How IF is made (the crazy way)

Whereas if you try to fit the world into the puzzles, you’d end up with uneven world.

I usually begins with the plot/story. Then I see what Rooms/Objects/Persons are involved. Make some kind of lists, and go from there.

So: Plot-Rooms-Objects-Character.

I’d draw the rooms on the map bigger (either yellow pad or index card), so I can fit in objects there. Add ObjectId, and make a list somewhere for properties. It makes for a clean map, albeit a bit ponderous as you go back and forth between maps, objects, and notes.


My technique is not dissimilar. Setting plays a big part. Where the game is set and also when the game is set. Since most of my puzzles are of the medium-sized-dry-goods variety it helps to think about what sort items one might encounter in that place in that time period. I’ll write down a few ideas for objects and often one object will speak to another and suggest a possible puzzle involving both.
Research is invaluable for enriching a setting, particularly when writing a historical game. Primary sources for preference. I didn’t know, for instance, that Victorian balloonists really did take animals and musical instruments up in their balloons with them, that pirates ate flamingos and considered them a delicacy, or what a torsion wrench was. If I’m stuck for ideas I’ll go back to my books and often something will suggest itself.


Fact really is stranger than fiction in so many ways. Even (especially) experiences I have heard people I know describe.