How the heck are people creative?

I’ve been on this site for a while and given feedback on a lot of WIPs, but never made any choice script games on my own. Part of that is because I can never seem to wrap my head around coding without starting to nod off, but another important part of it is that I just don’t see how people manage to be creative. Pretty much every idea that comes into my head is for a modification of something else I already have experienced in a story.

"Jeez, it’d be cool if Madame Vice were a potential love interest in Heroes Rise or at least a more important character considering how rarely characters like her get any real development and how often a female character’s humanization seems inversely proportional to her sexualization.
“I wish I didn’t have to act like a sociopathic megalomaniac in Choice of the Dragon. I mean sure, I’m a princess kidnapping flying monster, but that doesn’t mean I’m a monster,”

How the heck do people manage to come up with so many ideas that don’t just seem like “This thing, but different.”


Shrug…inspiration ? some peoples get more of it when they talk about their own ideas with others peoples . Sometimes they don’t have ideas , but reading others will trigger them .

take your pick .

I’m on that boat about the code . Making a story isn’t an issue for me (got a couples that are finished , and 3 on the burner)…but thinking about the coding part…and I’m really dreading it…:persevere:

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For me, it’s less about the “different,” but more on the “this thing,” if that makes sense.

First, you come up with what you want to write. Char-driven romance? Survival adventure? Military intrigue? There’s endless stuff you can think of, so don’t start basic. Think bizarre and unorthodox.

Once you got the groove, the idea will simply ooze from your mind smoothly.

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No see that’s what I’m asking. How do you not do “this thing, but different?”

Nothing is ever original, so everything is essentially “this thing, but different.”


Well, come up with what you want to write. What do you want to write.

My flowchart basically goes like this:

  1. I’d like to revive the old CYOA gamebook, refreshed with some modern tropes. So the basic plot is the Chosen One going around the world.
  2. I’d like my own plot-twist, so I come up with a… um, a mind-blowing twist :smiling_imp:
  3. Then I build the setting, the world. Worldbuilding! Since I’m an ocean engineer, I’ll borrow some materials about ocean heavily in my worldbuilding. But I also like fantasy, so throw in some magic crystals. Hey, and if you’re a physics nerd like me, you may find cool physics concepts at play even in my fantasy-magical world, so I have a science-fantasy world.

And you got the move going.

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Tell us your secret.,…TELL US!!! :smile:

Yes, technically true, but art is subjective.

But what does subjectivity have to do with your question?


Fear of unoriginal ideas tends to hamper a lot of people, and lack of “originality” or “creativity” (I use the quotes because I think nothing is truly original or creative) doesn’t stop you from telling a good story. By all means, write “thing but with a twist” if that’s what you have an idea for. It doesn’t have to be completely out-of-this-world different.


so true…:pensive:

Yeah, there are literally no original plots now, and all general kinds of characters have been created at this point. All us authors can really do is put our own little twists on things and try to set our stories apart by making the writing and characters as strong and interesting as possible.


I think it’s actually very rare to come with a completely original idea, I think pretty much almost all CoG games here drew inspirations from something else for a bit.

For example let’s say you write a random fantasy game that has elves, dragons and demons. Just including them already means you got inspiration from something else since these type of creatures are not your original creations.


Creativity is just that. It’s more about coming up with something that has been done before, in some shape and form and putting your own touch on it. You’d be hard-pressed to find something that is truly, absolutely ‘original’. David Bowie came up with the idea of Ziggy Stardust from Vince Taylor and costume designer Kansai Yamamoto and combined them in his own way through his music and antics. Picasso came up with ‘cubism’ inspired by Paul Cezanne’s treatment of forms. Note that both these ideas are/were considered to be ‘original’. Writing is a form of art, as much as music and painting and it works the same way as far as I’m concerned; and any and all art is a reincarnation of something that has been done in some way, somewhere, sometime.


I mean, objectively everything is “this thing, but different”.

The hero’s journey has been told countless times, but each time has been a little bit different, but no less entertaining.

Harry Potter, Star Wars, fucking Shrek are all technically examples of the monomyth, but you wouldn’t see it that way because that’s where the ‘but different’ part really shines.

