Craft articles listed here attempt to answer an author's "how do I do X" questions, like "How do I craft better NPCs?" or "How can I craft better puzzles?" Articles are grouped into categories based roughly on the XYZZY Awards, plus an extra category for promotion, eg: "How can I promote my game?"
For articles about classifications, terminologies, and "what is X" questions, see Theory.
For examples on coding specific game features, see Category:Tutorials.
For a list of wiki pages that contain links to "making-of" articles, see Category:Author commentary.
This section can be about design, the game as a whole, or a general catch-all for articles that cover several topics.
- Lessons Learned the Hard Way (archive) by Jim Aikin for XYZZYnews #18 (1999). Write a walkthrough. Beta-test. Be systematic. And comment, comment, comment.
- Design Patterns by David Cornelson. Tries to define patterns in IF game design.
- IF Cliches by Nate Cull.
- 10 Steps to Great Game Design (archive) by C.E. Forman for XYZZYnews #1 (January/February 1995).
- The Hazards of Invisibility, or, Making Your NPCs Respond The Way You Want Them To (archive) by C.E. Forman for XYZZYnews #6 (November/December 1995). A caution against rushing the design phase.
- Why Adventure Games Suck by Ron Gilbert. Rules of thumb for designing adventure games. Not about IF specifically. May 12, 2004.
- The Craft of the Adventure. by Graham Nelson. 2nd ed. The IF Archive, 1995. A good starter with some general points about what makes good IF.
- How to Write a Great Game by Dan Shiovitz. Focuses on construction, interaction, and concept.
- General Game-Design/Authoring Notes by Dan Shiovitz. Short assorted notes jotted down.
- Feelies, Maps, Cover art by Emily Short. Answers to questions Emily Short is commonly asked about these topics.
- Idea to Implementation by Emily Short. August 23, 2009. Discusses general workthrough strategies on how to get one's game from vague idea to final product.
- Preparing a game for testing by Emily Short. November 8, 2008.
- WIP Rescue by Emily Short. July 10, 2007. Strategies for solving various problems that can come up while writing IF.
- Writing Mechanically Solid Parser Games by Carolyn VanEseltine. December 11, 2014. What parser IF is good at, and bad at, and how to make use of its strengths.
- The Imitable Process of Ryan Veeder by Ryan Veeder. August 10, 2010. Making a map, choosing room details, and organizing code in Inform 7.
- Make IF Fast! by J. Robinson Wheeler. Covers the creation of games starting from a mock transcript of play.
- Ideas For Games
- Discussions about game design on the rec.arts.int-fiction news group. Linked discussions are from 1993-2007.
Articles describing the creation of specific games. These may cover any aspect of planning, designing, or crafting the games in question. (Articles listed by author's surname order.)
Due to the increased number of "making-of" articles, we've begun adding these links to other relevant wiki pages (e.g. competition pages and work pages) rather than continuing to add to the list here. For a list of wiki pages that contain links to making-of articles, see the author commentary category.
- Mean Streets by Bad Dog Studios. Primarily focused on lessons learned.
- Scarlet Sails postmortem by Felicity Banks.
- Writing Cabal by Stephen Bond. Addresses concept development and planning.
- SPAG interview on Primrose Path by Nolan Bonvouloir.
- Comments on Fort Aegea by Francesco Bova. Discusses initial intent, puzzles, coding, and meeting deadlines.
- PHAQ on Photopia by Adam Cadre. Addresses artistic inspirations.
- On Shrapnel by Adam Cadre.
- Brain Guzzlers from Beyond! by Steph Cherrywell.
- The Land of the Cyclops by Francesco Cordella. Discusses the possibilities of adapting puzzle material out of classic literature.
- Arcane Intern (Unpaid) postmortem by Astrid Dalmady.
- Deadline Enchanter by Alan DeNiro.
- Doggerland Design Notes by Alan DeNiro. Focuses on the themes of the piece and on designing hypertext for very personal pieces.
- Unbeknown by Alan DeNiro.
- SPAG interview on Sting of the Wasp by Jason Devlin.
- Mere Anarchy by Bruno Dias. Discusses design for hypertext, the need to build new tools, and scoping changes over the course of the project.
- Cape by Bruno Dias.
- Digital Humanities article on All Hope Abandon by Eric Eve. Addresses Biblical inspirations and thematic content.
- RAIF post on Nightfall by Eric Eve. Discusses design concepts and characterization.
