Pre-production tools

I’ve made a few terrible games that I’m not planning on sharing with anyone, but as I move on to projects that are actually games rather than tech projects, I was wondering what the rest of you used to plan out your games.

As a writer I make heavy use of Scrivener and Scapple, but I’m not sure these are the best for tracking state changes, variables, and general narrative paths.

I normally use Scrivener as well to plan my pieces, but when things get a little thorny I like to open up some Mind Mapping software (I like XMind) and draw out a more visual representation of the piece. I find that using the arrows with label to be a helpful tool with stuff like variable tracking.

When I need visual maps, I take the old pencil and paper approach. (or maybe chess pieces and colored strings for fanciness)

Usually it’s just a personal wiki for the text script with additional notes.

Which do you use?

Dokuwiki’s light, relatively fast and has a complex access control so I can close the whole wiki but open some pages for guest reading. My wiki is personal, so no read/write access except for me, no registration, no spam problem.

I recommend installing these plugins: tag (organising to categories), datatables, emoji (emojis are good marks, especially in tables)

zim’s good if you don’t want to dance around online hosting and complexities.

Generally, I don’t write any text outside whatever tool I’m actually using to build the thing (there are no notes or pre-written text for Cape for instance, everything was written directly into the game source code). I use paper to sketch a general structure.

Another one on “Team Write Directly Into the Authoring Tool” here.

It helps that I’m currently working with Twine, which lets me get an immediate visual sense of the story structure.

Never thought of using scapple for planning out a game but the separation of text sections for rooms make sense.

I’m approaching things more along the lines of a gamebook than thinking about a physical map. Dividing the game up into scenes and fragments of scene rather than physical rooms (though of course a given exploratory-focused game might use “rooms” and “scenes” the same way).

So yeah, pen and paper help, but it gets unwieldy and difficult to correct. Mind Map + wiki + scrivener seems to be working pretty well.