Accumulating Notes/Stuff for a game

I know Scrivener is what all the cool authors use when collecting notes and bits and bobs for a work of fiction of many kinds. I’ve looked at it and I think it’s a bit too involved.

I just acquired Office for Mac, and it has OneNote. Is that the kind of thing I should be trying to do my initial planning of a game in?

Previously I’ve had text documents for just banging out ideas, then I get pictures, and it becomes a folder, and … that sounds more like hoarding than organizing a plot.

I think p. much any program you’ll use is the right one for use. I’ve heard good things about Evernote but personally have not tried it. I’ve tried a ton of fiction planning/outlining software and nothing for me has ever worked as well as a notepad file and folder on dropbox for miscellaney.

I tried Scrivener. It’s fine for screenplays and complex novels, but I’m not sure it works well for IF, unless you’re making a game divided into chapters.

Scrivener has features for that “hoarding” style if that’s what suits you. ain’t nothing wrong with the hoarding approach, it’s how “dreamboards” etc. work. But a folder on the hard drive works just as well if you don’t want an extra bit of software to organize it alongside your text.

when it comes to initial planning, I prefer paper and a pen. Random access, no keyboard or mice in my way, no battery or internet issues, easy on the eyeballs, never crashes (unless I spill tea on it). Also my brain just seems to work more creatively when it’s not at a computer, perhaps because it’s not looking to the medium for input.

If I was designing a very long game or one with a branching plot, I might use Scapple or Twine to create a flowchart. Recently I started doodling up a click-choice game in Twine for the first time, and you know what? I still need my paper and pen, because making little boxes is much too fiddly for the first draft. I need to write an outline first, snowflake it, and THEN start making the little boxes.

I7 now conveniently generates maps on its own, so once I sketch the map on paper, programming it is simple enough. But I am of the school that every room should have at least one thing to look at or interact with, preferably several things, so it doesn’t do to code up the map until you know what you’re putting in it. I have previously made the mistake of creating the game world before creating the game content, and then I’m left with a sprawling map that’s 90% empty. Fail.

I’ve also tried coding the map as I go along, without making a blueprint on paper first, and invariably I have to start moving rooms around and fiddling with it, which screws up the code, and fixing it is a major pain, and testing all the exits is a much bigger pain … so yeah. Map on paper first, where I can see it all at once and get the ideological bugs worked out before they turn into software bugs. No useless rooms, no overcrowded rooms.

When I was making “Nine Lives,” I added rooms as I thought of them, so the first draft of the map had the rooms arranged in a completely illogical fashion that no sane home designer would do. Granted, that particular home isn’t owned by sane people, and I doubt anyone playing the game would really notice if, for example, the kitchen was off a corridor while the bathroom was the central room … but given the chance I’d rather arrange the map properly.

Earlier, my workflow was something about either (1) creating a single giant document which was so big it was impossible to navigate or (2) having a folder with numerous text document so if I wanted to change the name of that mutant bulldog, I had to navigate to the main folder, locate and open npc-chars.odf, change the name of the stupid bulldog, save the document, close the document and navigate back to the document I was editing previously.

With scrivener, I have direct access to all my texts in the Binder. This works quite a bit like the ‘Content’ tab in Inform, only better.

It is possible to use Scrivener as a time-waster, where you are designing the perfect template for interactive fiction instead of actually creating interactive fiction. But besides that temptation, Scrivener is useful if you make a lot of notes and wants a clear overview.

My 30 day trial of Scrivener expired years ago, and I was loath to buy it; I use OneNote for ideas and rough sketches of story outlines (and also a tumblr where I dump cool/cute/pretty/inspiring stuff, scrapbook-style)

I have started to keep track of stat changes/bugs as I write in a spreadsheet- Google Docs to be specific, because it saves it in the cloud. I find that I spend much more time planning than writing - something I need to change! :3

I usually make physical notes in notepads, on A4 sheets, on the back of envelopes etc. Writing interactive narratives and working out puzzle chains and maps all require lots of flow-charts and incidental notes which are easier to draw out on paper than on a computer.

The ADRIFT map designer can be used to draw quite complex branching flowcharts (even in 3-D if you want). I usually create an extra map page that I use to design my puzzle chains and map-out :slight_smile: how various parts of the story interact with each other.
Because each node of this flowchart is actually an ADRIFT room, they can contain detailed notes (including pictures and sound) and I can even store characters and objects into their contents page while I am working out where they should go.

I designed the map of TRANSPARENT entirely in trizbort.