- SPAG interview on Elysium Enigma by Eric Eve. Discusses design and TADS 3 coding.
- Missive by Joey Fu. Discusses writing, handling of gender, and other thematic elements.
- Raik postmortem by Harry Giles. Goes into detail about the decision to do dual language work.
- Seeking Ataraxia postmortem by Glass Rat Media.
- SPAG interview on Lord Bellwater's Secret by Sam Gordon. Discusses puzzle design and the game's ending.
- Down, the Serpent and the Sun by Chandler Groover.
- HUNTING UNICORN postmortem by Chandler Groover. Discussion about multiple ending storytelling.
- Taghairm and Midnight. Swordfight. discussion (old link) by Chandler Groover. Explains the conceptual aims behind both pieces.
- Toby's Nose by Chandler Groover.
- SPAG interview on All Things Devours by half sick of shadows.
- All Things Devours Wrap-up on rec.games.int-fiction by half sick of shadows.
- Birdland postmortem by Brendan Patrick Hennessy.
- Tea Ceremony postmortem by Naomi Hinchen.
- Growbotics postmortem by Cha Holland.
- Oppositely Opal by Buster Hudson.
- SPAG interview on An Act of Murder by Christopher Huang. Discusses puzzle design and mystery structure.
- Eidolon by A.D. Jansen.
- Plans and Workflow article on Sub Rosa by Joey Jones. This is part one of a five part series; see also 2, 3, 4, and 5.
- SPAG interview on Lost Pig by Admiral Jota. Discusses polish, conversation design.
- Splashdown Post Mortem by Paul J. Furio. A retrospective on the creation of this IFComp title from a first-time IF author.
- SPAG interview on Blue Chairs by Chris Klimas. Discusses freedom in games.
- Life on Mars? by Hugo Labrande (in French).
- SPAG #55: Editorial by Jimmy Maher discusses the making of The King of Shreds and Patches.
- Crossroads postmortem by Cat Manning.
- Ether postmortem by Mathbrush. Discusses puzzle design and the introduction of story elements.
- Focalization in Multi-Agent Interactive Simulations by Chris Martens. Theoretical and technical background for the multiple-viewpoint hypertext piece Origins.
- Fifteen Minutes postmortem by Ade McT. Discusses puzzle decisions, implementation, and story elements the author wished had been clearer.
- Map postmortem by Ade McT.
- Laid Off from the Synesthesia Factory postmortem by Katherine Morayati.
- Jigsaw and I (archive) by Graham Nelson. Discusses research and design process, and the creation of the protagonist.
- Pilgrimage postmortem by Víctor Ojuel.
- Transparent by Hanon Ondricek. Discusses goals for the design and how they succeeded or failed.
- Post Mortem: The Baker of Shireton by Hanon Ondricek.
- Following Me by Tia Orisney. Talks about concept development and responds to feedback received in reviews.
- Kane County by Tia Orisney. Talks about technical development, design issues, and reception.
- Blog entries on Gun Mute by C.E.J. Pacian.
- A Long Drink by Owen Parks.
- Koustrea postmortem retrospective wrap-up discussion by Jeremy Pflasterer.
- Duel postmortem by piato.
- Degeneracy postmortem by Leonard Richardson.
- Grim Fandango Puzzle Documentation - Design specs for Grim Fandango, made available by Tim Schafer in November 2008.
- Ugly Oafs postmortem by Andrew Schultz.
- The Problems Compound postmortem by Andrew Schultz.
- Hunger Daemon postmortem by Sean M. Shore.
- Aspel Postmortem part 1 and Aspel Postmortem part 2 by Emily Short. Focuses on designing for multiplayer experiences and implementation in Seltani.
- Making of Bronze by Emily Short. Addresses puzzle design.
- Making of Counterfeit Monkey: Puzzles and Toys by Emily Short.
- Making of Counterfeit Monkey: Story by Emily Short.
- Making of Damnatio Memoriae by Emily Short.
- SPAG interview on Floatpoint by Emily Short.
- Making of Glass by Emily Short. Addresses conversation system design.
- Making of Metamorphoses by Emily Short.
- Parlez-Vous Nalian? (archive) by Lucian Smith. Discusses the design of the game's famous puzzle.
- Gotomomi by Arno von Borries.
- Six Gray Rats Crawl Up The PIllow by Caleb Wilson.
- NPC Characterization by Emily Short. Extensive discussion. The NPC as object, agent, and interlocutor.
- Two algorithms for creating true character interaction in computer games by Guy Hasson.
