Inspiration for stories?

Hey, I was curious: where do you guys get your inspiration when writing interactive fiction? I’ve been looking to write a story, but you know how it is: the idea, she flees.

I found a couple of intriguing potential sources of inspiration (a Tumblr all about writing prompts, a Netflix-style subgenre generator), but I figured I’d tap you all for thoughts too.

Comb through the Shufflecomp playlist submissions when the competition is over.

At the moment all my ideas come from the combination of a concept (a central mechanic like the linking in Emily Short’s Savoir-Faire) and a basic story (which tends to be inspired in some way by something I read). I’ve never actually finished a game, but I have three WIPs going.

Generally, the problem isn’t getting ideas: it’s getting the ideas to work.

Oooh, I saw this competition before. I will definitely give this a look.

Yeah, I’ve run up against that enough times with my own endeavors in other mediums. Still, you have to have the idea first before you can make it work!

Varies wildly for me. For my three best-known games:

“Beet the Devil” - I was browsing Baf’s Guide to the IFDB. My eye fell across “Beat the Devil” and “The Beetmonger’s Journal”, and the titles mashed together in my brain. I looked back and figured it out, but then I started wondering, what would that game be like? So I wrote it.

“One Eye Open” - This game evolved via collaboration. Originally, Colin Sandel (inurashii) and I wanted to write a supernatural romance! But we got stuck on the question of how to have realistic, emotion-inspiring NPCs despite the limitations of a parser IF medium and the constant risks to mimeses. As we discussed further, the concept metamorphosed rapidly, and eventually it turned into something neither of us could have produced on our own. (In final form, OEO is an incredibly gory psychic horror game.)

“Ollie Ollie Oxen Free” - I have no idea where this came from. I wish I knew. The basic concept for OOxF manifested in my brain midway through a workday, and by the time I went to bed, I had the map, most of the characters, core puzzle structure, and major mechanics on paper. My momentum was so high at that point that I just had to keep going. If I could get inspiration like this on cue, I would be incredibly happy.

Agree with this entirely!

Darn near anything can be a game idea, if it’s developed properly. But figuring out what “properly” looks like is another matter entirely.

I usually have strong beginning sequences in mind. The hard part is filling the story to completion.
I tend to use 2 different approaches :

  1. I design on-the-go. Awakening was pretty much done like that. Awesome for the setting, lame for story and gameplay.
  2. i find time alone (usually when skiing by myself on long, deserted slopes) and “play” the movie in my head. Good for the plot and gameplay (as seen in Apocalypse), bad for originality because I usually end up with worn-out tropes.

The eventual third options has me thinking it over and over and pointlessly wasting ages concluding nothing. I have at least to big games in mind that are simply going nowhere.

As pointed out elsewhere, this is worth a look: