So, I’m deep into planning and writing for my first CS game. Obviously, there comes a time where you must decide just how to go about planning before you dive in—and I’m not talking “full outline” here, but at very least a bullet-point outline, or even some of the prose, before trying to do it all in the language itself.
Obviously, almost anything would work. Pen and paper. Chalk on the street. MS Word. Scrivener. Smoke signals recorded by a specially-trained dolphin. But I’m looking for the most economical and useful.
So far, this is what I’ve come up with:
Planning the actual flow, graphically, with Scapple. Scapple is a program that’s like a free-form mind mapper. Unlike mind mapping programs, it doesn’t lock your ideas into its own grid of bubbles, but you can place ideas with or without arrows, with or without relations, anywhere on an infinitely expanding canvas. You can get it for $15 for Windows or Mac.
Writing the copy, and/or prototyping the idea, via Bear. Bear is a sort of note app, but the important part isn’t the “note” part…text is text as it were, and Notepad would work for that. No, what is interesting about Bear (and I wish my favorite program, Ulysses, had this) is inter-note links like a little wiki. I think Bear is Mac/iOS only, but I’m sure something similar, even something like Zim Personal Wiki would work.
This lets me type out scenes with actual clickable links from one to the next, a viable way to look at the work sans variables and other gameplay elements. If I click those links, I end up at that “scene” and can continue typing away, and make more choices for further scenes. Obviously, no variables, stats, etc. can be used, but certainly the basic CYOA flow can be mapped out very quickly this way.
So now, I want to know what others do to plan, outline, or prototype their games. It might be that the programs I found are the best for it, or not the best. It may be that having two types of programs is overkill, and I end up sticking with Bear only or Scapple only. I haven’t tried this workflow enough to know just yet. So I wonder if anyone with a good grasp of this could give me ideas that worked for them, what they used to plan out their own stuff. Obviously, ChoiceScript is a bit harder to plan than straight prose, what with variables and stats and all, so maybe there are no one-size-fits-all magic bullets out there, but let me hear your ideas, and hope this thread becomes a place where people googling this same topic can stumble over and get answers themselves.