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Help! I can’t think of any ideas for a storygame!

11 months ago
Commended by mizal on 11/4/2021 5:32:05 PM

Here's some general information on the idea generation process and some more specific information about this site:

Help!  I can’t think of any ideas for a storygame!

Really?  You can’t think of ANY ideas?  You can’t come up with a game about a roller skating penguin, or a guy who’s stuck in a hot air balloon about to crash into a volcano, or a mild-mannered necromancer who accidentally released a plague on the local village?

Usually when people ask this question, they actually mean “I can’t think of any ideas that strike me as highly brilliant and original”, or “I can’t seem to get excited about any of the ideas I have”, or “I don’t know what’s popular on this site”.

If it’s the first question, then good news!  Very few ideas are actually brilliant and original.  It’s the EXECUTION that makes your story good, not the concept.  So just pick the idea that you, personally, are most excited to write, and use your passion for it to make it into something special.

If it’s the second question, then bad news:  You have to summon up the desire to write yourself.  Nobody is going to be able to magically give you writing motivation by coming up with a spcial idea.  Try to think about concepts and ideas that have excited you in other works, and think about the concepts and themes that made those works exciting.

If it’s the third question, then also good news!  That’s the very question this post is being written to address!  Below, you’ll find a list of common CYS trends and popular themes.  But remember: Don’t force yourself to write something you’re not interested in just because it’s popular.  Write what you’re passionate about first, and your writing will benefit from it.

A quick note:  If you can, try and take advantage of the choose-your-own format when writing storygames.  Reader interactivity gives the range of stories you can tell a unique element, and can be used to tell stories and cover themes that traditional fiction would have a much harder time delving into.  In my biased experience, the format lends itself best to puzzle games, combat or challenge based literary games (such as a quest or spy mission), stories where the protagonist's choices will have far-reaching effects on the setting (so you can see those changes play out in different branches), and large-scope stories that allow the protagonist and setting to change greatly over time in a variety of ways.  Using the format to your advantage instead of as a passive background can greatly enhance your storytelling.


What are some trends that are popular on CYS?

Here’s my general impression of what is popular on this website:

-Richly detailed and complex settings.  It will often be fantasy or sci-fi, but a real world story can also have significant lore.

-Games that allow the protagonist to make morally gray (or black) choices that don't lead to immediate death or endgame links.

-Plots and events that are large-scope and consequential, and protagonist who have the power to majorly affect them.

-Puzzle games are more popular with guests and lurkers, and less popular with TharaApples.

-There's a surprisingly large number of popular stories about the protagonist practicing necromancy, demonology, or some other form of dark magic.

-Games that poke fun at or play into traditional fantasy cliches and plots.

-Games that have a protagonist with a strong and distinctive personality, sometimes an abrasive or antisocial one.

-Games that have easily accessible endgame links.  Writing a game that doesn’t have an endgame link until the player reaches the best ending is a surefire way to get your game rated badly and be booed out of the forums.

-Cave-of-time format is the most common, but any format can succeed here when done well.

-Don’t write about warriors cats.  Don’t.