I’m not very good at plotting, but I think I’ve got the rough structure of my first piece of IF (as well as the characters and setting, but that’s not what this post is about). I was hoping to get some critiques. Anyone up for it? Also, if anyone is interested in collaborating on this piece, let me know.
Act One: Initial Exploration
At the start of play, the player has three interesting leads to explore. They can do so, discovering backstory along the way, or they can just wait. Regardless, after a certain number of turns, the act automatically ends when the player character and all NPCs are mysteriously turned into animals.
During this act, the player can find out about a deceased character that the player character of whom the player character has many good memories.
Act Two:Player as an Animal
The player is unable to communicate with the animal NPCs, who seem not to have retained their minds. The room descriptions change to accommodate the player’s new perspective. Objects that the player must actively search for as a human (for example, by looking under a bed) are now visible by default. Completing the main puzzle of this segment returns the player to human form.
Act Three: The Meat of the Puzzles
Each NPC can now be returned to human form by solving a specific puzzle. Once a certain number of these puzzles are solved, this next act begins.
During this act, the player can uncover less pleasant information about the remembered character.
Act Four: Red Herring
This act begins with a randomly selected rescued NPC telling the player character a secret which seems to point to the cause of recent events being related to one of the three leads from Act One. All of these leads are about events outside the area to which the player has until now been confined. The outside area now becomes accessible. There, the can investigate any one of the three original leads, not just the one mentioned by the random NPC. Once the player reaches a point at which it seems their avenue of inquiry has provided a definitive explanation and a solution for the current problem, the player character automatically returns to the original area of play.
Act Five: The Twist
The player character finds all but one of the NPCs dead, and the ghost of the remembered character preparing to kill the remaining NPC. A conversation between the player and the ghost determines whether the NPC lives or dies.
Depending on which character the ghost left for last and whether they lived or died, the epilogue has several variations.