100 flowers: Getting into the creative mood

Bunch of flowers

Let’s continue with the series of tips for making games.

Today I want to talk about creativity, this elusive lover. I’m going to spare you going through a paragraph talking about confronting a white sheet, and blah blah blah. Let’s go straight to the point: Creativity can be trained, and there are techniques to make your creativity wheels start turning. Today I want to tell you about one of those techniques:

The one hundred flowers technique

This simple exercise can teach you a lot about how creativity works (but please don’t just read about it; Take your time to actually do it). It is quite simple. Grab a piece of paper, a pencil, and draw one hundred flowers. They don’t have to be fancy; take a minute as much for each flower. But you have to draw them one by one, and they need to be different.

After a while you’ll get stuck. But keep going! Soon you’ll start drawing crazy things, out of necessity, and the exercise will began to feel much easier! When you are done, look back to your work. You will be surprised of the result.

You can use this technique to train your creativity, or to wake up your mind a day that you feel that your imagination has left your head for a walk. It does not need to be flowers, it can be, let’s say, robots. But if you prefer robots to flowers, maybe it is better to challenge yourself with the flowers. You can also change the topic from session to session.

So, you are designing a game…

…but today you don’t come up with anything? If you have tried the hundred flowers method before, you can use the same technique here. Grab a piece of paper and a pencil, and draw a hundred characters, or levels, or game ideas… whatever you are stuck with.

The trick here, and the difference to what you are trying to do but don’t quite work, is to make it fast. Don’t bother to make it coherent, do not stop on details, just sketch an idea and get to the next one. Remember, you need to make a hundred!

When you are done, you’ll have a game. I promise you that.

Designing 3D Bird: Achieving innovation

I’m starting today a series of posts sharing tips that we found useful when designing our games. The first one is going to be about how to achieve innovation in games, or other aspects of life.

For the sake of this argument, I’m going to define a metric for being innovative. And, in this case, to be innovative is the same as to be successful: You are being innovative when people using your work find it innovative.

Let me explain myself: Sometimes you do things that, from your point of view, are original, useful, groundbreaking, and in some cases, pure genius. But, since people in your surroundings don’t share your opinion, those things or ideas go nowhere and are eventually forgotten. At least, it’s something that has happened to me many times. However, I’ve done others things, without so much effort, that were just OK in my opinion that, for some reason, everyone seemed to love. We could spend hours discussing many aspect of this -by the way- universal phenomenon. However, since the recognition of other fellow humans is important for the individual in so many aspect, I think that this metric is fair in most cases.

Now, let’s continue:

The way I see it, you can innovate in two ways:

  1. From scratch: Try to think on something that has never been done before. Experiment with it. If it works, try to improve it. After many iterations, if people like it and find it innovative, you’ve achieved innovation.
  2. By copying and mixing: Have a look around you to see what’s in fashion. Select the elements you like. Copy them like the soulless bastard you are, and mix them together. If people like the hybrid monster you made and find it innovative, you’ve achieved innovation.

At this point, you will be thinking that you will be disregarded as a copycat if you use the second technique. But the interesting thing here is that no, it does not happen. People will think something like:

What a simple idea. How is it possible that it didn’t come to my mind before? All the elements were there already, in plain view, but the trees did not allow me to see the forest.

Do you want an example of that? YouTube. I don’t think this one needs much of an explanation.

Do you want another? The iPhone. Really: I saw a video of a phone concept in March 2001 that was, basically, a modern smartphone; six years earlier than the iPhone. Online curated software stores were nothing new either.

A classic example: Who invented the mathematical concept of derivative, Leibniz or Newton? Both of them had a real argument on their time disputing the authorship of such an important innovation. But the reality is that, at the time, the mathematical tools to define derivatives were there, and if none of them would have come up with this concept, another mathematician would have had not so many years after.

My point today is: Both techniques are valid, since both of them can lead to similar results. But the copying and mixing technique is easier.

Case of Study: 3D Bird

We used the from scratch technique to made Photon Rush. It was hard, took quite a long time and experimentation, and I feel proud of the result. Many people I respect said that the game is original in its conception.

