A while back, I was playing a geographically challenging (to me) IF game, but didn’t have any paper. I was playing it on my phone so digital notes would have been difficult and I kept getting turned around.
So, I disgorged the contents of my pockets (Tangent: I’m an anti-litterer. Which is a mixed blessing. If I don’t see a trash can, I tend to just pick it up and shove it in my pockets if it isn’t super wet and gross, which, tangent to the tangent, on sudden introspection, makes me sorta like the stereotypically klepto IF game protagonists. Back to the original tangent, this tends to lead to bulging pockets half or more full of rubbish and other random detritus, because I rarely remember to stop at a trash can to empty out my pockets.) onto the table I was sitting at and, after briefly inventorying what I had, began making a map using various receipts, bottle caps, candy wrappers, broken pens, and other random items.
I actually found this to be both easier and more intuitive than a pen and paper. One, a mismapped or incompletely mapped connection can be fixed by just shifting some stuff around, whereas I’d have to erase or scribble stuff out. Also, not knowing the extent of the map in various directions, I invariably miscenter and incorrectly orient the starting room on my paper (in regards to available real estate on the page) and end up crowding a ton of rooms in tiny hard to read boxes on one side of the page, with the other half mostly empty. Finally, there’s something tactile about it that clicked better in my head than a simple top down 2D map; I found I internalized the game’s geography faster than if I had drawn a map.
I’ve since tried to replicate this at home at my desk (not with trash, my wife would have my head, lol). I tried legos at first, but I found the clicking them together to be a distraction and an impediment to as quickly and fluidly making changes as simply shifting some pieces. I’ve currently settled on lincoln logs, and they work fairly well, but the uniform size of each log is sometimes a handicap. I’m still experimenting; I’m fairly certain my spouse thinks me mad.
ETA: Regardless, I highly recommend giving it a go sometime. It made for a surprisingly different experience. I’m thinking of hitting up a thriftstore and trolling their used board games to vaccum up a variety of various game tokens and whatnot. The lincoln logs will likely stay in rotation, but I think I need some other stuff added in.
ETA x2: Also, it’s just great fun, honestly. I suspect this might be a fun way to collaboratively play IF in person. Like, I currently have sticky notes that I stick on my lincoln log rooms with the name of the room and any random todos or notes, but I’m sure there are a ton of ways to approach this. Does anyone from the TTRPG realm have any intuition or thoughts here?
ETA x3: Hmmm… while technically in reply to this topic, this post has the potential to derail Max’s topic. Would someone please, if they’re willing, yoink this post into it’s own topic? @HanonO @Dannii @Draconis @DavidG @moderators (How many of you are there, anyway?) Much appreciated if you can, no big deal if you can’t. Thank you.
ETA x4: Oh! Yeah… You’re probably going to ask what to name it… uh… “Alternative Mapmaking in IF”? I dunno. Something like that is probably fine.