“Don't follow in the footsteps of the ancient masters; seek what they sought.” -- Matsuo Bashō
In my previous post, I made reference to films "quoting" other films, which made me think of some advice I've heard given to musicians several times: find out who your influences listened to; who influenced them? And then find out who influenced those influencers, tracing the lineage of your music.
The same should be true for game makers - what games influence you? Who made them? Who and what influenced those makers? What were they trying to achieve?
Doing so can be a vital way of understanding your genre, what you're building on, what's come before, and what you can make of it now: your own thing, with reference to what's gone before.