What programs do you use/what's your workflow? Let's share our processes here!


#1

I wrote a CS game in 2014 and am gearing up for another one, and I think my workflow could use an update.

Up to now I had been using ChatMapper for managing all of the nodes and visualizing the flow, but because it can get real slow when you have a big node (plus it’s PC only and I’m mainly on Mac now), I’m looking for alternatives. For reference, I wrote up a blog post about how I handled things with CM- http://www.dashjump.com/blog/writing-interactive-fiction-six-steps/

What’s your workflow like? Mac-specific stuff would be great, but I’m also curious in general about how people handle writing these things and containing the sprawl.

Edit: Here’s a table of stuff that people have suggested, I’ll keep it updated as we get more suggestions.

Tool Name Site Used For Platforms Cost Free Version Available? Suggested By
Chat Mapper chatmapper.com Dialog/Flowcharts PC $35/ Month Yes benserviss
draw.io draw.io Dialog/Flowcharts Web-Based $0 Yes Szaal
Twine twinery.org Dialog/Flowcharts/ Outlines Web/PC/ Mac/Linux $0 Yes Fawkes
Notability gingerlabs.com Outlines Mac/iOS $10 (one-time) No Fawkes
Liquid Story Binder blackobelisksoftware.com Outlines/Writing PC $45.95 (one-time) 30-Day Trial malinryden
CSIDE choicescriptide.github.io Outlines/Writing Web/PC/ Mac $0 Yes GenericGem
Nuclino nuclino.com Worldbuilding Web/PC/ Mac/Linux $5-$10/ month Yes Fawkes
World Anvil worldanvil.com Worldbuilding Web-Based $0 Yes Szaal
Scrivener literatureandlatte.com Fiction PC/Mac/iOS $45 (one-time) 30-Day Trial Fawkes
Scapple literatureandlatte.com Brainstorming/ Mind-mapping PC/Mac $14.99 (one-time) 30-Day Trial Luo
Aeon Timeline aeontimeline.com Timelines PC/Mac/iOS $50 (one-time) 20-Day Trial Luo
PowerPoint products.office.com Flow Walkthrough PC/Mac $7/ month 1-Month Trial will
Notebook.ai notebook.ai Writing PC/Mac $9/ month Yes Hazel
yEd Graph Editor yworks.com Diagramming/ Flowcharts Web $0 Yes dabbler
DrawExpress drawexpress.com Diagramming/ Flowcharts iOS/Android/ Blackberry $0 Yes dabbler

Any tips for setting up branching story paths and meaningful stats?
What do you use for your writing?
A question for english as a second language authors
How long (on average) do you think it takes for a WIP to be completed and published as an HG?
#2

Currently, I’m creating the “engine” for my story since mine will be RPG-like. As for the story, it has a pretty broad plot like a modular timeline where I can plug and unplug whatever scene I want to it, so I don’t really need a mind map software right now.

However, I put all of my notes and the “broad plot” at draw.io. Handy tool, I think it also works on mac. Requires online connection, though, as it’s a web-based app (just like other .ios) There’s an offline version available: https://get.draw.io/


#3

I use Twine for detailed outlines, which is not the intention for the program but it works for me. For broader outlines, I use a mix of Notepad-esque apps and Notability on my iPad Pro. For lore, character biographies, and more, I use Nuclino. It functions as a Wiki for me.

When writing regular fiction, I use Scrivener for iPad.

I’d go more into my process, but I’m a little, ah, indisposed at the moment. I may come back and give a more detailed explanation later.


#4

Ho, may I recommend worldanvil.com?
It might look not as simple as Nuclino, but I believe both have the same power. In fact, all article templates in WA are basically the generic template with additional headings and side content, if you’re that kind of person.

pic


#5

Nice, thanks for sharing! @Fawkes has Twine held up for bigger flowcharts? I used to use v1 a long time ago and v2 looks nice; if it can support gigantic flowcharts then I might switch over to that. I’ve heard good things about Scivener, too.

I’m going to edit the first post here to include all the tools everyone’s mentioned, for future reference.


#6

I used to work in liquid story binder (still does for books), but that hasn’t been updated in forever. Love the system to.

For choicescript I am old fashioned and just use notepad++ and a biiiig notebook that’s bound at the short edge instead of the long edge, so it’s easier to map scenes. (who am I kidding, I have five other notebooks too… I think easier on paper).


#7

Really? Don’t you find it confusing to work in that style?

I know I used to, before a found CSIDE. Now I just use that program for all Choice games; makes it so much easier to see everything I am writing and being able to make sure it all works by just playing through the game myself. Very much like writing replies on this forum, actually.

Outside of Choice games, though, I mostly use word for ordinary story writing. I did try to find something like a program designed for book writing in mind, something with lots of literary tools and check systems to make the best of your writing, but never managed to find anything like that. I suppose something like that would just make writing too easy.


