A work in progress
I've just started work on this page, so it may take a while to come together. If there's not much information up yet, or if there's clearly more to come, you may want to check back later.
About Neko Atsume and Kat Macro
We do have an origin story that is told in our chronicles. Just click onto read it. Many cats are featured for your delectation, and also cheezburgers.
Kat Macro is a member of the Blue Feather Guild.
One of the reasons I wanted to start this wiki page is to share some reflections and suggestions I have about writing for the Ideabox.
My Ideabox record so far
I won't quote every submission I've had approved. Over the next few sections I intend to discuss certain ones which I'm particularly proud of, as well as some ideas I sent in that were rejected. Hopefully these will illustrate some of the thoughts I have about the process of writing for the Ideabox.
At the moment I have had a total of 40 ideas approved as Neko Atsume.
- 1 Correction
- 2 Artifacts
- 6 Quest Endings
- 11 Duel Phrases
- 17 Diary Entries
- 3 Dungeon Phrases
And my alt has had 2 ideas approved.
- 2 Diary Entries
I've recently started writing Earthly News items, so hopefully by the next round of approvals I will be able to add that category to the list.
I'm still learning as I go, and I'm relatively new to submitting ideas. This brings me to the next thing: resources from people who are more experienced and knowledgeable than myself.
If you're new to Ideaboxing, I highly recommend looking these references up. I still find them incredibly useful on a regular basis.
- The Godwiki page on the Ideabox.
I still refer to this page in the Godwiki every day I am writing ideas. It lists variables which can be used. The Godwiki page also details the different categories of News and Phrase types which you can write for. The page also explains the process of what happens to your idea after you submit it.
An Ideabox-orientated community. Hooray! I made an alt just to join it. The Guild Godwiki page has a series of extremely helpful lectures about how to write for different Ideabox categories, written by very experienced Ideaboxers. Go read those, particularly if you want to write Dungeon phrases.
These are some of the general thoughts I have about the process of submitting ideas, with all its ups and downs. I write this to remind myself of what I'm learning, and also in case it's useful to someone else.
Have fun! We're all playing a game. Have fun. Brainstorming is fun. Fun can include the satisfaction of overcoming a challenge, like writing an idea good enough to get into the game. As part of that process I will inevitably experience failure and rejection - and that will only make an eventual success feel even sweeter! If I'm becoming frustrated, disappointed or annoyed because an idea I submitted is getting down-voted, then it's good to stop, take a break, then come back when I'm able to freshly focus on the next idea. And the next one after that.
I try to hold my ideas lightly and not to take rejection personally. I recently noticed that in the current month I had submitted 93 ideas of which 52 were already rejected. That's more than half my submissions. If I got hung up over every rejection I would soon feel miserable or resentful. I would stop having the light and playful energy I need to best brainstorm new ideas. So I try to let go of ideas once they're in the box. Yes, I may still feel disappointment. But I try not to wallow in that and to stay philosophical, because sometimes there's a lot to be learned from failure.
Learning from failure
For instance, my first two rejections were artifacts:
Oops! I slipped up in the app before I finished writing it, and I submitted a fragment which makes no sense. How embarrassing! Thank goodness some people took pity on the idea, so I got 3 yes, and 27 no votes before it was mercifully put out of its misery. Really, I wouldn't have been surprised if it got 0. So then I submit:
Maybe people will get that it's a reference to the Prince song, "Purple Rain"? Oh... Wait. It's a dupe. Well, I admit it's not a very original pun. And when I think about it more a reference to a Prince song won't necessarily have broad appeal. No wonder it gets 3 yes, 26 no before rejection.
Oh well, on to the next idea! Artifact. Let's try another pun.
lion king's speech
21 yes, 78 no. Rejected before reaching the ER. But 21 yes is a LOT more than 3. I can guess that more people will be familiar with "The Lion King" and "The King's Speech" films. So I knew I was learning and improving. At the very least, I managed to submit the whole phrase correctly from the start this time. ;)
What I eventually learned (from repeatedly failure) is that artifacts are very difficult to get approved. A lot of the good ideas have been sent in already. It's one of the earliest categories you can write for, so there's a huge number of submissions flowing in regularly. Once I got ER access I also learned that the criteria to up-vote an artifact in the ER is that a reviewer should think it is "insanely good". If I'm honest with myself, I would be very lucky to have a few "insanely good" artifact ideas over time. Persistence is necessary to come up with something good enough to be approved. The artifacts which I had approved came about only after much trial and error. I still remember thinking of
bonsai family tree (49 yes, 63 no)
when I was on the bus one day. I will jot down ideas anywhere, as inspiration may strike randomly, and I had been thinking about bonsai trees and then wondering what other kind of trees there can be. Eureka! My other successful artifact
electric ukulele (48 yes, 72 no)
came about because I walked by a venue advertising a ukulele festival. I remember wondering if it would be very loud. Hey, you know what would be loud and funny? ... And so on.
I remember where I was when I came up with those ideas because when they arrived in my mind they were very vivid. I immediately felt good about them. Sometimes I feel as if an idea may be successful because it is something I can imagine coming across in the existing game. Purple reigns are a plausible object, but they aren't interesting as an artifact beyond the initial recognition if someone knows the song. But an electric ukulele is funny to imagine, and a bonsai family tree makes me think of a tiny family. I think they were successful ideas because they caught my own imagination more, and odds are better they would also catch someone else's.
Speaking of inspiration...
Find what works for you
Differently things work for different people. Some Ideaboxers like to take their time polishing up initial ideas before submitting them. Others prefer to work in a more quick-fire way, brainstorming a series of ideas and submitting them while the inspiration is fresh. Over time you will find what works for you. It certainly doesn't hurt to experiment and mix things up. The Ideabox Godwiki entry can inspire interesting ideas as you look at the variables and different categories you can write for. Keeping categories in mind can be useful. An idea I got approved and which I'm quite fond of is this diary entry:
I worshipped the Almighty for such a long time that %pet_name% curled up on a prayer cushion and fell asleep. Just look at his little paws twitching in his sleep.
For "While praying". There was a thread on "Wanted Content" in the "Workmen's Area" of the forum that gave me the idea to write for that category. And also I noticed that Kat Macro tended to generate the same diary entries over and over again while worshipping in town. In that round of approvals, I got 8 diary entries accepted on the theme of "While praying".
So it sometimes works for me to pick a category when brainstorming ideas. That helps me explore all the different facets of a senario: what sweet, funny, weird things might happen while the hero's praying? It also improves the chances of my idea getting through the ER with up-votes because it's clearly written for an existing category.
And speaking of the requirements for ER reviewers...
Be realistic in your expectations
Sometimes I have sent in ideas which I already knew on some level weren't likely to succeed. But I sent them in anyway to see what would happen. And guess what? They were rejected.
Being realistic about that means I haven't been too disappointed because I know I'm taking a shot in the dark. So this section is meant to offer a bit of a reality check - not to persuade people to abandon their more quirky ideas, but to encourage the practice of holding those ideas lightly and being realistic about the chance of success.
A list of things you might want to keep in mind:
- If you submit ideas for categories that are very difficult, such as Artifacts and Monsters, and which have a very high threshold for approval - ER reviewers are instructed to only up-vote "insanely good" ideas in these categories - it is reasonable to expect to fail much more than succeed. Patience and persistence may help. Maybe try another category for comparison, or to take a break. (Remember, having fun is the whole point of being here!)
- Earthly News is good for people who like to write short-form ideas, and is easier than Artifacts or Monsters. Diary is one of the most generous categories in terms of people being willing to up-vote ideas. Ditto with Duel phrases, and if you know what you are doing, also Dungeon phrases.
- If your idea requires you to explain the joke in the "Explanation for Voters" section in order for others to get it, will it honestly work when it's in-game without that extra explanation?
- If you submit ideas in categories which have a lot of traffic, such as Artifacts, Monsters and Diary, will your idea stand out when people are reading through sometimes dozens of submissions in one go?
- Keep in mind that you are writing for an international audience. We live in a globalized era, when the internet brings different cultures together. But some ideas aren't readily accessible to everyone. If you write a submission which requires local knowledge to understand, you immediately limit the "yes" votes it can receive. There's a forum thread in the Main Square that asks people where they are from. If you ran your idea past people from that range of countries, would it still make sense?
- The same holds true for references that come from different subcultures, fandoms, books, niche movies, anime, other online sites, games, etc. Just because you love it, doesn't mean everyone else is going to get it. Imagine showing your idea to your parents, a grandparent, a friend, a teacher, a colleague, a random person in the street - would they get it, or would you need to spend time explaining the context or the reference?
I'll give an example of a rejected idea which I sent in, even knowing it was likely to be rejected. It was a Monster idea (possibly the toughest category to crack!)
I qualified my submission with this explanation: "The Shinsengumi were a special Japanese police force, active until 1869." The need to explain was a bad sign. I knew about the Shinsengumi myself by watching anime. But not everyone watches anime, or even the same sort of anime as I do. Would a non-Japanese colleague get the joke? Probably not. Would a friend who wasn't an anime fan or who didn't know some Japanese history get the joke? Nope. There are already Gummi Bear references in the game. But would someone who knows about the Gummi Bears also know about the Shinsengumi? There's references from two different continents in one idea. Ideas stay in the general part of the ideabox long enough for voters from different time zones to get a look at them. So it's not about the audience being too narrow, or not savvy. It is about if the idea will only appeal to a limited audience.
Unsurprisingly, the Shinsengumi Bear was rejected with 21 yes, 81 no votes. Didn't even get close to the ER.
I wasn't surprised. I wasn't particularly disappointed. It confirmed my sense that if I feel myself having to explain the idea as I send it in, I shouldn't expect much from it.
I wish I had a successful example of a Monster idea to give you here, as a counterpoint to that other example, but it's a category I have yet to crack. It'll feel incredibly good to do that one day though, and not least because along the way I've learned much more about what doesn't work!
Here are some little exercises and tips and tricks, some summarized from the general thoughts above, some in addition to those. Some to help you brainstorm ideas, and some to support the process of writing ideas.
- Carry a notebook around with you, or use a notepad app on your phone to jot down ideas. Inspiration can strike randomly.
- Look through the Godwiki Ideabox article. Pick a phrase type or category, like "boss miss" in Duel, "loss of the artifact" in Diary, and so on. Come up with at least 3 different ideas for that category.
- Again, with the Ideabox article, pick out two or more variables that can work together in the same type of phrase, and imagine a senario in which that might happen. Eg: When might a hero refer to both %hero_guild% and %pet_name% in the same diary entry? Do this with 3 or more sets of variables.
- Play the Ideabox Game in the Ideaboxers Union Guild thread or the Main Square of the Forums.
- Be prepared to take a critical stance with your own ideas. If something didn't work, is there anything you can learn from that which will help improve your next submission? If something did work, what do you think helped to make it a success?
- Think about the tone of different types of entries. On the whole, Godville has a lighthearted tone to it, but there are also sometimes entries which are sweet, or sarcastic, or which show a sense of wonder, or which are eerie (some Dungeon Empty Room entries are very evocative), and so on. Can you write a range of different types of entries?
- If you have an idea which you think might work but you're not completely sure of, perhaps jot it down and then sleep on it and look at it freshly the next day.
Watch this space
There'll be more to come in time.