Great Software for Brainstormng/Plot planning/Puzzle Planning etc

So earlier this week, being a bit at a loss of exactly how to proceed with my game, I decided to give some mind mapping and concept mapping software a try.
After trying out several, I’ve decided this one suits me best. Very flexible, simple, and intuitive. And free!!

The others I’d tested were: FreeMind, vym, and CmapTools (all also free)

Just thought others might get some use out of it as well.
Be well. :slight_smile:


Thanks for sharing!

I used FreeMind in the past, and will give VUE a try too.

I always reach a point where my maps become ambiguous when I try to read them, and I always end up falling back to writing a linear design document for my stories - which suits me well, being technically minded - I still feel like I should plan at least one game using a mind map.

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I have three big projects going. They always seem to grow. I had planned one for an Zilf comp. It didn’t make it for Spring Thing either. Now bumps in the road and the pandemic delayed it beyond IFComp. :frowning:

I use Trizbort for flow charting (mapping). It is perfect for parser based IF. Scrivener keeps everything else organized: notes, research, daily diary, etc.

Next year…


I tried the Scrivner demo. It wouldn’t run. So I’m using yWriter instead. I’ve got a couple other mind-mapping programs I’m’a give more of a try after I’m done with my current game. One thing’s for sure: It has definitely helped me get a good idea of my characters’ backgrounds and appearance etc. Plus lay out the basic plot points as scenes which I can then pretty directly use in Inform.
Vue I’m using just to kinda map out my thoughts. Help me make sense of all the ideas I have in my head.
I too use Trizbort for mapping. It’s freakin awesome. And being able to export Inform 7 code from it can save a lot of time – altho I find I DO need to “fix the code up” the way I like it. Still better than manually writing it all out … and making mistakes LOL

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I have always had good luck with Scrivener. I started using it when it was only available on the Mac. The Windows version is still in development but works on my Win10.

I don’t use Trizbort for its export features. Just the “mapping” ability that is tailored to IF is exceptional.

I have done most of my writing with I6 and I’m trying to learn TADS 3 adv3. TADS is such a rich development system. I7 is incredible but just doesn’t work for me so far. I keep trying…


Trizbort’s ability to auto-map from reading a live transcript while you play is really really kick-ass.


Back in 2014 when I first started thinking about a parser game based on “The Time Machine” I used a program called Scapple to diagram out the locations, characters, and game flow.

In 2020-2021 when I actually decided to write the game for ParserComp 2021 I created a more detailed map using OmniGraffle so I could see what I actually had to build and track my progress.

Might have been overkill and obsessive-compulsive but it helped keep me on track.

Of course, sometimes nothing beats good old pen and paper.


Very nice info on game planning. I am familiar with Scapple and have a license to go with my copy of Scrvener. It works well.

I was not familiar with OmniGraffle. It looks like something I could use. (I am also a closet OCD type.)

However, I haven’t found anything that I like better for parser IF than Trizbort.

Oh yes. I forgot to mention that I use Twine for idea brainstorming and flow charting. In case I haven’t mentioned it before, I believe Twine is brilliant even though I am partial to text based parser.

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I’ve gone really high tech. It’s compatible with Linux, Mac and Windows. For the hardware, I use pencil. For the software, I use paper.

Pencil and paper. You can’t beat it.


Not to nitpick, but I think technically paper is the hardware and the pencil is the software? :thinking: The paper is the storage device, and so hardware. The pencil is the writing/art software.

Anyway, I made a reply before and deleted it, but most of my planning for things is done either in some random text app where I can vomit my ideas and questions onto the screen, or I use something a bit more organized like TiddlyWiki or something that supports standard markdown format.

I do most of it on my phone because I can just pull it out whenever I think of something, but also there’s less pressure on the phone compared to sitting in front of a monitor. It feels less like I’m trying to write a thesis and more like I’m trying to write a post like this one, so the ideas come easier and I’m less judgemental about them.

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Hmm, you’ve obviously thought this through more than I have. Perhaps my greyware needs an upgrade.


The Adventuron creator, Chris Ainsley, created this tool for mapping puzzle dependencies:

It’s based on an older tool called Vizon: Introducing Vizon — Visualize Your Dependencies | by Chris Ainsley | Medium