My philosophy on creativity: I wish to design games and their stories with the mindset that each component I create should be fun on their own before they enter the build.
How is this accomplished? Creativity is an iterative process. Small steps, small chunks, small cycles. It bears little satisfaction to start building a house before the foundation has dried, and so it goes with game development, writing, web design, or any other medium where art and science meet at a common goal. This is why I am not shy about posting works in progress. Feedback can be provided before the process is too far along to realize that a fundamental mechanic is broken or bland.
Relying heavily on story, my projects undergo two different paths that occasionally intersect. One is story revision, which can sometimes affect how things are placed in a map, but more often affects how specific quests and plot points play out on a logical and emotional level. Did it make sense for Captain Edrigar to become so dark? Is the enemy truly going to be so black and white about their moral outlook? These are things that can be changed with relative ease later on, . Story is my second language anyway.
Which is why gameplay must come first. The foundation must be built with a thick slab on sturdy, non-shifting ground. Small steps forward avoids showstoppers and other headaches so you can deal with the real showstoppers and headaches when they show up. And this is the beautiful thing: even though we’d all love the ability to do it right the first time, we have an even greater opportunity to explore what we want to build and likely discover something even better than what we thought at the beginning. You know, kind of like going on an adventure outside the adventure. It’s a satisfying and exhilarating feeling.
Questions I ask myself:
What kind of level am I building?
What is the central storyline?
What quest types are necessary to complete the chain?
How big must the mod be in order to accommodate this story? Or, in the case of an established world like Skyrim, how does my mod fit within the context of the world?
Will it require any new scripts or gameplay features?
Could each of the components to this level/mod be fun by themselves?
Can I achieve this with my own efforts or will I need a team?