Authoring and testing tips

I had an idea just now and perhaps other authors may find it helpful. This is a generic tips thread so we can keep them in one handy place and because I don’t want to flood this forum with new threads. Perhaps helpful suggestions here could be included in the SN reference documents.

Please feel free to post your own tips and such.

Anyway, this is my suggestion for authors:

Opportunity Card ‘Get Out’ Branch

For testing purposes, when creating a storylet, add a branch with Quality Required: Key of Dreams (BVWRF unticked) so yourself and other testers can always exit the card and remove it from their hand. This allows the tester to view storylets without worrying about filling up their hand with opportunities they could not usually complete.

[color=#009900]Thanks Lily for setting this up… and do feel free to graduate tips from here to the storygame wiki at[/color]

I’ve deleted a link to a home-made style guide.

You might find it useful to use a style guide to help with writing, but in that case I’d suggest using one of the more established ones.

We understand that our users are international, and so can use whichever guide suits them best. But we use, and recommend, this one for British English:

I’ve added a bunch of writing and structure tips to the wiki that Alexis just mentioned - please do have a look at them. We can discuss them here.

Also, please do ask questions on structure and writing and anything else you’d find useful for your games. We’re here to help out, and we’d love to see you create some fantastic games.

The wiki is here.
edited by Goatdance on 8/2/2012

I just read the Combinatorial Explosion article. And now I’m a little terrified because I’m currently writing a story prologue (even though I’m not yet a beta - StoryNexus’ll be open sometime and I don’t want to have nothing written then) and in this story prologue the character will only ever see 51% of the content at best. And that isn’t going to stop once I actually get to the story. What have I done?

As an aside, the other articles were quite useful and I’m very grateful for them. I wasn’t really consciously considering some of the points in them, so it’s certainly helped. Thank you.


If you find yourself making a game where 50% of the content is for one type of character and 50% of the content is for another, you should probably be making two games.

The more you can make your content common to your player experience, the bigger your world effectively is. But do feel free to experiment and see what works for you.

I’ll repeat something I said in one of the wiki articles - do something short to begin with. You’ll learn a lot, and your eventual huge masterwork will be all the better for it.

My tip of the day: wordy Storylets take a long time to write. Maybe try being Cummings today, not Bukowski.

If you’re having trouble with displaying qualities in text, be aware that capitalising matters!

So if you wish to display the contents of a quality titled Addressed As, you must write [q:Addressed As]. The following will not work: [q:addressed as] or [q:Addressed as].

You’re probably all doing this already, but I’ve got what I’ll call a Suicide Button pinned on every page. This allows me (and perhaps in the future early-stage playtesters) to immediately delete my current character so I can playtest through from the beginning. It’ll be less useful once there’s more content in there (because it’ll take longer to get back to where I was), but for now it’s handy.

A reminder to myself as much as anyone else: Luck is by default 0, not 5. Assigning a Luck challenge of difficulty 4 or higher means a 10% chance of success.

This explains why a) I kept failing what I ‘knew’ to be average or easier rolls and b) the challenge text was more threatening than I expected.

[color=#330066]Yes these are invaluable and of course you can add branches to it as you progress, to take you to different points, eg ‘this branch takes me to the start of chapter 2’ or whatever makes sense in your world.[/color]
edited by Emily St Aubert on 9/20/2012