Flowchart/tree/nodal organizational structure for gaming

I’m currently scripting a videogame, and the story is not exactly linear. Using Scrivener has been fantastic for helping me reorder things, but it is in essence still entirely linear. If there was a way to have a gaming setting for scriptwriting that expanded the organizational section of the window, or even perhaps had it in a secondary window, that allowed reordering and connecting things in any order you wanted (much like the user interface of shake), it would really help visualize the overall structure of the game, and more importantly, help the designer navigate it, without having to use a second piece of software to serve as a story map.

…does that make sense? (nuffin’ too difficult right? :mrgreen: )

I can’t think of anything visual that would help you out much. There is the Corkboard, which is probably the most visual part of the program, but it is still a linear tool. What might be of use to you however are Scrivener Links and References. The former can be embedded right into the text, and so you could link branching plot lines outward in a way that is easy to navigate from while going through the script. That would make for a project that feels a bit like a web site would, for navigation. References are stored in the Inspector (the second icon at the bottom that looks like a stack of books) and give you the ability to cross-reference items of interest to the current sequence. Character profiles, setting descriptions, and other things can all be stashed here, as well as other sequences that relate. Like I say, it’s not visual, but the rudiments of a branching narrative can be accomplished in a hypertext fashion, and links in the References list can even be annotated using the Description field. Collections might come in handy for grouping together linearly disparate items that all relate. A sub-plot that takes place over the course of several main sequences in the plot could all be brought together into one section and reviewed together—that’s just one idea for using them in this fashion. A nice thing about Collections is that they are just a list of links to the items they refer to, so they can shuffled around at will without any impact on the underlying script.

I haven’t thought this through fully but perhaps using coloured labels (in general Meta-Data) would help identify the separate branches of the story?

Also, as AmberV suggested, Collections could also be helpful to group branches especially as several collections could contain common documents that are shared between multiple branches.

Then perhaps you could compile multiple versions of the ‘story’, one for each branch and give those to the Designer?

I know this idea can be difficult to visualize, the best thing I can think of is to imagine a LITERAL corkboard, where you can place the cards however you like, and even place strings between them, showing you which plot-lines are accessible from which nodes.

The software I’m using to keep me organized and help me navigate currently is mindnode, the website has some images that will help illustrate what I’m suggesting. mindnode.com/

Thanks for the hyperlinking and color-coding suggestions - those are definitely helpful in the interim!

In order for a visual navigational interface like this to work, one has to be able to link any card to any other card with a visual thread, highlight and color code different cards and branches, link to cards in folders (which could initially be displayed as stacks or clusters of cards, and allow the user to shuffle them around at will), as well as name and compile by thread.

This essentially allows brainstorming, outlining, and scripting for any soft of project to take place in the same program, including alternative plotlines, something that game designers DESPERATELY need (ahem). Oh, and an official Linux version would be nice (though the Beta works wonderfully) for my laptop. :slight_smile:

The Mac version of Scrivener has a freeform corkboard mode where you can move the cards around and place them as you wish which might go some way to your requirements. I believe the feature will be added to the Windows version at some point but don’t know when.

Yeah, part of the MindNode capability will be available once you can push cards around freely and with no bearing on their underlying order. We still don’t have a good design idea for visibly linking items together such as in a flowchart. The problem is the plethora of linking that is possible in Scrivener. Would text hyperlinks generate lines, would references? Things could get awfully messy if they all did, but if not those, then what? A third type of link that is only visible on freeform corkboards? It’s obviously something that requires a bit of thought, and potentially some redesign of existing components, in order to be intuitive and easy to use without making the corkboard look like an accident with the spaghetti bowl.

Well, the way it commonly works in flowchart or nodal interfaces, is to have little round “nubbins” or node points on the bottom of each node, which you can click on and drag a line to another. Each time you use one, another appears next to it, allowing the linking of many things.

As to the types of linking, I think you could probably make what’s displayed selectable - you could be in reference mode, hyperlink mode, or if you think it’s necessary, a new third mode altogether. IMHO, a third mode wouldn’t be necessary, and hyperlinks could be added to the bottom of each document as links are drawn in the flowchart corkboard, and hyperlinks at the top showing you which pages have linked to this one. If the user wants to take that hyperlink and move it to a specific part of the individual document, such as a word or phrase, that could be cool too.

I definitely think there should be an option to keep the corkboard clear of the linking lines if the user decides they want it to be linear (after all, the flowchart method isn’t for everyone, nor would it work for every type of project) - I’d just like the option to have those linking lines available to me to navigate a massive document with dozens or even hundreds of story paths in a very intuitive way.