Game Writing Guide
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Game Writing Guide

Game Story Tool Compendium

This is a collaborative summary of the most common, and/or best tools you can use to write or otherwise design your game narrative. Should be fairly self explanatory — and we will update it every so often to reflect new changes/updates/challengers, etc!

Either browse through or use the below list to cntrl/command-F to find or tab through the tools that seem relevant to you — and make sure to check the constantly updated ‘Further Reading’ section at the very end, for other resources such as talks and articles on game/narrative design tools.

Writing focused/word processing:

  1. Scrivener

Narrative Structuring:

  1. Twine

Scrivener

£47 one-off purchase. Mac/Windows. [Writing/Narrative Structuring]

Summary
Scrivener is a comprehensively featured program aimed at serious writing, primarily long-form. It’s basically got everything you could want for script-writing and laying out a narrative. For getting lots of words down on the page, there’s nothing better than Scrivener.

Pros:

  • Totally fully featured, comprehensive tool set.

Cons:

  • Not really built with game-dev in mind, so doesn’t automate or interface with engines, etc.

Twine

£free. Mac/Windows/Linux. [Interactive Fiction/Dialogue/Narrative Structuring]

Summary

Twine lets you plan and write interactive stories as branching flowcharts. Each node on your flowchart contains a bundle of story, and usually ends with a choice for the player to make. It’s fast to use, easy to learn, and easy to export your work for web.

Pros:

  • Very popular, so documentation, discussion, and peer support are available.

Cons:

  • Flowchart format can quickly become ungainly and hard to work with in larger projects.

Ink

£Free, Mac/Windows. [Interactive fiction/Interactive Dialogue/]

Summary
Ink is a fantastic tool created by renowned narrative studio Inkle for creating interactive fiction or dialogue. It takes a bit of learning, but the beauty is it’s been built from the ground up to facilitate writers being able to handle the logic themselves.

Pros:

  • Super powerful tool for creating anything from simple to super complex interactive fiction and dialogue.

Cons:

  • If you use it for interactive dialogue (as opposed to fiction) or for bigger projects, it may necessary to add in some bespoke code solutions to link text to stuff.

Articy:Draft

£Various (£50–100) Windows. [Narrative Structuring]

Summary
Articy is a fantastically fully featured narrative design solution. It’s not great for writing text with, but for everything else it’s got you covered — and it’s especially great for when you have multiple people collaborating on the narrative. A big redesign is also on the horizon, including mac support and much better markup/text editing features.

Pros:

  • Totally fully featured, comprehensive tool set for narrative design, solo or collaborative.

Cons:

  • For many of you, it’s probably much more than you actually need — so even though the price is totally worth it for anyone writing long form, for smaller projects it’s on the expensive side.

Arcweave

£Various ($10–30 per month) Browser. [Narrative Structuring]

A flexible and affordable pricing structure with a generous free offering.

Summary
Arcweave could be easily — and by no means negatively — described as ‘Articy light’. It’s a similar tool for a similar set of functions, though a recent launch and so not fully featured as of yet. What impresses about Arcweave is how accessible and lightweight it is. You can have a branching narrative visualization whipped up in an hour using the intuitive browser app and interface, collaborate with your team with very little hassle, and expand, test, prototype and so on from there.

An easy to parse interface.

Pros:

  • Quick, lightweight and easy to get started with .

Cons:

  • Currently early on in development and so lacks a full feature set and can occasionally feel restrictive.

Excel/Numbers/Google Sheets

£0 — (don’t buy MS Office if you don’t already have it….) [Narrative Structuring, Dialogue & any other writing]

Summary
Everyone loves spreadsheets! Yes, it’s a popular in-joke that most of being a game-dev is just looking at spreadsheets, and game writing is often the same way. They work! They’re not always the best option, but you can’t go far wrong with them. NB: We’ll soon have an article up on some tips to get the most out of them for story/writing purposes.

Pros:

  • Everyone has access to them, easy to collaborate on, you/your team are probably familiar with it already.

Cons:

  • With any kind of automation or once a document gets pretty chunky, you can quickly experience slowdown and bugs.

Miro

£0 for single user—10+ per month for teams [Narrative Structuring]

Summary

Miro is a powerful and collaborative ‘white-boarding’ tool — i.e., it’s perfect for brainstorms and structuring ‘flows’. You’re not going to use it as your actual writing tool, but it’s perfect for mapping out a narrative, character relationships and similar structural necessities.

Pros:

  • Collaborative

Cons:

  • Only browser based

FURTHER READING

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