We used the copying and mixing technique to design 3D Bird. After some minutes of thinking (because we wanted to make a Flappy Bird clone with some twist), I remembered this video from Freddie Wong:

And so 3D Bird was born. It took just minutes! And after 48h we were pushing the game to the stores. I feel like a copycat here, but really, nobody care about what I think. What is important is what people think, and there are many people leaving us comments like:

I’m tired of so many Flappy Birds clones, but this one is crazy and original!

Original? Well, they say so. So… it’s might be!

And anyway, it’s the game that’s paying the bills. Heck, we need to pay the bills to make games!

Juegos sevillanos para esta semana santa

Estamos ya en plena Semana Grande de Sevilla. Y no sólo estamos ya metidos de llenos en la Semana Santa, sino que además parece que este año el tiempo va a acompañar. Esto significa muchas procesiones, mucha gente, y muchos momentos únicos, tanto para los que les guste disfrutar de la Semana Santa sevillana como para los que prefieran darse una escapadita.

Parejo a las procesiones vienen las esperas, y los tramos interminables de nazarenos. Para estos momentos, y entre caramelo, estampita y bocata, pueden ser ideal sacar el teléfono y echar una partidita, sea sólo o retando a un amigo, a algún juego rápido pero divertido. En Corta Estudios os invitamos a todos a probar nuestros juegos porque:

  • Nos encanta que la gente juegue a nuestros juegos.
  • Creemos que se ajustan a la perfección a los momentos mencionados anteriormente.
  • Y sobre todo, nosotros SOMOS DE SEVILLA. Y aunque sabemos que nadie es profeta en su tierra, nada nos gustaría más que ver a nuestros vecinos sonreír por nuestro trabajo.

Así que ya sabéis, si queréis probar este pasatiempo mientras apoyáis a la modesta pero incipiente industria sevillana del videojuego, echad un vistazo y alguna partidita.

 3D Bird

Este es nuestro juego de más éxito. Cuando retiraron de la tienda el complicadísimo, simple y frustrante pero superexitoso Flappy Bird, la comunidad de desarrolladores independientes mundial hicimos una fiesta en la que todos hacíamos una versión del mismo. A la nuestra le hemos dado un buen giro de tuerca: Es en 3D, es trepidante, y el recién estrenado modo aventura tiene obstáculos loquísimos.

Descarga gratuita:

Photon Rush

Este es nuestro juego favorito. Un infinite runner modesto pero que ha tenido muy buenas críticas. Eres un fotón viajando por el espacio subatómico y esquivando obstáculos a la velocidad de la luz. No ves los obstáculos a no ser que uses energía para iluminar el camino, así que procura administrarla bien, porque el juego es cada vez más rápido.

Descarga gratuita:

Tenemos otros juegos de escritorio, que son más adecuados para PC. El domingo de Resurrección, cuando ya no haya pasos (o antes, si no salís a verlos), podéis verlos todos en nuestra web.

¡Gracias y feliz Semana Santa!


Here we go

Hi guys,

«Who are you?», I hear you scream. Well, we are Corta Studios, a small indie video games studio from Seville, Spain, and this is the first post of our blog.

Here, at Corta Studios, we have been working on video games since last summer, first making peripatetic meetings, Socrates’ style, and later developing some ideas we arranged on those walks by the old town of Sevilla. The first game we developed was an experiment related to the use of chatbots in video games: Turing Planet.

Turing Planet

Turing Planet is a web game where you have to play against another player and you have to find him among many chatbots, and he has to find you. The game had a pretty good acceptance on the first days, as it appeared on the Hacker News front page. We even had the chance to play with the creator of the technology we used to build the chatbot behaviour! We might do a post about this experience soon.

Recently, we released another game, Photon Rush, which can be played under Windows, Linux, Android and Windows Phone.

Photon Rush

Photon Rush is an infinite runner game. A light photon moves forward through the subatomic space and you have to avoid obstacles. You don’t see what’s coming unless you spend some energy to turn the lights on, but you can run out of energy. Don’t worry, there are energy balls along the way.

In this blog we will post our experiences, updates about our games and general video games stuff. Yes, video games are our passion and that’s what we are willing to spend our lifes with.

See you soon!