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Tim Schafer

Always fun to start a new notebook!

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So this is just something I want to throw in there since you're the designer. Something that really gets on my nerves and destroys my immersion when playing an adventure game like Machinarium is when a puzzle you have to work on has no real background or explanation. Like when you have to do the crane bit and get yourself up to the pipe. You're just supposed to figure out from looking around at the small details in the room what these wires do. Which is all well and great until I got to the part where I had to cross the red and black wires. I have no idea what kinda of a result I'm going to get from this. Is the whole system going to fry, or is everything going to work in reverse? I had no real way of knowing what was going on in that particular area. However, jump ahead to the area where you are in the green house and it's all readily explained. I'm confused on what to do so I get the projector working and all of a sudden I have a pretty good idea of what I'm supposed to do and where I'm going. When there's no real background for what I'm supposed to do it ruins my experience with the game. I fall out of the world and get stuck with well dudes who made this game just how in the hell am I supposed to go about this? This is something you were kind of going over in the latest update when you talked to the guys that made Sword and Sworcery. I which they were talking about how puzzles ruined the narrative. I don't think it's true because; at least for me, the puzzles are like diving into some forgotten tomb that has puzzles and booby traps that are protecting the prizes inside. For me this is what the puzzles are in Adventure games I'm driving myself toward the prizes of knowledge or neat fun items to play with in the game by solving these puzzles. It's just when I have no in game background that tells me what this puzzle is for or how to solve it that the creative process, whether it be the narrative or what have you gets destroyed.

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I'm tempted to try this after seeing how much fun you were having leafing through your Grim Fandango notebook.

Now all I need is a project.

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My routine is to block out 9am to 11am to just sit here with the notebook and ramble about whatever comes into my head.

9am? What is this time of day of which you speak?

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Tim, you're making me want to write out the random crap in my head as well... I haven't used a pen and paper since... well, yesterday. I'll use it to see if I'm a genius designer as well.

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Your description of your writing process in the update was very helpful to me. I always struggle with getting that perfect word down on the page, never letting myself continue until every line is polished. In that same vein, I find myself with too many ideas (ideas with potential), and I can never seem to stay focused for long enough to make them real. So I think I will take some time soon and sit down with a notebook and a pen and lock out the distractions, and hopefully I will begin to go somewhere. Thank you again for letting us look into the way you work!

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Hey Tim, any chance of releasing scans of your awesome notebook to us once this whole project is done ;)? Bit of a long shot, but I just thought I should ask =P.

Anyways, I'll have to try this method out at some point, I want to work on a project over my summer holiday so I'm more prepped for my final year at uni (I'm an animation student) so it may help in establishing an idea. I do find writing stuff down as you think about it helps, though I've never taken it to this level of dedication before xD.

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Hi Tim,

Thanks for the update! I'm a game programmer (and a bit of a wannabe designer). I just tried your free-writing-thinking-method for my current project. It was great! It even worked for programming problems, I figured out two major issuses I had with some GUI-stuff by just having a written monologue with myself.

Thanks for the inspiration!

Love from Sweden,

Karl Zylinski

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Notebooks feel less sterile than a word processor.

I have to disagree. Using a word processor (usually) requires you to use a keyboard and everyone knows how these things are...

(Unless you were just talking about the hygiene of a word processor itself. That would be kind of silly, though >_>)

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Notebooks feel less sterile than a word processor.

I have to disagree. Using a word processor (usually) requires you to use a keyboard and everyone knows how these things are...

(Unless you were just talking about the hygiene of a word processor itself. That would be kind of silly, though >_>)

Not sure if you're just joking, but! I think the sense of 'sterile' that the original poster was referring to was a lack of imagination, creativity or excitement. A bit like this very post. But I'm paying the creative minds of Double Fine to be imaginative for me, so there. :P

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...There is something more fluid about rambling in writing...something about hand motion.

Which makes me think cursive.

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Tim Schafer and I use the same kind of pens... (Top pen in the pic.)

Does this make me happier than I probably should? Definitely. No shame.

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Glad to hear this is a sensible way to start writing a story! I'm writing a comic at the moment but I'm an illustrator (tryingtobe) in truth so it was bloody hard starting. I didn't know where to kick off from, so I just began by doing what I do for my art projects, carrying around a notebook and so started drawing, doodling and writing down everything I thought of for the story; interesting names, events, a fraction of dialogue, ten pages of one scene, half a page of another, every half formed thought went in.

At the writing it up stage now on the PC, those notes are INVALUABLE. Even pants ideas may have a good joke in them, and pages of witter will probably evolve into an incredibly coherent argument or discussion. A funny name I heard at the pub may become a main character's.

Notebooks and sketchbooks; I only hate it when I run out of pages. I get attached by the end.

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