Outlining and Planning

How do you go about planning and outlining your IF projects? I’m just curious because I’ve been trying to pull that off myself and I was wondering how different members of the community go about it.

A few people commented on this in this thread, which may be helpful.

I use the writing prog Scrivener to collect everything I write - room descriptions, characters, things I need to implement, errors to correct, random ideas.

Drawings maps and sketches helps getting a feel of what I aim for. Working analog can give some fresh air.

But I don’t have any solid workflow. It might be worth looking into how-to-write-a-novel books for this. For instance something like the snowflake method, or the simple rule of writing one hour a day, every day.

If your game is exploration-heavy, you can focus on the world. Build your world first: draw a map, describe the locations. Then think about who lives in this world, how these things you described work and who owns them, who likes and who dislikes them. You’ll get the characters. The plot should write itself already at this point.

If you’re writing a story game, the process is very close to the traditional writing. You start with the characters, you describe these characters in high detail. You decide on your plot structure - do you want it to have a lot of exploration (a big map with random and timed events) or be more straightforward in jumping from scene to a scene. (Straightforward is easier.) Then you write the plot. You’ll have to describe something about the world along the way but this option doesn’t require a serious worldbuilding.

And you can also focus on the puzzles and minigames. That way you’ll get a puzzle game - light on the atmosphere, a simple excuse of a plot and the best mindbending sessions you can think of. You don’t choose an engine and then decide on the puzzles, you think of a puzzle and then choose an engine that you think can do it best.

Don’t try to catch them all from the square one, you always can switch your focus later.

The process is the same for any game engine; first you choose the structure and then you choose an engine. Parser engines (all of them) and some menu engines (QSP, INSTEAD) are strongly geared towards exploration-heavy games. Link-based menu engines (Twine, Undum, Squiffy, URQ) expect you to have a story game, it’s harder to do a free roam section in these.