Design methods for IF

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Oct 25, 1994, 8:03:05 PM10/25/94
Jamieson Norrish ( wrote:

: In what ways do other people put their designs on paper?

Well, I take a variety of approaches, based on the design issue to be
solved. When designing the map, I sketch it out with pencil as a
drawing, then block off "areas" and determine how to get from one area to
another. This way, I get a fairly realistic and well-planned map.

As for obstacles and characters, I use a technique commonly called
"freewriting". I just open a blank word processor document and start
typing. Never go back, just let it go. Afterwards, print it out, and
start panning for gold. There's going to be a lot of unused material in
there, but it's all gold dust with a few big nuggets mixed in. All that
unused material gets worked in on a subconscious level. For example, if
you've verbally sketched what a character looks like, what he/she likes
to eat, what kind of jokes they enjoy, etc... you don't need to put all
this information into the text verbatim. You'll simply have a much
bigger base to provide actions and reactions from.

Obstacles come to me while freewriting the plot. When writing fiction,
you put your characters into situations and the character solves the
situation with your help. Remove the help, keep the character and
obstacle, and voila, an IF puzzle. This works well, providing your logic
isn't too obtuse. :)

For those inspiration-level ideas, I keep a clipboard by my bed with a
pen, and a mini-tape recorder in the car. Sometimes, when desperate,
I'll talk out parts of the plot into the tape recorder, as if I were
trying to explain a complicated story to another person. A lot often
works out this way. Plus, it's a better record than my static-riddled


----------------------| S.P. Harvey |--------------------------
"If my answers frighten you, Vincent,
you should cease asking scary questions."
- Jules, "Pulp Fiction"
----------------------| |--------------------------

The Essential Addition

Oct 25, 1994, 12:44:48 PM10/25/94
There is really no rhyme or reason to how I design games, but that's not
necessarily a positive thing. In general, I'll make a blank map which
represents the structure I'm working on at the time. Then I fill out the
rooms of the structure, finding the best places for the obstructions
which I've imagined, and cutting out extraneous rooms which would serve
no true purpose in the story. I'm fairly careful with the structures,
because I like to have a sense of realism in the design. Houses,
temples, mansions, etc. are usually symmetrical while caverns, outdoor
areas and cities are generally more sprawling.

I try not to write down too much because I find it stifles the creative
process. Characters are all individuals, in appearance, dress and style
of speech. I do write down a list of what characters' responses would be
to various questions, however, simply because the sixty-year-old man in
front of the country store will doubtless know all sorts of facts about
the immediate area, and therefore "He doesn't know anything about that"
becomes ludicrous.

But as far as serious down-and-dirty design work, that's not for me. I'm
not an outline, draft and polish writer, so I've never felt the need to
be that meticulous a programmer, either.

/ I said you wouldn't understand -- The Essential Addition \
| You kill what you fear |
\ -- And you fear what you don't understand /

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