- Creating Autonomous Non-Player Characters in Interactive Fiction by Stephen Granade.
- Writing Graceful Parser NPCs by Carolyn VanEseltine. February 9, 2015.
- Puppy Power – Realistic Parser NPCs by Carolyn VanEseltine. February 12, 2015.
- Discussions about NPCs, conversation systems and AI on the rec.arts.int-fiction newsgroup. Linked discussions are from 1990-2008.
(Articles about types of PCs are on the Theory page listed under Taxonomy.)
- What makes a ‘best puzzle’? by Mathbrush. Discusses what kind of puzzles have won "Best Individual Puzzle" in the XYZZY Awards. 2020.
- Emily Short on Best Individual Puzzle. Emily Short discusses features that make a puzzle memorable, as well as the 2013 finalists for Best Individual Puzzle in the XYZZY Awards. September 2014.
- Puzzle Dependency Charts by Ron Gilbert. August 10, 2014.
- Making Fragile Shells by Stephen Granade. March 31, 2010.
- Designing the puzzles of Escapade! by Juhana Leinonen about his game Escapade! March 2010.
- Making Better Puzzles by Stephen Granade. © 1999, 2008.
- Discussions about puzzles on the rec.arts.int-fiction newsgroup. Linked discussions are from 1993-2006.
- Parlez-Vous Nalian? (archive) by Lucian Smith from XYZZYnews #16 (1998). Lucian discusses the language puzzle from The Edifice.
- IF Roundtable: The Art of the Puzzle (archive) from XYZZYnews #14 (1998). Adam Cadre, Lucian Smith, Andrew Plotkin, and Neil deMause discuss puzzles.
- Designing the Puzzle by Bob Bates. © 1997.
- Laying Out Geography in IF (archive) by Emily Short, © 2001. Covers playability principles, layout, pacing, and the 'edge of the world'.
- Developing a Setting for Fantastical IF by Emily Short, © 2001. Covers finding your ideas, constructing your map, and presentation.
- Discussions about descriptions & settings on the rec.arts.int-fiction newsgroup.
- By the Numbers: How to Write a Long Interactive Novel That Doesn’t Suck by Dan Fabulich. Using delayed branching and stats in choice-based stories.
- All Choice No Consequence: Efficiently Branch Your Game’s Narrative by Cass Phillips at GDC Vault. According to the blurb at the linked page, this talk was about "how to create meaningful story branches without making narratives that are convoluted, confusing or shallow."
- Plot, Scene by Scene by Emily Short. Discussion of different scene types, broken down by styles of interaction.
- Beyond Branching: Quality-Based, Salience-Based, and Waypoint Narrative Structures by Emily Short. Three possible approaches to deciding which content the player will see next.
- That Darn Conundrum by Andrew Stern. Discusses the trade-off in game design between freedom, agency, and story. Not specifically about IF, but applicable to it.
- The Shapes in Your Story: Narrative Mapping Frameworks by Jay Taylor-Laird at GDC Vault. According to the blurb at the linked page, this talk was about "how to more effectively use a story map as a creative and analytical tool."
Use of Medium
- Desiderata for a Physical Simulation Library (archived) by Emily Short.
- What XYZZY Does by Eileen Mullin from XYZZYnews #3. (See also: Xyzzy.)
- How To Write A Good IF Comp Blurb by Sam Kabo Ashwell. September 3, 2019.
- Description Medicine (archive) by Michael Berlyn for XYZZYnews #17 (1999). Liven up those rooms.
- Descriptions Constructed by Stephen Granade. Descriptions that do more than just describe.
- Exercises in Generated Prose by Emily Short. June 24, 2009. Overview of some ways Inform 7 can be used to generate tailored room descriptions and other prose.
- The Prose Medium and IF by Emily Short. Discusses some qualities prose needs to have in IF in order to be effective. Subtopics include guiding the player, economy of detail, and writing confidence.
- Mapping the Tale: Scene Description in IF by J. Robinson Wheeler. Covers the writing of scene descriptions for locations.
- Writing in the IF Gems review quotes collection (also available from the IF Archive).
- Discussions about creative writing on the rec.arts.int-fiction newsgroup.
|Theory, Craft, and History Resources|
|Theory||General Theory • Comparisons • Design • Taxonomy • Terminology|
|Craft||Game • Making-Of Articles • NPCs • PCs • Promotion • Puzzles • Setting • Story • Use of Medium • Writing|
|History||History of Interactive Fiction|