Game Design with Articy:Draft

Articy Draft is a program very similiar to a mindmap, but more advanced. It’s primary purpose is to facilitate with the design of creative content such as stories and games. One of the impressive features (among many) is that it can store “maps” within the nodes of maps, allowing you to paint a map of your story/world with broad brush strokes but also to “zoom in” on any feature and add a ton of detail.

For example, you might go from “city gate” to “encounter with the watchman” and then zoom in on “encounter iwth the watchman” to flesh out the entire dialog tree, with different options and paths. Then zoom back out, to discover that the encounter now has three possible “exit outcomes”, and so you can create a path for each exit outcome or tie them to other nodes in your story. For example, one exit outcome might result in you going to the Castle scene where you are brought before the Baron, while another might open to the center of town where you are free to explore, and which path you take is dependent either on player choice or the outcome of the events in the “encounter with the watchman”. It’s probably got a lot of other really great features too that I just don’t know about.

Anyway, there’s been some talk about having a purely “game design” course, and I think it would be really neat to pair the “pure game design” lectures with some practical how-to of using software specifically designed for the task of game design. I think it would be neat to do it this way because that way it wouldn’t just be an abstract “how to use this program and here are all its features” but a more specific project-oriented way as we learn lessons or explore specific aspects of game design.

Of course, Articy:draft isn’t free, but I imagine that the course could be structured in such a way that you’d still get a lot out of it without Articy, and perhaps some can even use basic mindmapping software of their choice for most of the Articy sections (albeit, not all of them).

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I just got Articy Draft 2 for super cheap (to the tune of about $7.50 CAD for the program + commercial license). Very powerful planning program, and I’m sure AD3 is even better. Even if no course is produced to cover this, I highly recommend that game designers give it a look. It’s like an infinite sticky board for your planning ideas!

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