Brainstorm ideas for your game design project in Milanote

Follow this step-by-step guide to learn the modern process of brainstorming in Milanote, a free tool used by top creatives.

How to brainstorm ideas in 7 easy steps

When a new game design project kicks off, your starting point is often just a rough concept or idea. So how do you transform that idea into something bigger? Brainstorming!

Brainstorming is a classic creative technique for generating new ideas quickly. You can use it to explore visual styles, dream up new characters, worlds, or even the levels you're planning. It’s best thought of as a way to light up our imagination. As ancient philosopher Plutarch said, “The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.”

In this guide, you'll learn the modern approach to brainstorming using Milanote. Remember, the creative process is non-linear, so you may find yourself moving back and forth between the steps as you go.

1. Start with your central topic

What's the central idea or concept for your game? This is your starting point. It might be just a rough idea at the moment or a topic that you want to explore, but this process will help you see how far you can take it. Add a note that describes your concept in 1 to 2 sentences to get started.

How to do this in Milanote
  1. Create a new board for brainstorming.

    Create a new board

    Drag a board out from the toolbar. Give it a name, then double click to open it.

  2. Add a note to describe the concept of your game.

    Drag a note card onto your board

    Start typing then use the formatting tools in the left hand toolbar.

2. Invite people to collaborate

Next, invite others to brainstorm with you. They don’t have to be the people who will execute on the ideas but rather a diverse mix of thinkers. Brainstorming online means they can contribute from anywhere.

Director Joshua Fernandez says "Creativity is not the domain of one single person. Through free-association of thoughts and brainstorming, an accidental suggestion can be the best solution".

How to do this in Milanote
  1. Invite others to add their ideas.

    Invite editors to your board

    Open the "Editors" menu from the title bar of your board. Add email addresses of the people you'd like to collaborate with—they'll receive an invitation via email.

3. Add as many ideas as you can

Now it's time to get creative. Start adding any ideas that relate to your main concept. Think about different parts of your story, game plan and animation styles you could use, characters, or even the history of your topic. Explore every thread until you fill the board.

Don't worry about evaluating your ideas yet, that will come later. Just add as many as you can. Setting a timer for 5 minutes is a great way to create a sense of urgency and prevent people from judging their thoughts.

How to do this in Milanote
  1. Add a note for each idea.

    Drag a note card onto your board

    Start typing then use the formatting tools in the left hand toolbar.

Pro tip:

Don't allow killer phrases like “it’s too expensive, it’s too hard” to derail the brainstorm or judge ideas too quickly. As Alex Osborn said, “It is easier to tone down a wild idea than to think up a new one.”

4. Add inspiring imagery

Sometimes it's easier to communicate an idea with an image, especially if it's a mood or style you're trying to express. Images can define things like character style, font choices, colors, scenes, and more. These can become the foundation for a moodboard as your game evolves.

How to do this in Milanote
  1. Use the built-in image library.

    Use the built-in image library

    Search over 500,000 beautiful photos powered by Unsplash then drag images straight onto your board.

  2. Drag images from your computer onto the board.

    Upload a image or document  

    Click the "Upload file" button or just drag a file onto your board. You can add images, logos, documents, videos, audio and much more.

5. Add motion & sound

You can also use video references to show how animation and game play could work. This is the fastest (and cheapest) way to help your team or client visualize the style you have in your head.

Grab some animated GIFs from Giphy, video from YouTube, or even audio from Soundcloud to help communicate your ideas.

How to do this in Milanote
  1. Embed Youtube videos or audio in a board.

    Embed Youtube videos or audio tracks in a board

    Copy the share link from Youtube, Vimeo, Soundcloud or many other services. Drag a link card onto your board, paste your link and press enter.

6. Evaluate your ideas

Now’s the time for critique. Run through the ideas again, this time critically evaluating them against the original concept.

Ask each person to choose their favorite ideas and explain why. Be prepared to share your thinking and welcome suggestions and improvements. Encourage constructive debate. If an idea isn't dramatically improving the game, put it aside. You can always return to it later.

How to do this in Milanote
  1. Start a comment thread.

    Start a comment thread

    Drag out a comment from the toolbar on the left and place it on your board. Other editors can reply to your comment.

  2. Mention teammates to get their attention.

    Mention teammates to get their attention

    Type '@' in any text field to mention someone who has access to your board. They'll receive a notification and be able to respond to your comment.

7. Finally, group your ideas into themes

Once you've explored tangents and shared feedback, the next step is to make connections. This is where you see the magic of brainstorming.

Start by grouping similar ideas to uncover patterns in your thinking. Add a title to each group so it's easy to scan. You might find your ideas fall into groups like story, gameplay, character, or levels but there are no rules about how you do it. Now you should start to see your initial concept coming to life.

How to do this in Milanote
  1. Drag content to create groups of similar ideas

You're done!

Now that your brainstorming session is complete, you have a strong foundation for your game! Remember, just as creativity and inspiration are constantly evolving, so are ideas. Come back and add to the brainstorm when inspiration strikes.

Use the template below to start brainstorming or check out our full guide on how to create a modern game design document.

Start Brainstorming

Get started for free with Milanote's easy to use brainstorming template.