's definitely the source of all my creative energy. It's almost like a faucet that's usually turned off, but once it gets going, ideas just come flooding out.
For me, inspiration comes from a combination of two things I love - walking and music. I walk a lot, usually about 6 miles a day, as a way of getting exercise at the end of the day. I live in Florida, so it's tough to go out during the day. I like going out at night, when nobody else is around, and I can lose myself watching Youtube videos. The goal is to stop thinking and just let my body move.
But sometimes, I prefer to think while I walk. I'm always listening to music, and I generally find music really inspiring. It helps set the mood for whatever I'm experiencing, so to speak. When I find myself looking for new ideas, I'll put on some appropriate music, head out for a walk, and just kind of slip into my own head.
I'll let the music carry my thoughts, and eventually arrive at a scene for Chromatic Hue. The best way to describe it is I can see the characters in my mind's eye, and I'll watch these scenes just sort of play out. I can force it a bit, when I need to, by concentrating on a particular idea and playing the appropriate music.
For example, last week I went for a walk in the nature center by my house. I wanted to come up with enemies to add to Chromatic Hue, and I was feeling particularly inspired from playing old Sonic games on my Switch. So, I loaded some music from Sonic games on the Genesis and started walking. Before long, I started to sort of "see" these ideas for enemies in my head.
That's how my process usually goes. To be honest, the ideas phase of game design is my favourite. I love brainstorming and coming up with new concepts.
Like I said above, I don't think this method would work for everyone. I think the reason my method works for me is because it combines two things I love, music and walking, and gives me a space to be totally alone. I'm able to let my mind wander, yet still think critically. It's a weird balance, but it works.
I don't ALWAYS want to think, though, and that can be tough. Sometimes the faucet starts pouring out ideas whether I want it to or not! The act of brainstorming can actually be pretty exhausting in its own way, it leaves me very depleted creatively. So, if I know I have to podcast later, or want to work on a project other than Chromatic Hue, I often find myself distracting myself with the aforementioned Youtube videos.
I also can't make this method work for myself if I'm feeling sad or angry. I have to be in an okay place, or I can't let my mind wander enough to start brainstorming. It's sort of like accessing that place where you finally feel yourself slipping off to sleep. It's impossible to do if your brain is full of negative thoughts.
Still, I'm thankful for the ability to "commune with my muse", or whatever you want to call it, as I continue to work on Chromatic Hue. I don't think it has to be related to just creatives - I think most people would benefit from finding that place where they're both thinking and not, where they can let their mind talk to them freely, without effort.
- Lukas Termini