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AIF 101: Brainstorming

Often, new authors are given the advice that the first thing they should do is pick an IF authoring language. I disagree. In my opinion, the language used is nothing more than a tool, the media through which you get your game across. Different languages are suited for different tasks, so how can you choose which one to use if you don't know your needs yet?

The very first step is to develop an idea. You need to figure out what your game is going to be about. If you're lucky, you might have some kind of idea in mind. Many authors can just pull inspiration out of their daily experiences, dreams, and fantasies.

If nothing comes to mind, pick something at random. Choose one of Polti's basic 36 plots. Draw some Tarot cards. Grab a random CD, put it on shuffle, and use whatever song comes up. Whatever you have to do to get at least the germ of an idea.

Here are some examples. Feel free to use any of these in a game.

  • Polsti's 36 plots: DELIVERANCE: Appearance of a Rescuer to the Condemned
  • Tarot: The Moon - A yearning for fulfillment. Unforeseen perils; threatening situations, psychic forces.
  • Song:Jimi Hendrix - Manic Depression

Some people like to make fan games. Those can be fun... but all they give you is setting and characters. You still need a plot. Sometimes you can weave plot around an interesting character idea as well.

So, you have a very basic idea. Next, you need to brainstorm that into an actual plot... the basis of what happens in the story. You need to figure out who does what, and to whom.

For the above examples,

  • Polsti's: Deliverance. Well, perhaps the PC is rescuing someone, say a generic princess.
  • Tarot: The Moon. Psychic powers. Hmm... perhaps a mind-control game wherein the player and his loved ones are threatened!
  • Song: Manic Depression. The song is about a guy wishing he could make love to music. Perhaps this could be someone who meets and falls in love with his muse. Or some other Greek mythological figure... perhaps the PC (Hercules?) has to seduce his way through the Goddesses! And Xena!

See that last one? Don't be too attached to your original idea... they tend to mutate. Just get an idea and flow with it. You don't need to figure out how the sex fits in just yet... it should arise naturally from the plot, but you can come up with some ideas. So, I'll take and flesh out the second idea, the Tarot Moon card.


The player somehow begins to develop telepathic powers. This brings him to the attention of other psychics, who threaten his family and loved ones. One focus of the game will be the development of the players psychic abilities.

POSSIBLE SEX SCENES: Various sorts of mind control, voyeurism, possession, etc.

Next: Plotting

© 2004 J Freebase - Updated 07/12/2004