The similarities in stories are there because humans are intrinsically attracted to familiarity, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, we’re just built that way, but it’s the little differences that make things so memorable.

Don’t be afraid of unoriginality—it’s literally impossible to be original, objectively speaking—just make sure that the little differences help the story work in the way you want it.


I’m not asking how people make things that are completely original. I’m asking how people make things that don’t seem like they’re completely unoriginal.

Well then…in that case, the only answer is, in actuality, subjectivity.

Creators are intimately aware of their own creation, they can see the flaws in their work better than any critic (the good ones, at least). This includes seeing the similarities between their own work and other’s, but this is entirely subjective. What the creator sees and what the audience sees are, oftentimes, two completely different things, because they each come at things differently.

The creator can be blinded by the work’s inception and inspirations, enough that they believe that their work isn’t original enough, but fail to realize that the audience generally won’t be thinking of their work in relation to other work (unless the work is a parody, then it is necessary).

For the most part, audiences will only be reacting to the finished product, independent of the creator’s sources of inspiration. They will take the work, not quite in a vacuum, but they will not look at a work and think, “Hmm, I see traces of this, this, and that,” they will usually think things like, “Oh cool! It’s just like in this, but better!”

Preoccupation with originality is the curse of the author and only the author, fans and audiences generally won’t give a crap as long as it’s enjoyable, and most of the time, might not even notice anything.

edit: @shoelip Would you be averse to a little exercise?

Would you mind telling me your favorite CoG game (or top three, if you can’t choose, lol)?


I don’t think your dragon idea is really completely unoriginal.
Let’s say you’d make a game about a dragon and call it “Life of a Dragon” or some other name

The game will start with you hatching from the egg and growing to develop your powers, later on you’d live in a society of dragons, battle human hunters and even shapeshift into a human and go on an adventure.

It’s actually a pretty original idea and I don’t think I’ve seen a game like that before.

The goal is to be analytical and critical enough of your own premise to find where you can differ it, whether it is smoothing out the welds of the various parts or giving it a nice coat of paint.

For instance, the initial concept phase I had of The Imperial Shadow can be summed up as: “What if I made Cold War spyfiction in a fantasy Middle Eastern setting? Alright, that’s a start. Since Cold Wars revolve so heavily around a bipolar struggle, how about I make it a four-way struggle, for more dividing lines and breaking points? Now, magic…” and so on. Take your idea and go over it with a fine toothed comb. And above all, if an idea isn’t one hundred percent original, don’t worry.

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Yeah, this pretty much sums it up. Essentially, the difference between something that’s creative and something that’s original is just HOW different they are from the things that inspired them.

For instance, Harry Potter was clearly inspired by books like The Wizard of Earthsea and The Worst Witch, and The Hunger Games has an extremely similar premise to Battle Royale… So, it’s not the plot that makes them original, it’s everything else.

Let’s take Lord of the Rings as an example… Now, if I wrote a fantasy book about a halfling who had to destroy a magic ring in order to save the world, that would be very unoriginal. But let’s say it wasn’t a fantasy book. Let’s make it… sci-fi! And obviously, a sci-fi game can’t have hobbits in it, so it should be about an alien. And I don’t think they’d have magic rings in a sci-fi universe, so we need something else that threatens his people… A virus! A deadly virus that’s wiping out his entire planet! … Oh! But what if, instead of completing the mission and saving the planet… The alien actually fails? How about, the alien does discover a cure for the virus, but by the time they get back… The entire planet has already been wiped out! The little alien and his team are the only survivors left! What a twist! :scream:

So, from a story about a hobbit who goes out on a quest to destroy a magic ring and save middle earth, I now have a story about a little alien who goes on a quest to find a cure for a deadly virus that is wiping out his planet… Who fails to find the cure in time and comes back to find his entire species has been wiped out. Even though they share a similar plot of “we have to go on a quest to destroy the evil thing”, they’re still both two completely different stories.

Basically, it’s fine to draw inspiration from something else, so long as you make enough changes that you’re actually writing your own story, and not just copying someone else’s.