#8

Not really, I prefer the simplicity, I have issues with programs trying to help me, I see it easier in my own head. Cside is nice, I use it for playtesting, but I go back to notepad++ to write and fix things. Everything is just too small in cside.


#9

Each to their own, of course, I’m just curious what you actually mean by this bit in particular, given that CSIDE’s Settings screen allows for considerable flexibility (editor font size included). If the size of your monitor is a problem then the actual “work area” (the Code Editor panel) can be enlarged – either by sliding the side panels out of view, or hitting ESC (or F11) to toggle a full-screen editor.


#10

My issue is that the scroll bar is too thin, I have trouble grasping it at times, and I can’t switch font/font color. The thin, elegant font in combination with the greyish tone makes it very hard for me to speedread even at the largest setting. I’m quite sensetive to how things look on the screen when I am working, because otherwise I strain my eyes badly. The same goes for the white text on the colored background, and even worse, the colored text on the colored background when it comes to coding. I just can’t do it, it is too busy.

I love the program, it makes testing easy, love how it handles things, but when it comes to actual coding or writing, it’s not for me.


#11

CSIDE was deliberately designed to be used as much/or as little as you like in a capacity that best suits each individual developer (and I hope you’re finding as such!). Not that I’m trying to push you (there’s little worse than an ungracious peddler!), but even if just for the sake of future readers I’d like to note that CSIDE does actually support extensive theme customisation since v.1.2.0. Doesn’t fix your scrollbar issues though sadly!


#12

Looks like I need to upgrade then! It is a lovely program tho.


#14

I’ve never used Scrivener, but I hear about it. I’ll have to check it out!


#15

That’s what I tend to do. I outline most of my stuff in Notepad++ and if I need to, draw flow charts in a paper notebook. (That go on for pages and pages :smile:)


#16

I used Scapple for brain-storming and mind mapping. I like being able to link the notes to each others, annotate the links, throw in shapes and images too. Also, it’s an infinite canvas so you won’t run out of space.

For timelines, I use Aeon timeline which allows me to create custom calendars (like changing days/months names, the number of days in a week/months, etc) which is extremely practical with fantasy/sf fiction writing. And in general, it’s a very customisable and flexible program once you get the hang of it. It also allows me to sync my projects with Scrivener, which is the writing program I’ve been using for years for fiction, and more recently for my current cyoa game project.


#17

Notepad++. I like having full control over the code. I think it’s valuable to do it from the ground up yourself.

I normally plan things out on paper with a notepad but I haven’t been doing that for some reason. My original (pen and paper) plan for the introduction of my game was way different; there was like a mentor character that was nursing you back to health and you were recounting your past memories for him as part of his religious healing process … it was bizarre. I scrapped that idea and just wrote from scratch with the only planning inside my head.

I did, however, create an enormous powerpoint document that goes through the entire flow of the game from beginning to end as well as details on all of the characters and pieces of inspiration. I refer back to that a lot. If you’re interested here’s a page:

screenshot

Fully recommend doing that. Enormously helpful. My document is 71 pages long though so that’s something.


#18

Nice. I think I remember hearing that Blizzard would use Powerpoint to put together real quick prototypes for ideas in a similar way. Good idea :slight_smile:


#19

On the NaNoWriMo forums, I was recommended Notebook.ai more than once. I’m just now starting to try it out. This isn’t my first attempt to use a writing website to organize my stuff in a wiki-like fashion. Let’s hope it works out better than the last few.


#20

For diagramming, node design etc I recommend yEd Graph Editor, it’s EXTREMELY powerful, multi-platform and completely free. It does take some time getting used to but it’s well worth it… the list of companies utilizing yEd for their systems design and visualization is astounding (the likes of Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, Northrop Grumann, Samsung, GlaxoSmithKline…)

Oh and did I mention it’s completely free? The version you can download is completely functional and nothing’s been cut out. I guess they make their money by creating and maintaining feature-specific versions for the big customers so us small users get the general purpose version for free.

Anyways, I heartily recommend it, if you can accept the somewhat technical CAD-like appearance which does take some time getting used to (but nothing beyond a couple of days at most).

…however if you do find the learning curve too much and would like a bit more user-friendly experience then there’s DrawExpress for mobile platforms. It’s VERY intuitive and it uses touch screen interface to the max. It’s available in both free and premium versions, and I find it well worth the one time fee (a few dollars as I recall). I use it to sketch node and algorithm ideas on the fly which I later fully develop in yEd.

http://www.drawexpress.com/

This is how easy it is to draw diagrams with DrawExpress:

http://www.drawexpress.com/mtut.html


#21

@dabbler -
Thank you for the timely recommendation. I believe this is another tool I need for my workflow.